Please critique my dressage riding. We have been working now for about 7 weeks so any help I can get to be more successful would be nice. Basically we needed to do some work on both of our muscles, and still do, but I really would like to get better.
The one thing that really stands out to me is your hands/elbows. You have your elbows locked down. This takes away the elasticity in your arms... which leads to an inconstant contact on the rein (when you go by you can see them bouncing with your post) and that causes your horse to flip his head. He's trying to reach for the bit, but hits your hand or doesn't hit your hand.
My thoughts are work on rolling your shoulders back, open up your chest, raise your hands and bring some bend into your elbow. You want a soft elastic feel in your hands to capture the hind energy, and that can only be achieved with you have something to give with (elbows).
Your leg looks pretty good to me.
Annabell is a wealth of knowledge in dressage, I'm sure she'll be by later or PM her. I always love her and Maura's opinions. Welcome to forum.
I remember your thread aways back about the head tosssing and showing both you and your trainer riding. With that in mind, I see huge improvement. You should post those older videos here, too so we can see how much ground youi've gained.
Your mare is so darned cute. She looks really good there. You are getting much better at creating some good contact with her. Trouble is, you still don't keep it steady enough so that she can find it and keep it. She does worry about her mouth, and that is a sure sign that you don't have a steady enough contact. What the above person said about your elbows and arms and hands will help a lot inmaking the contact soft but steady.
As you go around, I see some "flapping" in the outside rein. If you could really focus on having THAT rein be really steady, all the time. Try to do you following of her mouth with a mental focus on the outside rein never getting loose enough to flap with her trot rythm. To do that, you will have to use an active inside rein to get some bend, and when she does, give her a bigger release than usual. Exaggerate a bit, so that for a few steps she is on ONE rein ; the outside. IF she can hold that bend that would be awesom . And since she is touchy aobut rein contact, having her earn a big release on the inside rein will please her and let her know that she can earn freedom there.
So, get the bend, give a big release, like a looping rein, and then praise her or reach forward with your left hand and stroke her neck but keep the outside!
As for your seat, your postition isn't bad. YOu still don't have enough weight down and through the stirrup and this was noticaeable when you transitioned to a walk; you tipped forward. As you went around I saw that the stirrup was too far forward on your foot and seemed not weighted enough. Open your legs off the saddle (straigt off , like doing the splits) , let them drop down to the saddle, lift your toes and find your stirrup. AS you trot, think about mentally anchoring your heels toward your horse's rear feet. Elbows back, hands on top and engage the core.
Sometimes it looks like when you ask for more engagement from her that she rushes a bit. Her natural rythm is quick and short and you should't try too hard to change that. But, in order to get more engagement you do have to put leg on. When you do, if she interprets that as "go faster", you have to sit a bit heavier and breathe out and keep YOUR posting rythm unchanged, so she may rush one or two steps, but she will slow down to match your body and the idea is that the increased energy will become more of a reach under her body and lift of the back, rather than a fall forward and rush.
One question about hands. I am unclear on "quiet hands." Does this mean they don't move around and all the movement goes in your elbows kind of like a swing or doing a modified pushup? If that makes sense.
I need to think in my mind - sit back, sit back, SIT BACK!!
Thank you for the encouragement and the feedback. I want to read it more thoroughly and think about it in my mind.
Tinyliny, we did a couple of things that were suggested since the last post. The next day I made an appointment to have her teeth floated. She did have a hook. Second, got her a Myler soft comfort level 1 snaffle and finally worked on hills and trot poles. (I think she was sore.)
Here is the old video.
Thank you for the compliments on how cute she is. I got her in April of this year and this is how she looked. She's come a long way.
I think of "quiet hands" as though my hands are having a conversation with the horse's mouth. Are they blathering on endlessly, mixing in important points with needless, meaningless noise? Or do they "speak" to the horse only when they have something important to say?
Quiet hands go hand in hand with steady contact, IMO. Right now, because your contact is unsteady (you can see your outside rein flapping between taking contact and going slack), your mare right now is hearing a lot of "noise" from your hands. I know when I was first just starting out in dressage, having moved over from a western background where I was used to riding with absolutely no contact, I was hesitant to really take up a good, firm steady contact. One day, my trainer walked over to me and pushed one finger lightly but firmly into my left arm, and then used another finger to poke lightly but randomly on my right arm, and asked me which I preferred. That was my "Ah-ha!" moment. You might feel as though you are being kind and gentle with her because you have given her more rein, but as you can see with her unsteadiness in the bridle, she is frustrated with trying to figure out what you are asking of her. A constant, elastic (by "elastic," I mean following her mouth as she bascules her head in the walk and canter, and giving release through softening but not dropping the contact -- which is a very difficult skill in and of itself) contact will help you both. I can tell that she really WANTS to do what you're asking, she's just not sure what that is yet because your message (i.e. Your contact) is a bit garbled at the moment.
DxD made a great description of quiet hands. I, too, think of my reins as a way to dialogue with my horse. YOu will keep the following constant by the movement of your elbows, yes. The conversation will happen through your fingers, but your elbows , moving for and aft, will follow the horse's mouth , keeping a soft contact. YOu can kind of firm up your elbow for a moment if you need to and you can drop all the contact as a big reward from time to time. But the fine speaking is through the fingers.
Keep them closed around the rein and when, for example, you want to suggest to the horse to flex her jaw to the inside and thus put herself onto her outside rein more, you will kind of move your left hand fingers in a motion that is akin to what you would do if you were milking a cow. Kind of a rolling , one two three squeeze of those fingers, with the thumbe staying steady on top. When she "answers" you, then very promptly stop asking and let her coast with that inside flex and ask with your inside leg very smoothly (not a kick but a kind of push) that she step under with her hind leg and curve into that outside leg. And when you feel that, let her coast again.
The part of riding that is "do nothing" is just as important as the do somehting part. I find that so many riders can turn the ON switch on, but forget to also turn it OFF. If the On switch is on perpetually, the horse will tune it out.
This does not apply to YOU, just me ranting.
I genuienly think you are making marked progress and think you will be totally up for showing in the Spring.
Wow is all I can say! YOu have done wonders with this mare. She is looking really smart now! Who would have guessed!
Thanks! I will tell her you said that!
Yeah, she was pretty bad off when we got her. Hooves were all cracked and chipped too. Previous owner didn't know she was pregnant and she had no proper care and nutrition. Too many horses to notice her. Apparently she did have an ultrasound but nothing showed up. Back to the herd she went. Everything went to the foal, which I suspect was very little in the first place. Her foal is in my avatar picture.
It's really amazing how horses can come back with a little TLC and patience. Sounds funny, but even her eye color and expression has changed. (We love to talk about our horses.)