My absolute first thought, within the first minute is that this horse has no idea how to balance, and the rider is not helping him whatsoever. He's trying his best, but he has no idea how he's supposed to hold himself together. Think about walking on a balance beam - if it's, let's say 3' off the ground (to simulate difficulty level) and quite thin, you're going to take your time to cross it. If you're asked to go faster, you're likely going to wave your arms around and lose your balance a few times. Given the right training and if you learn how to work on a balance beam properly, you'd be able to walk, run, jump, spin, go backwards, whatever on that balance beam.
This horse is being asked to run across the balance beam without knowing how to even walk slowly across it properly.
He's rushing because he doesn't know how to balance himself properly.
Okay -- here's an exercise for you... go find 2 soup cans. Got them? Great - put one in each hand, and extend your arms straight out to the sides, and hold them there. It's easy at first right? Then after 30 seconds to a minute, your arms start to burn. Your arms start shaking. You find that you have to lift your arms higher or grit your teeth to keep your arms up... and finally you can't hold them up anymore and you have to let them down to your sides. If you do that test every day, you're going to find that you can hold your arms out to the side longer and longer.
The horse knows how to canter, just like you know how to hold your arms out to the side. The horse does not know how to hold its balance at a canter, just like you struggle to hold the soup cans up - it takes lots of muscle memory.
Let's try another analogy... stand up, and balance on one foot, and lean forwards; go ahead and stick your other leg out behind you to balance. Pretty easy, yeah? Go grab a 10 or 15 pound weight - a sack of flour or potatoes will work in a pinch. Assume the position, and hold the weight in front of you - your balance is completely altered, isn't it? You might have to hop forwards a few times if you lose your balance.
When we get on a horse, we're completely altering the horse's balance - it takes proper training on your part and muscle memory on the horse's part, to achieve balance.
The horse rushes because he's trying to regain his balance.
My second thought is that this horse has no idea how to work through himself properly. He's completely working on his forehand, and he's strung out. This goes hand-in-hand with balance. He needs to learn how to use his hindquarter and back in unison to balance himself and propel himself forwards.
My third thought is that he really doesn't understand correct aids.
He is responding "faster" to leg aids because it hasn't been (properly) connected in his mind that leg doesn't always mean faster.
I'm not understanding this "finesse" thing... it looks like the rider just takes up contact with the horse's mouth, and the horse starts shortening its stride. It does not round up, nor become any more balanced. He does not accept the contact; he bounces in front of and behind the contact. He's still on his forehand, and she is still reaching for control of the head rather than the body.
Regarding "straightness" -- the horse has no concept of straight. That's fine - it's a very hard thing to teach - but it's essential. The rider once again goes to the reins first - straightness, like just about everything, comes from the hind end, and from the legs and seat.
Regarding the horse bolting home -- where is the correction? The rider does not reprimand the horse for taking off. If he's not getting corrected, the horse thinks he's doing something right. Kind of like nobody correcting a person when they say "I is happy" -- if nobody corrects the grammar, how are they supposed to know differently?
Regarding the bridleless... this kind of makes me shake my head. The horse has no concept of balance even with the rider's reins... without that, he is completely lost. If you don't have control and balance with full equipment, why are you trying it without a bridle?
@ 4:23: He pushes his shoulder and completely changes direction before the rider even knows what's happening. My diagnosis is that she's concentrating on controlling the head, when she needs to learn to control his shoulder and the hindquarter. If you have control of those two things, you have the horse. If you just have the head... well.. you don't have control over anything. You can see the rider's first instinct is to go to the reins, and she really doesn't correct him, just circles and carries on.
@6:08 - See the horse's head all over the place? He's completely hollowed out, which makes an uncomfortable ride for him and the rider. To me, there is absolutely no warning that the horse is to jump the log, I'm glad it was small. When you jump, you want to give the horse ample warning, and time to calculate approach so you both can get over it safely. The rider also gets behind the motion, making the jump very uncomfortable for the horse.
@6:11-15 - The horse is bracing against the bit. You can see the underside of the neck bulging, and the rider's hands bracing.
@6:20 - To me, I see no warning that there is going to be a change of direction over the log, the horse is already on the ground before the rider pulls his head over to the left, which puts the horse off balance, which forces him to change his lead.
Find a good dressage trainer, and get started with them pronto. The horse and rider pair have a ton of potential, but they aren't getting the direction they need. If this is level 4/5, I'd hate to see how strung out he was in the beginning.
Honestly, I see a lot of potential. They could make quite the pair, but they're going about it just about completely backwards right now.
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