How To Teach Horse To Be Light With Riders Aids
   

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How To Teach Horse To Be Light With Riders Aids

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  • How to train a horse to be light towards the rein
  • Teaching the horse to be lighter in the hand

 
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    05-03-2009, 09:35 PM
  #1
Trained
How To Teach Horse To Be Light With Riders Aids

*sigh*

Nelson, Nelson, Nelson - I don't know how to fix this.

Alright - little bit of a BIO here. Nelson is 16/17 now and been around the track a few times. He was bred to race, which he did - not very well and bought as a 2 year old.

Then he went A Circuit with his "first" owner who is a prevelant Hunter/Jumper in the area. Then he was bought by a Dressage Guru who rode him 3rd level dressage and then he was bought by his previous owner..who Evented.

Absolutely wonderful horse, I love him to bits and he's the best thing that has come into my life *aside from Husband * and he's my Boo - BUT - the one thing that drives me up the wall, is how heavy he is with my aids.

When I first got him 2 years ago *April of 06* he had this horrible wear marks on each side of his belly...from his previous owner.





That is how strong or how much leg she used on him - seriously. Now, that has transpired to me......and I have a hard time getting him to move off of my leg.

It drives me bonker! I rode today, and I literally got a charlie horse in my calf because of it.

I wear spurs, and he doesn't respond to that. A crop - oish..don't even ask. I carry a crop and he goes whacko...I cannot even cary a small pony beater because he goes nutty. So forget a crop, not happening.

I have to use - least I feel like I do - allot of leg on him. NOW!!! ON THAT NOTE!!! I had a friend video tape Nelson and I last year when I was at the barn I was a woring student at. I e-mailed the vid to another friend of mine who lives in Arizona who went Prix and the advice she gave me about my leg was:

"It doesn't matter how loud you get when you try to talk to someone of a different language. They still wont understand you" which really hit home with me - but I don't know how to fix it.

Here is the vid from last May that I am speaking of:



Now, I do not use NEARLY as much leg as his previous owner has - and I have been able to get those wear marks to dissapear....but I want to know how I can fix myself to fix this.

How, can I get him to respond to my leg aids?? Is this something that I can turn around? Can he be lightened?
     
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    05-03-2009, 10:31 PM
  #2
Trained
Sorry, I had to fix the video because I had no idea I had it set on private, not public.
     
    05-03-2009, 11:21 PM
  #3
Banned
Your answer is here.

My Article part 1

Quote:
Acquired balance requires a horse to maintain its rhythm by even distribution of the weight ( work) load on each leg. Without this, equilibrium is imperiled and the horse loses balance and hurries. Each step will be going faster and faster in an effort to gain its balance. The rider even with sitting deep may not be able to help the horse once it has reached a certain point.

To achieve " acquired balance" the rider maintains contact with the horse through the lowest point of the saddle. Sitting slightly behind the hips the spine swings with the horse with the lower leg remaining in contact but not gripping the horse. These together induce the flexion and extension of the rear legs. If the rider "feels" the horse they will realize that movement in the horses body provide an " alternating" left/right leg control. Allowing this movement to come into passive resistive hands and increasing the lateral flexion to the outside rein by "vibrating" the inner rein to induce the horse to come softer on that side.

The other biggest fault is to ride the horse forward but to the point that the horse is running into the bit and is balancing itself on the bit. In this case the rider has failed to ask the horse to balance on the outside rein. A properly trained dressage horse is "caught" between a driving inside leg a supportive outside leg and a soft light inside rein and a communicative and supporting outside rein. Without this the horse has all sorts of evasions such as balking or running out.

I teach all my students to ride the rein forward. To do this the horse is on the outside rein with a little more pressure than the inside rein. The inside foot will prevent the horse from falling in. The outside foot applies enough pressure to turn the forehand 1/4 the width of the horse towards the inside. This ensures correct contact with the outside rein, prevent the falling out of the horse and act as a counter to the inside foot. After the initial hold release ONE rein very slightly only as far as the next step the horse will take and resume contact afterwards. This might appear as a circular almost massaging motion of the hand. Upon resumption of contact a slight vibration of the rein will ensure the horse does not "sit" on the rein. This is repeated on the opposite rein. THIS IS NOT SAWING as proper contact MUST be attained by one rein before the release of the opposite rein is started. DO NOT RELEASE the outside rein to the horse when in training and in a corner or on a curve.

Very shortly you will find that the horse will maintain a headset according to the degree of collection requested with only the slightest touch of the rein. And you can test this by a full release of both reins for a step or two.
In your video you have inconsistant contact and when the horse drops its head you tend to drop your reins so the horse has no real idea just where you want its head or balance. Your horse is also quick of foot and as a result tends to run into the bit. He needs to be slowed down.

You need to think outside of the box and shift the horse's balance via multiple turns and direction changes so he must slow down without you actually using a lot of rein but read through my article and ask questions if you wish.
     
    05-04-2009, 04:37 PM
  #4
Weanling
There are a few different things you can try do make Nelson lighter. When you're riding along, and you relax your body and "quit" riding so to speak, does Nelson keep carrying you forward, or does he feel you stop riding and fall apart? Like you feel you have to keep nudging him forward with every stride or two? Before I go into that scenario, I'll wait until you say yes or no. Lol

It is unfortunate that he doesn't cope with a whip, but I believe there are other ways. Basically, to achieve lightness and a sense that Nelson is carrying himself for you there needs to be a degree of consistency in your aids.
You can start at the halt. In your body, have the energy like you are about to ask him forward, and lightly touch his sides with your legs. You want to feel him respond immediately. If he doesn't, and he is waiting for you to carry on and really nag him forwards, don't wait 2 seconds before the forward aid gets loud enough to send him forward, just in a moment. Bring him to a halt again, and repeat. Each time he feels you come in light, he will start to catch on that if he doesn't get on the job you are going to get loud and soon will decide that responding to the smallest aid is more pleasant. You then carry that on to the other gaits. You have to feel what he is responding to and deliver the aid accordingly. If he responds quicker one time, the next time you may not need to be so loud. If he responds less, you ask more. Don't allow him to sucker you into nagging or asking with too much or for too long.

If you cannot tap him with a whip, you can slap your thigh with your hand to see if he will respond..sometimes when you get into a pattern with each other you might have to do something different to break it up. The same old thing may not work anymore because he has already learned to evade the aid. You can carry a strap/small rope and thump it against his side if he doesn't respond to your light leg.

Be creative if you can't use the traditional tap with the whip routine.

You can also practice this on the ground. Do you do any in-hand work with him? Anything on a small circle? Long-lining?
Is he light on the ground, or lazy both under saddle and on the ground?

I can go into several different methods. Let me know about the questions I asked and I'd be happy to go into detail about it, but I don't want to make my post way too long if it doesn't apply to Nelson and you. :)
     
    05-05-2009, 05:12 AM
  #5
Weanling
Your not rising correctly you need to sit for two strides so you in your diagonals, and keep your legs on him. And as for leg as far as I know you'll have to just kick him we have a horse that when you kick him to go forward he will just stand there or he'll back you up into a tree.so I sloved this by show him though discipline. But you stirrups r to short to do that make em longer. And kick him I'm not cruel with our horse you just need to tell whos boss hope I helped.ireland
     
    05-05-2009, 05:33 AM
  #6
Green Broke
If you find it hard to double sit you can sit for four beats just or six or eight or twenty four million beats but just make sure its an even number.
     
    05-05-2009, 10:07 AM
  #7
Trained
Spyder, thank you for your post. I wholeheartedly appreciate it!

I've watched the old video over and over and I see exactly what you are speaking of. I also see that my leathers are way to short and I am perching on his back - so I do agree with what you say about balance.

Thank you for your article - I had to print it out!! It is on my fridge right now, and will be on the cork board at the barn. I will definitely work on the rein forward - but I have to ride him correctly as well.

Thank you again! I will try to get my Husband to record me to give a much more recent video of us.

My reins - I have a huge issue with that Sypder. I tend to tense up in my shoulders and my elbows - then my fingers follow. And then I see that I am holding him instead of moving with him. I have to remind myself to sofen up, so I do.....and then my fingers get too soft and my reins slide through. Frustrating!

I do have to lengthen my leathers - I've ridden with them that short for such a long time being an Eventer...they are solid and locked - but not functional. I've also grown accustomed to having them locked and loaded at the girth like that because I've ridden so many green n spunky horses - they keep me solid and secure in my tack.

So I have to retrain my legs to get under myself and become more functional for my needs.

~~~~

Quote:
There are a few different things you can try do make Nelson lighter. When you're riding along, and you relax your body and "quit" riding so to speak, does Nelson keep carrying you forward, or does he feel you stop riding and fall apart? Like you feel you have to keep nudging him forward with every stride or two? Before I go into that scenario, I'll wait until you say yes or no. Lol
No, he stops. I constantly feel that I have to hold him with my legs and that outside rein.

When we go to the right - it's worse. He refuses to get on that outside rein...well, let me correct that. I am not efficiant enough to get him on that outside rein and I am more than likely riding him incorrectly and getting the response I am getting due to that.

But, I can get a few nice moments, and then loose it. He also loves to lean into my inside leg. It feels like - especially when we move around a bend, that we are at an angle \ lol.

Balance....issue.
Quote:

You can start at the halt. In your body, have the energy like you are about to ask him forward, and lightly touch his sides with your legs. You want to feel him respond immediately. If he doesn't, and he is waiting for you to carry on and really nag him forwards, don't wait 2 seconds before the forward aid gets loud enough to send him forward, just in a moment. Bring him to a halt again, and repeat. Each time he feels you come in light, he will start to catch on that if he doesn't get on the job you are going to get loud and soon will decide that responding to the smallest aid is more pleasant. You then carry that on to the other gaits. You have to feel what he is responding to and deliver the aid accordingly. If he responds quicker one time, the next time you may not need to be so loud. If he responds less, you ask more. Don't allow him to sucker you into nagging or asking with too much or for too long.

Thank you for that! I will definitely do this today when I ride!!

I was given one of George Morris' lines - because I love him so much and highly respect him....

Ask, Cluck, Spur, Whip.

That hit home for me too :) So ask softly, then get louder - gotcha!

Thank you for your responses!

Let me try to get a recent video of us. I hope I can convince Hubby to get some shots for me today so that I can get a better idea to you of where we are right now a year later.
     
    05-05-2009, 10:47 AM
  #8
Trained
For your whole contact issues I would say to rest your hands on your saddle or your horse's withers. I have the same problem with "locking up" and this has really helped me. Another tip is to point your knuckles down, and your thumb towards the horses ears to close your hands on the reins. Then to flex or release you just rotate your wrist. Also, if you think about pushing your shoulders down and put your elbows on your hips while engaging your core and sitting up you will get a lot of power to drive the horse forward. I don't really know of any coaches in your area, but if you ever get the chance to ride with Axel Steiner or Jan Ebling they are both really great and teach a classic seat.
I also don't think about every aid having the same rules applied to it. With every aid you can't always say X Y and Z about it. You are dealing with two living beings which each have their own spontaneous reactions to things so you can't put rules on anything. The best way to think about aids is that if you do it properly and set the horse up for success, the better it is going to be.
I have an issue with my horse and the right lead canter, he gets very behind the leg and no matter how much I give the contact and kick with the leg, he doesn't go. But as soon as I sit properly into the tack (not on it and leaning forward), rest my hands and hold a proper contact, all of a sudden I magically have a forward, responsive horse who is infront of my leg.
So when something goes wrong, instead of thinking "I have to get him more off the leg", think "I have to position my horse and myself better to be more successful".
Horses do not rationalize like us, so an increasing punishment level doesn't work, they act entirely on impulse and usually are always trying to figure out what we want and to keep the situation safe. What works is doing it right the first time and keeping in balance. If you don't set yourself or the horse up well and then the horse is behind the leg, this is expected because you and the horse were never in the right positioning in the first place to be successful, so why would we expect success in the form of beng infront of the leg??

Good luck!
     
    05-05-2009, 12:22 PM
  #9
Weanling
When you're walking, really make it obvious to Nelson that you are asking him forward. Then, just quit. The second you feel him die off, come in with a quick, sharp nudge with your leg. Then be soft with your leg. Get him walking again, and repeat until he learns that when you quit riding, he is to continue on without hesitation. You can carry this onto the trot and canter. Every time you quit and he dies off, you immediately come in and send him forward again. Do not let yourself nag at him, don't let it get to that point. :)
Another thing, too, after you have gotten the hang of that exercise, is to pick up a trot, having a light leg. No nagging. The moment you feel Nelson ask if he can slow down or peter out, ask him to halt. When you ask for forward aid back into the trot, make it sharp and quick with a little bit of life. And then repeat this. The more times you do that, the longer he will hold his carriage because the two of you are working together.
Lazy(and I don't mean the term condescending) horses will become more resistant if always told they're doing the wrong thing. So instead of being suckered into nagging and fighting to keep him going, go with his idea of slowing down but make it intentional and demand it in good quality. Think of it as a good time to practice balanced halts.
That way, he remains on your aids and is feeling like he is doing the right thing. Once you've halted, the sharp, quick, and energetic aid for forward will convince him to just keep carrying you along because it's easier than doing a downward transition and a hasty but well-balanced upward transitions. To them, transitions are hard when we're asking for such quality. So to just keep trotting along will appeal to Nelson because I am sure he's a smart guy. :)
Just be consistent. You will be doing a lot of transitions so expect that. In a matter of time you'll notice him just carrying you, with your leg light and with much more ease.
Keep in mind these exercises work for walk, trot, and canter. :)
     
    05-05-2009, 06:20 PM
  #10
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIEventer    
Spyder, thank you for your post. I wholeheartedly appreciate it!

I've watched the old video over and over and I see exactly what you are speaking of. I also see that my leathers are way to short and I am perching on his back - so I do agree with what you say about balance.

Thank you for your article - I had to print it out!! It is on my fridge right now, and will be on the cork board at the barn. I will definitely work on the rein forward - but I have to ride him correctly as well.

Thank you again! I will try to get my Husband to record me to give a much more recent video of us.

My reins - I have a huge issue with that Sypder. I tend to tense up in my shoulders and my elbows - then my fingers follow. And then I see that I am holding him instead of moving with him. I have to remind myself to sofen up, so I do.....and then my fingers get too soft and my reins slide through. Frustrating!

I do have to lengthen my leathers - I've ridden with them that short for such a long time being an Eventer...they are solid and locked - but not functional. I've also grown accustomed to having them locked and loaded at the girth like that because I've ridden so many green n spunky horses - they keep me solid and secure in my tack.

So I have to retrain my legs to get under myself and become more functional for my needs.
Now anebel is right in that you can't just apply aids in an XYZ pattern for every movement and thing that happens.

What I gave you is a direction you can follow and modifiy it as the circumstances warrant. What I want you thinking is slowing the horse down so that 1 -- you can apply the aids effectively and 2 -- you have time to think through where you are and where you want to be.

Lenthening your stirrups/legs will allow you to get your leg/seat aids to create a more lifting motion but still allowing a forward motion. You should be doing more sit trot where you CAN use your seat more effectively in conjunction with the rein/leg aids.

I am also a firm believer in a ton of walk with bend,bend, bend and more bend exercises before I even do the first trot. To me it is useless to "walk the horse on a loose rein" when that horse keeps its head in the clouds and does all the loose walking with a hollow back....you have accomplished NOTHING. Great if it actually does stretch but I so often see the horse do nothing in that initial walk then the rider asks for a trot that usually has the horse hollow and unresponsive to being soft.

The above may appear to go against the prevailing fashion of loose walk first but I know personally that it works.

I was at one show where it poured rain in torrents the day before. There simply was no place to warm up. Horses were slipping all over and if anything the rider only convinced the horse that moving would be dangerous.

The little piece I had at the end of the show ring was passable but not for trot and you were not allowed to warm up in the actual ring. So I got to that spot as soon as I could and walked and bend and walked and bend and walked some more. He hadn't done a single trot/canter to that point the whole day.

I won the class.
     

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