(re)Training NERO II - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-27-2010, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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(re)Training NERO II

So... us said before, on post Critique me please (till Oct.16 2010)
I m riding Nero. A lovely stubborn -probably Bulgarian- 15yrs old male horse (no stallion).
He used to be a great jumper, but after working too much, he got a problem on his front leg and whenever he works hard or jumps high, his walking lame.
Added to his leg problem it's his behavior. Whenever he feels like it, he starts bucking-half rearing, side jumping and rodeo.
The above led him to stay out of saddle for very long time. Since August, i m riding him and i m set small goal, some of them achieved, some of them not yet.
My problem is that i don't have a trainer and the horse is not allow to be removed to another place for training, so most of the work to be done, i have to do it by myself. Sometimes my boyfriend comes to take photos to look how i ride, but that's all he can do, since he is not into the horses thing.
I guess i ll be jumping from this thread to the one in critique place, depends my needs. But because it's my first time trying such a thing without anyone professional, i d appreciate your opinion, tips, guides, whatever you could give me on my training effort.

To begin with, below are my goals for Nero's training :
1. trot and canter with no pain, no lame leg (achieved after 1 month)
2. circles in trot and canter, without changing his type of movement i.e. from canter to walk (achieved)
3. halt square - almost achieved
4. start trot after halt - achieved
5. perform the Children's Preliminary Test of FEI - achieved but needs more practise
6. trot and canter over ground polls (not achieved. He does so, but after a while he goes mad)
7. jump low fences - ok
8. jump exersices of low high - not tried yet
9. jump a round of fences - not tried yet
10. jump a round of fences equal to the lowest level of national competition (1m)- not tried yet.

This week, i want to work my transitions. From canter to trot and trot to canter.
One thing i v noticed is that from trot to canter, he rounds and lowers his neck just for the first stride. How can i avoid this? I ll upload photos-video whenever possible.
Also, from canter to trot, i think he goes as if surprised, althouth i try to get him into the idea, first with legs and then with hands. Any suggestion here, about how to soften his transition?

Thanks in advance!

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post #2 of 6 Old 10-27-2010, 10:38 AM
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I read your critique post, and just wanted to say that you've already made good progress!

As far as your questions about his neck in the canter, pictures would help a lot to see exactly what he's doing. You'll get better, more specific responses if we can see what's going on.

If he's stretching forward into contact, thats a good thing. At his level he doesn't need to have his head high - he needs to be relaxed, learning to be supple to the sides and down his length, and learning to accept contact and the aids. Ride the training scale - rhythm/relaxation, suppleness, contact (all aids, not just bit), impulsion, straightness, collection. You can't have any one without having each of the steps before it mastered. This goes for overall training as well as each individual ride.

If he's falling onto his forehand and getting heavy in your hands, he's lacking forward thrust. His head might drop, but his back will still be hollow and his hind-end trailing if this is your problem. Encourage his forward from your seat and legs, and don't let your hands give him anything to lean on.

If he's dropping his head and rounding his back up like he's preparing to buck, you need to find the reason why he feels the need to do so - poor tack fit, too much energy, misapplication, misunderstanding, or avoiding the aids, etc.

Trot work can only help canter work - by building balance and suppling the horse. Try trotting six strides, half halt to prepare, canter three strides, half halt, trot again, and repeat. My own horse is still rather unbalanced in canter, and doing short bursts of canter benefits him much more than long bouts of cantering.

Another exercise that I find helpful is to ride a figure-8. I ask for the canter coming out of the center (his body is already bent), and keep him cantering as long as he is comfortable doing it nicely (for my horse this means not rushing, relatively round, not terribly strung out - this usually lasts 2/3 of the loop on a good day), half halt and transition back to the trot before he loses himself, cross the centerline and start the second circle on the opposite lead. This exercise really helps him to snap up the upward transition and not run into the canter.

A nice prompt, clean "pop" into canter is good, but if he seems surprised or upset by the transition I would try being softer with the aids. Perhaps he is just very sensitive? Try really preparing him for the transition - half halts to rebalance, a distinct but not exaggerated bend, very clear seat and leg aids, and a soft following elbow to allow the transition.

Sorry that got so long... :/ Good luck, and I look forward to reading more about your progress!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-29-2010, 09:37 PM
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Can't wait to here some more updates!

I Ride. I Win. I kick butt, like a girl! So get over it!
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-29-2010, 10:38 PM
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With regard to the down transition from canter to trot. You say you are preparing him with first the legs and then the hands. Don't forget the strongest aid; the seat. You will want to kind of "freeze" your body to signal that the horse should slow down. It's part of the half/halt, but you do it a little stronger. In order to let the horse know that you intend to transition downward, I kindof exhale and hold my body firm in three steps. So, I breathe out and I often say a soft "haaa, haaa, haaa" in time with the horse's rythm, and each breath I firm my body a little harder and start to take up the rein.
It prepares the horse. Horses can get so in tune to the riders' breathe, that when you INHALE just before exhaling for this down transition, your horse can hear and feel this and will key into what's coming next.
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post #5 of 6 Old 11-03-2010, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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After many days away from the forum, i m back with my training news... I was thinking a lot about how to proceed with Nero. Maybe the dressage test i put him in was a too much for him, since we are working together since August and before that, he couldn't even walk.
He is making progress, yes. But why should i push him?
Being honest with myself, i realised that yes, i want to do some work with him, i want him to be a happy horse, in training and in competing, i want to see some reward one day of this effort (any place would do) but still, it can't be all of my life.
So, those are my limitations. I don't own him. I don't have lot of money, i m working in office, so i don't have lot of time, i have a cat and a boyfriend also to share my free time, i have a family, work to do at home, i want to race with my motorbike and the arena of the yard whenever rains, is getting full of mud.

And i thought... well, forget about big dreams, focus on smaller ones. No Childrens FEI test practise. Let's focus to the even more basics. I v found a test that hopefully will be easier for Nero to perform correctly (http://www.hef.gr/lists/arxarion.pdf) and i m planning to exercise two days the test and two days with poles or cavalletis.

Everyday practise is not so easy now, so i ll have to schedule my rides, and i m thinking something like 3 days a week. I need to have time to ride my bike if i want to race safely and i know my mum counts on my for lot of cooking.

The first time after the Dressage competition that i tried to trot and canter over poles, Nero went wild. And i just talk about poor, innocent, friendly poles on the ground!
So, last time, i put a set of troting poles, a set of canter poles and a set of 3 poles close to each other, and focused on going over them. He used to be a good jumper, so it's pitty to take jumping and poles out of his life.

Trotting over poles was ok. I decided to lead him into big strides and he seemed to prefer that instead of shorter distances. But cantering over poles wasn't that nice.

First, i lead him to the 3poles together, since no counting of strides would be necessary, just getting over them.Once he got in idea of where we were heading,he put his head up and started speeding, so i had to turn him into big calm canter circles before getting over the poles every time, again and again and again.
Right and left. Lot of circles... but finally, he calmed and was approaching them in a relaxed temp.
*during all this time, i was trying not to hold short reins, so when he relaxed and let his head down, i wasn't pulling or pushing, so he kept by himself this nice temp of cantering.

Next thing to do, was to include the canter-stride poles, after the 3poles, as a part of a big circle exercise. With his head, back and even ears relaxed, he was going steady and nice. It was so nice actually, that i didn't want to stop

i made a funny picture of our exercise in Paint...

But what about next time? I don't know what poles exercise should i do, so that he won't get bored. Any suggestions? I don't want to start jumping yet, i want to be sure that he will be 100% relaxed when he ll approach again a fence.

*sorry for my English, my composing of phrases is little bit chaotic, but i m tired...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg nero exer.1.jpg (20.6 KB, 65 views)

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post #6 of 6 Old 02-23-2011, 07:17 AM Thread Starter
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Also, I managed to find AND upload the video of our first/last dressage competition. I know it's ages since that was something "new", but since some people spent time to critique me and help me, this is my video result!

Mavri Gata: ?? ?????? ??? ????? (????????? 2010)

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