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Ninamebo 08-31-2013 01:02 AM

The art of coming into the bridle without being heavy on the mouth.
 
Hello! I am in need of some advice from you fine talented folk. A bit about Max and I: I have had him for about 8 years now and he is wonderful- willing, trusting and happy to do whatever I ask of him. He also has awesome movements- like something out of a movie. He floats.

But... He has always used his body incorrectly, especially under saddle- hollow backed, high head, u neck, on the forehand, hindquarters completely on a different planet from the rest of his body, the whole 9 yards.

So we have begun taking dressage lessons as I want to work his full potential and build a strong, forward, rounded boy. He is a quick learner and after a week understands the concept of coming forward into my hands at the walk through an inside leg/ outside rein cue- but at the trot he has a tencency to duck under the bridle and suck back.

He has never been ridden with this much contact before and sometimes I feel so heavy on the bit and it just doesn't feel right- he is an extremely sensitive horse and I don't want to create a horse that needs to be heavy on the mouth all the time, but with Max it is all or nothing.

We do much better during our lessons, but the minute our trainer leaves it falls apart. I have ridden plenty of finished horses correctly and I understand the cues I am him, it's just so different when you are teaching the horse the concept of contact and "on the bridle" for the first time. He is thinking so hard and always trying to get the right answer but we are struggling and it's frustrating- any advice or tips? I'm going to video us tomorrow so I can post it as it's hard for me to describe my troubles.

Any advice helps, thank you so much! Max thanks you too :)
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~*~anebel~*~ 08-31-2013 02:00 AM

He must still build the muscle and understand what it is that you would like him to do - which is not easy! If your choices are all or nothing, pick all. But then ride harder.
The horse must learn to come into a supple contact. Side reins with the rubber donuts while lunging are useful. But you must not be afraid of letting him explore the contact. If he is truly too heavy, steep leg yields are a great tool to get the weight shifted back to the haunches. As well as transitions and a variety of other exercises.

It is also a little easier to suggest things to work on if there is a video. But, in general, do jot afraid of the horse taking a good feel of the bit - this is required to get to self carriage. Shoulders down, elbows in and ride harder!
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Ninamebo 09-02-2013 10:29 AM

Ok. Good to know I'm doing something right ;)

He's learning and slowly building up the muscle, that's for sure. And he has the movement and the forward down, all in all he's just a happier horse. I just wanted to be reassured again that before soft and suppleness things (and contact) would be harder. I'll post before and during photos/ videos as this is so exciting for me- Ill probably end up starting one of those posts about his progress :P
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PineMountDakota 09-02-2013 04:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ (Post 3508778)
But, in general, do jot afraid of the horse taking a good feel of the bit - this is required to get to self carriage. Shoulders down, elbows in and ride harder!
Posted via Mobile Device

Is this because the horse does not have the strength yet and what you are feeling is the horse using the contact for balance?

Ninamebo, I am kind of doing the same thing you are with my guy. Actually, I had a chiropractor come check him and he was very much out in his backend so I am pretty sure he had a hard time carrying himself at all. Glad that is fixed now. Keep us posted! Did you get a video?

~*~anebel~*~ 09-02-2013 04:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PineMountDakota (Post 3528937)
Is this because the horse does not have the strength yet and what you are feeling is the horse using the contact for balance?

Ninamebo, I am kind of doing the same thing you are with my guy. Actually, I had a chiropractor come check him and he was very much out in his backend so I am pretty sure he had a hard time carrying himself at all. Glad that is fixed now. Keep us posted! Did you get a video?

No the horse should not be using the contact for balance.
It is the connection over the back which is developing - the carrying power of the back muscles.
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PineMountDakota 09-02-2013 06:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ (Post 3529161)
No the horse should not be using the contact for balance.
It is the connection over the back which is developing - the carrying power of the back muscles.
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Okay, thanks Anebel :)

Ninamebo 09-02-2013 10:55 PM

Pine: Max is still developing those muscles and he can only hold his frame for a few strides. It takes a lot less to get him puffing nowadays as he just has never used this set of muscles correctly for so long before.

I meant to make a video, but had a bit of a different ordeal today in the form of a sheath clean because my "director" (friend) bailed last minute. I shall ASAP though and will keep posted! Good luck with your boy too :)

Ninamebo 09-03-2013 11:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ (Post 3508778)
Side reins with the rubber donuts while lunging are useful.
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Anebel, I would use side reins with him, but he has already been "headset trained" in the past and with regular side reins he only sucks back and overbends at the poll. I was thinking though that Vienna side reins might be good to encourage him to stretch down as he goes forward? I have my main trainer that doesn't like to put a horse in aids and believes that with the correct riding and time they will learn (which I mainly agree with) but I am open to new ideas and I don't think lunging a couple times a week with side reins would hurt. What's your take on them?
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~*~anebel~*~ 09-03-2013 12:08 PM

Anything that slides encourages the horse to duck behind the contact. I use only side reins on everything as anything else with a sliding action like draw reins simply places the horse in a headset.
If your side reins are slack they are adjusted too loosely and the horse is going too slow. If you have a problem with ducking behind the bit, attach the side reins higher on the surcingle. Mid barrel height. There should be a good strong contact when the nose is at vertical, and a light contact behind the vertical with a clear inside flexion and then the horse must go. It is difficult to explain over the internet, and a lesson with someone who is very good with ground work is invaluable. One can teach quite a bit with only a line, a whip and side reins.
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frlsgirl 09-06-2013 02:24 PM

You might try to ride with a neck stretcher. It will help keep his head/neck in the desired frame but it's fexible/stretchy enough where he can reach for the bit and hopefully not lean on it.

When you are riding him, try throwing in lots of loops and circles, and leg yield in and out of the circle. That way, his brain and body stay engaged and will hopefully distract him from trying to lean on the bridle.


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