Dressage riding help - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-06-2012, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Dressage riding help

I just bought a new horse after 6 years of no horse so i am very excited about this. He is a 12 year old race horse who raced till 5 years, was a pasture horse for 6 and has excalent ground manners but was just started in dressage/jumping 8 months ago and then had 4 different riders a week. So needless to say he is a bit confused and bit untrusting for anyone to help learn to balance, he preffers to be given his head and him figure it out on his own. I know basic dressage from ridding my sisters dressage mare but have never had the opportunity to help a horse learn it. So my big question is were to start. He has a horrable frame and needs consistent work on working to the bit and working under himself and not all strung out. All the horse i rode were already conditioned for it so it was not much to learn to keep them their. So what do i do and were do i start with this?

the stables i will be keeping him at does not have hills, because that was were i was going to start.

He also does not "respect", if that is the right word, the bit. He just runs through it untill he gets frustrated enough to give but i do not want that to be a constant fight with him.

sorry for being so long, i just want to make sure im doing it right, right off the bat.
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post #2 of 6 Old 04-06-2012, 09:33 PM
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Take advantage of the fact the TBs are smart and that you recognize that he needs consistency and work according to the dressage training scale. Forget about collection since that comes last. Work on rhythm and relaxation and then move up from there to the upper levels of the pyramid. Lots of big, simple circles and transitions that he can wrap his mind around. A frustrated horse is not a relaxed horse. Without a relaxed horse, no real work can occur. Take is in small steps, break everything down for him and reward every try.
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You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #3 of 6 Old 04-11-2012, 04:48 AM
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What MyBoyPuck is saying is correct. My last horse, a TB, came out of a lesson program he had been in for over 6 years..his head set was one height, high, and strung out was his only way of going. Any contact whatsoever would have him sending his nose to the moon. It took a lot of large circles and nearly a year of taking corners on a near 90 degree angle (no bend), a lot of serpentines and a lot of suppling back and forth just to get him to first relax enough to bend and then relaxed enough to start working consistently from behind. Even though he was a hunter in any case, I also used a lot of ground pole work to help him stretch out over his topline and animate his trot stride.

He never went above Training Level but part of that was hock issue related (arthritis due to age) moreso than attitude. He wasn't able to get that dressage "spring" into his gaits.
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post #4 of 6 Old 04-11-2012, 01:33 PM
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Personally, I have always been taught to get the forward first, you need a horse pushing and forward before you can even start trying to get a horse to come to the bit. I have had issues with getting horses to come to the bit at times and my intructor is always like "your riding him backwards! Get the push first!" hehe, after you get the push, you just have to start with very soft contact. I know all of this is easier said than done, but just keep working on it and he will come =]
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post #5 of 6 Old 04-11-2012, 01:54 PM
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Some reading about dressage will be helpful. I am not sure which book I would most recommend, but you need to read about the training scale, and start with the excersizes that are at the bottom. ANd, as said, they deal with getting the horse to move forward freely and rythmically, and to learn to reach down and forward. If you have never done this before, could a dressage teacher teach you how to achieve this on a horse that is more cooperative?

You , yourself, must be able to have a fairly independent seat becasue you will not be able to hold the reins tight and use them as a "crutch" to stay on.
Can you ride him, say in a round pen, trotting without any real rein contact? letting him put his head where he will? Start there, making sure you are not impeding him. Then start with taking up an inviting contact and getting him to stretch downward.

Read up in book or internet "riding long and low".
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post #6 of 6 Old 04-12-2012, 05:37 PM
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Start by working at the bottom of the dressage training scale:
USDF | About | About Dressage | Dressage Training

First you MUST have a steady rhythm with energy (he can't be "dogging it") and tempo. Since he doesn't seem to care for rein contact (in racing the harder you pull back the faster the horse goes) start with a LONG rein but a steady connection. I suggest concentrating on the walk and trot until you get those correct. Now I say a long rein but that does NOT mean a floppy rein with no contact. Rather it means that EVERY step he takes you must follow with your arms. When his neck goes (naturally) down your elbows come forward off your waist and follow, at the next step his head/neck will come up and your elbows will come back onto your waist. Thus no matter where his head and neck are (up in air, down towards ground) the rein length and feeling (heaviness/lightness) remain THE SAME!

Next you would work on relaxation (with elasticity and suppleness). If you did rhythm correctly and ride it well he will be relaxed. Most OTTBs loose the relaxation at the canter so before you canter with him work on the walk and trot. Make certain you can turn him without his popping the shoulder or holding the bit and refusing to bend.

Take some dressage lessons but do look at the training scale to understand how to get there (Collection is the hardest for the horse) from here. It will take months to get the first 3 (up to connection - which you referred to as getting him into a frame) but if you do it correctly and slowly, allowing his muscles to build up without pushing him so hard he's too sore, you'll be thrilled with the result.

Dressage is for Trainers!
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