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eventnwithwinston 02-22-2011 11:40 PM

Teaching a young pony to stay straight and not toss head?
 
I've recently been riding a young pony for a young girl.. but lately I've been stuck on a few things.

For one, The pony cannot move in a straight line, and fishtails with his neck and body.
Are there any exercises or things I should be doing to help him learn to relax throughout his whole body and stay straight and supple in his neck/poll/front end?

If you need any more info on the situation just ask..
Thanks in advance for the help.
E!

Piper182 02-23-2011 02:18 PM

Hey, you can try ground driving/long lining. How is he on the lunge line? I have found that many times when a horse won't go in a straight line, it is because he does not truly understand that he is supposed to. long lining can help with that because one of the lines is against his body, keeping him where you want.

Head shaking might means he doesn't like his bit, his bridle or both. If he's fine with them, try teaching him to seek contact. The aim is to have his head as low as it will go and then you can help him lift up under himself.

Cherie 02-23-2011 09:40 PM

I would guess that you are trying to 'micro-manage' a horse that is not even comfortable just going forward yet.

Forget everything except going forward. The best way to do that is to pick up the pace and only worry about going the right direction. Do not ride on the rail in a arena. I prefer out in the pasture or out on the trail. I prefer a medium trot. I want a horse to learn to 'follow its nose' at the jog. I do not like to take a steady hold of one. I just lightly get it to go the direction I want.

The more you do this, the easier it gets to guide the horse in large circles and in straighter and straighter lines. You introduce 'leg yielding' exercises and gradually get a horse to yield from leg pressure.

It is surprising how quickly a horse learns to follow its nose and go in straight lines when you ask for more impulsion and ask it to actually go somewhere.

When you have good guiding skills installed on a young horse, THEN, you can start asking a horse to go forward with a little more contact and can start developing a mouth and better impulsion.

I cannot emphasize enough that going forward is the first and most important thing you have to get down. It is a lot like steering a truck. You just cannot steer one if it is not going forward.

Islandmudpony 02-23-2011 11:47 PM

I used to ride with a really top-level dressage trainer, and we always did tons of lungeing in side reins with the young horses. They can't overpower side-reins by tossing their head (but we didn't set them too short- the goal was kind of a "long and low" frame), and focussing on big, forward movement on a circle is a great way to help them build strength for work under saddle.

I've been riding a 16H 3 YO warmblood mare up here lately, and have had exactly the same problems as you - she feels like she's really all over the place. I know lungeing would make a huge difference for her, but she has ringbone, so I gotta do it the hard way. And it is hard, cuz she's young and she has tons of energy and really long gangly legs, lol. So the best thing we have done so far is work on lots of schooling figures - figure 8s, serpentines, diagonals, etc. I'd say now that she's really broke to walk, lol. But the trot-work will come. I'll just keep working quietly on the steering - and once they learn to turn, the straight lines come naturally.

I also had head-tossing trouble with her, but I changed her bit from a French-linked eggbutt to a loose-ring snaffle, and she's much happier now.

Kayty 02-24-2011 12:07 AM

Cherie beat me to it - unless a horse is travelling forward, it will not be straight. If you take a look at the pyramid of training :

Google Image Result for http://www.dressage-academy.com/images/dressage-training-pyramid.jpg

You will see that straightness does not come until very late in the scale, rhythm, relaxation, connection and impulsion must first be achieved.

A German rider has been staying with friends of mine for the last few weeks and has been riding some horses for us. Watching her ride a newly broken 3 year old, all she does is get him forward. She does not worry about ANYTHING other than forward. Once a horse is forward, everything else will come.
On the more educated horses, she does exactly the same thing. The first 10-15minutes of her ride, she rides FORWARD FORWARD FORWARD, the horse MUST be in front of the leg and really motoring, before we worry about the smaller details and fine tuning.


Straight lines are actually one of the hardest movements to ride in dressage. To keep a horse dead straight, supple, over the back and moving with activity and rhythm while on a straight line is HARD!
If the pony you are working is young and green, don't push the straight lines issue. You want to try and stay on a bend as much as you can, until you can establish a nice forward even rhythm, and start to feel a connection come from the hind legs to your hand.
THEN you can start asking for short periods of straight lines, and when you lose her, go back onto a curve, re-establish your connection, and ride out again until you can build up the time spent on a straight line.

eventnwithwinston 02-24-2011 04:17 PM

Thank you all so much!
This is extremely helpful.. and I also got some tips from my instructor today :)

I'll keep you updated on how the free forwardness goes!

Vette 02-24-2011 04:45 PM

Addressing your ponys headshaking and crooked lines
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eventnwithwinston (Post 937869)
I've recently been riding a young pony for a young girl.. but lately I've been stuck on a few things.

For one, The pony cannot move in a straight line, and fishtails with his neck and body.
Are there any exercises or things I should be doing to help him learn to relax throughout his whole body and stay straight and supple in his neck/poll/front end?

If you need any more info on the situation just ask..
Thanks in advance for the help.
E!


Hi there,
Being new to the forum, I hope you don't feel I am being to forward with my adding a suggestion to your concerns. But thought I would add something that may help.

On your straight lines...
You may want to start with something simple. Find a focal point across the arena or pasture, preferably something wide like a gate. Keep your eyes focused on that object without looking off from it. (Start with trot move to working trot then to canter). When you get to your focused point in as straight of a manner as possible (don't be concerned about your pony keeping it's body straight, that will come after you have repeated the lesson several times), when you reached your point, the pony will want to turn becayse of the obstical (gate) don't allow it, instead have it come to a stop at the obstical. Let it stand there for about a 30 second break and give a reward such as a kind voice of praise and a pat. This gets the
pony to understand that you are asking it to go straight. It's body will become more sure of itself.

2 Things I can think of about the head tossing. One is the bit. You may need to be lighter in the hands. The other would be that the pony is going through a process of elimiation trying to figure out what you are asking. Also, if you have ever released ptessure when it started shaking its head it would then associate what it feels from the bit to meaning it is suppose to shake its head.

Hope I wasn't too windy with my responses.

Vette 02-24-2011 04:51 PM

Addressing your ponys headshaking and crooked lines
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eventnwithwinston (Post 937869)
I've recently been riding a young pony for a young girl.. but lately I've been stuck on a few things.

For one, The pony cannot move in a straight line, and fishtails with his neck and body.
Are there any exercises or things I should be doing to help him learn to relax throughout his whole body and stay straight and supple in his neck/poll/front end?

If you need any more info on the situation just ask..
Thanks in advance for the help.
E!


Hi there,
Being new to the forum, I hope you don't feel I am being to forward with my adding a suggestion to your concerns. But thought I would add something that may help.

On your straight lines...
You may want to start with something simple. Find a focal point across the arena or pasture, preferably something wide like a gate. Keep your eyes focused on that object without looking off from it. (Start with trot move to working trot then to canter). When you get to your focused point in as straight of a manner as possible (don't be concerned about your pony keeping it's body straight, that will come after you have repeated the lesson several times), when you reached your point, the pony will want to turn becayse of the obstical (gate) don't allow it, instead have it come to a stop at the obstical. Let it stand there for about a 30 second break and give a reward such as a kind voice of praise and a pat. This gets the
pony to understand that you are asking it to go straight. It's body will become more sure of itself.

2 Things I can think of about the head tossing. One is the bit. You may need to be lighter in the hands. The other would be that the pony is going through a process of elimiation trying to figure out what you are asking. Also, if you have ever released ptessure when it started shaking its head it would then associate what it feels from the bit to meaning it is suppose to shake its head.

Hope I wasn't too windy with my responses.


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