Draft pony & rider critique - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-20-2015, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Draft pony & rider critique

Hello HF!

My pony and I are coming off of an extended period of time off. I am by no means a good rider and he is a bit of a youngster. We (usually) take lessons regularly and try to get one in at least once a week. The video link i posted below is of us at our lesson on Saturday 8/15. I know we have a lot to work on and I'm prepared to put in the work but, would love to have some pointers, preferably accompanied with some tips to improve where I am failing.

Also sending, I realize that he is being over-bent (which I WILL be more aware of here fourth and try to resolve) and that there is a lot of controversy regarding the use of draw reins however, I am working with a well respected trainer whom believes that using them are in our best interest. That being said, if there are any suggestions regarding how I may better utilize them to correct my pony when necessary I would greatly appreciate it!

Thanks in advance!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxeR...&feature=share

life has no remote control hitch them up and drive them your self
Ashleysmardigrasgirl is offline  
post #2 of 12 Old 08-20-2015, 04:01 PM
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it looks like your saddle is slipping to the outside, or the outsdie stirrp is longer tha inside aand your are quite off center
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-20-2015, 04:52 PM
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I do hope you will at least loosen his draw reins, if not take them off completely. He is behind the vertical, in a false collection, and very possible isn't keeping the canter because he cannot stretch into the movement normally.

Before cantering this pony, I would work on a nice, steady rhythm at the trot. Currently, he's rushing, falling on his forehand and doesn't have the balance to canter, and, as tinyliny said - you are off balance to the side, so that's not helping him either.

When the trot is relaxed and rhythmical, canter should not come from rushing the trot, using the crop repeatedly and then stumbling into the gait, but from the horse using his hindlegs and just changing the footfall, not the speed, by you making a switch in the balance of your pelvis and helping him push beneath him.

I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-20-2015, 05:04 PM
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With the rider off ballance and his head cranked so far behind the vertical, I'm surprised he canters at all.

He's adorable, but I would love to see him ridden with out draw reins and his head on or in front of the vertical. Right now it just looks uncomfortable all around.

I have nothing against most peices of equipment when used correctly. Anything that cranks a horses head behind the vertical is not being used correctly.
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-20-2015, 06:51 PM
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He's lovely but please take that draw rein gadget off him and let him have some length of rein while he's coming back into work.
Draft breeds tend to get behind the bit if you use artificial forces to try to get a collected frame - what's happening is that he's running round with no elevation or real collection in a false headset instead of being between your leg and hands
I love how willing he looks - but he doesn't need to go at such speed and too much kicking will deaden him to your legs
You are sitting to one side - one stirrup longer than the other maybe and you might find it easier to post and create energy if you shortened your stirrups
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-20-2015, 09:48 PM
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I completely agree with taking the draw reins off. They get in the way of teaching a horse to properly engage and use their back. I don't like them. I used them in Germany because I didn't have a choice but I have not used them since. I think it is very counter-productive and covers up the real problems. He's not learning how to work into a contact, balance himself, or work in a consistent rhythm. All components which are drastically more important than where his head is, regardless of above or behind both are evasions to contact and using themselves properly. When you have the timing and consistency for those 3 components he will reach into the bridle and connect. But he won't learn to work over his back just by his head being down.

Big problem is this horse has no consistent rhythm, his balance is all over the place and he is WAY too forward. He goes through his outside shoulder quite a lot, bending him more to the inside will only make him fall out more. I think your stirrups are too long which is part of the balance problem and him being so off balance makes it that much harder for you to balance. You also need to breathe, big and deep breaths and calm your body and energy. Post slower and count 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 for trot and set a consistent pace. That makes a BIG difference if he is too quick (which he is), I would not have chased him into a racing trot. It also helps to half halt in the sit phase by tightening your core and if there is no reaction, tighten your thigh for a moment and then ask with your core and thigh, as well as hand and expect a reaction. And if you're struggling at any point just transition to walk. Sometimes doing more is just more and is not as productive as doing less but quality work.

For the leg yielding which is a VERY helpful exercise you need to slow him down. He needs to learn to respect your half halt and not barrel through his outside shoulder. The purpose of the exercise is to help teach him how to use his body, keep his shoulder in line and learn to yield to the leg and respect the outside rein so he can be more connected and through in his body.

What I would do is go to walk and practice turns on the forehand. Both directions and work on transitions walk-trot walk-trot and make your aids clear. He needs basics. Turns on the forehand, leg yielding, trot a few steps transition into walk and back into trot and play with how little you can do to get a reaction. Start with being as light as you possibly can be and expect a reaction, if there is no reaction gradually do what you need to get a reaction but don't expect instant, a correct reaction is more important than a reaction. So it may take a few steps. Try to find a way to do more with less. You don't have to use so much or so many aids. For example I ride a horse (not my personal horse) who is just broke but he still can transition downward or halt from me literally just closing my thighs slightly, exhaling, half halting in my core and pushing the reins forward. I always give (my rein doesn't get longer but I put my hands forward) in a downward and upward transition to encourage and test self carriage. If the horse comes above or behind (behind is too light in the contact), I do the transition over because I got the timing wrong. And if I have to hold a horse into a transition something is wrong either in my training or timing of aids.

Being behind the vertical, I think a lot of babies go through that stage when they're figuring out contact and learning how to organize their bodies, some do it when they start getting tired because it is easier than carrying themselves . It took a lot of time to train my horse how to accept contact and use his body correctly but it was worth the effort. It took a lot of laterals, transitions, and correcting him when he'd get too light in the bridle. (I'd keep my contact and add leg) and at halt add leg so he understood it meant to push his poll out. Anytime I felt he was too light I'd move into laterals and if he blew through his outside shoulder I'd go back to turns on the forehand and emphasize he move his haunches and is not allowed to plow through his outside shoulder. I did this by closing my outside knee and thigh and bumped him with my outside leg in the leg yield when he felt like he was falling through his shoulder. And if necessary you can tap a horse on the outside shoulder with the whip (tap, not smack). As well as half halting to keep a slower tempo and make him use his back.
Your hands are too high for this stage of training, I would lower the hands, relax the elbows and lower the outside rein to his wither to help prevent him from going through the outside shoulder. Think of the outside rein as the steering, balance, and connection rein. Inside rein is for suppleness, inside leg is for bend. Anytime you feel yourself pulling back against him, I'd not and either shorten your rein so you feel a connection and encourage him to stretch to the rein. Organizing a baby horse is NOT easy, most of my riding experience has been developing young horses, green horses or re training horses. I had one who showed 4th level and knew the movements but had no idea how to carry herself or connect. She was ridden walk-trot for a while. It took A LOT to one keep her from running away and two to get her to trust a rider's hand and trust a rider enough to let the rider ride her and not just force her into a frame and make her do something.

I say all this not to be nasty or hyper critical but to say here are some things to pay attention to. Also believe in yourself and be patient, good things come from patience and time. I go into detail because riding is that detail oriented and that's how I process when I ride.
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-20-2015, 11:33 PM
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I have to say from watching the video that those draw reins are doing nothing but causing problems. He is very willing and all around just lovely. However he is moving "fakely". Its to pretty or collected. He appears instead rushed and stressed. Trying very hard to please you and being made to fail do to the position he's being forced into before he's been taught to hold it properly. You have to walk before you can run, and you have to learn to ride before doing dressage ;)
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-21-2015, 04:33 PM
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How are you all seeing the video? It is marked private when I click on the link.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-21-2015, 08:16 PM
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It says private for me too.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-21-2015, 08:30 PM
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Hmmm...it wasn't private last night. Op maybe had enough feedback? I watched it, and though I'm green myself, I was most surprised that this was a lesson where the trainer was present and not correcting some blatantly obvious issues with the saddle and tack, then having the rider attempt a canter when her balance is clearly off in the seat. It was almost painful to watch, but I don't think the fault is with the rider or the horse... :-/
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