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Lazy horse- give up on dressage with him?

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        08-10-2013, 04:41 PM
      #11
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by core    
    I have to ride my horse very, very forward in the warmup. She has to continue going forward with big energy without my calves on her for at least once around at trot and once a canter.

    If I don't, the rest of the ride I feel like I'm nagging her for even the tiniest bit of energy. Then I feel guilty and hate myself.

    If I do impress on her that the lightest aid for forward really means forward, then she's a dream the rest of the ride.

    My issue with my horse is I beg her for forward instead of demanding it once and being done with the nagging. If I put my calves on she has to jump forward immediately at the lightest touch, and taking my calves off does not mean she can stop. She used to require that I continuously drive her forward nearly every step. I had one clinic with a top notch trainer that pointed that out, and I've spent the last 4 months fixing it. It is such a different ride from what I was used to with my horse. Now she's got some real power behind her. Her lengthens (which were utterly non-existent before the clinic) are tremendously big and floaty now.

    My point being... it's not the horse in most cases. It's us riders creating the problems. (Assuming your vet has ruled out health issues).
    Posted via Mobile Device
    This is a great point for those of us with big, phlegmatic horses. Not sure how to do this but will remember this point forever.
         
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        08-10-2013, 04:50 PM
      #12
    Weanling
    So, the horse IS active when jumping. That proves he can CHOOSE to go.

    What is the difference? Likely it is because he is up/open/free because the rider is allowing it. Too often riders today are taught training (aka dressage) is about longtitudinal flexion first. It is not, and if the horse is taken low/closed it WILL slow/stop.

    The teacher/clinician should be teaching you how to have a horse choose a different behavior (both mounted and unmounted). ALL horses, show of unsoundness, are made to go forward, the rest is training.
         
        08-10-2013, 06:57 PM
      #13
    Trained
    Sounds like you might just have an eventer on your hands. I agree with others about cross training. Not only is it good for clearing out the cobwebs in the mind, trail riding and hacking put the muscle on the horse necessary for good dressage work. My horse is the same way. If we did our dressage tests out in an open field, we would score in the 9's every time. If I put him in a sand arena and asked him to trot circles every day, he would be one sad sack. Cross training is key. We only do dressage two days a week. The other days we are trail riding, jumping, or running around in hay fields with bugs in our teeth. He is very well conditioned, which makes his job easier, and he's always happy to do his job because he knows I will never drill him into the ground.

    I would go to the clinic. At the very worst, the clinician will work with you and tell you, this horse is not happy doing dressage. At best, they will find a way to get your horse happily moving forward into the bit, and you will come back with a new tool box of how to better motivate your horse.
         
        08-10-2013, 09:32 PM
      #14
    Weanling
    This is exactly the same problem I'm encountering with my current project horse! It's good to see so many suggestions on the topic :) I've already got some new ideas to spice up the Dressage lessons. Thanks for posting, everyone!
         
        08-10-2013, 11:36 PM
      #15
    Weanling
    Forwardness -or the natural lack of it- is an issue with my boy too. If I let him, he'd toddle around at slug pace.

    But there IS forwardness and I CAN find it... I just have to be more consistent so the lazy can be 'trained out' of him.

    Generally, in my warm up, I trot up the long sides, post as big as I can, and get him to go go go go. That means using the crop, hands forward as not to restrict him at all and just let him stretch those legs. If he canters, ok. The idea is forward. But no nagging. One ask, no response, demand, release and repeat. After a few laps of this, I don't have to keep asking, but I do have to remind him 'yeah, we're still doing this' every now and then.
         
        08-19-2013, 08:15 AM
      #16
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MyBoyPuck    
    Sounds like you might just have an eventer on your hands. I agree with others about cross training. Not only is it good for clearing out the cobwebs in the mind, trail riding and hacking put the muscle on the horse necessary for good dressage work. My horse is the same way. If we did our dressage tests out in an open field, we would score in the 9's every time. If I put him in a sand arena and asked him to trot circles every day, he would be one sad sack. Cross training is key. We only do dressage two days a week. The other days we are trail riding, jumping, or running around in hay fields with bugs in our teeth. He is very well conditioned, which makes his job easier, and he's always happy to do his job because he knows I will never drill him into the ground.

    I would go to the clinic. At the very worst, the clinician will work with you and tell you, this horse is not happy doing dressage. At best, they will find a way to get your horse happily moving forward into the bit, and you will come back with a new tool box of how to better motivate your horse.
    You sound like you have a very happy boy indeed. Love the image of you two in the hay fields with bugs in your teeth! Also agree with the cross training.
         
        08-20-2013, 06:59 PM
      #17
    Yearling
    It's really ironic that I clicked on this thread today because I just got home from a lesson where my trainer was getting on me about my horse being so lazy and we talked about the exact same things- he has great, lofty, super strong forward movement out in the pasture with his buddies, but I felt like I was fighting him in the saddle to get more than a plod out of him.

    She was explaining to me that if the horse can do it out in the pasture physically, you need to expect it under saddle. Ask, tell, promise. I've never been one for using whips or spurs, but today she had me on the circle holding a whip and at the moment he began to slow that forward energy to ask him forward with the leg (the ask) if he didn't respond it was an immediate light tap from the whip, and nine times out of ten that was all he needed to keep that forward motion. By being consistent with those two cues for an hour, by the end of it he kept that forward energy without any asking.

    It may take more than one or two sessions with your horse, but I feel for ya, laziness can be a tough one to deal with! I agree with other posters, changing up the scene/ what you ask of him can keep his mind engaged, but ultimately if he is physically fit and there are no issues with pain in tack, then it sounds like a training thing. One we can work on together, as I have a lazy boy too ;) Good luck!
    Doodlesweaver likes this.
         
        08-22-2013, 01:06 PM
      #18
    Green Broke
    An update... the clinic gave me a lot of stuff to think about (it is now painfully apparent that I need to work on my sitting trot... it's so easy when my horse is puttering around in his best impression of a western pleasure jog, but not so much when he's actually going in a proper English trot), but unfortunately I don't really have any new ideas on getting more "forward." The clinician had a habit of "helping" with a lunge whip from the ground (I saw him doing this with other horses too, not just my horse) which was great to see that my horse can do it, but hasn't translated over to me being able to get him any more forward when I'm riding alone.

    My trainer came to see the 2nd day of the clinic so has some ideas from what she saw, but I feel like I'm now kind of on the verge of one of two things. Either I start working him harder (and probably get a professional, either my trainer or someone else, to put some time in the saddle with him) or I back off and focus on something else with him (trail riding/general pleasure riding, trick training, etc.). At this point it could go either way. My next lesson with my trainer is tomorrow so I'll definitely be talking it over with her. I feel like I've been focusing on trying to get my horse more forward for the past year and just haven't been seeing much in the way of improvement...
         
        08-22-2013, 01:29 PM
      #19
    Green Broke
    Agreed about trail riding, etc. My first thought was that he needs cross training. My 2nd thought is that maybe he doesn't really like Dressage. Are you sure he wouldn't prefer another sport? I hesitate to mention this bc it is YOUR sport. IMHO all horses benefit from basic Dressage training, so nothing is lost, but it would be sad if you two don't agree on what is fun.
    Have you ever read any of Alois Podjawsky's books? He used x-country jumping and hacking to bring along his Dressage horses. He took a bad fall and had to quit jumping, but he encouraged the trainers under him at the Spanish School to do so. He ALSO wrote that several horses took a very long time to bring along and master their skills--that could be your problem, too.
    My 3rd thought is to pull him from Dressage training and try something like horse volleyball to keep him in shape and listening to your aids, and just give him a vacation from his routine.
    Hope these ideas help you. =D
         
        08-22-2013, 03:11 PM
      #20
    Foal
    Please try this. Your next training session when it's just you and the horse, focus on asking the horse just once lightly to move forward with BIG energy forward. Doesn't matter where the head is, or how it looks. Just get that response. Keep your thighs off the horse, the forward comes from your calves. Your thighs block the forward energy. Keep the contact steady without gaps in the contact (so he doesn't accidently bop himself in the mouth).

    Put both calves on lightly to ask for the trot and expect a BIG resposne. If you don't get a big response (and I mean BIG), then thump him hard with both heels (or use a whip if you need to). Piss him off, get a BIG response. (be safe though.. don't ask for more then you can ride). Ask ONCE. Then take your legs off and just ride. Don't keep your legs on, don't keep asking. Ask once, expect big and stop asking. If the horse starts out big but slows down, then you bop him with both heels for a big forward again and then take your legs off (i.e. Legs sit lightly on the sides of the horse but they don't grip, don't bump, don't keep asking). You'll need to re-teach the horse that he doesn't get to determine the speed or rhythm, and once he's in a gait, he maintains that speed and rhythm until you tell him to change it. He doesn't get to decide that for you.

    Don't keep asking for forward. If you feel the horse is slowing down when you take the pressure off him, then get after him big quickly. You will probably need to really make him mad the first couple of times because he's going to want to ignore you. Get that response, then release the pressure. Be serious about this. Ask clearly, be clear in what you want. Get the response you want as quickly as possible and then leave him alone to do his job.

    It's going to be ugly for a wihle. You're going to look like an idiot at first. Just accept that fact and focus on the problem at hand. Don't give up on yourself or your horse. Once you are consistent with what you expect from your horse, and your horse understands what is expected of him, then it'll take the lightest aids to get that big forward trot he'll need in order to move up in dressage. However, if all you've told him is that you're satisfied with a jog trot, then he's going to insist that you let him do that.
         

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