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TerciopeladoCaballo 02-11-2013 01:33 PM

Downward transition woes!
Velvet's been a sweetheart, never mind the brief fussies due to estrus, through the arthritis ordeal. She's a registered Paint, I suppose you could call her type a lean stock or stocky race (someone took a good barrel racing-track racing AQHA bloodline and crossed it with an iffy APHA bloodline, same purpose, with plenty of TB blood). So, not the easiest work with, not the hardest, a good medium horse and definately one of my favorites. However, the poor girl's slight cow hock and rushed early training with her first buyer a long time ago landed her with arthritis in the hocks a few months ago... she's twelve years old. If you're going to work a 2yo, do it right :-(

Anyway, we're branching off from her low-level show jumping career (7yo-present) and going for Eventing practice. The arthritis is minor, so a bunch of treatments for joint health and blood flow as well as stretching, massage, and chiro adjustments keep her in working condition. Someday I probably will start hock injections, depending on how this plays out, as the girl is cleared for work, just has to go along slower than what I would like. Just part of the woes til I level out her asymmetry more.

Canter leads are looking good. Now it falls solely to me to get my weight just-so to ensure the correct lead each request.
Stretching is going well on request. She still has her giraffe moments at faster paces but still gives a good stretch-down.
Energy is still magnificent, I put her on 12% grain and she's happy to give that extra thrust for impulsion.
Jumping is pretty good. Getting those forelegs tucked and no more run outs.
Lateral and vertical flexion is awesome.

The downward transitions from trot. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:
I. Am. Hating. Them.
If I could bring her out to a track every day and let her gallop her heart out, I'd love that, and so would she, she a has a heart, ground-engulfing gallop, but incidentally.... I can't. When it comes time to trot--->walk... Velvet is more in the stead of saying, cool, we can walk for one stride aaaand back to trot with a passion. Now, I can see she's flexing herself like she's been showing nicely on free lunge sessions, but I would like to walk and stay walking for more than a few strides and then have me tell her when to shift. We have a training level Dr show coming up, and of course, a trot2walk is called for. Since Velvet's body has been freed up, she wants to use it! It isn't that she's getting flighty with me, more that once she gets going, she's going, and screw you for asking a slower pace or dare for a walk. She won't go into canter or gallop, the girl is too classy for that trick, but once I get her in the mind for a trot, well, I Hath Spoken.

The dirtiest thing is that she can be going along with a beautiful overtracking trot and then, when I ask for a walk, she dives to the forehand. It throws anyone forward. She's a booger. I put my aids on very, very slowly, and have to wait out any burst of speed she has, as once she feels my leg she thinks it means GO, and close my hands. What usually happens is her pre-frame falls to pieces and she sticks her nose up, speeds through. Gaaaaaaahhh. Now I know. I need to practice. I have my trainer, she's been telling me the same. But it sucks. I love my girl but I don't prefer spending an hour out in the fields (don't have an arena) turning and circling her, waiting for her to slow down so I can ask for the d**ned walk transition correctly. Hate it when I end up getting flustered and of course she picks up on it. A few times I got so agitated, probably stiffened up, and she shook her head side to side like a dinosaur when I asked for a halt instead of waiting longer for her to cool off ;_; It's one of those you-no-good-rider moments one has to muscle through T_T

Just so you know, nope, I'm not hammering her sides or hauling her mouth. Sometimes we go out with a neck strap or a halter for variety, or let the English reins out to full slack for neck reining. Tack with plenty of fleece cushion and a thiiick snaffle bit. She's sensitive, at the same time pretty forgiving, thankfully.


That's my vent. Sorry =_=
Hoped this might help anyone else sharing the same ordeal; you're not alone and it's not the end of the world :lol:

tinyliny 02-11-2013 02:17 PM

why NOT haul on her mouth? if she runs right through the bridle she has earned a firm rein. j

What I mean is that she may need more respect for the rein, and that might mean you DO have to get very firm on the rein. If she is willing to pull that hard on it, you will have to meet and exceed her pull. However, use one rein a lot mor than the other, so that she cannot lean evenly on the bit and brace against it.
you work to get her "giving" to the bit better. I would have her walk out, stop her and back her up. over and over again. then same thing at trot.
and throw in some spots where you let her move out without clamping down the forward movement.

My main thought being that you should not be afraid to take a strong hand on the rein if you can build it into a soft rein later (by rewarding her "gives" each and every time, but increasing your expectation of how little it takes for her to give, so that each time she gets more attentive to the rein.)

Kayty 02-11-2013 05:19 PM

Just to add to tinyliny's post - she is right in that sometimes it is necessary to use a more forceful rein, if a horse doesn't listen to my back, they get one small warning check with my rein, and then their back teeth come out (not literally, but you get the idea).
What I wanted to add to the above post though, is that you should not 'haul' or 'pull' on the rein. If she's pulling hard against you, and you pull hard and constant against her - who do you think will tire first? I guarantee it will be you! As riders we cannot use brawn, we must use brain!
So when she pulls, give her the chance to come back to your seat, give a little warning check on the rein, then lift your hands up and say "OI!!!! LISTEN UP!!!!!" with your reins, with an upward motion, just a short sharp OI!
Then go back and pretend nothing happened.

I can assure you that you will not create a 'hard mouth' from doing this. What creates a so called hard mouth is constant pulling and bracing on the rein, and using the rein to no effect. Right now, you will be creating a hard mouth.
By giving her a quick what for to tell her to shape up or ship out, she'll think "Oh, shoot mum really means that", she can ignore a long slow pull, but she can't ignore a quick "hey you!". When she backs off your hand, even slightly, then you go back to riding happily around like there was no problem. She'll work out quick smart that its easiest to stop to your back, and you will keep her mouth 'soft'.

jaydee 02-11-2013 05:32 PM

I do find it hard to judge this sort of thing without a video at least but agree with others - I am not afraid to use a good sharp jolt as a wake up call when needed - its the constant hanging on drag that causes the numb/dead mouth thing. Sometimes just playing with the mouth in a sort of pressure and release action will have a good effect
Sometimes going back to groundwork and lunging can help too.

TerciopeladoCaballo 02-18-2013 06:25 PM

We're starting to make progress :)

I integrated jumps and trotting/canter poles back into the routine; heights under 3ft, with the few jumping chute heights of 3'6". Evidently she loses her mind after cantering over the pole, so that's something we'll work on. She can settle enough to trot it, but she tries jumping the whole spread in canter. Just her trying to pick a shortcut, the booger. I had a Eureka moment when I settled in my seat and focused on holding the contact with her mouth, refusing to let her slow down or wiggle with it, and what would you know, her stride fell into place and we kept a constant speed. For the transitions, we're making it-- one issue is that when she makes the smooth transition, she gives a turtle walk... short tiny steps. I've been casting off my worry about using too much leg or hand. So, when she starts to jig, I keep still and say "No" before giving a pull on the reins. I was taught never to yank, and I don't want to give a hard mouth by hauling on her like jaydee said, so I time it in a way that I'm giving her a firm tug but not a pop, and then moving on like it didn't happen. If she jigs again, I do it harder each time, which usually leads her to stick her nose up, and when she does that I take up one rein and raise my hand so she can't brace against it, wiggling it for the cue to put her head down. I feel and look pretty stupid doing it but after a few seconds of her trying to get out of my hands, she gives a snort and put her head down to move along quietly til the next time she tries to jig. After the first session she would start to take two strides jigging and walk when I say No as I feel her prepare to jig. It looks like we will be walking along and she wants to try me out, like I'll say No, she'll settle, and just a few strides more she'll try to jig again, but ignore the No and see if she can get away with it. The run-outs are staying away. She tried to side-step away from a little 16 inch hop, I brought her right round to it, halted, and gave her a smack on the side she swerved out to--- after that she didn't try wiggling away again and even calmed down enough to organize and simply step over it.

I'm trying to identify what she specifically looks like when she's relaxed, scared, angry, or just challenging me. From what I see, with and without any bridle (we went out with a neck rope a few days ago) she almost never switches her tail, she rather bares her teeth, sticks her tongue out, and tosses her head. Her teeth have been floated--- she gets a bit seat put in once a year and eats plenty of forage, I've been chucking four flakes of Coastal a day at her extra since the grass is sparse. There's also the pouty one-two-step, usually when I sternly correct her for something, she takes a step to one side and stomps her foot or gives a quick, short kick with one hind leg. Kind of like a tiny, tiny buck. Bucking is her default, but she hasn't done that in years. She was a bucking master as a youngster!

Another thing we're having trouble with more than the jigging, is that canter-to-walk is just about impossible. She always gives a choppy trotting stride. Her back looks GREAT with the addition of MSM supplement to her diet, so I think the issues are balance and dominance. Her front is all freed up, no signs of pain when I test her like the chiro showed me, though there's soreness coming up in her lumbar region right around the croup, so we'll have another chiro adjustment there later, maybe get accupuncture or equine massage out for her.

TerciopeladoCaballo 02-18-2013 07:23 PM

Here's a quick, cheap little cellphone video. My camera has disappeared and I have no camera man =_=. It was shot at the end of an hour's session, the day we tried the neck rope. She was good with the neck rope but after cantering on her non-favorite lead she started jigging and ignored the neck rope entirely, so I dismounted and put the bridle on as I had no desire for her to run wild. I swear my toes weren't pointed outward for the hour, but at the end I got tired xD so yeah, they pointed outward in the video.

At 0:7 she started jigging and I said No, then again at 0:10 I said No and gave her a pull. At 0:25 she came in jigging, put her nose up to avoid my pull so I raised my hands and gave-and-take the contact on my left rein to cue her to lower, even though she started backing up. At 0:37 I put my leg on for her to go forward, instead, without rein contact, she backed up, then I loosely put my hands forward so the reins would touch her neck to cue forward. I slowed the video down at 1:23 to show what she does when I ask for a walk from canter--- I gave the usual close-hand signal, and then more of a pull when she didn't pick up on it. You see her gape and bounce a few strides in trot. I had her back up three steps, then ended the video.

Kayty 02-18-2013 07:37 PM

Ok first thing I noticed in your video is that your timing isn't good enough. It is good that you're giving her a 'hey you' with the rein, but you're not releasing the pressure the second she responds. THAT is what makes a hard mouth, not the quick pop of a rein to say 'wake up!'.

As for the canter-walks, you're not going to get them at the moment. Your horse is not balanced enough, he is on the forehand, and going flat out in canter, as such you're having to pull the reins into the transition - you will NEVER get a good canter-walk by pulling the reins, trust me on that one! My Dressage horse is only just REALLY starting to get the canter-walks, he has collected walk, trot and canter but the collection and balance in canter was still not established enough for me to be able to give my reins and ride the transition to walk until recently.
They are a matter of establishing a very balanced canter that stays with your seat, that you can adjust the tempo of, and that you can ride immediately transitions to trot from.

Skyseternalangel 02-18-2013 07:48 PM

730 Attachment(s)
To my untrained eye it looks like you aren't preparing her enough.. she seems a little confused rather than being bratty...

I didn't catch...did you have a trainer to work with?

Kayty 02-18-2013 07:54 PM


Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel (Post 1901162)
To my untrained eye it looks like you aren't preparing her enough.. she seems a little confused rather than being bratty...

I didn't catch...did you have a trainer to work with?

Your 'untrained eye' is spot on.
The horse is not balanced, on the forehand and not being given direction.
I wouldn't even be thinking about canter-walks at this point as the basic transitions are not even established.
A trainer would be VERY beneficial here!!

TerciopeladoCaballo 02-18-2013 08:12 PM


Originally Posted by Kayty (Post 1901134)
Ok first thing I noticed in your video is that your timing isn't good enough. It is good that you're giving her a 'hey you' with the rein, but you're not releasing the pressure the second she responds. THAT is what makes a hard mouth, not the quick pop of a rein to say 'wake up!'.

Through the whole video or the 0:35 part? Just wondering. When I wiggle rein at 0:30-38 I wanted her to put her head down farther, she's half QH and by herself walks with a lower headset, it's something I want under saddle, but maybe I shouldn't ask for the head-level-to-wither if I don't plan on holding on to it throughout. Without fail, she's calmest with her poll almost level to her withers, she's very likely to get tense with her head as high as you see throughout the video.

Here's a picture of what she looks like holding a stretch down (curse you, crappy cellphone!):

Ohhh yes, she is a forehandy horse. Whoever the jerk who first trained was, he just about plowed her face into the ground. She was Western then. There are rather deep scars in her sides from where she was dragged around barrels in the ring and spurred way back then. Her default is to plod on the forehand. I saw her mother once, her mother was a beeaaauuutiiful mover. I know the gal has it in her, we've just gotta get through to it. But yeah... for now I've been focused on getting her back muscles working and tracking up proper before I think about getting her to sit on those butt muscles. The trapezius muscle crossing her shoulder improved drastically, so I hope now that the front is looser she can lift it easier when we really get back on the cavelletti. We couldn't do it when she was very sore because she would just trample all over them, too painful to lift up.

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