Interested to see what you can pick!
I've got a few new photo's of my little WB gelding going at a clinic yesterday.
He's very green, was out of work for around 12 months before I started working with him. He's now been in consistent work for approximately 3 months. Previously he was an absolute nervous wreck, would NOT go forward at all, would suck right back off the bridle and open his mouth while drawing his tongue back. If you touched the rein to pick up some contact he would lose the plot.
These habits still come into play occasionally, but he is feeling much better.
I've been riding him up and out with poll at the highest point for the last couple of months now that he's starting to relax, to try and get him up into the bridle a little more and as he likes to dive on his front legs at any given opportunity. The clinician however, wanted me to ride him a little deeper during the clinic, going for a different means of getting him into the bridle by having him deep, riding him forwards and into it but keeping his soft and giving at the poll rather than bracing.
So now that I've finished my essay (sorry!) here's the photos. Break it to me nicely as I'm starting to really like this little guy :lol: Oh and I don't want to hear a thousand 'look ups'... I already know, it's a frustrating habit that I'm madly trying to break, I'm fine in competition and when things are going well, but when I'm trying to focus I zone out on my surroundings and look down :oops:
(terrible hands in this one, don't know what happened there!)
I am not sure but are you asking for a critique? Your level of dresssage is well above mine, so not sure if I can offer anything. I think you two look nice , though it looks like both of you are working really hard; not much relaxation evident. The only specific thing I noticed in several shots is that you kind of either drop your inside shoulder or kind of kink it up against your neck. Just some tension or force happening there that might translate down into a twist of the spine, maybe even into the hips.
He is a lovely horse and you are a very skilled rider.
Yeah tiny, if anyone has anything to offer it'd be great :)
Yes you are very right regarding the tension, he is a very tense nervous horse naturally, though settled immensely today. He's far better off the leg now, so you can imagine how terrible he was when I started! I'll have to try and get a video sorted out, gives you a better idea of what he looks like working. When he gives and relaxes he can really move, but when he's tense he's very much a leg mover and looks flashy, but I have no connection from his hind legs to the bridle.
I think if you can continue to manage his nervousness and tension, he has the potential to be a very nice horse. The difference between the first photo (tense and not through) and the second (more relaxed, using his back, much more reach forward with both fronts and hinds) illustrates this.
Looks like he still likes to lean to the inside, particularly at the canter.
No critique of you, except for whatever odd thing you're doing with your hands in the 4th photo! I understand the photo just caught you at an odd moment.
Good luck with him!
Thanks Maura. Yes he does like to lean in on canter, but at this stage I'm not being too fussy about this, as long as he goes forward and stays soft and relaxed. His owner could not even pick up canter without his disuniting and swinging his quarters wildly, and she is one of our states top FEI riders :S
Haha yes, odd hands! I usually ride with my hands very quiet and forward, but Roger had me doing all sorts in this lesson as Bob was being a bit of a bugger, bracing at the poll and then backing right off the forward when I'd take a contact. So one hand was wide, the other up and vice versa - looks yuck, but worked!
I could never hope to have any advice that you would actually need to take. You ride amazingly, and you make a lovely pair with Bob. The only thing I see is your head position - you seem to look down a bit. Hold your head high with pride, you surely deserve to :)
I think you are doing a great job with him! After reading your "essay"--which it wasn't lol--it looks like he's improving with reaching for contact. He's still a bit behind the bit but if he was always avoiding and sucking back, you've done a great job helping him along. The only other thing I notice which isn't as bad as I used to do it, is I think you're over bending him through your turns. To me, the last photo looked nice as far as bend. :)
As for you--although you've already mentioned it--look up!! You can definitely tell its effecting your upper body. Bring your shoulders up and settle them back. Sit up tall! :)
The one thing that stands out to me in these photos is the inconsistency. While I understand that you are focusing on getting more relaxation and know what it feels like, the key to success is consistency.
I know you said not to comment on the looking down. I know you said it's a habit - I have some myself! But you must be spot on before you can expect the horse to begin to collect. The position you are in right now is a common one for people who are on young horses a lot. It protects your back from jarring movement which is common on young horses and is defensive enough that if something happens you're secure, while allowing motion to move through your seat. However, to progress YOU need to become more consistently in balance. This comes by balancing your upper body, which is difficult and requires core strength because even with your good base, you are still balancing a lever on a hinge vertically while on a moving object. To help you, your shoulders need to drive into your hips and your elbows should physically touch them. Focus a lot on balancing your body equally from front to back and side to side - I think you will find as you are consistently in one place - the horse will stay with you a little better. Instead of trying to follow him too much say to him with your body - I am here, this is where I am staying and you should be here too. This will help his consistency.
I am assuming these photos are in a succession and I see that the horse, while becoming more relaxed, is doing so at the expense of you having control. While this is a compromise that you may have had to make in the past, this is not one that can be made in the future. If you want to progress you have to start to be able to keep his body more under your thumb while keeping the relaxation. The first thing that I notice is the wigglyness in the bend. He goes from overflexed in the neck on a straight away to completely straight through a corner. You must be albe to maintain one degree of bend through everything and be able to make adjustments in it - not that you need to take the neck straight or over flexed to make a small adjustment.
I think that one you have established riding consistently in one place in balance and having more control over the position of the neck once he gets through the initial resistance you will have an easier to ride and more consistent horse.
One of your best, most informative posts!
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