Training Advice for Sarge - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-13-2012, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Training Advice for Sarge

A little background info. I've had Sarge since he was a baby and he turned 10 this year. I did lower level eventing with him for a summer or two, never gone past beginner novice. My trainer wasn't incredibly dressage savvy so our dressage was never amazing. I interned at a dressage barn where I learned a good bit about dressage which sparked my interest and I've been trying to transfer this over to my own horse. Sarge is a quarter horse, so obviously not built to do beautiful dressage. I'm just looking to show him at lower level events again for fun.

Sarge is one of the most difficult horses I've ridden. He's incredibly wormy and isn't naturally very forward. He likes to fight against me and I've never been able to get him to hold a frame for more than a few circles without him putting his head back to the sky.

Lately, I've been working on getting him forward and in front of my leg. I've been having a horrible time getting him to be light and supple. This is especially a problem during transitions. At the walk I can have him completely relaxed and in a nice frame and I'll lightly ask for the trot with the same light frame and he'll bring his head up and fight against my hands. All I do is keep my contact steady and push him forward until he decides to give to me. We'll be going nicely at the trot and he just decides to stick his nose up and fight against me rather than go around in a nice frame. I'm not entirely sure what to do with him. I'm almost tempted to put draw reins on him and see if that helps. His resistance is way more than usual and very frustrating.

I took some videos today and I'm sorry the quality isn't amazing but it can give you an idea. Also keep in mind I haven't had lessons for over a year and I don't have access to them right now (wish I did...). I'm pretty much just trying to learn on my own. I realize my equitation isn't perfect which contributes to the problem. Any positive feedback is appreciated.

I'll try to edit a few more clips for you guys but that gives you an idea of what's going on.
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-13-2012, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Anyone have any advice for me? It would be so appreciated.
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-13-2012, 06:20 PM
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That was very difficult to see, but the rider seems to be going up & down & not doing a true post, which hovers over the saddle- more of a front-to light settling on the seat bones, not a hard sit-down. Plopping down into the saddle is certainly not comfortable for the horse. It was so small & faraway, though, don't know what was really going on. You've had this horse for a long time & he's "incredibly" wormy? What does that mean? You said the horse isn't 'forward"? Looked like he had plenty of go to me-maybe a closer/bigger video would help. Ok, I did see a lot of leg-pushing, but 24 seconds just isn't much.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-14-2012, 09:41 AM
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This video does not work for me. I'm not sure what wormy means either. Are you saying that he does not stay straight while working? That would mean that you need to push him forward. (note, fast does not mean forward) All of what you are saying sounds like issues for you, not the horse and side reins would just be adding more problems for you.

A quarter horse can do beautiful dressage. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

It really sounds like you are hanging on the reins.

Do you do groundwork with your horse?
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-14-2012, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, yes by wormy I mean that he is hard to keep on a straight line. I have been working on getting him in front of my leg and moving forward and he's definitely made improvements, but he naturally would rather be slow and ignore leg. I realize a huge part of this is my own riding and I am trying to fix what I can see in the videos but it's tough with him. It's just incredibly frustrating because just a few weeks ago he was doing so well and making big strides in the right direction and now he just seems to be fighting me all the time. I have done lots of groundwork with him, including lots of work in a roundpen although we haven't lately. I was thinking about lunging him in sidereins before I ride to help him become more consistant and build his topline. I have used draw reins on him in years past and they have helped him become a little softer, but I'm not saying that's the solution. I'm just not sure what to do with him and don't have a trainer to help me pick out what I'm doing wrong. Anything that could help us would be great. Here's another video from February. It's still not amazing but it's longer and maybe you can get a better idea of what we do. If you view the video full screen it's probably easier to see things.


Thanks again.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-14-2012, 03:45 PM
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I didn't see all of the video (slow download!) but this is what I think:

You don't look so bad. You do need to develop your riding, strengthening your core, working on developing an independent seat.

Your horse doesn't look as though he's fighting YOU so much as he has trouble balancing when his head is held in. At the walk, he can manage--he seems like a nice, kind horse-- but when you start to trot--especially when you lose your own balance a little-- he needs his neck to help himself balance.

I'm not an expert or a teacher, but I'm wondering if you most of your riding in a circle? To help both of you, I'd actually forget about any kind of frame, just keep a nice contact, and keep working on brisk forward gaits, and do these exercises: change of direction (as in serpentines), leg-yielding, and transitions (they don't need to be abrupt) because these exercises will automatically supple and engage your horse, and you will improve in riding them.

And of course I recommend lessons, whenever you can!
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 09:54 AM Thread Starter
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I took your advice and started out riding him on a loose rein yesterday and just focused on keeping him forward and listening. I then started to ask a little of him and he was much more compliant and soft. I think I was just trying to get him to do something we weren't capable of and then getting upset about it which obviously doesn't help things. I have a show this weekend (first one in probably two years) so I'm a little nervous about how he'll act. Especially since there's people there I used to know. haha. I just need to focus on us and not what others think or do. I'm glad I decided to just chill and take a step back with him. So much better. Thanks for your help.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 01:34 PM
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i dont know much about english. or dressage i used to ride a show jumping horse witch was years ago so i dont remember much since then i went to western i use my english saddle for lessons. getting people more bal. no horn kinda thing.. but to my point. your horse doesnt seem to be fighting you at all. he does seem to be a great horse i have many of the same problems with mine its hard when you have had them for a long time. but you said he likes to go slow. have you ever thought about doing western pleasure with him?my friend competes in the state finals every year its a bit of the oppisite but i think it might help you. she competes in weastern pleasure but she does take sydney and compete in english deassage when shes there sais it helps syd compete.
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-18-2012, 09:04 PM
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One tip.. when you trot your elbows don't open and close or act as elastic.. so that's probably not helping him find his balance and continue to move happily forward and relax himself.

So work on being more loose and supple. Watch some Jane Savoie. She's got great ideas :)

Also have a friend help you to remember your posture, hopefully one that knows how to ride.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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