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Favonian654 11-14-2012 03:17 PM

locking arms while asking for downward transition
So I could use some advice please.

I have been taking weekly riding lessons for 8 years now and I have been mostly riding the lazy school horses. The horse, Ben, I have been riding for the past 3 years was the "perfect school horse" he was calm and babysat the new riders and when more advanced riders rode him he could do what you asked (he jumped 3' with me) but was lazy as can be. If he heard anybody mention the words slow, easy, whoa or anything like that he would immediately slow down even if the slow down was for another rider.

Anyways I was just moved to another horse after Ben was retired and I am now on this forward and very sensitive pony she is 14.1hh Ben was 16.1hh. I have a couple issues that i am trying to work through and i could use some advice, after riding lazy Ben i find i ask much too strongly for forward movement and I have been trying to ask for movement much more softly (though this is a work in progress) and second of all I find I am tensing up and locking my arms when asking her for downwards transitions.

The first time I rode her I ended up locking my arms and tensing when I asked her to go from walk to halt she didn't and I locked my arms, without realizing it, and she took off cantering. This I find has made me more tense and stressed about asking for downward transitions. I also have social anxiety disorder so when my coach yells at me to slow down I tense up further. So after I do get a downwards transition I give her lots of praise and give her a long rein, but often times when I do this she goes more forward and sometimes breaks out into trot. When I take moments to stop or even to just walk so I can try to relieve my tension she goes back to going forward.

All this just makes for a stressful lesson and any advice is very much appreciated, also if you need more details just ask and I shall answer them to the best of my abilities Thanks for the advice.

ps sorry for the longish post :D

Favonian654 11-14-2012 07:36 PM

So I rode him tonight after a couple of weeks off, I had sprained my ankle and tonight was my first lesson back. Fidget my lesson horse she has a u-neck and so she carries her head high, asking her to go round (or into a frame if you prefer) can be a challenge but the entire warm up she was well behaved, she was round, listening not tossing her head, she was listening to me but also relaxed. Then it came time for the dressage test we are working on, and this week we worked on the canter portion and it was not pretty at all :oops:

We watched a couple other people go first and when it was time for us to practice she would not let me pick up the contact before we could start moving. The moment I went to pick up her reins she would fling her head about and she smashed her head into my face with a martingale on. Before she only did her head flinging when her rider was tight and was locking their arms but in these past 3 weeks it has become a habit. My arms were not locked when I was trying to pick up my reins yet she was still flinging her head like crazy, and so my coach gave me a crop (normally I carry one but I didn't think Fidget would need one) and told me to tap (not smack) her shoulder every time she flung her head up. And so I did.

After managing to collect the reins and to move on we started the canter part of the test and she immediately started cantering kind of uncontrollably (all I had done was I had moved my leg back when she started cantering) I gave half-halts every stride and tried not to lock my arms while asking for a calmer canter while circling. After finally managing the calmer canter and the downwards transition. We stopped for a moment while my coach told me what to do better (slow down was the big thing).

After asking Fidget to walk on she was suddenly energized and that calm collected pace we had in the warm up was gone so I asked her for several halts and during the second last one she started trotting on the spot, I asked her to move forward but she wouldn't I gave her her head, pushed my hands forward and gave her a gentle squeeze and still nothing. A couple moments later she stopped and moved on while the other riders were laughing at my strange horse. Anyways We started the canter stuff again and she continued to act the same so for a while I did figure-8s asking for a controlled pace and she kept trying to rear on me... after a good controlled canter we ended the lesson there but over all it was not the best lesson ever.

Umm, she does need her teeth floated and we plan on getting them done soon. My coach made a bridle that fits her well so I know it is not the bridle, we had a saddle company do a clinic at a barn a month ago or so and one of our saddles fit her very well and after an adjustment to the saddle it fits perfectly. So I know this is not the tack. She has been like this since she arrived a couple of months ago so I doubt it is mare issues but any advice is needed


Live2Ride15 11-14-2012 08:59 PM

Well First I want to say Welcome to the forum!!!
I am no expert and don't have to many tips but I will give you a few! When you tense she will get excited and start acting up, so try when feeling tense breath deep and when you breath out make it loud so she can hear it too, and you can sing it helps you calm down and thus calming Fidget. It you don't want to sing so others can hear you (Like me I... well lets just say I cant sing) just sing under you breath. IDK if this might be what is going on but hey it is worth a shot!!! :D:D:D:D:D

I hope this helps some!!!!! Good luck

Favonian654 11-14-2012 09:07 PM

Thanks! I will definitely try it, I have been told I tend to hold my breath so I will try to remember to breath :P And while I can't sing to save my life, I can hum under my breath, I will give that a shot next week! Thanks again

tinyliny 11-14-2012 09:13 PM

That sounds like worry, worry, worry on the mare's part. And your saying she needs her teeth floated makes me think she is worrying about pain in the mouth. Her upside down neck means she has a long time habit of going inverted in a defensive manner, either to protect her mouth or her back or both.
her trotting in one place, even when you openned the door means that she is definintely thinking about going UP rather than forward. \

Inside, she must be very worried and tight. I would bag the canter totally and just let her trot out forward on as loose of a rein as you can manage. once she gets her teeth looked at , and it can't come soon enough, then you start working on her being more comfortable with contact.

Is this horse the only available to you?

Sharpie 11-14-2012 09:28 PM

Take a deep breath. I like the singing (or humming) under your breath suggestion- it can help a lot if you're getting tense. It sounds like this mare is tense and worried like Tinyliny said, so you have to be the opposite.

You can only have so much tension and energy in a horse/rider pair and have things work out well. With Ben, he was all cool and relaxed, so you could be a little tense and it wouldn't be too big of a deal. With this mare, she's bringing all the stress that can be handled, so you have to absolutely try to ooze relaxation and calm to help her relax as well. Much easier said than done, obviously, but practice and learning each other better may help. Learning to ride horses that are very different from one another can help your riding skills enormously, but is a big challenge to work on as well.

Favonian654 11-14-2012 09:34 PM

She is not the only horse I can ride we have about 10 school horses. However my coach asked me to ride and work with her because she is forward and the people she is putting on her tend to just pull on her face constantly, the girl who rode Fidget before in my lesson ended up being bucked off because she was pulling and locking her arms. Compared to the other people who have been put on her for lessons my coach believes that the two of us can help work her through this and help her calm down.

I do see what you mean about her being stressed and worried, when I went to brush her and tack her up tonight, she was showing me the whites in her eyes and snorting nervously, so I let her take her time to sniff (and chew) my brushes and gave her a bite of an apple every time I'd finish with a brush.

Both the coach and her owner were their tonight and they both agreed she needs her teeth done along with her feet. When Fidget arrived at our barn her feet were overgrown and she didn't know what to do when we would ask her to lift her feet. She was tripping frequently but I know they hope to have her feet done again and I believe her teeth will be done asap

I will let you know what happens in regards to her teeth and feet, would you have any more advice for me to help her relax?

Sharpie 11-14-2012 09:40 PM

Have you figured out something she is good at yet? Once you do, going back to that frequently, and any time after she gets herself and you worked up so you can relax and come back down to a nice calm mental state again can be helpful.

For example, when I got my boy, any time I asked him to move faster than a walk he would get very over excited, nervous, and forward/rushy. However, once I taught him, he became very good at walking serpentines. So any time he was getting worked up and anxious, we could go and walk a serpentine and he would relax and that extra negative energy would fade away so we could start over. It took a while for us to figure that out though. You need to find something that is a positive confidence builder that you're both good at for it to work though.

Favonian654 11-14-2012 09:57 PM

Unfortunately Sharpie I have yet to get that opportunity, I have only been able to ride her a handful of times so far because I sprained my ankle (curse you hypermobility in my ligaments) My first two lessons on her happened before the sprain and we worked on downwards transitions walk to halt, trot to walk etc. but we hadn't touched the canter, tonight was the first time I cantered her so I had no idea on what to expect

tinyliny 11-14-2012 11:06 PM

Is this mare an Arab? They can get that kind of tension where they put their heads up so high and hollow out in the middle so much that they kind of "pronk" like a gazelle when they canter. It's very hard to sit that, and it naturally makes you lean forwaard and pull harder on the reins becuase it feels like you are falling into the hollow arch of the back.

I don't have a lot of experience riding that kind of horse. I guess I might experiment with allowing her to go faster at first, if necessary, and working slowly at getting her to bring her head down and stretch downward. To help keep your own balance, be as centered in your own core as you possibly can.

Do you think you could post a video?

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