Help would be lovely!
My trainer thought that it was time for me to up a level in my riding experience, and help a horse with "get the basics down" that was trained to rid and drive by the Amish. I don't have any pictures at the moment, but I'm going out to the barn today and will get some pictures so you can see her conformation and where her muscles need to be worked on. She's a Blackshire/Morgan mare standing at about 15.3H and 7 years old. She's being ridden and used in lessons by complete begginers. My trainer and I are the only riders working with training her right now that aren't new to riding.
We're only starting to canter her, but our main focus is to get her to move more off the leg. She's also just getting used to the arena. She's jumping around 2' confidently, and up to 2' 6".
What I was wondering if there were any specific exercises that I could use to help her ride more from my legs rather than guiding by the reins. She's getting used to bending at a walk, but is very uneasy when I work with bending her at the trot.
I'm sorry for the long-ish post (:
Thanks so much for reading, and I appreciate your time.
Here, I found a picture of her. It's not good quality, but it's all I could find at the moment.
She's beautiful!!! Ok, my first instinct, which may get bashed, was to ask if you have used or are using spurs? As an advanced rider I always ride with nubs, less than half inch pokers to reinforce my leg, and that can help, IF you can use them independently of your leg. That is, can you use first your leg, then a spur if you want? Are your heels, really, really down, so you have to pull them up to apply a spur? If so, that's my leg pressure reinforcement. Anyways, she is gorgeous, is she for sale?:D My kind of horse, and a mare, so she will have a bond with you forever. Good luck, let me know if this helped, or is the complete wrong way you feel you should go with your horse. Either way have fun!
No I'm not, but I'll be sure to menion it to my trainer at the barn today and see what she thinks (: Ive got a very strong lower leg on her already, it's natural for me, but I think that might be a nice push for her if she continues to not go off my leg as much as she should be.
She actually is for sale! I'm in Minnesota, and I haven't seen many other people on the forum from there but if you are there i'd love for you to come and take a look!
No, I'm way too far, but it can wish. She's a bit small, but not so that I couldn't over look it. Def mention it to the trainer, esp if you have a good leg, then just reinforce, it might be time to step up that area of her training.
I agree with a spur to back up your leg. Do a ton of transtitions as well, keep a very soft hand. If she builds or pulls give and take to try to get her to soften. Add circles, serpentines, figure eights. Just ask for a little bend at a time. Once she does it and moves off your leg, pat her and give back so she knows she was good. She looks like a sweetie! Good luck! Have fun!
Groundwork. Establish your cues off the ground. I got an 11 year old belgian that had only plow reined and driven to work off leg cues by starting at the ground first. That way, you can guide them a little where you can't as much while in the saddle. Once they're solid on the ground work, then try it in the saddle.
I couldn't get any pictures out, but I did mention the spurs to my trainer and she said it might be worth a try if she isn't improving as much as she needs to be.
I'm going back tomorrow as I usually go four or five days a week, and I'll be sure to try her without the saddle. I think it'll be a good experience for her and it sounds like it would help.
Thanks again everyone for the great advice (:
I agree with groundwork. Make sure she moves off pressure on the ground first. Get to the point where she'll move easily of pressure on your hand from various parts of her body, then continue on in the saddle.
I agree with ground work.
Do a lot of work on turn on the forehand. It's the best way to introduce the concept of "leg=over" to a young horse.
Starting on the ground on her left side, facing her shoulder, hold the reins under her chin with your left hand (not pulling on the reins, just a gentle feel), use your right hand slightly behind the girth to push her over. Push, and release immediately when she shifts her weight. Gradually work your way up to having her take an entire step, having her left hind cross over in front of her right hind. Work your way up to having your horse do a full turn at a light cue from you on the ground. Make sure to work both sides equally.
In the saddle, ask for the TOF when your horse is on the 'inside track' (few feet from the outside track, it's close enough to the wall to stop forward movement if your horse tries to move forward, but far enough away that he's not going to smash his nose into the wall).
She's a cutie! I like to work on spiral circles at the walk and trot. Use both reins plus both legs to cue for a good bend with a drift to make the circle smaller, then drift back out to a larger circle. Inside rein should be up a bit, outside rein should be normal height. Inside leg should at the girth and outside leg should be back a bit.
When you ask for her to come in, inside rein should go 1-2" away from the neck, outside rein should go very close to the neck, inside leg should come off the horse just a bit, with a bit more weight in that stirrup. Outside leg should go on the horse to cue her over. Keep her nicely bent to the inside. If she starts to straighten, put a little leg on the inside and pull back just a hair with the inside rein.
When you ask for her to drift out to a bigger circle, your inside rein should come in towards her neck (but keep it back so her neck stays bent). The outside rein should come away from the neck a little. Outside leg should just barely come off the horse with just a little more weight in that stirrup. Inside leg should cue at the girth for the horse to move over.
It should take 3-4 circles to slowly move in or out all the way. Remember to BREATHE, keep your shoulders back and relaxed, don't let your inside shoulder or hip collapse, keep your seat bones even in the saddle, and LOOK UP and around the circle. Adjust the amount of leg and rein you use for your cues depending on her reactions. Start with walking at a good clip. Once she's relaxed and responding well, move up to a relaxed trot.
Once she's good with spiral circles, I would work on serpentines at the walk and trot, and figure eights. With each, be sure your figures are BIG to start with, using gentle bends and long/large turns. The figure 8s should be big circles that touch in the middle, so you go from one bend, go straight 2-3 strides, then go on the next bend. Always remember to LOOK UP, use your weight in the stirrup, and keep your hands up with elbows bent and soft.
After she's good with those figures, I'd work on a more advanced exercise, counter bend on a large circle. Get a nice working trot on your 20 meter or larger circle. Slowly ask her to counter bend, or bend the wrong way on your circle. Use your outside leg on the girth, inside leg back but passive. Keep your eyes and shoulders pointed around the circle. Lower your inside rein and take it away from her neck a bit, but keep it back to encourage her around the circle. Raise your outside rein a tad, bring it back/tighter, and pull it closer to her neck. You're using your outside rein as an indirect rein, asking for the outside bend, but also asking her to stay over and not change direction. Adjust the pressure of each aid depending on her reaction. Again, this is a more advanced exercise. Do NOT attempt it until she is going well on leg and you are doing better at understanding mechanics and how to react to her.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
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