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Softening a heavy horse

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        04-24-2013, 11:21 AM
    Green Broke
    You're absolutely right silverspear! Yes she does do shoulder in, leg yield and travers. I do like these exercises but I am hesitant to school them on my own, at least in my bad direction as I DO have a tendency of locking up, especially for lateral movements.

    My lesson last night focused on loosening the back half of my body and not tensing. It was amazing - my coach would ask me to do something as simple as lengthening my spine without lifting my shoulders and instantly my horse is soft and roun with only feather weight iny hands! It was an amazing feeling!

    She does have a tendency to be heavy, and I think we struggle to the right so much as I lock up in my hip and shoulders in that direction due to my scoliosis. It's difficult for me to tell sometimes if I'm riding correctly because wrong feels so natural to me but it appears my horse is quite happy to tell me when I'm incorrect and ineffective! We spent the better half of a 30 minute leasson on the bit and soft as butter without me even asking just with effective riding!

    It's phenomonal to see how much you don't know when you're with a coach that has so much experience! I will definitely be more attentive to my own riding when asking her to be softer to the right!
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        04-24-2013, 04:52 PM
    Well, there's your answer. Your horse will go soft when you do. Most of us mortals have our ways in which we block or brace against our horses. If I could ride a horse with beautifully clear and well-timed aids and no blocking or bracing whatsoever, the US Equestrian Team (or maybe the GB one) would be phoning me and, well, they're not.

    Horses will develop habits of bracing and being horrendously stiff to one side or the other, especially if they're not ridden with suppleness in mind for many years. But even then, I tell students that they still have to work on being soft themselves. If you're stiff and bracing, the horse will never learn softness and lightness. In my experience, the stiffest horses will start to move towards softness if the rider gives them the opportunity.
        04-24-2013, 05:53 PM
    Green Broke
    Hehe, most days I realize the true blessing I have in owning such a sensitive and alert horse and then some days you just want to howl in frustration because if I'm not "on", she refuses to carry me! More and more though, realizing that she will be there if I am there is a HUGE advantage! It wad amazing to not mess with headset at all, my coach wouldn't let me ask her, just wanted me to keep a straight and steady contact and just more relaxed riding had her so happy and down there on her own!

    Okay, so same exercises, more relaxed ME! ;)
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        04-24-2013, 06:06 PM
    My biggest pet peeve are people who "mess with headset," pulling their horses down with one reins or both. If you have a soft and elastic contact and have impulsion from behind, most horses (barring physical issues and bad training) will put their noses down.

    Had the following conversation with a teen at my yard last month. Teen is in lessons with a (supposedly) good dressage trainer. I was going out of town for a week and was looking for someone to take my horse out a few times. This girl's a decent rider, but a bit pully and bracey with her young -- and very bracey -- mare. After discussing the possibility of her riding my horse with me present to see if they got on, I said, "One thing is that you *cannot* pull her into an outline. You have to create energy behind and send it forward into a soft, elastic connection. If you try to pull her face in, she will just pull back and get grumpy."

    This lassie answered, "Oh! I've never ridden like that before."

    I said, "Wait, you've never ridden into a soft contact?"

    She replied, "If I did that, my horse would just take off with me!"

    *headdesk* Is this what they're teaching kids these days?

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