Teaching myself dressage - critique?
 
 

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Teaching myself dressage - critique?

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  • Self teaching dressage

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    11-19-2013, 10:17 PM
  #1
Weanling
Teaching myself dressage - critique?

So it's a bit of a long story but basically after 10 years as a jumper, I'm teaching myself dressage (without a trainer, unfortunately). Zeb is an older gelding, trained through 2nd level but due to some issues hasn't been in work in a while. He's also been very unpredictable when it comes to bucking and spooking - I actually had to bail off him earlier today

Anyway. Zeb knows his stuff, but I've only been riding him for 2 months so we're still getting back into shape.
I'm mostly looking for a critique on myself because I figure that once I sort myself out, he'll sort of follow.
I apologize for the illfitting sweater I'm wearing in both videos (two days in a row, woops).

It's also probably worth noting that 2 weeks ago, I got stepped on by a horse and fractured my foot in two places. Zeb had some time off because of that and the videos I have are our first and second rides back.

He's very scared and stupid in the far end of the arena, and you can probably see him backing off every time we head that way. I need to man up and start carrying a whip with him, probably.
Right now, I'm mostly just stoked that I've got him going forward instead of up.

OH and I was totally cheating on the downward transitions because I learned that he was voice trained and would totally stop if asked, haha.

So. I'm trying to teach myself to go from hunter/jumpers to dressage. Any tips?
     
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    11-19-2013, 10:28 PM
  #2
Showing
More supportive outside rein, more leg especially through transitions, more figures... don't just go loop around over and over. Do 10 meter circles, serpentines, 20 m circles, diagonal change of rein, down the centerline both from A to C and E to B (I think it's E to B.. I'm a tad rusty)

But looking great! :)
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    11-19-2013, 11:05 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
I agree that you'll want more outside rein connection. But, in general, you are a tidy rider and have a good solid seat. I don't have much specific to add, but you are doing well and I can imagine you'd be really awesome with lessons!
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    11-20-2013, 02:44 PM
  #4
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel    
More supportive outside rein, more leg especially through transitions, more figures... don't just go loop around over and over. Do 10 meter circles, serpentines, 20 m circles, diagonal change of rein, down the centerline both from A to C and E to B (I think it's E to B.. I'm a tad rusty)

But looking great! :)
I definitely do need to use the arena more. I do use serpentines a lot, mostly so that we can get through the scary end of the arena without him realizing we're getting closer to the scary end of the arena :p But yeah...I get so focused on making him go forward that I forget that I actually have an arena not cluttered up with jumps and other horses :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
I agree that you'll want more outside rein connection. But, in general, you are a tidy rider and have a good solid seat. I don't have much specific to add, but you are doing well and I can imagine you'd be really awesome with lessons!
Thank you! I'm slowly starting to feel more comfortable and balanced in the dressage saddle (it's been a process to get my stirrups as long as they are).
I would love to take lessons, but I can barely afford the (insanely cheap) lease on Zeb so paying for lessons is currently out of the question. I may drag my roommate out to the barn in the near future if I can, since she's been riding dressage for a few years now and has a fantastic coach and knows more of what to look for.
     
    11-20-2013, 08:59 PM
  #5
Trained
Wow, if you look that good self taught, imagine what you could do with a good instructor. Love your quiet seat and hands. That's perfect that your horse was trained to second level. He's got all the cues down and balance necessary to do the job without being a "make me" horse. Some of those upper level horses don't budge and inch if your position is off by a centimeter. I would start working on more transitions within the gaits and remember shoulder-fore is your best friend heading into spooky corners.
     
    11-20-2013, 10:29 PM
  #6
Weanling
I adore your horse! And I also agree you are a very talented! I am in a similar position as you -- training alone (can't afford it).

This is what I noticed: The canter is better than the walk and trot -- therefore if he was my horse, I would take him all the way back to the walk. Also, in my opinion, the issue of him spooking could be caused from anxiety while being ridden . . . I'll explain later . . .

So, he carries himself very high and stiff. I don't know what your understanding of "dressage" is but to me this says your horse is not relaxed or supple thus killing the "rythem".

Your horse is clearly athletic but never learned to carry himself properly. So what you have is a horse that is very capable but has a holes in his training -- be patient with him.

The next time you ride only focus on improving the walk. Ask him to stretch his neck down and out essentially like a western pleasure horse but keeping the contact. He needs to know he can trust you; that is, if he stretches down that far, you're still "there" guiding him. In addition, he needs to know that you will not pull on his mouth harshly. This probably sounds silly but it's harder than people think. FOr me it was the hardest part with my mare. But once we nailed this everything else just started working the way it's supposed to.

You should also notice that the more comfortable he becomes with "developing the stretch" the less apt his to spook because he has become more trusting of you.

I really recommend watching these videos from Art2ride. I honestly have become a much more "aware" rider.
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    11-20-2013, 10:36 PM
  #7
Weanling
I also wanted to add that while I do agree with Skyseternangel about the different activities to practice I don't think your horse is ready. He does not know how to move forward with out hollowing his back and stiffening his neck strait into the air. Doing so would only reinforce bad habits on his part.

Instead, once you have him stretching, first try doing some leg yields. Can he hold the position? If not, tight circles and serpentines are probably only going to frustrate him. If yes, move onto the trot and see what happens.
     
    11-21-2013, 12:31 AM
  #8
Super Moderator
That's a great video!
the only thing I wish is that they explained more in detail what the rider was doing, in the form of leg and/or hand aids, to encourage this stretch.
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    11-22-2013, 06:33 PM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
that's a great video!
the only thing I wish is that they explained more in detail what the rider was doing, in the form of leg and/or hand aids, to encourage this stretch.
Yes, I know -- but unfortunately I think that is just something people have to figure the out on their own -- you can't teach "feel"!

This is what I have been teaching my body to do in an attempt to keep my mare in a solid stretch at the trot (which we can do quite well at this point) -- sorry if some of this is a no brainer but here it goes . . .

HANDS: I don't really worry too much about keeping them in that traditional dressage position such as in this picture (which I also like to think of as the "neutral position"): http://fineartamerica.com/images-med...an-j-scott.jpg
I mean, that position only works if your horse already understands what to do AND can hold himself in such position.
I focus on keeping the "connection" with the horse's mouth but on as long of a rein as possible but NOT a lose rein! I might have to hold my hands farther apart or not have my hands perfectly parallel -- it does not matter. Once the horse seems to consistently stretch into the contact I will move back to that neutral position.
What I DON'T do is: I never cross my reins of the withers. I never let my arms go strait -- I always have my elbows bent.
What I have found is that if my horse gets discombobulated when I move into a neutral position with my hands it is more often than not because I am not using enough inside leg; therefore, I will 'tap' the horse's side with my heal/spir. But I like to think of it as if I am pushing the horse's belly up (rounding/lifting the back). It's not just pressure from the sides it's more like pressure from the bottom of the belly pushing upward.

I really hope that makes sense
     
    11-23-2013, 08:44 PM
  #10
Trained
I wouldn't do a heck of a lot of work towards 'long and low' at the moment. This is a pet hate of mine. Yes it is a good exercise, once the horse is established and actually able to carry himself in that position. But for a green horse and/or rider, long and low is incredibly difficult because of the amount of balance and strength it takes from the horse, and feel/timing from the rider. It is extremely easy to allow a horse to fall on the forehand when it is stretching long and low, which defeats the purpose.

As others have said, you look very good for learning this without a trainer. You have a good, secure seat and reasonably quiet hands. You do ride quite stiffly, which may come from your hunter background. Try to breathe a little and relax in the saddle. At the moment you are bumping him in the back at the bottom of your rising, try to rise and fall a little more softly, thinking of more a forward and back 'sweeping' of the saddle than an up and down.

Regarding Zeb's relaxation, yes he is quite tight. It is not a matter of throwing your reins away and making him stretch out on the forehand, but a matter of lateral suppleness and mental suppleness. Start some leg yield and turn on the forehand with him. Leg yield on a circle is a brilliant exercise to start developing connection to the outside rein, and suppleness around the inside leg, through the ribs and at the poll. This will then allow you to start moving towards shoulder fore, and eventually shoulder in which will increase the suppleness even more so.

As Skyes said above, change the work up a bit. LOTS of transitions for this horse. Obviously he has quite a good canter, so use that as a reward as he seems to find it easy. Ride a bunch of trot-canter-trot transitions one after the other on a 20m circle then get off his back into 2-point and just allow him to canter under you for a lap of the arena to loosen up again.
Trot-canter-trot transitions are my favourite transitions for warming up and loosening the back while engaging the hind legs. Well ridden trot-canters force the hind legs under and the horse HAS to use it's back into the transition. There are few exercises more simple and effective.

Best of luck, you are doing very well.
     

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