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MyBoyPuck 03-15-2013 04:37 PM

That moment just before horse is on the aids...
So you know that moment when you're just about to get your horse completely on the aids and there are legs, hips and shoulders trying to escape out every door while you're working your butt off to contain the energy, and then suddenly the earthquake stops and is replaced with a beautiful, soft floaty one piece unit? Do those of you who have long since found proper contact find that earthquake period becomes less and less? After many years of riding kinda crappy, I finally have an instructor who has helped me find proper contact and impulsion. The results have been great, but I am working my butt off before he gives me the whole package. For me, it's a good 5 minutes of so of circling, half halts, and subtle rein adjustments before the good stuff replaces the mess. Hope this question makes sense.

Fulford15 03-15-2013 04:50 PM

Yes! My horse just needed to get used to working the difference muscles so he/myself could acually relax and just get the beautiful movement/contact, when he first started Dressage is was very much a earthquake in battling to get him supple, after about 3-4 months his movement became even better and was easier to get that lovely impulsion. Just takes time to get them used to it. :wink:

MyBoyPuck 03-15-2013 06:25 PM

So do you think it is a matter of the horse still holding tension in areas? To me it feels like he's trying to escape traveling straight and taking on even weight on all legs. Once he finds his balance and equilibrium, the tremors stop and we're good to go. I never considered it might be more an issue of tension. I'll have to do more sleuthing next ride.

Kayty 03-15-2013 08:25 PM

Absolutely. The horse is still learning it's job in the beginning, so you will get those 'rocky' periods for longer whole the horse tries to escape out of every conceivable hole in your aids!
80% of the time I can now get on, warm up in walk, do some leg yield and turn on the haunches, then trot off and have him soft, round and over his back. A couple of little tweaks here and there, more flexion, straighten the neck, test the stop and go buttons, then it's no problems.

You'll find that once you get past the current 'earthquakes' over connection, you'll just find more and more as the work progresses, but hopefully these are only minor ones. I'm at the point where unless Speeg is in a particularly argumentative mood, it only takes a slightly stronger tap of the spur or hand to get past the stickiness.
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MyBoyPuck 03-15-2013 08:33 PM

Thanks Kayty. So it's just a matter of holding my ground and continuing to ask for what I want and let the earthquake run it's course? My TB spent years training me to do things his way, and now he's a little offended that I've figured out how to harness the energy and not let him blow through my outside aids. Hopefully we'll come to an understanding sooner than later before my outside leg falls off.

Kayty 03-15-2013 09:03 PM

Eventually he'll decide that it's much easier to just give, than put up a fight over it. Keep the pressure there, don't attack him though, just maintain the pressure until he gives, then ride on like nothing happened. He'll figure it out :)
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faye 03-17-2013 06:26 AM

Yep, Having taught Reeco from day 1 it gets easier and easier to get him rounded up and between my leg and hand. It does help that he is naturaly built to work like that and he cavorts round the field in a beautiful outline (makes me sick because I cant yet get that undersaddle) but even so we have had more then our fair share of "earthquakes"

plomme 03-18-2013 12:58 AM

5 minutes is very quick to me. I just posted about my warm-up routine in the main English Riding forum and it is quite extensive, usually about 15-20 minutes. While it is *possible* for me to get going after only 5 minutes, the quality of the work is greatly improved by an extended warm-up period that covers every issue and body part. If things start of very horribly and it is very hard work to get it together of course it can be frustrating, but if you see the warm-up as your chance to set you up for great riding later I think it is much more bearable and even fun. I used to consider it a burden but all the beginning work pays off and I don't know of any horse, even international level horses, that is ready to go immediately. As you get to know the horse more and your riding improves you will find ways to make the warm-up more effective but I would not focus so much on time and focus more on the ways you can most fully use this period of riding to benefit you later.

If you are bored with your routine, change it. Learn how each movement helps the horse. You do not have to do each one but you can pick what you think the horse needs that day. Maybe today it is shoulder-in circles, maybe the next day it is a long canter period and renvers, transitions, leg yields, exaggerated bending, whatever. Your warm-up exercises do not have to be perfect, that is for later, but they can help get you ready. A lot of people do lateral movements only in the 'main' part of riding, forgetting that these things are wonderful for stretching and creating the suppleness you will use later when your focus is in perfecting the movements. And of course they help to get the horse interested and responsive.

Kayty 03-18-2013 06:08 AM

Plumme it's not about having the horse ready to go and start changes or steep lateral work straight off.
I warm up for at LEAST 15 minutes and use the warm up to find sticky spots, push through them and get the horse soft and supple before starting more demanding work.
A well ridden and trained Dressage horse should be able to trot out after a sufficient walk period, over it's back, connected and in front of the aids. That is my warm up trot/canter, not letting my horse piddle around crooked, tense and resistant to the aids all for the sake of 'warming the muscles up'.
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plomme 03-18-2013 09:17 AM

Perhaps for lower level horses changes and lateral work are not appropriate, but for higher level horses these things are absolutely useful parts of warming up and they provide the kind of physical and mental activity that prepares the horse for harder work later. Like I said above, people forget that these things *create* suppleness, they are not just something you do once suppleness is already present.

I do not agree that a horse should be over its back, connected and in front of the aids after only walking or that such a thing has to do with training of the horse or skill of the rider. Walking alone does not allow horses to stretch in a way that most need for those things to happen in a very truly meaningful way. Horses may feel more or less round right out of the gates and a horse can certain be on the bit and responsive, but true connection and roundness and even real, enthusiastic bit contact do not typically happen after just a walk and if that is your goal I think you are likely to be disappointed.

And there can be many factors influencing these things aside from training - it could be the weather, turnout time, diet, tack, teeth, small injuries, etc. Perhaps he is simply bored and needs a lot of stimulation. Or he needs relaxation. It may depend on the day. Finding out what is causing the problem is a good way of resolving it. And I'm not quite sure what you mean about "letting [your] horse piddle around" - warming up is not piddling around, it is doing the very things that will fix crookedness, tension, and resistance.

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