Flat work critique
   

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Flat work critique

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  • How to get softness in flatwork

 
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    08-10-2012, 07:48 PM
  #1
Weanling
Flat work critique

So I rode John for the second time ever yesterday. He is so highly trained and sensitive that he is pretty hard to ride but I am learning.

Riding him yesterday was the fifth time I have ridden in the last 6 months so my riding muscles are like non-existent.

Anywho here are the things I know I need to work on:
-Elbows back with more bend
-Fingers closed around reins
-Hands up off his neck
-Shoulders back
-Eyes up! I was so focused on keeping my hands up and fingers closed I kept looking at them lol

What else? I know I am not that good right now but it is a work in progress. Also I know in some of the pictures he is behind the vertical, as I said he is super responsive to cues and I kept accidently over-cueing him.














     
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    08-13-2012, 03:53 PM
  #2
Weanling
I'm no big English rider, but I do from time to time, so I'll give this a try..
The first three pictures, your stirrups are too short. Let them out a hole.
Sit up tall, Look where you're going. Your hand placement looks fine to me!

The next couple pictures: Your stirrups look longer, but you have a pretty bad chair seat and you're sitting too far back in the saddle. Heels down! You look like you're sitting up straighter, though! Your arms look stiff... Relax!

7th picture: Better on everything I said above, but now you've got another problem, you're toeing way out. Make it closer to parallel with the horse.

The rest of the pictures: Big chair seat again. Looks like you're riding too much on your toes. Press your heels down and get those ankles, hips, and ears aligned!!!

You seem like you could be a good rider with some tweaks here and there :)
     
    08-13-2012, 09:38 PM
  #3
Foal
In a couple of these pictures you look a little off-balance. Your heels should be in a straight line with your hips and shoulders :)
     
    08-16-2012, 04:57 PM
  #4
Trained
Agree with what was said above.
A great way to find the right spot in the deepest point of the very nice saddle: feet out of stirrups and point your tows down as if you wanted to draw lines in the sand. That will put you where you have to be.
Then try to feel which hip goes up and follow with yours. That'll help your seat immensely.

And relax....you look very stiff, probably from concentrating so much

I also see what we call "verdeckte Hand", a covered hand. This is automatically a hard hand. So, upright, and elbows slightly bend and the line ear-elbow-hip-ankle. With elbows straight and hand like that there is no way you can give , release pressure on the rein.

My compliments for asking for advice.....not seen very often nowadays
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    08-16-2012, 05:24 PM
  #5
Weanling
Thanks guys for the advice. I am getting lessons so hopefully I can point some of these things out to my trainer and she can remind me while I am riding :]

I do get stiff because I am concentrating so much. John is a very difficult horse to ride because he is so well trained. I am constantly trying to remind myself of what I have to do. Right now nothing about riding him is coming natural. This was only my second time on him so hopefully as I get more used to him things will become more automatic and I can learn to relax!

Also any advice for getting used to a dressage saddle? I have been riding hunter for the last four years or so. I absolutely hate the dressage saddle and hate the long stirrups! I am used to jumper length stirrups so riding in dressage length is really hard. I think that is why I have such a bad chair seat in the dressage saddle. I feel like I can't reach my stirrups correctly. I don't want to ride dressage, as you can see my position is rubbish, but my trainer wants me to get used to it and learn it so I am.
     
    08-16-2012, 05:28 PM
  #6
Weanling
Here is me riding him in a jumping saddle. This was my first time riding him and trust me I know that there is plenty wrong in these as well. I am having a hard time getting used to the idea that he seeks contact and tend to straighten out my arms because of this. Anyway, just for comparison in the different saddles. I feel much better in a jumping saddle.





     
    08-16-2012, 05:51 PM
  #7
Super Moderator
I will refer to the below photo:




In this photo I see the horse offering about the best forward that I see in any of them. His back up lifted up a tiny bit more than in many of the other shots. His acceptance of the bit is better here and the angle of his face is about what I'd shoot for at this point with this horse.
He is obviously very stiff, so too much pulling his head will only create more resistance. He would benefit from working on smaller circles, but only after he is well warmed up. I would do such work at a walk for a while, really getting him to relax in the jaw and look for him to flex at the poll, but up and down, and side to side. YOu will see his jawbone (jowl) kind of tuck into his neck and his eye on that side will be more visisble to you. Just that much bend will earn a softening of your hand, right?

You look pretty good for such a small amount of time in the saddle. You know what you need to work on; getting that leg under you at the trot as well as the walk (which you seem to have). Keeping the elbow in. But, don't get all hard and stiff in your attempt to do all this because this horse will only get harder and stiffer if you do to. He needs softness, softness and more softness.
That does not mean you don't have rein contact, but it means that you help him find some flexion, then give him a reward, even if he takes the soft rein all back. Let him. You then ask again, and again and again. Let him go forward from time to time with almost no contact, just you floating on his back and let him stretch out his long limbs and loosen up by moving.
     
    08-16-2012, 05:58 PM
  #8
Weanling
Thanks tinyliny :] Very descriptive!

The only thing I can't do with him is how people wait for contact and then give a release as a reward. He constantly seeks contact and if you try and reward him by releasing he gets irritated. I have never ridden a horse that wants to be ridden the specific way that he wants to be ridden.

I am definitely going to be trying to work on softness! My trainer, his owner, said that I have very soft hands but stiff arms. Gotta work on getting my arms to not be so darn stiff.

I will definitely try the bending with him. Bending is really hard for me with him because in order for him to bend while turning left for example, I would bump a little with my left heel, open my left rein about an inch or two and then pull with my right rein. In essence he neck reins...very confusing for me since all the other horses I have ridden direct reined. If you pull on the left rein to try and make him go left, he will bend right :/
     
    08-16-2012, 06:11 PM
  #9
Trained
Your trainer is absolutely right. No good jumping without a decent dressage base.
I've seen so called jumpers without the basic dressage training doing 4" jumps in competition and weren't even capable to sit a trot. Now that is just plain sad. And when you look at the Olympics ...their team was nowhere near any medals. Gee, wonder why.
To get used to a dressage saddle ride without stirrups for a while. After that you won't find your stirrups too long. And find the right position in the saddle as I said earlier. It really helps your balance.

I'd like to know what your trainer makes you do in a typical lesson, if you don't mind. Anything like shoulder-in, leg yield and such?
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    08-16-2012, 06:18 PM
  #10
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by NordicJuniper    
Thanks tinyliny :] Very descriptive!

The only thing I can't do with him is how people wait for contact and then give a release as a reward. He constantly seeks contact and if you try and reward him by releasing he gets irritated. I have never ridden a horse that wants to be ridden the specific way that he wants to be ridden.

I am definitely going to be trying to work on softness! My trainer, his owner, said that I have very soft hands but stiff arms. Gotta work on getting my arms to not be so darn stiff.

I will definitely try the bending with him. Bending is really hard for me with him because in order for him to bend while turning left for example, I would bump a little with my left heel, open my left rein about an inch or two and then pull with my right rein. In essence he neck reins...very confusing for me since all the other horses I have ridden direct reined. If you pull on the left rein to try and make him go left, he will bend right :/


This is probably becuase he is so stiff in his neck that the bend occurs in only one place; the base of his neck, just in front of his shoulders. So, he is "breaking" there and then this probably throws him onto his outside shoulder. So, you ask with an inside rein, he breaks in half there , and like a semi-truck/trailer, the front goes left, but the rest goes right, and a horse must go where his shoulders go.

So , to help him get softer and have more even bend in all his neck, jaw and body, you focus on two areas: his abiality to soften his jaw and pivot his head (with face on a vertical line. NO twistiing or lifting the nose off of perfectly vertical) to the inside via the Poll. AND, helping him to step under himself with the inside rear leg. Those two things help break up the kind of stiffness he seems to have.

YOu do not want to have soft hands, I men that you dont' hold the reins all droopy and flopping. You get HIM to be soft on the rein. To do that, you might need to get very firm. YOu may have to put more resistance on the rein than he wants to meet. It's nice that he wants to have contact with the rein. You can test this by moving your hands out and down and see if he'll follow the contact out and down (doing long and low).

But, if his idea of contact is to lean on it and brace himself on it, this is not ok. He must carry his own head. He can come TO the contact, but it is YOU who decides where that will be and his job is to come TO it but not lean on it. Do you know the difference?
     

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