Beginner dressage horse and rider team - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Beginner dressage horse and rider team

Well, im not totally beginner at dressage, as I have been taking dressage lessons for 6ish years, but I will be the first to admit that I do have a very beginner dressage potision. Bear has been a hunter his whole life, so dressage is pretty new to him, haha. I am taking dressage on with him because 1.) it is an awesome foundation for all of the things I want to do with him (including dressage); 2.) I have always wanted to show dressage and really work at becoming good at it; 3.) Bear seems to like dressage just as much as I do; and 4.) its a new challange. The stills that our out doors (in my arena) are from 10/12/09 and the stills from the indoor arena are from 10/14/09, which was our first full riding lesson together. (:

So here we go...

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^^ this one is more on him, I was patting him in this.
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^^ asking him to trot, him being lazy, nice working walk though. This one is on him!
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^^ This was Bear and I doing dressage for the first time together, this was about two-three weeks ago I think.

Bear and I arent going to do jumping for a while, maybe another two weeks to a month I really want to work on just flat work and getting more weight and muscle on him before we start jumping. We will be doing dressage, huntseat and western, but mainly dressage while we are on that break. Then I will slowly bring him back into jumping.

PLEASE CRITIQUE! Be as harsh as you want, both on Bear and I. (:

PS: What do you guys think of my stirrup? To short?

You can never take a Thoroughbred away from a horse crazy girl.
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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You can never take a Thoroughbred away from a horse crazy girl.
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 06:24 PM
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In the pics he's very heavy on the forehand and not giving to the bit. Getting that hunter training out of his head is going to be a challenge. In the video, he's behind your leg. He's just plodding along at his own pace. I think you can start to fix all of this stuff with one exercise.

Transitions within the trot. First, your reins are about a mile too long for proper contact. It's great in the hunter world, but just doesn't get you where you want to go in dressage. Here's the rub. You need to shorten them, but on this horse, you can't just take to up the slack and expect him to just deal with it. It's not what he's used to. This is where the transitions come in. Start with the contact you have in those pics, his safe place. Pick up your normal working trot. I see you already sit his trot well. Time to use it. Let him plod along the long side of the rail, when you get to the corner, apply a half halt. Sit tall and deep in the saddle, close your legs on his sides, momentarily close your outside rein as his outside front leg is coming forward. It should be pretty ugly since he wasn't going forward to begin with. The idea is to balance his weight more toward his hind end, but he'll probably just go down to a walk instead. No matter. As you exit the corner and start down the next long side, as for a bigger trot. Do whatever you need to do to get him in front of your leg. His trot should march along without constant prodding from you. When you get to the corner, half halt again. The tempo should not change, only the size of his stride should get smaller. If the half halt goes through, this time you should find yourself with a little slack in those long reins. Take it up before you hit the next long side. Long side, bigger trot still. You get the idea. He needs to trot big, trot small when you ask. With each change within the gait, his balance should shift to his rear end and more slack will appear in the reins. Keep taking it up until your hands are in front of the pommel with your elbows hanging quietly at your sides. You can also do this exercise by riding squares. Both get the horse used to responding to the magical inside leg to outside rein connection. Sorry I wrote a book. I'm at work and a bit bored. Good luck!
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 06:27 PM
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(Hi, I'm new!)

He's a nice looking horse. I'd like to see him in a frame. In every pic and in the video he really has his nose way down and out, and your reins are flapping. I also think you should do some hill work with him to muscle up his butt a little bit.
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much Puck! I will make sure and try that next time I ride. Did you notice anything on my part? I know my arms and hands pretty much suck, but trust me, they are getting better, haha.

Keep the replies coming everyone! (:

You can never take a Thoroughbred away from a horse crazy girl.
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Sheeple! Its kind of a catch-22, to get him to frame up (well, atleast frame up properly) he needs muscle, but to get that muscle one thing that helps a lot is framing up, haha. I will see how the fields are next time I ride, if they are pretty dry then I will work on hills. (:

You can never take a Thoroughbred away from a horse crazy girl.
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post #7 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 07:40 PM
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Definately what Puck said so I'm not going to repeat that as it is excellent advice! Only thing is he can still just run onto his forehand through these transitions, so make sure your keep you back and leg on him. If he stiffens, turn him onto a 15 m circle (10 is better but he's so stiff and on the forehand at the moment he would struggle with a tight turn) and kick him off your inside leg, keeping your outside rein back on the saddle cloth. Then ask him back out onto the track with a few strides of leg yield to get there.

As for the catch 22 situation with muscling, not so. HILL WORK girl :P It is fantastic to build the muscles he'll need to be able to come off the forehand. A nice active working trot up hills for 10 mins or so each day (depending on his fitness level) will really help to build those muscles.
Back in the arena, transitions transitions transitions!! Trot-canter-trot transitions are the best you can do for putting them back over their hindquarters so plenty of those, not letting him run into them. Use your back to hold him up in the transition.
Try doing 12 strides of trot, 12 strides of canter, 12 strides of trot.... it will keep him thinking and won't give him much of a chance to fall on his face ;)
Lots of changes of rein will help improve his balance, start with 3 loop serpentines and work up to 5 loop, then 6 loop once he is balanced enough.

Put him on a 20m circle and work him into your outside rein. So lots of inside leg, keep your outside rein on the saddle cloth (DONT give it away!!) and lift your inside rein up and towards the inside of the circle. This isn't the most conventional way of doing things but I have found it works well with horses that are as stiff and strung out as he is. The inside rein is there to ask his neck and jaw around to the inside, and with the inside leg pushing him out, he will give to the inside rein. When this happens, give immediately (not throw the reins away, just take the pressure off) and let him trot for a few strides. Then pressure back on and ask again.

Leg yield is also a great excercise for starting a contact from inside leg to outside rein. get your instructor to teach you how to do it. Once leg yield is established shoulde rin can be started, but he will need to have at least a little understanding on softening his jaw and stepping under himself before he can achieve shoulder in.

Turn on the forehand is great as well for submission and learning to step under themselves. If the horse has learn this and starts to resist and hollow during other work, I will immediately ask for a slight turn on the forehand no matter what the pace I am travelling at. It forces the inside hind to step under and take the weight, and the jaw will soften as a result.

As for your position, you are balanced on your toes and you're 'driving a truck'. Sit back, sink your weight down through your seat and down to your heels, roll your shoulders back and down, and imagine that your elbows are the heaviest part of your arm, keeping your hands and wrists 'light weight'.
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-19-2009, 08:45 PM
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The only things I see of your position is that you appear to be stiff in your upper body and inclined forward. Essentially you are as heavy on the forehand as your horse! Your arms are stiff and you're holding your elbows out to your sides. For dressage, you ideally should be in a more straight plumb line with your shoulders centered over your feet. A great way to find your center is to drop your stirrups at the walk and lift your thighs up so you have only your seatbones to balance on. You want to be sitting squarely on them and not pitching forward as you are now. Think about stretching tall and opening your shoulders. Do some shoulder stretches in the saddle such as rolling your shoulders back in attempt to make the shoulder blades touch. Then relax them. Your arms should hang relaxed at your sides. Your hands should be in front of the pommel about a pinkie length above his withers. As long as you have your elbows at your sides and straight line to bit, you're good to go. You'll find that as you adjust your own position to a more upright one, your horse's will follow.
Kayty's got a lot of good tips there. Circles are a great fix if your horse tries to blow you off on a straight line. Is your horse flexible or is he like riding a piece of plywood?
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post #9 of 9 Old 10-20-2009, 01:56 AM
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My biggest recommendation is lunge lessons. You are out of balance and completely disconnected from the use of your seat. You are perching and have an unsteady contact which is not helping his top line.
Lunge lessons will benefit him by having side reins and lunging to teach him to accept a steady contact and respect the aids. It will help you by allowing you to independently find your seat and to deter the perching, lose the stirrups.

Good luck and remember that perfect equitation is the basis to all dressage. To quote Christoph Hess, your most effective aid is a correct position.
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