In August, I got my 4 year old mare named Sunny. Since then, I have worked with my trainer to produce an almost completely different horse. She now knows the basics of dressage such as bending, rhythm, suppleness, and we are now working on straightness. I really like working with Sunny because she trys hard and is a fast learner.
So until about December, everything was going great. We had some few minor bumps along the road, but she was progressing and was very consistant in her work. No, it wasn't the best frame, and there was a lot to be fixed, but it was consistant and so much better than where she started.
We started being more detail oriented, which in turn asked more of her. She was happy to comply with the easier things- engage inside hind, push evenly with both hind legs all the time, rock back in the canter and don't launch- all of these were fairly easy to fix.
Now it's about February and I'm bored with consistantly mediocre. I start being even more picky and now I wan't straightness. I want the shoulder to come around the turn instead of falling out of the circle- and this is where we hit a road block. The darn shoulder will NOT stay where I want it. She will bend her neck, she will bend her ribcage- either direction- but she will not connect the outside shoulder.
I figured, well I have something to work on now, so work on it we did. Over and over and over again and nothing was changing. My trainer suggested lateral work to focus on it, so we started shoulder-in and leg yields. I had 2 good days of lateral work before she decided she wanted nothing to do with it.
This is what is making me frustrated. Now there is no consistancy like before. For example, on Friday she didn't want to bend right, but Saturday she was doing everything I asked and more. On Sunday (today) she started out ok, and after asking her to make it better, it got worse. So much worse. To the point where I would put a leg on to bend and we would be shooting around the arena like we were in October. She would do something, I would try to fix it, and she would fall apart even more. I just gave up and got off after an hour because I was exhausted, she was just getting worse and nothing good was going to come if we kept working.
It's so frustrating because we were doing so well and now we are back at square one. It's hard to pin point when it exactly happened, but the lateral work seemed to really throw her over the edge. I know me being frustrated will not help the situation, so I'm going to ask my mom if I can put her in training with my trainer so someone else can deal with it. I'm mad at myself for being frustrated, and I'm mad at her for acting like she doesn't know anything. The most frustrating part is that no one else seems to notice. My mom still says "that looks pretty" and my trainer says "getting better each week", but it doesn't feel like that.
Ugh... sorry for the book, but I'm just at the end of my rope.
Sometimes it could be body soreness. You might try a good chiropractor and massage therapist and see if it helps her.
This is normal.....I fix one thing and something else falls apart....sigh....it's the cycle of learning I'm afraid....if it wasn't a challenge it would be boring and we wouldn't do it......I'm getting together with a trainer next week I hope....my horse is 'finished' and I still manage to bugger it all up:(
Wow okay... while I read your post I became frustrated. This horse is trying really hard for you. Obviously you aren't giving her enough support, or you're ignoring the telltale signs that something may be off. Could be the angles in her feet, a strain, tightness in her shoulders, her back, etc. Check all of that.
My gelding drops or pops his shoulders. I make sure I'm using my reins proactively and my legs, and then I either use a crop or my foot to gently ask him to yield his shoulders over. When he's straight I give a release and we continue on.
It's going to be a work in progress. Do not get frustrated or angry with your horse. It takes a lot of work to be straight. Dropping or popping the shoulder is an easier feat.
Adjust your attitude, please!
She got a massage last month. We were thinking ulcers so she got ulcer guard and nothing changed. Got her teeth done, gave her a week off... nothing.
I do know that my saddle doesn't fit, but the new one wont be here for another 8 weeks. I'm riding in the saddle that fits her best, but still not a great fit. She has been ridden in this saddle from the start, so if it was impairing her in any way, wouldn't I have had the problems several months ago? And massage lady found no soreness, just tight hamstrings.
@Sky- I have tried counter bend, then keeping the whip pressed into that shoulder, but she just doesn't care. I would be happy to give a release if there was a change, but there's not. And I know that she usually trys hard, but it doesn't feel like she's trying hard anymore. I know that being frustrated is wrong, but I can't exactly just turn it off- that's why I'm working toward putting her in training with someone who knows what they're doing. Weekly lessons aren't cutting it any more.
I also know that this is hard work, but that was the point. I can't just stick with easy work and expect to improve. With harder work, I don't expect her to get it right away, I don't even expect her to get it after a month, but after 2+ months of working on it, I expect a little bit, or even a step in the right direction.
I thought the same thing, but now my horse has muscle atrophy on one shoulder. I immediately stopped using that saddle and bought him one that fits (along with a saddle evaluator we found one that fits both him and I) and then made a chiropractic. farrier, and vet appointment to see if there was something else going on.
Why will it take that long for your new saddle?
So you have an idea- this is what we were consistantly getting. A lot was fixed before she reached her "meltdown point", but now I'd be happy if we could even gat this anymore.
And when we go to shows, she's still a little tense, but this video is still better than what I have now. this was just a few weeks ago, before the lateral work started.
3-23-13 Combined Test Dressage - YouTube
It's what happens.
But I suspect with the saddle that fits she'll be a lot happier to comply.
I could sense the frustration in your post, and I bet this is something you carry around more than not when you're at the barn riding. Deeeeep breath, paste on a smile (it helps!), do something your horse knows how to do and praise them for it, then come back to your problem. x10 on the deep breaths and smiles!
Have you thought about doing some work on ground to make your horse more receptive to allowing you to control her shoulders? If you can give her a very specific cue on the ground (even if it's pressing the whip into her shoulder) to make her yield that shoulder, and bring it back into the saddle with you, perhaps she can realize "oh! I know how to do this!" and give it her best shot. It sounds like maybe you're both frustrated and confused about the whole problem!
If you can get her to yield her shoulders with the whip press, maybe every time she doesn't listen to it "in action," you can stop her, make her yield them in a 1/4-1/2 circle, and try again while you're moving.
Just my amateur advice! Well, amateur riding advice... master at being frustrated advice. :-P
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