Okay I need help--
My new horse Bear, is an off the track Thoroughbred, of 6 years. Bear was intended to be a hunter/equitation horse, due to his long and comfortable strides, however, recently as I have began to start working him over fences, he hasn't taken to it quite lightly. I could probably go as far to say that he hates it and just does not want to put up with jumping. These jumps are 2'3" at the highest, and he is a 17 hand horse.
Instead of forcing him to do something he doesn't want to, I was thinking of trying basic dressage and seeing how he takes to that, but I'm wondering if this is the right choice and if so, where to start.
Lots of OTTB horses take to dressage, it's a perfectly acceptable choice. =]
As far as where to start, the beginning is really wherever you want to start. As long as you start small. Like asking him to lower his head. I'm sure someone on here will be able to give you more information, I'm just in a bit of a hurry right now. =]
Kudos, Rurusmylove, for letting your horse have a hoof in picking his "job" :D! Too many times horses are forced into a discipline mold and aren't as happy as they could be with a different task.
There is a definite training scale in classical dressage, I'm pretty sure there was a thread that described it well on the Dressage forum. I would start by simply achieving a calm rythm at each gait with a soft feel on the reins. Get him moving forward willingly and steadily at his natural pace. It's a starting point, but as riccil0ve said, there are others on the forum who are far more able to give specific instructions than me.
I'm not trying to offend the OP but shouldn't he have basic dressage training down if you are trying to jump him? I mean that with all kindness, I'm just confused as to what he does know or what your definition of basic dressage is. If you want to give up jumping and practice basic dressage moves there are a gazillion at the walk. Walking squares, where you do a turn on the haunches in two corners and a turn on the forehand in two opposite corners, or using barrels or poles/cavalletti's which testing your steering ability. I used to do this one where I get my horse to put his front two feet over a cavaletti pole on the ground, halt, then try to side pass/leg yield across it, so that without stepping/backing over the pole again. Eventually the poles not under you anymore because you went sideways over it, at the walk of course. I'm wondering if your horses basic dressage training or lack of might be why he is refusing? If he doesn't understand what your leg really means solidly, he doesn't feel supported at the base of the jump by it, so he feels kinda abandoned/clueless in front of the jump. I'm not telling you to continue jumping, but maybe if you really invested a six months or a year in solid flatwork you might be pleasently suprised if you reintroduced him to jumping. If you skipped building his confidence in your cues, then dressage will work wonders, but if basic dressage means more advanced then what I'm describing, and you feel like he does hate jumping, then good luck with your change of discipline, they are all great for some horses, and some horses are great at all of them.
TroubledTB thank you i believe you helped me, no he does not have any form of prior dressage training, I bought him green, and so now I firmly believe this is where I should start with him. JW, this would most definitly help him to tuck him forelegs as well, am i correct?
My OTTB hates to jump as well. If he doesn't refuse he'll try to jump the vertical poles instead of the horizontal ones. Needless to say I gave up on jumping (wasn't serious about it anyway, it was more to do something else every once in a while), I'd rather not break all my limbs and his.
He does pretty well at dressage, but it takes a lot of time and patience. Everything about dressage is pretty much the complete opposite of what they are used to and though he wants to please, he gets confused often.
"You are not asking me to go faster when tightening the reins?"
Another OTTB at our barn retired 2 years sooner then mine and she is doing pretty good at first level, we're scoring in the high 50s in training level, not bad at all, but first level is probably still a long ways off....
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