Ok she's round....now what?
This is going to be a three pronged question, please bear with me! :)
As I've just taken my share horse on full loan, I'm starting to attempt to school her properly (she's been quite well schooled at some point - it's just a case of reminding her). I've got an amazing trainer who already knows the horse well and teaches the way I want to ride (ie: If I'm doing everything right, she'll put it her head in the right place because she WANTS to). We currenty have a choice of a pelham and a dutch gag. I've already removed the flash and running martingale because she works better without them.
So without my trainer present, wearing the dutch gag it takes about 25-30 minutes to get her to start working properly, by which time, she's also starting to lather. Is it now just a case of keep working on getting her working and she'll get fitter, and as we do it more, we'll both start to catch on quicker? or do I need to do something different?
With my trainer present, we use the pelham - she'll work better, sooner in the pelham, giving me time with my trainer to work on something other than warming up, but I'd like to get her working in a snaffle? Is using the pelham detrimental to this?
Lastly, once I've got her round, I've been doing a few minutes in trot, just to srengthen her because she hasn't been used to it - I'd now like to start putting in some actual work once she's there - but am kind of stuck for what to do. Once she's round she's soft and light in front and supple on both reins - that's what I wanted from her, so what else is there to work on?
The stark problem here - is that you are dead focussed on where her head is.
Do a bit of research - look at the posts in the Dressage sub-forum or look up Jane Saviour on youtube. Roundness has nothing to do with the horse's head, no matter how many harsh bits you put in its mouth.
The only time I mentioned her head was to say that my horse will put it where she wants it. That isn't focussing on where her head is. I'm focused on wether she's forward and responsive first, then on lateral bend.
As I said, the end result is light, supple and responsive. I don't see how you read that I'm focused on where her head is?
It's so bred into peoples minds on the forum these days to sort of assume you focus on where the head is. I do it too sometimes, so guilty as charged.
As far as going to the snaffle, I say just get a snaffle and work her in one. Is there any reason you do need the dutch gag or the pelham?
As far as what to do once she's round...I say, stay round and do your manuevers round. Work on keeping her round in transitions, lateral movements, stops, all that kind of stuff. She'll build the muscle up.
Also, may I ask, if she goes best in the pelham why do you only use it when the trainer is present? Why not other times, too?
i would just switch to snaffle. i went from a tt bit to a corrective bit with one trainer and then went to another and he threw us in a jointed snaffle with a 3/8in diameter and my horse responds way better with that.
in a matter of a week his is getting his hind under him properly and working on balalnce while carrying the proper frame. there was no need to have the harsher bits in. in all i am doing is practcing my seat and balance with him and working him walk trot and he is collecting himself over time
so i would just go for it and see where it gets you.
SorrelHorse, the Pelham and the gag are what her owner rode her in. Her trainer (an advanced level dressage rider, no less) taught her to "talk down the reins" (read anything from fiddling with the reins to all out sawing her bottom jaw off with the bit) to get her head down so I guess she's just learned to ignore them. Hence all the gadgets she came with.
She had been getting quite excited after a canter and I've felt I needed the extra power, but since I've been riding better and getting her to work better, she's not so bad. I did have a bad canter yesterday where she hared off around the school bent the wrong way, skipping about, generally being a prat and she slipped and nearly fell over twice because I just couldn't get her attention to slow and balance her but that's certainly not all the time.
Anyway, usually, the gag on the ring one down from the snaffle ring is enough. Occasionally, I put it on the snaffle ring but then she tends to rush.
As for the Pelham I don't like it because I don't feel I should be using two reins at my level - I have no need for it, and I'm wondering wether using the harsher bit is helping when I really want her to work towards a milder bit.
To get her round you really have to start from the back end. When she is nicely forward (suggest putting a snaffle in her mouth and riding in an arena in case she lacks brakes) then you do a half halt (HH).
When I do a HH it is asking for a halt and at the last second "softening" the reins (my fingers or my elbows) and "allowing her forward - no more legs than those already on when asking for the halt. Your legs must be on (not necessairly squeezing) when asking for the halt so that horse is bringing it's legs underneath itself. This allows the horse to start carrying it's front end rather than putting so much weight on it's forehand that the rider feels they need a harsher bit to stop horse and/or to prevent horse from hanging on reins.
If you ask for a HH and get little or no reaction then ask for a full (SQUARE) halt. Repeat trot to halt until you can obtain a square halt from trot consistently. Once you can do that start throwing in a HH. Once you get all that correctly (must use snaffle or horse will try to evade bit rather than connect with riders hand thru bit) then you'll have the start of a proper connection.
When you ride your upper body will be "divorced" from your lower body such that the elbows and fingers maintain a constant connection even with horse moving head (normally) up and down. The next step from here is learning to further control the front end of the horse (shoulders) and the back end (haunches) INDEPENDANTLY from each other. That means leg yield, shoulder fore (and in) and haunches in, them moving to Turn on haunches and Turn on the forehand. That also means teaching horse to bend through it's ribcage. Once you've gotten all that you can go onto more lateral work like half pases at trot then canter. Also counter canter to strengthen the carrying muscles. All this will takes years to properly build up the topline muscles and requires very correct riding.
Does this perhaps answer your question? Both bits currently used are illegal in dressage but OK in jumping. If horse is used in jumping then teach it to respond correctly to HH's and being able to bend will help horse become better at roll-backs, shortening and lengthening strides needed to adjust them for jumping.
As for her rushing - at trot use your posting - do NOT post any faster if she tries to rush use HH's and/or 6-10 meter circles to naturally slow her down - suggest starting with circles since you don't want to go to the reins at this point. For canter rushing just limit the # of canter strides to around 4 strides before asking for a transition to trot or walk. It will help to ask for a tep or 2 of leg yield when performing a downwards transition as that will get her hind leg underneath herself and help her balance better - which may be one of the reasons she is rushing.
By bitting the horse up, one tends to assume yet another of the hundreds who want to pull the head in with tough gear as a snaffle is too 'difficult'.
I apologize if this is not the case, as it has been with hundreds previously and tends to get very trying after a while.
If she is truly working correctly, as you say, moving forward, engaged and into the contact the first thing I would do, is put her in a snaffle. I prefer a french link as it does not have the 'nut cracker' action of a single jointed, but your horse may prefer a single joint. Play around and see what works.
Then it's a matter of developing her fitness, balanced and strength to be able to work in a round position for longer periods of time. Remember that it is strenuous work for a horse to travel like this, so we must build them up to the point of being able to carry themselves in this manner for a period of time.
I always give my own horses frequent walk breaks, out on the buckle for a few minutes at a time through our training sessions, this refreshes their mind and their body in preparation for further work.
You can also try working the horse up and down hills, have some gallops, and try working over trot poles. This will all assist in building the musculature that supports a horse travelling towards collection, and will open the lungs and refresh the mind by doing different work outside of the arena.
Good luck, it's a long road!
I'm usually suspicious of
". . .the end result is light, supple and responsive." Especially if you have a horse that gets too excited.
I find it often means not accepting the bit, but being behind it. It shows neither submission, nor trust.
I started dressage riding a very forward racing-type QH. She would "collect" marvelously, and she was quite handy; but I discovered, after many years, that she had never learned to be "on the bit". She would "put her head where I wanted" because. like most horses, she was a wonderful student. But her energy did not really come through back to me. We did a little more of the cue-response, and less give-and-take.
I'm not saying our riding was "wrong"; but I certainly misunderstood what was happening. And because of it, we never got true, coordinated extensions.
Just a suggestion that you might go back to the bottom basics again: rhythm, relaxation, long neck etc.
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