How to "keep" horse on bit?
 
 

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How to "keep" horse on bit?

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    10-25-2010, 05:45 PM
  #1
Showing
How to "keep" horse on bit?

I'm somewhat confused. When I half halt my qh she rounds and comes on bit (not all the time, but we are learning still, those are first steps). However she goes "off the bit" --> head rather high, no rounding almost right away. From what I read you have to soften the hands and release legs after successful half halt, however as long as I release --> she's off. My trainer says I have to keep asking her to stay round rather than releasing, but I just can't really get it (I going to ask her again next lesson, I was too tired last time to ask for detailed explanation). So any advices? Suggestions?

I should also add she stays on on walk (although not constantly), but not on trot.
     
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    10-25-2010, 06:02 PM
  #2
Started
I'll be lurking on this one... I'm curious.

For what its worth, I've always read that a half halt should never be held or sustained, only released and repeated. In my understanding, holding the half halt aids "on" would only confuse the horse and cause tension.

I expect as your mare is fairly new to the concept of traveling round and on the bit she's engaging new muscles and fatiguing them. The best way to fix that is to encourage her to travel on the bit, but allow frequent rests/stretches in another acceptable frame, I.e. Long and low.

Like I said, I'm lurking, and take my input with a large grain of salt; maybe a whole shaker or two. The day Scout is properly on the bit is the day I fall out of the saddle in happiness for both of us.
     
    10-25-2010, 06:31 PM
  #3
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutrider    
I'll be lurking on this one... I'm curious.

For what its worth, I've always read that a half halt should never be held or sustained, only released and repeated. In my understanding, holding the half halt aids "on" would only confuse the horse and cause tension.
Hopefully some dressage experts will pitch in.

Actually when she rounds (and I can see/feel it), her neck goes arched and head perpendicular (I'm sorry I'm not very good in terminology), it's not a real half halt anymore. By that I mean there is a definite release in rein, so she's not "hold in it" on walk (or on trot). And yes, you are absolutely right she's using different muscles when she goes round so she'll have to adjust.
     
    10-25-2010, 09:05 PM
  #4
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitten_Val    
By that I mean there is a definite release in rein,

And that is where your problem is.
     
    10-25-2010, 09:21 PM
  #5
Started
I'm currently working on this with my trainer's Andalusian gelding. It's sort of challenging to describe exactly what I'm doing but I'll try without sounding completely crazy. What I do is several tiny half-halts... sort of almost "vibrating" my hands open and closed. While doing this I maintain an upward angle as opposed to pulling more "back". When you pull back it can make the horse feel more bunched up and restricted, which can often make it uncomfortable.

As soon as the horse responds to my "vibrating" hand by tucking his nose in, I keep a steady hand with very steady contact. Your reins should be short enough that even once the horse has tucked its nose and become more round, you have a good feeling of contact in the reins. It also helps encourage them to remain relaxed by allowing your hand to follow the movement of their walk a little. When a horse walks its head moves forward and back a little. Allowing your hand to follow this motion keeps the pressure very light and steady throughout. The extent to which your hand follows the motion indicates the length of the horse's stride. So if you want a more collected walk, only allow your hands to move so far... and if you want a more extended walk you can even "exaggerate" the following motion.

Your seat and leg also have a fair bit to to with this. You'll usually want to be giving the horse a bit of forward encouragement with your leg and remain fairly quiet with your seat unless you need the horse to slow its pace.

Using this method, you'll have a quiet steady hand while the horse remains round and resume "vibrating" when the horse raises its head again to encourage relaxation once more. As has been mentioned, it does require a certain level of muscle toning to be able to remain in a nice frame for an extended period of time... so it will be relatively gradual in terms of how long she can and will "hold" the frame.

I hope this makes sense and is helpful.
     
    10-25-2010, 09:49 PM
  #6
Trained
I think you have to go back to the basics and re-imagine what 'on the bit' really is. Because it is not headset. The horse's headset is not anything you should be worrying about creating - you ride correctly from back to front and she will offer you her head.

Use your leg and your seat to encourage engagement of her hind end. Half halt to balance her, except think of it, like Jane Savoie says, as a 'half go'. You are not asking her to slow down with it, or to stop her forward motion - you are asking her for more forward without speeding up.

Once you are pushing her forward and she is using her rear end correctly you can begin to achieve 'on the bit'. Have steady, forgiving contact, and when you have her going forward, she will begin to come closer to the vertical. Reward this by leaving her alone - don't release the contact, just stop pushing her forward. When she comes off again, push her forward into your hands again.

You cannot use the reins to ask her - this creates a false frame that is incorrect and detrimental to her health. Being on the bit comes from the whole horse, not where her head is sitting.
     
    10-25-2010, 10:41 PM
  #7
Trained
Exactly as Spyder said. Yes you need a release, in fact a horse learns from the release of pressure, not the pressure itself. So by holding and maintaining the half halt you are continuing the pressure and not teaching the horse anything, as without the release there is no reward gained for coming onto the bit.
However, the release is such that it is more a light give of the hand and release of the seat. Your half halt should be performed mainly through your seat, with the reins acting as a support.
Apply your half halt, using your seat to 'block' the movement for half a stride and a SMALL close of the reins. The second you get a reaction from the hind legs, allow your seat forward quietly, and give your hand very slightly, so you keep a contact with the bit. The mistake that most people make with the release, is to 'throw away' their reins when they get a reaction. Remember that the half halt is intended to create a connection between the hind end and forehand, so if you get that connection, then by throwing the reins away you are breaking it, and you have to expect the horse to come above the bit.
     
    10-26-2010, 12:38 AM
  #8
Super Moderator
I can remember SOOOOO many lessons where my teacher chided me by saying, "Don't give away the contact!" I though I was being nice by totally giving away the contact after my horse gave in the jaw and came more onto the bit, but all it did was leave them with no support and made us have to do it all over again. Of course, you DO have to half halt a lot. Some riders say it's like every fourth or sixth stride. But when you give the release think of it more as advanceing you hands just the tinitest bit and inviting the horse to stretch forward with the increased energy they will now have BUT don't drop everything.
If you want to at times give the horse a dramatic release and kind of test how long they can hold the frame, give the inside rein only, and give it 'til there's a loop in the rein and say, "Thank you", slowly retake the rein and ride on.
     
    10-26-2010, 07:24 AM
  #9
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
But when you give the release think of it more as advanceing you hands just the tinitest bit and inviting the horse to stretch forward with the increased energy they will now have BUT don't drop everything.
If you want to at times give the horse a dramatic release and kind of test how long they can hold the frame, give the inside rein only, and give it 'til there's a loop in the rein and say, "Thank you", slowly retake the rein and ride on.
Exactly and I call it riding the rein forward.
     
    10-26-2010, 10:44 AM
  #10
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitten_Val    
...she goes "off the bit" --> head rather high, no rounding almost right away.

So lets start there. As soon as you get on you want her to "give" to the bit - so keeping legs on - so she doesn't back up - ask her - at the halt - to give to the reins by mobilizing her jaw. You do this by using the reins - squeeze on left rein while holding right rein steady, then squeeze on right rein while holding left rein steady/repeat... UNTIL she brings her nose in and gets an "arch" to her neck. Once she has done this maintain the same rein contact you have just gotten - elbows on your waist - then lightly squeeze with legs and softening (no more than 1/4 inch) your elbows and allow her to walk forward. ...
From what I read you have to soften the hands and release legs after successful half halt, however as long as I release --> she's off. My trainer says I have to keep asking her to stay round rather than releasing, but I just can't really get it (I going to ask her again next lesson, I was too tired last time to ask for detailed explanation). So any advices? Suggestions?

I should also add she stays on on walk (although not constantly), but not on trot.
SO now you should have immediately established where you want her head and nose before she's even taken a step - idea here is to maintain what you heve EVEN if you lengthen the reins. This will be a challange.

So your half halt (HH) has issues (so it sounds). The HH is the rider asking for a SQUARE halt then at the last second allowing the horse to continue forward (by softening the elbows as described above). To have a good HH you have to start with a good halt. This means it MUST be square - which means not only the front feet are together but the back feet are together too!

Some clues on how to get a nice halt/HH:
1.) When you halt (HHT) sit straight up and down - do NOT lean forward OR back.
2.) Push straight down (NOT forward) with stirrups when asking for halt/HH.
3.) Lock elbows on your waist and brace entire body during halt to discourage forward movement.
4.) Keep legs against horses sides - this is to keep him in front of your legs and to keep him straight. If he can "bend" his body during the halt he can get out of doing the halt correctly.


Think of your body position mimicking your "standing" in the stirrups - legs pointing straight down and body position the same as you walk - shoulders back, head looking forward, elbows on waist.

Once you have a good halt and HH then before each transition and corner do a HH then ask for either the new gait (walk from trot or trot from walk) or more bend. The HH can be used to slow the horse, get them back "on the bit" (round), or rebalance them.

Now when horse pokes nose out you do a HH - steady (NO give) outside rein in fist with elbow on waist, squeeze fist tighter/unsqueeze fist on inside rein, while pushing straight down on BOTH stirrups and using legs as necessary - touching horses sides or squeezing riders legs if horse tries to "get behind the leg".
     

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