Dressage warm-ups/exercises? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 02:27 AM
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Stirrup length, etc.

Oh, that reminds me... I meant to say it looks like you may be pinching with your knees a bit, which tilts you too far forward and causes your lower leg to get too far back and your heel to come up (I do this, too :)

Also, be careful with stirrup length. Yes, dressage is longer, but don't overdo it at first. Lengthen some and get used to that length before going longer. 1. You really need to develop your core muscles to ride with longer stirrups, otherwise you'll be gripping with your legs and your leg muscles will be hurting and 2. Beginning dressage riders shouldn't try to mimic the FEI level riders stirrup length, which is not appropriate for them.

Hope that helps!
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post #12 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ebrides View Post
You might look into getting a book called "Beyond the Track, Retraining the Thoroughbred from Racehorse to Riding Horse" by Ann Morgan Ford. I actually got this book when I was considering buying an OTTB, but didn't end up with the horse. The book has lots of great info and training tips.

I think it's wonderful when OTTB's can be given great homes like you're obviously giving this horse. She is so cute! I think you're doing great with her- you look like a pretty calm rider and you aren't grabbing at her mouth or holding her in too much, which is great at this stage.

Obviously you've progressed from this ride in the initial video but if she's still putting her head up tensely at times, you might try following with your hands (keeping that straight line between your hand and her mouth) as this will let her know she can't avoid the bit by putting her head up. Then, once she brings her head down, you can release with the reins a bit to reward her. It's tempting to want to pull down on the reins when a horse has their head up but it doesn't usually work to solve the problem.

Your position and posting are more in line with a hunt seat. With dressage you sit much more straight up and post by bringing your hips forward toward the pommel (without your shoulders moving forward) if that makes sense. I've found that a dressage seat takes a lot of core muscles!

Dressage is good for training any horse and you don't even need to be interested in showing in Dressage to get a lot of benefit out of it for your horse. Good luck and have fun!
I'll have to look into it! I'm ordering some new tack tonight from Greenhawk and Pleasant Ridge so I'll check if they have the book in stock. I've heard of it quite a few times so it must be a good, informative read. My instructor was less than thrilled when I picked out an OTTB, as I had just spent two years working with a green-broke QH.. who is now an excellent guy who had lots of reputable trainers looking into him once he went up for sale. She's surprisingly quiet though, although she does gets frustrated and worked up easily.

I'm definitely trying to keep my hands in line with the bit, I've developed a horrible habit of bringing my hands down so I have to keep reminding myself to bring them up more. Usually, her head will give to the bit once she feels consistency.

And yes! My instructor is more HUS/jumping style.. and my lease horse was a natural HUS horse through and through, although I believe he's been sold to a trainer who rides mostly Western which I think he'll excel at. All the AQHA judges adored him. I much prefer Indie's movement though, I have to admit.

I have no real intentions of ever showing in dressage, but I'm interested in it just for the reasons you mentioned. It'll give us some variety and things to strive for, plus it'll help build up the right muscle groups hopefully.

Originally Posted by Reno Bay View Post
Looking pretty good.

I have an OTTB I'm starting in dressage, too. We can all (me, Reno, you, and Indie) can learn at the same time. My boy is recently under saddle for the first time in two years and I think he's doing great considering. When I finally get on him (after my wrist heals up and I take a few lessons on my trainer's horses just to get back in the swing) I'll start just walking on him and working on bending and such.

I agree that your stirrups are way too short for dressage...you almost have to look like you're standing. Reins for dressage also have to be ridiculously long (to me...coming from hunter/jumper). Also confusing to my H/J roots is that, at least in classical dressage, you have to be completely relaxed and loose and still retain good posture. No gripping with your leg, posting feels soooo much different and I think I'll have to work hard on that because out muscle memory my leg wants to grip when I post...I think Reno will appreciate the looseness though.
How long was Reno on the track for?

And yes, Indie was only just put into regular work a couple months before I bought her although there were many gaps and she had zero bend. I wanted a project though so I was fine with that. Her first lateral flexion was a good five minutes of her going in a little half circle.. but luckily, we've now got it to an instant response, I used to get pretty disoriented!

I'll definitely drop the stirrups a couple holes, I'm used to more H/J style as well. The vet recommended against jumping so I'm thinking of making our training more dressage-based for that reason. My instructor said that she has lovely movement though when I allow her to, and she seems to enjoy it so far.

Forever loved, never forgotten; my beautiful Indie. <3 Hoofprints on my heart.
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-18-2012, 07:19 PM
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Hi, I also world include shoulder in at walk and trot.
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post #14 of 14 Old 11-29-2012, 10:04 AM
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I would first like to say that I think you are a nice rider with quiet hands. Your legs could be longer but i think that is the saddle positioning them there. I really like this horse.

She is nice and relaxed and from what I can see fairly rhythmical.

When you warm up your horse, you should refer to the Dressage Training Pyramid. This is :

1. Rhythm
2. Relaxation/suppleness
3. Contact
4. Impulsion
5. Straightness
6. Collection

The idea of this pyramid is that you can not accomplish #2 without #1... Therefore you can't accomplish #3 without #2 and #1. Basically, you can't get to the next level of the pyramid without having the previous in tact.

Duke is my draft cross who is doing acceptionally well in dressage. Very naturally built front end and hind end for the sport. Nice loose mucling throughout. However, his main fault is he gets a bit "worked up" sometimes. EVERY TIME i ride a horse I have this pyramid in the back of my head. Because he is a bit more advanced in his training, I don't really need to spend so much time on each individual step because it's becoming more instilled in him as a whole during every ride. When I gather my rains he comes directly into frame and on the bit lightly. He usually needs help with his Rhythm (or tempo) at the beginning of rides and sometimes throughout. What I am saying, is your main goal on a horse is to accomplish these things. Think of the pyramid as layers to your horses training:

The first layer you need in a ride is Rhythm. The rhythm that has energy and tempo. Every stride is the same! This tempo needs to be not too fast where it is running, however, it does need to be in front of your leg... NO EXCEPTIONS.. forward is the ROOT to many training problems. A good way to establish a rhythm is just riding large at a very consistent pace. If she rushes, half halt. If she ignores the half halt, walk. And then do it again until she learns where her correct tempo is.

The second layer you need to your ride is relaxation/suppleness. Relaxation comes easier to some horses than others.. The relaxation must be within the rythm that you have established during the first layer. A good way to achieve the relaxation is doing a lot of 20 m, serpentines (if she can balance herself through them, otherwise it would do the opposite of relaxing), continuous changes of rein.. Another way to put relaxation is suppleness. I want you to imagine that your horses is stepping every single stride over her back, swinging as she does it, and into your soft hands. Your arms and elbows must be soft and non-restrictive to do this. DO NOT BY ANY MEANS wiggle your horse into frame. This does absolutely nothing for their top lines or hind end. When you begin to do that, they are posing, not moving from their hind ends and actually hollowing thier backs. This will come back to haunt you in the uper levels. It took me a good 2 months to get Duke to want to swing in a nice stretch from his hind end, over his back, to the contact. Suppleness means you can move a horses neck laterally and longitudinally. You will know when your horse has successfully accomplished an elastic, "chewy," forward suppleness. It is a wonderful feeling. Honestly, to me this is all an imagination thing. You need to visualize it and how you are going to mold the horse witout wiggling it down. This is not to say you can't use flexions or squeezing of the fingers. Just make sure that those aids accompany your leg and seat to get it accomplished without gimiking.

The third level of the pyramid is connection. This means the acceptance of the bit through the acceptance of the aids. The horse will always be on the bit and into contact at this point. If she goes above where you have placed her frame, yes.. you can use a little corrective suppling aid with your hand however push that hind end through as well! I have found through Duke's training that when he comes up, it is directly related to the loss of pushing power! Which explains why it mostly happens in corners (also the loss of balance).. This is a strength and conditioning issue that will take time to address.

I will not discuss the rest of the pyramid as that is not your question. Going through these 3 steps is a warm up! I don't believe in allowing a horse to run around with their heads straight in the air with no rhythm to "warm up their muscles." A horse should learn early on in their training that NO MATTER WHAT, they stay supple and over the back. It will take time, time, and more time for a horse to have this imprinted in their brains. Muscles are made to retract, we must teach that muscle memory to do the opposite. Muscle memory takes a long time to retrain especailly on an animal. In your warm up, think of these three things continuously. Keep going through a check list. Is my horse rythmical? if yes that move on, if not work on it. If yes: Is my horse supple? If yes than move on, if not work on it. If yes: Is my horse accepting the contact through my seat and leg aids? if yes. You've had a successful warm up. Keep doing this every ride until your horse builds strength.

I attached a link to a video I think you will find helpful. You need to see how a forward, supple, into the contact horse looks! :) hope this helps. PM me if you have any questions and sorry if it was confusing. (And I don't like how curled this horse is at the stretch, but its the only video I could find the directly discussed it)

Cesar Parra on the Stages of the Training Pyramid - YouTube
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