Impulsion and Extension without false aids
When i first bought my paint he was hot, unrefined, and out of shape. We have worked a TON with just the basic stuff. Walk. Trot. Canter. Circles. Stop. Easy... and so on.
So now that he's been in training, and is so much more fit, he really is a joy to ride both on the flat and over fences.
However, here's my problem:
He's kinda' got my number when i try to get him to move off my leg. I ask him to collect and extend his trot a little bit, but he tends to just poke his nose out and continue to plod along unchanged. i will pony kick him with my legs and i will get a momentary reaction, but he seems pretty unimpressed by actual "kicking".
His canter is really nice and adjustable. I can get him to collect and keep a nice hunter canter, or i can get him to give me a little more and hand gallop along the long side of the arena, and come back quiet on the short side.
Truth is, i tired using a crop once with this whole trotting issue. I didn't even touch him with it. NOT ONCE! but he was so worried, and so upset by the fact that i was even carrying it, that he was all strung out and a worried mess the whole time we hacked! So no more of that.
What is something i can try to get him to move off my leg more without the aid of spurs, crops, or dressage whips (omg he would have a melt down!). I would effectively like to whisper my aids... not scream them at him. :-)
Just not entirely sure how to do that!
A quick flick of a dressage whip on his hindquarters is a lot quieter and more effective aid than a 'pony kick' unless you're looking to just irritate him and make him even duller to your driving aids.
Don't know why dressage whips and spurs are so taboo among some in the horse world, a light flick or a tap of the spur to get a reaction if you don't get a reaction from a light touch of the leg is much more efficient training than kicking and kicking and kicking until horse has bruised ribs and rider's legs are dropping off, only to make a horse even more dead to the leg.
I would have said to use a dressage whip! But since that is not ok, here's athought:
When you ask him to move out, even if it's from a halt to a walk, expect a prompt reaction and get it. So, NEVER allow him to loll into a walk or a trot.
Ask with a light flutter of your ankle, then a strong Plump, plump , then if he doesnt' go, really crack him with your lower leg and take your own hand and smack your own thigh to make a good loud noise.
I sometime use only one leg to ask for the horse to walk off from a walk. I think it's becuase I used to "squeeze" for go andmy trainer said it was making my horse suck back.
But slapping your own thigh can work wonders in waking up the horse.
i am definitely NOT against using spurs, crops, and dressage whips. It simply is a matter of him becoming almost unsafe when i use anything like that.
i flipped the ends of the reins over his withers once because he was being a snot about his changes, and he proceeded to bolt like a mad man around the arena like i had beat him with a hot poker!
I will give the thigh slap a try. My barn mates will likely think i've gone and lost my marbles. But if it works, i'm comfortable with being the creep that trots around slapping herself! haha!
If he's reacting so strongly to those aids, I'd be doing a lot of work on the ground with him before under saddle. Asking him to step forward from a tap of the whip and move sideways from it will do wonders for him under saddle.
Rather than avoiding a problem, we need to address the problem and solve it. The horse will be much better for it.
i do work with him a lot on the ground...
what kind of exercises can i do with him involving the whip.. should i use a dressage whip? more like a pressure and release type of exercise?
when we lunge, i use a lunge whip... but i don't normally have to actually do anything with it. he will trot out, canter, and then come back down to a nice active walk. Mostly just by voice or clucking/kissing.
I would put him in a bridle, and work him in hand with a dressage whip. If he is THAT terrified of it, start with just rubbing the handle over his shoulders and neck and gradually get him comfortable with the feel of the whip, so that he will start to cease his association between a whip and fear.
When he is comfortable with having the whip in contact with him, stand by his shoulder, facing his shoulder and ask him to walk forward, with a small amount of pressure on the bridle and a gentle tap of the whip on his hindquarters. You want to be able to get to the point where he will walk on as soon as you point the whip to his quarters.
Whip training is really important for me as a dressage rider, no matter how nervous a horse is with the whip under saddle, I'll work through it, because it is such a fantastic training aid. In the end, I am able to just lift my whip hand slightly without giving the tap, and the horse will give me a hind leg reaction. That is the goal!! It also helps in championship competitions when often you are not permitted to carry a whip - I can still lift my whip hand slightly and get a reaction to the hind leg from the anticipation of a tap on the quarters.
Yup, whips are VITAL when you're training a horse that's dead to the aids.
My coach and I are working on getting Monty more forward and responsive and I am NOT ALLOWED to stay 'nice'. If Monty doesn't move instantly on nice, then I get BIG and say GO FORWARD NOW. It doesn't matter how fast he goes, in fact faster is better.
I think in "phases" when I'm training. Phase one to four, in order, are, ask, tell, demand, promise. I have never had to go beyond phase three with Monty but I do often skip phase two when I'm working with him because he KNOWS what I'm asking for.
All that being said I don't ride with spurs or a whip, because I don't need them. I'll flick my saddle with the reins for phase three, and Monty's shoulders at phase four. It's gotten to the point where even the threat of getting flicked gets him really moving. The trick is knowing how much ask you need with YOUR horse to get the speed YOU want. Monty will go from a fast reinback into a fast gallop, or just to a walk, and it all depends on the intensity of my aids.
If he's ignoring you, then you need to get SERIOUS with him. If he's scared of that then desensitise him. If you don't know how to do that then get someone to help you.
I know exactly what you mean! Duffy only had the basics when I got her in Jun and as well as putting muscle on, we've had to work. However, if I pick up a whip, she bucks. I refuse to put it down, but it doesn't make for a comfortable ride. Even training to be a dressage rider, I don't feel I need to whip with her as she responds well enough to my legs.
My advice would be to use some training spurs, or baby spurs. And have a three step rule. He'll learn quick enough. If my 19yo can learn this, any horse can!
1) Ask with your normal leg aids. If this is ignored, proceed to step two.
2) Tell with your spurs. Make him realise its there. Generally you'll get a reaction. If ignored, step three.
3) Pony club kick. He will soon realise that step 1 and go is better than having to go to step three.
My girl is 18.1hh, and I'm only 5ft7 and its really helped us.
Also, for sharper transitions, ask someone to stand in the school who knows you and the horse. When they see him relax, they give you a command (halt, walk, trot, canter) etc so you don't think about it just before you do it. I used to loll in to it, and when I watched it back it was lazy! Doing this will also help him listen to your seat more.
I agree that he has no respect for your leg. The dressage whip is a wonderful tool that he is making you forgo. I would spend time on the ground rubbing the horse with the whip to show him that this is not a weapon. Keep rubbing with it until he relaxes a bit. Then, hold it in your hand mounted and do the same thing. Rub him everywhere. Simply hold it for a while, not using it. Then slightly tap him all over, little more than a touch. Remember to praise him EVERY time he accepts the touch without reaction. Just keep doing this until he understands you will never use the whip as a weapon.
Once he accepts you holding the whip, the training for you leg begins. You should never have to "kick" the horse the way you say you need to. One small squeeze with your leg should get a reaction to energize. If the horse ignores that, you squeeze harder. If he ignores that, give a light tap...then a little harder tap. Wherever he finally reacts, I give immediate praise to show him what I am looking for. He needs to know that if he ignores you, there will be something else coming.
A dressage whip is an invaluable extension of the leg for a horse who is ignoring you.
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