flat eq/dressage critique
tell me what you guys think, you can critique me or the horse, whichever you feel more comfortable.. these are from training level tests this summer... I can tell you that Smokey (my gelding) was very nervous and anticipating in the test 1 (the first set).. I don't remember what test the second set was from, but he was definately less impulsive.. Our first test was our lowest score.. We did Training Level Test 1, 2, 4 and Maiden Horse/Rider, but the photographer wasn't there for every test. (especially the one we did in the pouring rain!)
some things I notice about myself, my toes are pointed out in some pictures (its suddle in one or two and severe in another one).. on the flat they should be relatively pointed forward..
I've since, mostly, resolved this issue, but I used to lean on the inside shoulder a lot! and thats evident in some of the cantering photos.
Smokey could be a little more collected/impulsive in some of the pictures.
Just for reference, Smokey is my 24 year old registered Morgan Gelding..
i just wrote this long post and realised i had looked at the wrong pics :)
ok start again lol
first set of photos - first pic: toes in!!! lol i cant remember if you said about that in your original post or not so sorry if you did. otherwise, lookin' snappy :)
second pic: not too bad! those toes are out again though ;) your horse looks a little above the bit too and its hard to tell exactly, but it looks like your palms are facing down. keep your thumbs up :)
third one: watch those toes!!!!! lol shoulders back and it seems like those palms are facing down again. horse is a little above the bit by the looks but not too bad/
fourth pic: shoulders back again. the horse is on the bit more but he doesnt seem to be coming under in the haunches. someone else may say different thats just my perspective.
fifth pic: very nice apart from the horse not being square ;)
second set of pics: second pic: yay! your shoulders are back lol
third pic: very nice! your horse looks like he is listening more to you. cant see your toes properly but they still seem a little back but, it seems your shoulders are still back more which is good :)
fourth pic: your horse isnt on the bit and seems like he isnt quite square again.
fifth pic: your horse seems overbent here, your toes are out again and your shoulders have come forward again. watch those hands as well...thumbs up. it almost seems as though you are leaning/resting your hands on his neck.
sixth pic: same comments as last pic :)
seventh pic: your shoulders arent too bad here but i would still say to put them back just a little. your horse looks like he is on the bit much nicer in this one. but there still seems that issue with your hands and toes
last pic: your hands look better but shoulders and toes again ;)
that is what i would say but hey, im not a judge :) all in all, it looks to me like you are well on the way to being a great rider. good luck with further learning and showing :)
thanks for the critique!
Our biggest complaint from the judge was Smokey was on the forehand.. He definately wasn't engaged in his haunches. I've been working on that with him.. I've been working him in longe-lines lately, and that's been helping him lift up and back onto his haunches a bit. I've been using a wagon wheel to build strength behind, and I should be taking him over cavelletis more often.. Any suggestions to help him engage behind?
I've been having a lot of issues with my shoulders this past year, and am going to a doctor for it. But I definately have a more hunt seat as far as my upper body is concerned.. since I sit a little in front of the vertical instead of up and back. Which is suprising because when I ride saddleseat I'm definately up and back, at least when my shoulder cooperates anyway.
In the first halt pic he looks pretty square to me, but it could be the angle of the picture.. In the second, he's definately not square.
My hands- when I get nervous I definately drop my wrist/hand contact a lot... This is another issue I've been working on a lot lately and I've gotten better about, but is an annoying habit that's hard to break when your thinking about other things..
Ah thanks for the critique, I didn't mean to give an answer for everything.
ah, i have a bad shoulder too but fortunately for me it is more comfortable to sit back lol hopefully you can get your shoulder issues sorted out. you should find everything much easier once that happens :)
First off, your horse looks absolutely fantastic. I would have never in a million years pegged him as a 24 year old. Good job on keeping him in good condition.
Before I say anything, I'd like to state that I haven't exactly read through all the responses you've gotten. (I'm quite lazy, forgive me!) If I'm repeating anything that's been said, I apologize.
The biggest area for improvement I see is your hands. Your horse is going with his mouth open, meaning he's quite uncomfortable with the bit in his mouth. This can be due to or in part because of the bit that's in his mouth, from your pictures I can't tell if that's a contributing factor. What I can tell you is your hands are causing him discomfort here and are a huge factor in your having difficulty engaging his hindquarters. Without significantly softer hands, you won't have a comfortable, responsive horse. You're also quite stiff through your arms and shoulders. I did read that you're having some issues with your shoulders. I don't know what your limits are when it comes to rotating your shoulders, but loosening up as much as possible is a must throughout your whole upper body. Once you become more elastic and your horse has more freedom with his head and neck, you'll be able to ask him to engage his hindend more effectively. Essentially he's unable to bring his hindquarters underneath him right now because he's too restricted in his front end and cannot box himself up any more than he already is (which is not only uncomfortable but is simply bad for the soundness of his body.) Basically, take your hands out of your lap, give your horse his head, and spend some time simply moving forward and keeping your body nice and relaxed.
I do like your leg. Besides your heel slipping up, which compromises your balance and the effectiveness of your leg, I really like where it is behind the girth. It's in just the right place for flat work. Basically, work on dropping weight into your heels.
As for strengthing his hind end, there's nothing better then hill work. If you have any hills on the property he's on, spend lots and lots of time walking and trotting up them. And no two-point. Sit right down on his back to increase the effort he has to take to push up the hills with his hind end. Riding him through combinations is also a good way to increase his strength.
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