Tips? Advice? Book Recommendations?

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Tips? Advice? Book Recommendations?

This is a discussion on Tips? Advice? Book Recommendations? within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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        04-23-2010, 09:58 AM
    Tips? Advice? Book Recommendations?

    Danny has a lot of green, stubborn, bored issues from a lack of prior training. In the four months that I've had him, he has improved tremendously. He rarely stops dead in the middle of trotting anymore, is picking up the correct leads almost every time to the left and right, and will actually canter more than once around without breaking. We've started dresssage lessons, since I think this is the best way to go to give him a good foundation and improve some of his quirks.

    For example, he pops his right shoulder every time he wants to ignore what I'm asking him to do. If we're going to the right, and I ask him to pick up the trot, he will bulge his right shoulder and contort his neck while sidepassing right to the center of the ring. This usually results in a fight, until my trainer pointed out last night that ever time he does this, he buys himself time before he has to pick up the trot. When he bulges, I forget about asking him to trot, and instead try to fix the bulge and get him straight again. It's like a game with him that gets worse as he becomes more bored during a lesson or ride. So, last night must have been pretty funny to watch, since I stopped fighting the bulge and continued asking for the trot instead. He wandered all OVER the ring trying to entice me to forget about trotting. After a few times, he seemed to give up and the bulge happened less and less.

    Anyway, our biggest issues of the moment are forward, straightness, and teaching him to engage his hind end instead of plodding along as slow as he can possibly get away with. I think a lot of his problems can be fixed once he learns to drive from the backend. In the last several years I've read almost every dressage book on the market, but most are geared towards theory and performing more advanced movements. I have found very little that deals with the beginning stages of training (pre-training level showing) and teaching a horse to move off the leg, accepting the bridle, engaging the hind, etc. Any good suggestions for books that provide practical applications for truly beginner dressage riders? I'd like to think that MOST of this stuff can be fixed if I change my way of asking him.
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        04-23-2010, 10:44 AM
    Green Broke
    Get him out of the arena! Yes this is unorthodox but is a very good training tool if used correctly. Find some nice trails that have long straights and ask for EVERYTHING you would in the arena. Or if you live near a road that is quiet enough, use that instead. This works in three ways:

    1.) Horses usually love a the change of scenery and my bet is that he won't be interested in stopping dead in his tracks at all.
    2.) Allows you more than 60m to encourage straightness - when horses are learning this they often take an entire length of the arena before they really straighten up, then of course they have to turn again.
    3.) It gets them out and about, great experience and you will really notice the difference when you take him off to compete, new environments become less scary and they learn to settle and concentrate much quicker away from home.

    If he hasn't been out before it may take a few rides before he is used to riding in the open but trust me it will be well worth the effort. I used to do this with every ex racehorse I had as one of the major issues with retraining them is encouraging straightness as they are so used to running in circles. This is also a good way to begin shoulder in training and basic lateral movements a little later in your training.

    You might find you both enjoy it as a change from the normal work outs!
        04-23-2010, 10:52 AM
    Luckily, we do have trails and a nice big field at our farm. He loves getting outside, although we have different issues, namely he gets quite distracted and jumpy and tends to tune me out. It doesn't help that I'm not used to being out of the arena and get nervous myself, but we take some buddies with us and are getting him more accustomed to being out of the ring. I completely agree that a change of scenery and a change of routine are very helpful with his personality. We also work over cross rails and ground poles at least once a week. I try to be creative and do different things with him everyday, while still trying to be consisent so he knows that he's expected to be working, no matter what we're doing.
        04-24-2010, 02:23 AM
    Hi luvmyperch,
    I am a dressage rider (have trained several horses (one up to 4th level/PSG), several different breeds) and love reading dressage books. You are absolutely right that many books gloss over the basics, and instead seem instead to have an entire chapter devoted to "developing the canter pirouette, and another to "issues in piaffe to passage transitions". Unfortunately there are no guides to getting your horse to trot all the way down the long side (and not stopping, bulging to the centre of the ring in a lovely but unwanted starburst pattern...). Been there! I had to break and train my current horse (fortunately now 6 year old) with only the most minimal help (trust me, not how I planned it - circumstances beyond my control), and know how you feel. I had ridden youngsters before, and read many books on training young ones, and of course, my mare decided not to read the books and did everything not covered in them!

    Anyway, the most useful book that I found in terms of breaking down the training pyramid into manageable chunks, so that you can have a bit of a guide in terms off what are the one or two goals ahead that you need to work towards is Kurd Albrecht Von Ziegner's "The Elements of Dressage - a guide for training the young horse" (I'm pretty sure amazon has it). Most of the book (over 80%) is very useful before you can even competently navigate training level. Also in terms of what are the aids, school figures ect, if you haven't already read it, "The Principles of Riding" by the German National Equestrian Federation is a must.
        04-24-2010, 09:50 AM
    Thanks xhalt! Those are some great ideas that I will definitely check out. I certainly don't expect to find my training answers in books, but I do find that ideas and visualations that I read definitely stick in my mind as a reinforcer for me when I'm riding. I never thought to review materials that cover training the young horse, but I guess that's where the very basic, beginning information would be! Even though Danny is 12, he is still very much a baby in his training, except he's smarter and sneakier when trying to get out of work!!
        04-24-2010, 10:44 AM
    Hi luvmyperch,
    Don't let the title of Von Ziegner's book fool you, it really is just a guide to dressage, regardless of the horse's age with a real emphasis on the basics, broken down in a very progressive and (at least imho) a very understandable way. Two of the my "project horses" (horses that I tried training because I needed something to ride... and if I couldn't find dressage horses I'd have to make them myself!) were older, one was 8 and the other 12 when I started with them. To be sure, the challenges are different. However, for the most part, the steps that you need to go through (i.e goals that you need to achieve) with an older horse are the same as with a younger one. For visualizations, Sally Swift's "Centered Riding" is another must.

        04-26-2010, 05:10 PM
    Green Broke
    Sounds a lot like my pretty green horse. Right now we have the arena filled with "stuff". Orange soccer cones (they're cheap, small and easily moved), ground poles, buckets, a small tarp, pretty much anything that was lying around. In order to keep my horse's mind occupied (so she forgets about refusing to trot or trying to walk or just plain trying to stand still) I ride her around and over all the objects, trying not to make "repeating" patterns.

    Lots of serpentines, figure 8's, circles of various widths and so forth but trying to do them around varying items. So if we go right around a cone, I'll try to go left around that cone next time. If she refuses or otherwise tried to get out of doing what she was asked, I circle around and try it again.

    Our arena is not fenced, it's surrounded by grass on all sides and then a fence around the grass, so I ride her in and out of the arena. Basically just trying to get her "going forward" my trainer has that as my goal right now, even if the "forward" looks like she's drunk, unable to walk in a straight line and crow hopping the entire way!

    I'm seeing vast improvements, she has forgotten that she loves to crow hop, she's alert and paying attention because I am changing directions so often with no pattern to it. She's also forgotten that she was scared to leave the rail, most of her crookedness was her trying to rush back over to the rail if I wanted to go diagonally across the arena or something.

    After I ride, I take her out and walk her on the trails we have behind the property. Just getting her (and I) used to it before I try riding her out there.
        04-26-2010, 05:42 PM
    Have you read centered riding?
        04-26-2010, 05:45 PM
    Originally Posted by pieinthesky    
    have you read centered riding?
    Yes, several years ago, but it is back on my list to re-read. Right now I'm working on Dressage in Lightness which starts with the very first few weeks of training. Yay!! It actually has the beginning, intro work and explanations that I was looking for (i.e. Encouraging an active walk, stratightness in the trot, etc) specifically for a young horse, or older horse with no dressage training.

    Delfina, I think you must have Danny's sister!! Nice to know I'm not the only one dealing with similar issues!

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