Beginner Dressage help please-horse
Ok I have a mare that is 8yrs old but was used as a walking trail horse up until last May when I bought her. She was EXTREMELY unbalanced, heavy, hollow, and awkward to no end! Ive done what I can to get her going well and shes doing great but I seem to have hit a slump with something and im not sure how to go about fixing it :-| This mare has a tendency to be on her forehand and ive done a lot of work to lift her up and shes improved but still lacks the engagement from behind to really lift herself. I need to get impulsion from her....however my problem is that when I try to get more engagement she just wants to speed ahead. I need tips and advice on getting her to connect better so that I can then get the impulsion, which I need tips on too :D I have always ridden show jumpers, most of which have a lot of impulsion naturally so this is something im not as well experienced with. Her trot is doing o.k., but her canter is unbalanced and she motorcycles her turns. I put inside leg and lift up on inside hand and shift my weight slightly to the outside to help her. It helps but she wants to rush ahead so I get a step or two of balance and then a speed demon pony lol. So I need to get that connection and what to work on to fix these issues because I feel like im stuck.
Reading a mag, I think it might have been Dressage Today, about how a dressage rider went and did a cow penning clinic to improve her horse's impulsion. The long and the short of it is that horses that work cows must have a ton of impulsion becuase they need to be "ready" to move any direction and quickly, at any time. a lot of impulsion means being positioned over the hind ends to be able to push (impulse) when asked to do so.
This rider thought that getting her horse to do a lot of quick starts and turns and such would help get her "behind and ready".
So, maybe doing some quick starts and dashes might helps. Also raised the energy and mental engagement.
Put up some cones in the arena so that you have a "destination" so that you can go there quickly and with a real sense of purpose (gotta get there asap!), around and back as fast as you can.
Also, working on hills helps. A horse that motorcylcles around circles/curves is too stiff to be able to step the inside hind under and carry most of the body weight when it pushes off. You might work on doing some lunging on a small circle at the walk and really look for the horse to bend toward you and watch to see if that inside hind is stepping inside, under the middle of the barrel.
You may have to push the shoulder out while restraining against forward movement with your leading hand. Do you know how to lunge in this way? Not a long line with horse running mindlessly around in circles all strung out.
You want the horse to be walking around as if they were almost doing a shoulder in. It takes focus and work, so don't over do it at first,
Then a slightly larger circle for trot work, same criteria for bend.
Those things might help.
Does her conformation allow her to rock her weight off her front end and on to her back end?
tiny I have hills and have done hill work over the winter but havent for a couple months so ill start that back up regularly again. I was just keeping her in a straight line up and down the hill, letting her stretch low and work her back on the way up. What else should I do on the hill to build muscle? Also, when I longe her she goes about half way around and then drops in on one side then goes back out balanced so I tend to use a surcingle and two long reins so I can continue to ask her to stay out by applying that outside rein to aid in my pushing her out.
alwaysbehind, Im not amazing at conformation, but shes not built downhill so id say yes she can?! She has a longer back, so I know that will make some things more difficult, like collection, but I dont see why she cant balance around a turn and pick up her back legs more and use them instead of just pulling along with her front end.
Any video or pictures????????????
Could you may be take some lessons with good dressage trainer? I had similar issues with my horse and she changed a lot since we started lessons with the trainer. It's just really hard (if not impossible) to help with problems like that over Internet: pair of real eyes there usually way more helpful.
Trot poles and transitions. Those will be your new best friends. You can put poles at varying distances from each other and lunge over them in a circle to teach your horse to carry itself without a rider. Making it think about where it is putting its feet will help it balance and round naturally. You can also ride over poles set up randomly around the arena and in grids with different spacings. Work on teaching your horse to speed up and slow down within gaits as well as getting crisp upward and downward transitions starting with walk/halt and progressing through the faster gaits. Also going back to basics and playing some follow the nose on a loose rein and doing some shallow and deep serpentines will also help engage the hind end. Keep them moving, keep changing it up and keep them thinking and the hind end will come through.
I have this same problem with Mitchell, and a friend suggested to me, to lunge him on the flat, and slowly add poles around his circle so he had to lift his legs to get over them, do patterns with them also. say have two poles on the flat, and the next pole raised slightly, but not high enough to need to jump, then the next few poles on the ground again... If that makes sense.
Mitch also has a longer back like you say your horse does :)
^This helped Mitchell a lot and his gaits are a lot better now and he can do smaller and larger circles. However I need to start him on that again once he comes back in from his hoof abcess.
Good luck :)
as far as lessons, I would LOVE to but dont know of any GOOD dressage trainers, within a decent price range, in my area. Or else I would :(
ok video....this is a novice rider on flat and the jumps at the end, please no critiques on the rider. Its not me, and shes very timid and trying to learn how to handle a heavier, faster horse so its not the best riding lol. The ring jumping is me, but that is from when I was starting Sophie at jumping last year in early fall/late summer so shes not as good as she is now but should still help you get an idea. I apologize for the poor video but its a clip I made awhile back of the only things I had at the time.
Ive read more of your alls replies, a lot of this is stuff that I have tried in the past and I guess I just never stuck with it long enough. I would see very small results, or none at all, so id give up and try something different to see what would click for her but ill continue this and stick with it and hopefully itll build up the muscles and shell be able to carry herself better and more balanced.
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