4 yr old OTTB: Flat/jumping critique
I haven't posted for a critique for a long time, so thought I would give it a go again!
Unfortunately, I only have recent flat videos that are of us NOT working on things.-- They were are warmup videos, so he was not collected, moving forward, etc. I do, however, have jumping videos that will be better for critique.
Just a little background for the flat videos:
Before getting on, I do stretching exercises with him (neck, legs, back, etc.), then we warmup under saddle. For warmup, we walk on a loose rein at least two times around the arena in each direction, then we trot a few times around on loose contact in each direction. Then, we canter (circles) with loose contact in each direction. During the warmup, I don't ask him to do anything other than to be calm and listen.-- The warmup is just to get him loosened up for the harder work. After cantering, we do some bending (circles, figure 8's, etc.) more forward/collected and then work on things we need to work on (transitions, collecting, cantering balanced and steady, etc.).
These FLAT videos are of our WARMUP, so please do not comment on how he is not moving forward enough or is not on the bit, etc., as that is not the purpose of our warmup. Like I said, unfortunately I didn't get and of our "real work" on video.
In regards to the JUMPING videos, he is very green over fences and has not been worked over fences much at all (probably 7 times total and nothing difficult or long in duration). Prior to these videos, he had not been jumped since July 2013 (other than a week prior to these videos when we popped over a 3 trot pole and 1 crossrail gymnastic a handful of times).
I feel he got a little rushy through the "final product" video, but for being so new over fences, he did a super good job.
Feel free to comment on both of us on the flat (but mostly me, since he isn't being asked to do anything), and both of us over fences (but keep in mind this was his first time really jumping in almost 6 months). *The reason he hasn't been jumped much is because he is only 4 yrs old right now, but will be 5 yrs in February, in which I will be working him more over fences.*
Almost forgot to mention, HE has never been in professional training since coming off the track in late 2012 (other than 2 weeks of work/help from the person I got him from) and I have NEVER taken a lesson on him, and I have not had a lesson (on any horse) for about 2 years. I hope to trailer out in March for a dressage lesson though, so am looking forward to that.
I realize my lack of jumping often has hindered my position (slightly getting left behind and a snappy none-release type thing going on). Next time I will be over-exaggerating my release in order to stay out of his way.
(There was a coyote in the bushes--about 4 feet away--that spooked him towards the beginning of the video.)
Left canter (he has improved SO much to the left):
Adding a vertical:
AND, "bloopers"! (No critique on this one!)
I didn't set him up properly (it was the first time going through with the middle jump up).-- My fault!
Id take out the jumps for now. Not only because he's only 4, but all three gaits on the flat need work. You have nice control and he's listening to you nicely, but I think you're holding him back, literally. You need to start riding him more solidly with your seat.
He needs to start powering through his hind more as he has short, choppy strides with a sucked back neck. Work on getting a big strong statement trot out of him first.
He's a nice looking guy and I can tell he'd do anything for you. You make a good pair.
On the flat...
I think the trot defiantly needs more impulsion, but you are riding nice and he seems relaxed. The thing with a warm up is he isn't going to 'get' it's a warm-up and what I mean is he isn't going to understand why sometimes he is allowed to trot like that and sometimes he is expected to have impulsion (which I understand from your text you ask for later), this then creates thr issue of a lack of consistency that is going to reduce the likelihood or speed of getting your desired response (impulsive trot) when you want it. So yes you want him to be calm and relaxed but he has to learn to do it with more impulsion. However, I think he does improve at this throughout the warm-up but I would ask for it from the second go (get him in front of the leg).
Adding to this I feel like maybe he is losing impulsion because you are focusing on keeping him controlled ( perhaps he used to be rushy?) but as a result inhibiting his forwardness. Having more impulsion will actually help with control as it is easier to work with a horse that is moving forward with you.
The canter I think is much better, much more forward but still relaxed, maybe a little more impulsion at times but definitely an improvement!
For the jumping...
I feel the lack of impulsion in the trot is not helping , I feel you are working on keeping him controlled but forgetting the much needed impulsion that will again help with control. As a result his jumping is not very flowing, because the trot is a bit inconsistent, making it more difficult for you and him.
Having said this I do think you are a good rider who rides nicely and quietly and for your lack of lessons is doing very well! Good luck!
Ninamebo and Flipper,
I should have alluded to the fact that we are doing this type of warmup for relaxation purposes. I used to warmup differently-- trotting with more contact and being more forward, but then (stupidly) using canter as more or less of a "climax" of the ride (but of course trotting and walking afterwards, etc.). He used to be really bad to the left canter in wanting to go fast and not be calm. By changing our warmup to a relaxed and SIMPLE trot and canter, I can then ask him to collect at the trot and work nicely, and then work with a much more SANE mind at the canter (i.e. he had already been canter during the ride without fuss, so goes better when I actually want him to do something, have contact, etc.).
As I mentioned a few times in my original post, he is not moving forward because I am not asking him to. We usually have the balance between forward and a steady/calm speed, but in the instances that he doesn't, warming up "no fuss" has REALLY helped his canter. I do not have a problem getting him from just totting along to being more collected, and we use transitions, circles, etc.
Like I mentioned, I don't have a recent video of our "working" flat work, but here is the last one I have from the last time we jumped (months ago). He looks like that (and obviously better now) when I am asking him to work.
Bentley Warm-up Trot - YouTube
We have struggled ever since I have had him to find a good medium to ensure a sane/calm canter to the left, and thus far, this no fuss warmup is the only thing that helps the most and consistently ride after ride.
He is very smart and is the type of horse who catches on to pattern very quickly; i.e. if you tend to pick the canter up in the corner often, he will anticipate it even if you aren't even thinking about cantering, or if you are doing bending exercises like figure-8's he will know when/where you want him to bend and go. He is very sensitive to the little things, and I have actually been quite pleased with how this type of warmup has been working for him and his progress.
Ninamebo-- Thank you for the critique, but I tend to have to disagree about not jumping him now. He will be 5 yrs old next month, and we are not jumping that often (as stated in my initial post). The vertical in the video is only 2'. Check out the video I just posted above; he does move in front of my leg when I am asking him to and I do not believe I am holding him back, other than asking him to stay with me and not run out of the aids. We use trot poles, and sometimes jumping, as a fun mental break to change things up, so I am not drilling "flat, flat", flat" into his head 24/7. Thanks again!
Flipper-- I will keep in mind going a little more forward during our warmup, but I feel that it will have a negative affect in regards to what we are currently working on. Thanks for the critique! :)
Also, yes, when jumping I did not want to have him start to rush the fences, so was not asking for forward. I was basically just letting him boost his confidence, but do see where impulsion will definitely help us out. I think just by not jumping him very often at all, I didn't want to ask him to go forward quite yet (to not be confused with fast/rushing), but will definitely make sure to do so next time. He is pretty brave in general (and over fences), so I really shouldn't have to worry about him refusing, etc. (like he did in the blooper video, which was my fault... lack of impulsion to a new fence!).
Do either of you have another warmup routine that might be better, but still keep him super calm and relaxed, to ensure a better canter later on?-- I think in general the change from canter being the climax of the ride (I think I have past trainers to blame for that stupid idea/habit) to canter being part of a CALM warmup has already done loads of good for him!
On another note, I have been working on my posting, as I found it to be a "back and forth" motion (i.e. my butt falling too far back in the saddle), instead of an "up and down" motion (i.e. my stomach moving up towards the sky). Thoughts? I have also been working on softening my elbows.
Wow, that video is from a long time ago... he broke that running martingale a long time ago, haha! After that, I stopped using one of him.
LDFW, I definitely see some great improvements with you two. I really do like how low key you keep the warm up with him speed wise, because he does tend towards rushy.
In the trot work - be very mindful that when he goes to stretch down that you are allowing him to do this more by giving a little bit - you want to encourage that long and low stretch. Eventually it would be ideal to have him warm up with a stretch trot (there is a great video I think you should watch on this subject - PM me). In your current warm up in trot I would love to see you add more figures such as circles and changes of directions as well as a bit of leg yielding to really get him pushing through from behind and into your contact, without rushing forwards away from you.
In the canter, more of the same, add some circles, spiral in and out and work to getting him more responsive to your inside leg that you can develop an inside leg to outside rein connection.
Regarding the jumping - jumping, poles, gymnastics, etc.. are a very important part of a young horse's education and really enhance his learning, balance and overall development. I don't think that the horse should not be jumped, but the exercises should be selected carefully in order to challenge him appropriately.
In the cross rails video, I like how you allow him to use his neck over the first jump, however you fall behind him as the combination progresses. Try to really balance over your stirrups and for the whole combination - allow him to find his way! I would also set up more spacer poles to really engage him.
Adding a vertical - again would like to see you not so defensive. Trust him! If he makes a mistake, you can correct it :) He is with you.
The final product video - I like how you ride the line but I would love to see a forward seat after the line and a reward for a job well done, let him stretch and canter!! Again - if he makes a mistake, correct him with a circle and a transition down - not with a hard hand. You can correct him from that landing - he is not leaving, just at a normal canter speed for leaving the line.
The bloopers video - YOU must be prepared for the fence. Ride him to it. But you rode out your correction and the rest of the line well.
Overall - trust him a little more and let him make mistakes and use them as teaching opportunities. You have taught him now what you want - time to get out there and get messy, make mistakes! Corrections are always in a very progressive manner. Simply a repetition of an aid, a circle, a small correction. Never a harsh hand. Think now that your first aid is exactly how you would like it to be in your winning hunter round or dressage test - invisible! Then from there, create a correction. If he is going to fast, simply sit up a little more. If he runs through that, make a circle, then a transition and finally if those do not work, bring him right back to a halt. But the halt is a last resort! Not the first thing you go to if he gets rushy and imbalanced. Press your hands forward and communicate with him using your body :)
Sometimes it looks like your horse is dragging his hind hooves. There is so much of a dust cloud from hid hind legs .
In regards to the warmup, we do circles, figure-8s, etc. to work on bending after we do our relaxed trotting and cantering; kind of building it up to the more "difficult" stuff (though it really isn't "difficult", just "work") one step at a time. Are you advising we work on bending, etc. during our initial trotting and cantering warmup, or stick to what we are doing? Thanks for the canter suggestions.
In regards to the jumping, you made some good points. I do agree that I am constructing him too much for a gymnastic, as the idea is to let him figure it out on his own, and I kept focusing on going slow and not letting him just run after the fence (hence the stopping right away, and not letting him feel good about it afterwards-- now I feel bad!).
That is only the second gymnastic I have ever put up myself; the other being the 3 trot poles to a cross rail that we jumped a few times about a week prior to these videos. If you have any good ideas for gymnastics for him, please send them my way! I had been trying to put things together and get the spacing correct, etc.-- That has probably been the one thing I have been most cautious about doing without a trainer (putting them together properly).
Trust is definitely one of our biggest ongoing issues. He is a very good boy and doesn't act his age (in comparison to how other 4 year olds act!), but working through his canter issues has taken a toll in being able to trust him to stay with me and not run when he gets rushy and if I get tense for a few seconds (bad, I know), as he does react very quickly to my reactions. A lot of it has to do with me needing to relax, which I am working a lot on. That is part of why this type of no fuss warmup works well for us. I can let him canter on a more loose rein and not have to worry about getting him to collect, etc., allowing me to relax more while he just canters at a sane speed unaffected by me.
Next time we jump, we will work on those things... especially my position (it had been so long since I jumped, so the videos really showed me how much I "lost"), and allow him to canter away from the fence, circle, and then break to a trot, etc.
After our warmup and after he gets going and paying 100% attention, he has a really nice forward trot and can get very soft in his mouth (feeling like you aren't even holding the reins). When I rode yesterday, we started out with some issues, but at the end of our ride he was going so nicely and soft, bending, etc. I ride a lot at night and the arena I ride in doesn't have lights, so it is hard to get videos (that is also part of why we rarely jump too, haha!). Next time I ride during the day I will try to get videos of him actually working at the trot and canter.
The footing is pretty bad and is SUPER dusty. It rarely gets watered, so dust is a huge issue throughout the facility (thankfully, we are moving in the next few months, so don't have to clog our lungs anymore!).
The other explanation could be that I am not pushing him forward, so he is not using his hind-end well.-- He has sticky/stiff stifle issues if he isn't ridden often (thanks to being worked so hard on the track and now not working as strenuous as a track horse), but if we are riding on a day in which that is an issue (he just gets a little stiff), it works itself out by the time we are done warming up.
You should be doing more circles, etc, right as you start. Slowly add them. You want to feel like each week you are making a marked progress. In a month it should be noticeably a better ride. Don't fall into having the same ride every day! Switch it up a bit, add things, try things and overall be working towards progress.
As far as the gymnastics, there are great books out there (check out anything on free jumping too). Practical Horseman over the years prints out lots of great exercises, and of course Google! If you are not up to a whole gymnastic one day, literally just trot poles is great or even one pole on the ground and practice in full seat riding a distance to it in canter is enough!
One I do like is 4 poles on each part of a circle so you do pole turn pole, turn, pole, turn, etc.. on a circle. Or then turn the poles 90 degrees and you have a great outline for a perfect circle or square (bot going over the poles). Eventually you will get more creative!
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