I have been thinking about starting Razz in riding discipline of Dressage, I might start competing with her, but a lot of work must be done. I'm assuming that this will also help with the other disciplines that I ride her in. But I know almost nothing about it. So I will really need help from everybody here. First off I have some questions for you.
What is the adequate conformation that a horse should have for dressage? How do I start her off?
What are some of the patterns that I'll come across?
Is Razz's conformation good enough for it (I'll post pictures as soon as I can)?
How do I get her to carry herself more with her hindquarters and not so much with the forehand?
I have some pictures but they aren't great so please hang on while I get some more stand still conformation pictures that will help you out a lot. I'll try to get a video too, but I can't promise anything.
How do I get her to carry herself more with her hindquarters and not so much with the forehand (obviously start with the head set, but she's really stubborn)?
Do you see any major issues with my riding that I can start to work on?
First of all, it looks like your saddle might be positioned a little too far forward on her back. I could be wrong, but it looks really far forward, and that could be causing her discomfort... Not completely sure though. Also, do you need that bit? Or can you ride her in a snaffle, also? My personal preference is a snaffle just because they're pretty mild bits. Of course, that doesn't mean that you have to use a snaffle :).
Conformation doesn't usually play a role until the higher levels; most horses can easily compete at Intoductory and Training levels as they are only W/T/C, and many horses can also do First Level pretty easily, also.
One thing I see is that she looks very stiff and hollow. One thing to remember is to keep a straight line from your elbow to the bit; it looks like you might be 'pressing down' on the reins to try and slow her down, and this is not as effective. I know because Thumper does the same thing, and when I keep the straight line, he slows down and relaxes, but when I 'press down' towards the saddle, he runs through my aids because he knows that I'm asking him incorrectly, so why answer if he doesn't have to?
Actually, you're going to NOT want to focus on headset first, that should come last. A mistake that I saw people make with Thumper was to only focus on the headset, so now he will arch his neck and LOOK like he is going correctly but he really isn't using his back any more than before. It looks to me like she hasn't been building up a proper topline. Long and low has helped Thumper to use his back more instead of pulling himself along, so to speak. Problems with long and low that I'm sure people are going to mention, though, are that sometimes a horse will begin to use this as an evasion of the bit which is, obviously, a bad thing. Some horses will, some (like Thumper) won't. You probably know best and once other people give you suggestions, you can probably pick and choose :). Probably trot poles would help, also. Just make sure that they are spaced properly! Sorry for writing so much; I kind of started rambling :).
And one more thing: make sure that you don't get too handsy, and ride with your seat and body before the reins. Half-halts will probably help to rebalance her, also. It looks like she might be a little unbalanced and speedy. Hope this helps!
As for the snaffle..... No I don't need to ride her in that bit but the only way I can ride her in a snaffle right now is to but a martingale on her or draw reins. And before everybody goes off and tells me that I need to retrain her. I'm working on it.
We don't have a saddle that fits her perfectly, I'll try sliding the saddle back. I'll give you a little history if it will help you out.
She was broke to ride when she was three and then people just left her alone after she learned to listen to the rider.She's now about 10. She was started out in the snaffle, so I don't know exactly when she suddenly got the idea that it was ok to run through the snaffle. Last year she was ridden by someone who messed her up pretty good. She dumped this person almost continuously and when she wasn't dumping her she was running through her. I started riding her this summer and have had nomajor problems other than every now and the she'll say, "Oh I don't want to stop cantering now." but i'll shift my weight and say "Whoa, walk." and she'll listen.
The time I put her in the snaffle she ran through it, and ignored me completely. I had never questioned why we rode her in a double bridle. I had just accepted it until I started to wonder and eventually put one in her mouth.
My hands are like that because I'm trying to bring her head down.....and she's obviously resisting. She has a nice headset at the walk, but anything faster the head is none existant.
How do I work her long and low? Just ride her on a loose rein? I used to ride with my seat a lot when I had Rocket, but when I got Razz I could only ride with my legs, anytime I even touched her mouth she freaked out (that problem has been taken care of).
So I should try to ride her more like I did with Rocket, and almost completely with my seat? And yes, she is very fast, but that's because of her legs and size. She has long legs and long strides, and lots of power. She'd have more if I could get her to use her hindquarters.
Best pictures I have.....
Yes she has a halter on, I know it's dangerous. And she was sweaty and she rolled. Her chest wasn't even warm so we put her out.
As far as for the saddle - get one that fits you and the horse and then get a saddle pad that fits the saddle. Having a correct saddle is the first step in fixing your issues.
As far as for basic dressage, and just learning without competing, you can honestly be riding a cow. The number one thing that dressage does to improve the horse is improve the rider. All horses are born inherently able to walk, trot, canter, do transitions between the gaits and perform basic movements. How do they get around in the field? It is just the rider that has to be taught to sit properly on the horse and aid it correctly. 99.9% of the population aren't born inherently knowing how to ride a horse.
Your horse looks nice enough to compete lower levels. Nothing about her leaps out at me to make me think otherwise.
Right now though, you need to not worry about her. I am willing to bet money that a dressage trainer could hop on her for a week and she would be "doing dressage" in that span of time. When you are able to sit correctly in the saddle, when you are able to go with her movement and when you are able to aid her correctly is when you can start worrying about her. Until then, worry about you.
I really suggest lessons with a qualified dressage trainer because it is difficult enough to learn dressage from someone in real life, let alone over the internet.