Training scales, achieving looseness and rhythm - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-16-2011, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Training scales, achieving looseness and rhythm

I haven't posted too much here but enjoy the wealth of information from the forum and I was hoping some kind knowledgeable people could give me some tips or exercises for achieving looseness and rhythm.
The mare I ride is a sensitive, speedy and very clever arab x hanovarian. As a younger horse she evented with good results in the dressage phase but her last owner was a young girl and I fear she has spent the past few years being a fun, fast teenagers ride competing in mounted games and showjumping with little if any dressage or schooling. We have managed over the past year to persaude her to lower her head and neck so that now at least her ears aren't stuck up my nose permanently but I find that when she is working in a longer outline she progressively gets more on her forehand and speeds up. If I try to half halt to lift her off her forehand and maintain the rhythm she tenses and hollows her back.
We have had her back, teeth and saddle checked within the last three months, infact the back lady (who comes every 6 months) has been today and is pleased that she has developed more topline, better muscles on her quarters and appears to have less tension or knots in her muscles.
Should I continue and hope she settles? Am I doing the right thing or does any one have any extra tips or exercises I can try.
I always try to do plenty of transitions to keep her off the forehand and we have been doing lateral work for suppleness. She is incredibly reactive to the leg but instead of pushing off from her hind end she will raise her head and ping forward from the shoulders. This is not so violent as when we first had her but is still visible with each transition.
We are not aiming to take the dressage world by storm but I enjoy schooling and would love to do some unaffiliated tests. I also feel she will benefit from being more relaxed and happy in herself if she can accept the aids and become 'loose'.
I will add we tried some cavaletti work but it appears she finds anything remotely resembling showjumping as an excuse to go even faster with her head even higher, she failed to even lift her feet over the pole and I wonder at how we both didn't end up in a heap on the floor!
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post #2 of 11 Old 11-16-2011, 08:16 PM
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What a nicely written explanation. It appears you do know a fair amount about changing the horse's way of going and I think you are moving in the right direction. Your description of how she accelerates by pulling with the shoulder resonates strongly with me. My friend has an arab that moves this way. In her case, her guy is fundamentally a lazy fellow who is very conservative of energy. She works constantly to get him to move from his hind end, rather than pull from the shoulder.

One thing she has taken to doing is really making him walk on, all the time. But not let him trot. She gets him up to just short of a trot and then tries to keep him there as much as possible, especially going up hills.

The cavaletti or ground poles are invaluable. Try freelunging her for a bit, so that she gets confident about going over them and learns that she MUST pick up her feet to get over them. Thus, you must have at least 4 in a row. Yes, 4 is a good number. Also, put a few real jumps in , for your horse's amusement.
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post #3 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 04:50 AM Thread Starter
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Tinyliny, thankyou for replying. Its reassuring that I'm on the right track. It's funny you say your friends horse is fundamentally lazy, I have said this about Dorrie, its an odd thing to say because she whizzes around so fast and is so quick off the leg she appears to be completely the opposite of a lazy horse yet she rarely uses herself properly. I really feel the cavelleti would be invaluable but my problem is how hot she becomes even about poles on the floor, also she appears to not be bothered about picking her feet up over them at all. My old mare, who admittedly jumped very well in her day, would make every effort to pick her feet up over poles, if she touched one then the next time she would be very particular about NOT touching a one, Dorrie appears to not care if she bangs every one.
I think we will try on the lunge with the poles as I'm afraid I don't help matters with the pole work. She gets very feisty and I will admit to getting a little 'hands on' with her which I suspect only compounds the problem.
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 08:11 AM
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My paint sounds very similar to your horse (except she never really was trained even). I do lots of half halts and circles with her. If her head goes up I half halt and ask her to lower her pole. It take lots, LOTS of time to make a tiny step (very frustrating at times), but the difference is there. I'd also suggest to look into lessons with the dressage trainer (if there are any in your area). Even 1-2 times/month provides a big help.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Laura6544 View Post
Tinyliny, thankyou for replying. Its reassuring that I'm on the right track. It's funny you say your friends horse is fundamentally lazy, I have said this about Dorrie, its an odd thing to say because she whizzes around so fast and is so quick off the leg she appears to be completely the opposite of a lazy horse yet she rarely uses herself properly. I really feel the cavelleti would be invaluable but my problem is how hot she becomes even about poles on the floor, also she appears to not be bothered about picking her feet up over them at all.
When she does this DON'T half halt her but support her with your outside rein and do multiple direction changes with her.

BTW...what line does the Hanoverian part of your horse comes from.

You mentioned "Dorrie"..is she "D" line ?
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 02:27 PM
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Laura, reading your posting I can't help but think how much you and your horse sound like me and my horse! She is quick which is deceiving because I actually have to use a ridiculous amout of leg.

We work on a lot of serpentines and figure 8's, riding (or trying to ride) each step to make sure that she doesn't get lazy and lean or lock her shoulder. I have to pay extra attention to where I am putting weight in the stirrups. I have a tendency to sit to the outside. Not saying this is a problem for you, but something that you may want to pay attention to and rule out since that will encourage leaning to the inside, making the horse move more quickly to catch his/her unbalanced trot (or canter). Just a thought!
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Shasta, you make a good point, I am sometimes guilty of putting weight in the wrong place, I will pay attention to this next time I ride, i'll kick myself if this sorts it! Thankyou.
Spyder, her sire is Broadstone Westcountry, she is actually my friends horse and when she bought her we had no idea of her breeding, she was in quite a sorry state. Both her owner and I dote on her she is such a special, kind mare and she has been transformed with some tender loving care. My friend has only been riding for a couple of years so she asked me to help with her schooling, I consider myself very lucky to have the ride.
Here is a picture of her when she first arrived.



And one taken this summer

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post #8 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Laura6544 View Post
Shasta, you make a good point, I am sometimes guilty of putting weight in the wrong place, I will pay attention to this next time I ride, i'll kick myself if this sorts it! Thankyou.
Spyder, her sire is Broadstone Westcountry, she is actually my friends horse and when she bought her we had no idea of her breeding, she was in quite a sorry state. Both her owner and I dote on her she is such a special, kind mare and she has been transformed with some tender loving care. My friend has only been riding for a couple of years so she asked me to help with her schooling, I consider myself very lucky to have the ride.
Here is a picture of her when she first arrived.



And one taken this summer
Comes from the old lines.

BROADSTONE WEST COUNTRY - Stud Card. Stallions Online. Stallions at stud.

Good lines in there but they are also lines that require a strong seat to get the best from them, but once you do have their full attention you usually get their respect.

So you need to get into this type of horse.
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post #9 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Good lines in there but they are also lines that require a strong seat to get the best from them, but once you do have their full attention you usually get their respect.

So you need to get into this type of horse.
that's really interesting, I will admit to only really 'getting into' dressage in the last few years. I used to event quite a few years ago but am ashamed to admit at the time the dressage phase was the least appealing of the 3. Older, wiser and a nasty fall resulting in a fractured spine later and I find myself loving this sport. If only I'd paid more attention to it when I evented, it would have improved my horses way of going in all areas!
This horse has challenging my riding technique more than any other horse I've ridden, she really does respond to the seat and any errors I make in this area result in a marked deterioration in her way of going, others I have ridden have been sympathetic to my mistakes. I think this is fantastic, she has taught me so much already.
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post #10 of 11 Old 11-22-2011, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Laura6544 View Post
Shasta, you make a good point, I am sometimes guilty of putting weight in the wrong place, I will pay attention to this next time I ride, i'll kick myself if this sorts it! Thankyou.
Spyder, her sire is Broadstone Westcountry, she is actually my friends horse and when she bought her we had no idea of her breeding, she was in quite a sorry state. Both her owner and I dote on her she is such a special, kind mare and she has been transformed with some tender loving care. My friend has only been riding for a couple of years so she asked me to help with her schooling, I consider myself very lucky to have the ride.
Here is a picture of her when she first arrived.



And one taken this summer

I don't have any advice to add, sorry. But I saw this thread, hoping I can learn from it myself and was astonished at the transformation of this mare! She looks like an entirely different horse in the more recent picture. Kudos to you all for getting her to look so fantastic!
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