Crit horse - NOT RIDER PLEASE - and where to from here??
These are just a few photos from today :) I'm not a dressage rider in any way, shape or form, and am attempting to train a dressage horse/show hack so that she has a nice solid flat foundation for when she starts jumping.
Without a trainer.
Yeeeaaaaahhhh. I agree with you. Dumb idea.
Anyway! Please ignore me, I have the flu so my position is even worse than usual and I have absolutely no idea what I was doing in a lot of these.
I use VERY little hand, but she likes to work behind the vertical. I've been working on bringing her up and getting her to work in a more correct manner and we're slowly getting there but as you can see it isn't 100% yet. Hind end engagement in the trot is not her strong suit on the ground and GETTING it isn't MY strong suit as a rider - but my god can she engage in the canter!! She's more of an eventer/SJ than a proper dressage horse but she's only 3 so she won't be doing any jumping for a while yet.
I am aware of all of my bad habits and as I said these photos are NOT an accurate representation of my riding, but I am pleased to say they ARE an accurate representation of how my horse goes. She is very green and not especially balanced still but we have straightness and she's seeking the contact for the most part so we're doing better than I expected.
In pic 3 & 4 she seems to be leaning on the bit a little. In most other pics, she has a good outline and is on the bit nicely. Seems to be a bit flicky with her tail? There's a few lovely collected and extended trots in there! That's great for a green 3 yr old mare! Most people struggle to get ten yr olds into an outline, let alone being on the bit! She seems to have been broken very well. Did ye get her as a 3 yo or did ye break her? About the jumping: I've trained and broken many young horses in my life. Start very slow! Focus on poles, trotting and cantering poles, having two wings and put one pole in the middle, then make trotting poles with the mid pole at the bottom of the wings. Then, keeping the poles, put up a tiny cross pole. Gradually build this up to about 40cm on the first day. If she takes a huge leap over it, don't put it up huge and say 'Oh, she has the makings of a top class showjumper!' (Even though I know you won't just an example:)), the reason she is lifting high is because she's not sure how to lift her legs yet, or how to judge a jump! Hope this helped xoxox
I've trained a few horses to jump so I do know where I'm going in that respect [and yes, have made the very mistake you're warning against... first one I trained to jump, I ended up training NOT to jump - oops!], she just won't be doing any of it for quite a while yet as she IS only 3!! So it's dressage only for at least the next year and a half, and I'm definitely not a dressage person. And I promise she isn't leaning, she's actually very light in the hand [without being too light]. My other horse leans like no tomorrow though so I do know the feeling - and HATE it.
The thing I love most about her is her adjustable stride! I can get about 6 different stride lengths in both her trot and her canter. At this stage she's just lengthening and shortening, not extending and collecting [see I have enough dressage knowledge to know what I'm going for haha just not how to get it], but she's 3. Plenty of time.
I took her on as a [very] long yearling. She was foaled 27 Sept 2010 and I got her 28 July 2012. She was given to me because, and I quote, "her sire hasn't thrown anything fast" - she's a TB. She never even saw the breaker before she was thrown out. I broke her myself in early February this year [thanks very much for that lovely compliment - she was my first!!]. After discovering the real reason she was given away [looooong story, I base my opinions of her past on what she has 'told' me] I had been planning to send her away for 35 days breaking/training once I'd gotten the groundwork done, but then one day I was doing groundwork with the tack on [not the first time, she'd had it on many times beforehand] and one thing followed another and I found myself on her back. And it all sort of went from there.
She can buck occasionally when she gets a fright [it's her form of forward spook I think, she never goes to run forward when she's scared - it's buck once, skitter sideways, or stop dead in her tracks], but she's been a really easy horse under saddle, by and large. Horses by her sire have a reputation for being easy to break and she's no exception. She can be a little hot at times, but I like her energy, her sensitivity, and her willingness to please. It's yet to be seen if her spookiness will hold her back on cross country, but with any luck she'll grow a brain in the next couple of years and stop freaking out over dumb things.
The mosquitos here are REALLY bad at the moment, lots of standing water [it's winter in Australia], and she has really thin skin. She sort of scored the triple whammy for that. Red TB filly. Hence the tail. If bug repellent stayed on for more than 10 minutes at a time... -sigh-
Anyway. Hope I addressed all your questions :)
I still think I'm completely mad to be attempting to put a good dressage foundation on any horse without a trainer. I'm solid when it comes to jumping, really only need to work on height and refining my eye so I can see my stride from farther out [but I can't do either now my jumping horse is retired], but when it comes to dressage I'm a novice at best.
Ah, lovely:). Yes, here in Ireland, for us there's not a lot of difference between extending, shortening, collecting, lengthening!xD If a girl rides her pony around and someone says 'Do extended canter! No, that was just lengthened strides!' The rider will most likely reply 'Ah, we'll be grand!!';) Yes, you definitely know what you're talking about with young ponies! Now you've said she has a soft mouth, she's not leaning there anymore haha! I love the spunkiness of young ponies, they can be eejits around some silly things but can also be very funny:) I really love breaking my own, because I know it's been me that's handled it, and not some oul fool going around being too rough with it!:)
Haha, I think it depends on your discipline as well as where you are in the world. Eventing dressage, lengthening and shortening are sufficient. Pure dressage, you need true collections and extensions to get good marks. Australia has always been more of an eventing country than a dressage or SJ country but I think we're starting to trend a bit more towards pure dressage now, or at least that's what I'm seeing with riders my age, even at my riding club which is very much an eventing-centric club!
I love breaking my own too, beats fixing other people's mistakes. I've had no end of trouble with horses other people have broken in. I adore my older gelding but he's been the worst of the bunch! And getting worse, which is odd, because the filly is pretty much his exact opposite.
Edit: and, 1m30 AT FOUR?! Shoot, I know an Olympic event rider whose eventing horse is eight now, 4* prospect easy, "only" competing 2* [it was Pre-Novice at 6 nearly 7 when I stayed at said rider's stables, PN is about 1m05 max height]. Mind you, that thing is mental, said rider doesn't want to blow its brain by taking it through the grades too fast. But seriously.
Yep, it's a ridiculous height. I don't really like her that much, so I guess it kind of served her right, in a way!!xD When competing in Dublin Horse Show, the pony knocked every jump it got to before refusing three times and she was eliminated at jump six. Yes, I see a lot of Australians and Oceanian countries competing in Badminton! Lol, you'll rarely see an Irish person going for dressage!! We're more of a racing, hunting and SJ country:). I LOVE hunting! Do ye ever hunt over in Australia? This isn't proper hunting now, like hunting a fox and killing it, that was outlawed years ago. We just drag hunt now, basically galloping around fields over hedges, ditches and logs haha! Yup, poor breaking is the root of a good few riding problems in later life. Then, in some cases the horse is deemed 'Dangerous' and shot. I even love getting a few off my own broodmares and stallions, so I can even be there the minute my little foal is born! My pride and joy is my SJ stallion, Master Blue. He was born with long legs out of my eventing mare, by a showjumper stallion I used to have. I loved him, trained him, broke him and we competed for six years running in the RDS (The biggest horse show in Ireland) in Senior Equitation, speed rounds, Accumulators and JLT Dublin Stakes (All jumps in each class (Minus equitation) were 1.50!) Bluey and me won two Accs, came second in the Stakes won 3/4 speeds and won equitation! They were definitely the proudest times of my life:) Someone even offered me 50,000 euro for him! I said 'Not for everything in the world!'. He's 17 now, and jumped from 8-14 yrs. He's semi retired, I just do a few 1m and 1.10ms here and there:)
We have a couple of small social hunts here but nothing crazy like you Irish mob! Hahahaha we get our thrills eventing. Keep an eye out for Heath Ryan and his grey gelding Aspire R; Heath's the rider I stayed with for a while. Aspire is nuts but he's incredibly talented, and Heath is just amazing. I've never seen anybody ride a difficult horse like he does.
EDIT; and it's a dream of mine to breed my next horse. Magic has a dodgy stifle [not that you can tell now, but we've had a lot of trouble with it! In work she's sound, out of work she's intermittently lame] but if she stays sound to the level I want her to get to, then I'll pull her from competition for a couple of years so she can have a foal to a nice showjumping stallion. If not, then I'll just have to lease a broodmare for a season.
I like your horse. I can't improve upon ponyhorse's comments, but I can recommend that you spend more time working on transitions--lots and lots and lots of half-halts and up and down transitions so that your horse focuses on your commands. Also, it could be that she is leaning on the bit bc your hands aren't soft enough. You might try schooling with the reins held like a driver, you know, over the index fingers and down through the palms of your hands. This can increase your feel of the horse's mouth and soften your hands mostly bc most of us ride and not drive, therefore you focus more on following the mouth with your arms.
Hope this helps. =D
Thanks :) I definitely need to do more transitions, hers are really dodgy hahaha. She runs through her canter transitions and falls heavy on her forehand in her downwards transitions. I really don't feel that she's leaning on my hands though, at all. She's lovely and light in the hand. She just likes to work -shudder- low deep and round, trailing her back end, and deep behind the vertical. I have been working on that and it is improving. Not perfect yet but she's getting bored!
Edit; but yes I do need to work on my hands, I hate them. They love to be low and wide and that's WRONG DAMMIT. It only encourages everything I don't want - it encourages the low deep and round, on the forehand, trailing back end rubbish. I want the lovely uphill engaged hindquarter correct frame that I know she can give me, in flashes, when I'm riding right, for the instant she can hold it.