Straightness in the Horse - Page 2

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Straightness in the Horse

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    04-21-2014, 01:24 PM
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Dressage books will describe straightness more in terms with having the hind end, the engine, line up correctly behind the front end and the head, such that the impulsion is carried fully forward, without a break that allows sideways drifting or a loss of the impulsion through a leg stepping outside of this line of energy.

I like your talking about the need for the horse to be mentally in line with his rider, too. I fear that I am , at times, that rider who is unbalanced and thus preventing the horse to come into better straightness, even though I keep insisting that I am trying to straighten him.

Just out of curiosity, when you were riding on the road, with one side being your chosen side and the other the one the colt preferred, when he made his choice, and you let him, but made that "wrong thing more difficult", what did you actually do ? Did you make him trot faster? Do circels? What did you do that made that choice less appealing?

Sometimes, such as on the way home, I cannot make the horse trot faster when he chooses the wrong side, because trotting out faster is what he wants to do anyway. And the trails are narrow enough that circling has to be really, really tight, or is not practicable either. I can back up. That's about all that I can do , at times. (I ride on forested trails often with big trees on either side)
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    04-21-2014, 01:39 PM
I generally find the way dressage to be written about and describes to be far to technical and formal for my taste. I do read and study a fair bit of that stuff and continually find myself wondering why they take such an unnecessarily complicated route to describe simple things. All horsemanship, no matter the discipline, is made up of pretty simple parts. If the parts were not simple, how would a horse learn them?
As to what I was doing, all of the above. I do not like to use a single method to discourage. For instance, small circles are a big part of all of my horses' foundation. So, while I will use them as the "more work" part to discourage something, overusing them could/would make the horse begin to hate small circles, which I certainly want to avoid. For a situation like you describe, I may back them up, side pass to and away, ride back the away from the barn several times, or Amy of a myriad of ther things.
I also NEVER ride back to the barn and quit. I will frequently ride to the barn and away again before dismounting, or past the barn and to another trail before dismounting, or load them in a trailer immediately upon dismounting. I am very careful about the patterns that I allow to be established.
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    04-21-2014, 01:52 PM
Super Moderator
So, what DID you do in the case you mentioned?
    04-21-2014, 01:58 PM
Small circles, serpentines, trotting stopping and rolling back, and when he was ready to listen softly, merely picking up the right rein and taking the wrinkle out of my jeans pressing my right leg on him.
    04-21-2014, 02:01 PM
I became interested in Dressage after we started Civil War Reenacting. There was a local--2 hours away-- Cavalry unit, headed by a Veteranarian, Carl Luthen., "Carl Luthen's 7th Cavalry" There were HUGE in the mid 1980's bc he could supply companies of Cav for National Reenactments and movies bc he could supply horses to rent to his unit's members and had contracts with the Amish to build period tack. Although it was a "man's club", anybody could pay to go their Spring warm up camp in March, which we did, two years in a row.
They had thoroughly studied Cook's (I think?) Manual and had understood and practiced the School of the Soldier, all of the drills and how the Cavalry trained to fight.
THIS is where Dressage comes from, Military Horsemanship.
We learned close order drill, turns, obliques, w-t-c as a unit, instead of a cowboy type race, dismounting and fighting on foot.
They had figured out that in order to mount with a carbine, you needed to put the strap on your throat and choke yourself so you wouldn't slam it into the horse before you got into the saddle--stuff like that.
We learned that you always put your most experienced riders and horses with the green ones, and that you dress together by riding with your stirrups touching. We learned the purpose for all of the extra horse equipment and how the Army used them.
We learned the drill, and then my horses KNEW the drill and never forgot it. Unlike the established European Cavalry Schools, the US in the 19th century didn't teach airs above the ground. Instead, they were about trying to breed a "super horse", who could do anything. Unfortunately the horse was, in WWII, replaced by the tank and the Army Air Corp, so it disbanded in 1942. Still, the US used mules in the jungle mountains of Viet Nam, and keeps show companies at old bases, like Fort Riley, KS.
Today's Dressage show ring is much different.
US Civil War Reenacting is now practically dead. Where there were 23,000 Reenactors at the 135th Gettysburg in 1998, there will be barely 400 at the 151st National Gettysburg. The depression is largely responsible. We were in it during it's peak, and MY HORSES the beneficiaries of all of the work we did to prepare them for it.
I still think it's the best training for a horse, EVER, and I try to use everything I learned form it to train today.
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