Flatwork Critique

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Flatwork Critique

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    04-15-2013, 09:57 AM
Flatwork Critique

Here's a video from a lesson I had yesterday on my 6 year old appaloosa. I've recently started working with a great trainer and every lesson he improves immensely. We're working on getting him to stretch into the contact which he does very nicely, but there's still a lot of work to be done when it comes to accepting contact. He works very well in side reins when being lunged, but when he's being ridden, no matter who's riding him he stiffens his poll and mouth. Yesterday was also my first time cantering him since the fall, which is why we did so little with it. I plan to eventually compete in jumpers with him, but I want him to have a solid foundation in dressage first.

As far as my riding I know I need to improve on
-keeping my legs still
-keeping my hands steady
-having a more consistent contact
-keeping my back straight and shoulders back

I'd really appreciate any tips you have to offer

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    04-15-2013, 10:07 AM
So overall, what you said is accurate. I do however want to point out that this is not dressage, but I think that you are right and a good foundation in dressage is a fantastic idea.

The reason that I can see that he stiffens his poll is that he is very stiff in the back. You can see this by the lack of fluidity of his movement. As you work, this starts to get better, but I would work on stretching out his neck on a 20m circle and try to loosen up that back. Also, when you have side reins on him, try to make them pretty long, but enough for him to have contact, and then work him until he begins to push into the bridle. Once you loosen up his back and get him moving better, his stiff poll problem will solve itself. It is important that you use his motor from behind to get him to push into the bridle.
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    04-15-2013, 10:11 AM
Thank you, that's very helpful! I realize I'm not exactly doing dressage, just that I want him to work more like a dressage horse before I start jumping him. Generally when I ride without a trainer, I have him stretch the entire time and his back gets very loose, but he also tends to get lazy after a little while and drop onto the forehand, so when I'm with my trainer we really work on having him work from back to front.
    04-15-2013, 11:47 AM
That's great!! Actually, I would consider the fact that he gets lazy during the stretch work a good thing. When you are stretching him, since he is slowing his motor, I would push him into a bigger trot and see if that helps further.

It seems you guys are going great! Once that back is loose, he's going to be really nice! He is super cute, by the way
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    04-15-2013, 05:37 PM
Thank you so much! I really do think he has tons of potential :)
    04-15-2013, 06:02 PM
I agree with drummer. It's obvious you are working down the right path, the horse is experimenting with sometthin new to him; stretching downward. He seems to be doing it a little bit like he's "barging" on the rein, but at least he's trying and that deserves acknowledgement and reward, as you do.

I would shorten your stirrups just one notch. It looks like you are fishing for them at times. This might help you be better alble to keep the lower leg still while posting. And, it might help you be eventaully able to sit upright, even when he barges down, so that you can then use your abs to lift him forward, and encourage him to drive into the bit, even while reaching downward and forward with his head. Right now, you gt him to put his head down, but you dont' worry too much about the quality of his contact to the bit while he does this, but in time, you will want him to "carry" the bit down, stay there, push up onto it ,from his hind, and then follow it back upward as you lift him back up.

It will help , as drummer said, to stay on a 20m circle instead of straight, bend, straight, bend .

He's a cute horse and you are doing a good job!
    04-15-2013, 06:25 PM
Thank you for the advice! He used to fall heavily onto the forehand when I asked him to stretch, and just recently he's begun to actually lift his back which I'm very pleased about. I do often forget about the contact which I need to work on, but I think we're headed in the right direction.
    04-16-2013, 06:37 PM
Here are some stills from today, I shortened my stirrups a hole which seemed to help, although my heel looks a bit awkward in these photos

    04-16-2013, 06:57 PM
It would help him if you didn't lean forward while cantering.

Your heel is up because you aren't distributing the weight down the back fo your leg. It's stuck somewhere, perhaps at your knee or hip.

But your horse is more level, not as much on the forehand :)
    04-20-2013, 03:15 PM
One thing that will help with your heels is to move your stirrups forward on your foot. It looks like they are too far back and it's much more difficult to remain stable when the stirrup is too far on your foot.

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