Note: I ride him in a kimberwicke bit and with prince of wales spurs. I DO NOT own him.
I just started to work with this horse in July of 2012 and i've been working on his english pleasure specifically rounding his head and keeping him light on his feet. He does round his head but after a few steps he's back to sticking his nose out and pulling. I then hold him and squeeze until he gives me his head and I feel his hind legs come under him, then I release. <-- this is what my instructor has told me to do. I also told her about this problem and she told me to halt him, back him up, make him stand there for a bit, then continue trotting and do the squeeze and hold technique.
I have been doing this when I ride him but he isn't really responding and since I ride in a group lesson she doesn't have a lot of time to really focus on us.
When I canter him is when it gets really bad, he sticks his nose out and speeds up. I do the squeeze and hold technique but when he responds to my hands it's only for a few steps. I can tell it doesn't look pretty at all. This also effects our jumping because he speeds up really fast as we get closer to the jump and it throws our striding off. I do pull back but he doesn't respond at all.
I was wondering how to fix this, it is obviously effecting our riding completely and I feel like we not improving at all. Show season is around the corner and I really want to make some more progress with him.
I am I expecting too much from him too fast? Is what my instructor telling me to do right? Does it have to do with the way i'm riding him? Any tips will be awesome and I will try them at my lesson.
Sorry this is so long.
Ok so I'm going to give my two-cents as a dressage rider. From the sounds of it, what you are asking your horse to do is go in a head-set. That just means he has his head down and looks nice and pretty - in his head/neck that is.
Going in a head-set doesn't mean he is under himself. If your horse was carrying himself then he wouldn't feel heavy in your hands. Of course you should feel a connection but definitely not a heaviness. It sounds like he's on his forehand because he wants to stick his nose in the air and run around.
Now half-halts are great, in fact they are a bit like what you described you are doing. It's just like giving your horse a pause up front to let the hind end up catch up and get underneath them. You should do them every single time you feel him start to get strung out. Also use your seat - don't let him pull you forward. Sit strong and use your core to bring his front end back to you.
Transitions are excellent and I'm glad you do the trot-halt-trot thing. I like to trot then halt, immediately back three or four steps, and the instantly pick up the trot again. This makes him use his hind-end actively. But it doesn't do any good if you let any time go by in between the transitions.
Always remember to be quick to reward of course. Soften your hands when he is going well to give him incentive to carry himself.
It's usually easier to work on in the trot so stick to that until you feel he has gotten a little better.
As for the canter, some things I like to do with my boy when he gets on his forehand is to do spiral circles. I start him out on like a twenty or fifteen meter circle and spiral the circle in until its like he's doing a canter pirouette. Then I let him out of it for a couple steps and continue.
Transitions from walk-canter and canter-walk are great as well.
Move his shoulders around too. Perhaps try some different lateral exercises.
Remember to really sit back and use your own weight to bring to shift his balance back. Don't really worry a whole lot about his head in the beginning. It will come once he isn't leaning on your hands.
I probably could go on and on but yeah if you have any questions feel free to ask