Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 110 - The Horse Forum
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post #1091 of 2060 Old 09-02-2017, 08:50 PM
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@updownrider . . . nice vid.
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post #1092 of 2060 Old 09-02-2017, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
you are thinking of these things too literally, too much as if they are engineering equations.

Of course your legs don't 'create' energy. Of course they make the horse create the energy. They 'ask ' the horse. but, in that sense, they are the start of something.

and , if there is no reason for the hrose to NOT respond by speeding up, moving in a more forwardly energetic trajectory, then that is what you'll get. ...NO, do not actually speed up, is what 'compresses ' generated energy. it contains it, and slows it , pauses it, and 'gives' it into the hands or seat of the rider.
The problem is that people DO believe these things literally, as your last two sentences show.

My legs do not "make" the horse create energy. They only ASK the horse to create and use energy. The European theory of equitation is so pervasively based on the idea that the human provides the mind and the horse provides the muscle, that experienced riders find it almost impossible to write without reverting to that thought.

"if there is no [physical] reason for the hrose to NOT respond by speeding up, moving in a more forwardly energetic trajectory, then that is what you'll get"

I added physical, because the assumption seems to be that the horse REQUIRES a physical cause to create an effect.

Quote:
...As soon as a person is prepared to follow his horse, his seat will come automatically. His only problem then is the eternal one of the educationalist and the politician - that of getting what he wants out of his subject. This is an art, not a technique; it is a skill, not a science. When to give in, when to press forward; when to exert authority and when to withdraw it - these are moments whose recognition cannot be taught by rule of thumb. They can only be recognized by the sympathetic - by the person who is not entirely engrossed in his own welfare...

...A good horseman can assuredly talk to his horse through the bit just as well as I can talk to mine through his neck. The only drawback is that he has less encouragement to do so. It is too easy to transform a request into a command. It is too easy for Man to be supreme. - Adventures Unbridled - Moyra Williams 1960, my emphasis added
If one rides the mind, then one is forced to persuade. How does one get a horse to think, "I want to do what my rider asks of me?"

I think it starts with listening to the horse. He has no incentive to talk to someone who refuses to listen. And once one listens, and the horse opens up, one can then start making "mutually acceptable compromises". The horses gets some of what he wants - all of it sometimes, none of it sometimes, and part of it sometimes. But he also has to give the rider what the rider wants in order to also get what he wants.

Over time, if the rider makes good decisions and is fair, the horse will have good reason to listen. Wouldn't you want to listen to someone who almost always has good ideas, and who wants you to be both safe and happy?
Quote:
...Ridden by neck-aids, the horse is a free individual. It cannot be forced. It can not be controlled, but it can and does have to be guided. It has to have everything explained to it, and its cooperation has then to be won over. If it is asked to do anything absurd, it will merely say, "This fool rider does not know what he is talking about," and go its own way. It is hopeless to try riding by neck-aids until one has learnt the horse's language... - - Adventures Unbridled - Moyra Williams 1960
Of course, that is a life-long process. Bandit and I are total beginners. After 7 years with Mia, and 2.5 with Bandit, I am just beginning to seriously consider what is possible if one tries to work WITH the horse rather than DIRECT the horse.

For the first time in my riding life, I'm seeing possibilities. I'm seeing Bandit SOMETIMES do things based on my desires before I've asked him, or do them in contradiction to my cues - a horse who understands what WE are trying to do and who is pulling his weight as a partner.

But is also means I need to accept that, like a politician, I often will fail to persuade my followers to follow. It means I need to be ready to adapt my plans. It means I won't always get what I want. And for safety's sake, I may sometimes need to intervene, very forcibly. But IF it is for safety's sake, then I think Bandit will understand.

Quote:
...There is another thing to be considered with regard to the horse's character - it loves to exercise its powers, and it possesses a great spirit of emulation; it likes variety of scene and amusement; and under a rider that understands how to indulge it in all this without overtaxing its powers, will work willingly to the last gasp, which is what entitles it to the name of a noble and generous animal... - On Seats and Saddles, by Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars in the Imperial Austrian Service (1868)
That passage has become huge in my thought. I am just beginning to learn how to ride.

"NO, do not actually speed up, is what 'compresses ' generated energy. it contains it"

No. It is used. All of it. It never, ever "slows it , pauses it, and 'gives' it into the hands or seat of the rider". What the horse apparently does is increase the stride and uses the extended front part of a given stride to SLOW - to dissipate the energy it first created. On the front legs, he takes smaller strides, with higher impact pressures, and vaults the front higher.

It doesn't compress or contain energy. It doesn't return to the horse, nor is it made available to the rider. The energy available to you for the next stride comes from the horse's effort.

Note: That is not entirely true. There is an elasticity to muscle that CAN receive some of the "slow-down" energy of a stride and bounce it back out in the next one. But that is automatic and happens to some extent with every stride a horse ever takes. Primarily, the energy for the next stride is from the horse's muscle.

Mia used to sometimes jump sideways. It was rather disturbing for someone who rides around cactus, and even Mia eventually gave it up. But she could jump sideways 6 feet without me doing anything, and with no prior warning.

She sometimes jumped invisible threats. She eventually gave that up as well, but it is one of the reasons I tend to lean forward so much. I just never knew when we were going to jump something in her mind. It has taken me a long time with Bandit to start giving up my worry.

Horses excel at explosive power. The explosive power that comes in the next stride, and the one after that, primarily comes from new energy created by the horse. I don't need to urge Bandit to create some energy, then store it up, then create some more, then store it up, and eventually have a horse who is ready to do a walk-canter transition. If BANDIT wants to transition, we will. Smoothly, on his part.

I don't need to store Bandits energy over a 10 second period to get a horse who is able to do a 180 degree turn that will nearly rip me out of the saddle. Bandit can do that any time he wants.

The challenge, of course, is how to get HIM to want what I want.
Quote:
His only problem then is the eternal one of the educationalist and the politician - that of getting what he wants out of his subject. This is an art, not a technique
PS - Excellent video, @updownrider . Less than 60 seconds, and it shows how that approach to riding should be done. But it doesn't answer what Littauer didn't explain - WHY would I want to use constant contact?

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #1093 of 2060 Old 09-02-2017, 10:53 PM
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I know this is YOUR journal, and I shouldn't engage in lengthy discussions that verge on arguments with you. but, here goes . .


Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
The problem is that people DO believe these things literally, as your last two sentences show.

My legs do not "make" the horse create energy. They only ASK the horse to create and use energy. The European theory of equitation is so pervasively based on the idea that the human provides the mind and the horse provides the muscle, that experienced riders find it almost impossible to write without reverting to that thought.
YOu must know that I DO NOT believe the horse is not a part in 'mind' equation. Never have I said or implied this . quite the opposite.
"if there is no [physical] reason for the hrose to NOT respond by speeding up, moving in a more forwardly energetic trajectory, then that is what you'll get"

I added physical, because the assumption seems to be that the horse REQUIRES a physical cause to create an effect.
Yes, If there is no 'signal' from the rider to NOT speed up, the addition of leg cues from the rider is likely to create increased speed. and, the cues are physical, because no matter what we do with horses, they are physical beings, so even the minutest cue , barely visible to the onlooker , IS physical. Me being not a magician with a horse, I will use the typical things;
rein/hand closure, firming of the abdomen , more thigh on the the horse, maybe a pause in my breathing, even a voice cue. so, yes, it's physical. I didn't think a person even had to say that, since it's obvious.

If one rides the mind, then one is forced to persuade. How does one get a horse to think, "I want to do what my rider asks of me?"

Again, you know me and you know that I am all about riding the mind. All about using persuasion and enticement. However, I am not a magician. I , like millions of riders, use a bit. the bit does create discomfort, or even pain. I "ask", but I am not begging. If the horse cannot slow, due to anxiety, lack of fitness, rough ground, the fair rider eases up and tries again, when the horse is better able to answer 'yes' to your ask. But, yes, we do put requests/demands on the horse to try more, work harder, be different. perhaps this is what irks you so.
I think it starts with listening to the horse. He has no incentive to talk to someone who refuses to listen. And once one listens, and the horse opens up, one can then start making "mutually acceptable compromises". The horses gets some of what he wants - all of it sometimes, none of it sometimes, and part of it sometimes. But he also has to give the rider what the rider wants in order to also get what he wants.
The rider who does not listen with compassion and fairness should not be asking. I agree.
Over time, if the rider makes good decisions and is fair, the horse will have good reason to listen. Wouldn't you want to listen to someone who almost always has good ideas, and who wants you to be both safe and happy?
Of course, that is a life-long process. Bandit and I are total beginners. After 7 years with Mia, and 2.5 with Bandit, I am just beginning to seriously consider what is possible if one tries to work WITH the horse rather than DIRECT the horse.
If you think what I have said is not in agreement with this, then somehow I am not communicating well.

For the first time in my riding life, I'm seeing possibilities. I'm seeing Bandit SOMETIMES do things based on my desires before I've asked him, or do them in contradiction to my cues - a horse who understands what WE are trying to do and who is pulling his weight as a partner.

But is also means I need to accept that, like a politician, I often will fail to persuade my followers to follow. It means I need to be ready to adapt my plans. It means I won't always get what I want. And for safety's sake, I may sometimes need to intervene, very forcibly. But IF it is for safety's sake, then I think Bandit will understand.
Yep. agree here, too.
That passage has become huge in my thought. I am just beginning to learn how to ride.

"NO, do not actually speed up, is what 'compresses ' generated energy. it contains it"

No. It is used. All of it. It never, ever "slows it , pauses it, and 'gives' it into the hands or seat of the rider". What the horse apparently does is increase the stride and uses the extended front part of a given stride to SLOW - to dissipate the energy it first created. On the front legs, he takes smaller strides, with higher impact pressures, and vaults the front higher.
I am not talking about a mathemetical formula. Ok, I doubt you could do trajectories and logorythms and find all that energy compressed.
It is about potential energy, having the horse pause, like you said, letting the hind legs move a bit faster, further forward, in preperation for a change in action. Even if not explosion occurs, the action of preparting for this makes the horse's mind pause, too. In riding with a horse where the trust is good, you asking him to pause, slow, collect is asking him to make himself more available to you for a following request. That is what is meant by having compressed energy
It doesn't compress or contain energy. It doesn't return to the horse, nor is it made available to the rider. The energy available to you for the next stride comes from the horse's effort.

Note: That is not entirely true. There is an elasticity to muscle that CAN receive some of the "slow-down" energy of a stride and bounce it back out in the next one. But that is automatic and happens to some extent with every stride a horse ever takes. Primarily, the energy for the next stride is from the horse's muscle.
the compression is from the horse , in theory, putting more bend in his hock joints. when they are flexed, they are ready to push the body either forward or upward or both.

Mia used to sometimes jump sideways. It was rather disturbing for someone who rides around cactus, and even Mia eventually gave it up. But she could jump sideways 6 feet without me doing anything, and with no prior warning. I know the feeling. Mac used to spin so fast it was blinding, and I hit the deck 5 times! But, he always bounced off his front legs, so it was more of drop of the body down between his shoulders, and a powerful push off those front legs, and a sidways swing. that's one reason he could do it so fast; he wasn't rocked back on his hind legs. but, that slight 'drop' onto his front legs is what put me off balance, followed by the swing of the whole body sideways, which was with a feeling of 'whiplash' toward the front, was like being on the very furthest point of a gate from the hinge, and having someone swing the gate rapidly sideways; very hard to resist the forces.

If you are closer to the hinge, , or if you have a swinging mechanism that is not at one edge of the gate, but closer to the middle, and you are sitting on top of the gate there, it will be much easier to stay on top of the swinging gate.
My guess is that Mia is pretty balanced and could shift back with enough power and speed to dodge sideways like lightening. Mac did not shift his weight backward, but, like I said, sort of 'bounce' off his front legs, planted further out in front of him. devastating hard to stay on!

a horse CAN swing/ jump sideways mighty fast, and it would be good for a cowboy working a steer, if he's a good enough rider. But, if the horse is prepared by that 'pause', asked to compress the hind legs slightly, they will be more able to turn ever so slightly over the hind part of the body, which is easier for the rider. not faster. not as efficient to catch /dodge a cow. but, eaiser to stay on for the rider.

She sometimes jumped invisible threats. She eventually gave that up as well, but it is one of the reasons I tend to lean forward so much. I just never knew when we were going to jump something in her mind. It has taken me a long time with Bandit to start giving up my worry.

Horses excel at explosive power. The explosive power that comes in the next stride, and the one after that, primarily comes from new energy created by the horse. I don't need to urge Bandit to create some energy, then store it up, then create some more, then store it up, and eventually have a horse who is ready to do a walk-canter transition. If BANDIT wants to transition, we will. Smoothly, on his part. Of course. YOu don't need to. many times I transition into a canter not by any sort of containment at all. I just raise the energy in my body and the horse feeds off of that change and leans forward and falls into a faster gait that becomes a canter. That's fine. But, if I want a depart that is controlled, at a certain speed, on a certain lead, at a certain place, I use the 'pause' to ask the horse to compress a bit, slow and get ready to move as I ask.



I don't need to store Bandits energy over a 10 second period to get a horse who is able to do a 180 degree turn that will nearly rip me out of the saddle. Bandit can do that any time he wants.
who ever said anything about that? do you WANT him to nearly rip you out of the saddle?
The challenge, of course, is how to get HIM to want what I want.

Here is where I come back to the original discussion (one I should have exited from way back, if I had any sense) That at least being ABLE to get a hrose onto the bit, ABLE to get a half halt, ABLE to get a canter depart that isn't one of just speeding up into it . . . are things that develop, not inhibit, the overall relationship with the horse. A horse that can, and will , do that for a tactful rider is a beautiful thing.
Do it on and on? hold them there, all day? no. That would destroy the trust they put in you and make them resent you for asking so much.
PS - Excellent video, @updownrider . Less than 60 seconds, and it shows how that approach to riding should be done. But it doesn't answer what Littauer didn't explain - WHY would I want to use constant contact?
My remarks in red, as usual.

I didn't see the person in the video using constant contact. Maybe , but it was living contact, light, responsive, dialogueing contact. my assumption is that it would be used for a while to build up the horse's acceptance and ability to respond to it without resistance, to slow the horse when doing a round wherein you need them to slow down before a jump, etc. I doubt they ride like that all the time.
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post #1094 of 2060 Old 09-02-2017, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Personally, I think animated but polite discussions between folks coming from different perspectives are helpful. I can't learn anything from an echo chamber. Although it is hard to write in a way that clearly indicates one is discussing IDEAS and not saying someone is a bad person, or bad rider, etc.

I am well aware you are concerned with the horse's mind and willing obedience. And western riding, like ANY riding, has a strong element of "Obey or else" riders.

That said....

Where we disagree is on the value of a horse being on the bit.

Your goals include some I don't share. I have no idea how one teaches a horse to use a collected gait without doing SOMETHING with the bit. And since I see no value in collection for its own sake, I'll never try.

The vertical headset thing does bother me. It raises a question: If a horse is tucked under at the rear, and lifting at the front, but his head is at a 45 degree angle while he looks ahead - is he "collected"?

"That at least being ABLE to get a horse onto the bit, ABLE to get a half halt, ABLE to get a canter depart that isn't one of just speeding up into it . . . are things that develop, not inhibit, the overall relationship with the horse."

WHY?

If I can get Bandit to ride bitless someday, accelerating when asked, slowing when asked, twisting and turning between cactus, dropping into and climbing out of washes, keeping the other horses in line when they get nervous, etc - why would THAT not be indicative of a better relationship?

Frankly, what in the heck does a "Half-halt" have to offer me? Or any horse outside the show ring? When I need Bandit to go up a steep spot, I don't need to give him a half-halt. In a brief ride this morning, letting him lean slightly - which is all it takes as he learns how much lean to get an effect - Bandit was turning in about a 30 foot circle, sustained, cantering. Trotting in about a 20' diameter turn. With a little practice, I think we can cut that in half.

Today, as the other day, he gave me some 180 degree turns without my using the reins at all. No leg use that I was conscious of. So in what sense is that not BETTER than needing to give a half-halt, then direct him thru a turn? Why is being able to TRUST him to understand and perform a sign of a poorer relationship and poorer training than it would be if his head was vertical and he did the turns staring at his front feet?

And Bandit - half-mustang ridden in pony express races, retrained by a 59 year old self-taught rider with a perpetually stiff back - has NO trouble NOW with canter departs "that [aren't] one of just speeding up into it". I can get that without using a bit at all. So why is THAT inferior?

This is what I believe is the fundamental difference between English and western riding. People focus on the saddle. I think it is the use of the reins and bit, and the western belief in "self-carriage". You don't cut cattle or rope much if using a horse who needs the rider to pay attention to the horse. Now...I don't have any cattle...but I have no idea how one could rope or cut rough cattle if the rider needed to focus on the horse. I can only see it working if the rider can do HIS job while the horse takes care of the rest!

Getting my horse to look at his front feet when we are moving beyond a crawl is detrimental - detrimental to balance and to reasonableness. I don't think any horse thinks it is reasonable to stare at his feet. If my goal is to get Bandit to listen to me, not because I demand it but because I am truly worth listening to, then a great way to destroy that trust would be to trap him between the driving aids and restraining aids, and insist he look where we are not going.

"But, if I want a depart that is controlled, at a certain speed, on a certain lead, at a certain place, I use the 'pause' to ask the horse to compress a bit, slow and get ready to move as I ask."

Western riders, traditionally, have not. Traditionally, western riders have been able to train horses to do controlled departures, at certain speeds and leads and at certain spots, without doing half-halts. What HAS been done, CAN be done. And if it can be done, why not do it?

Now...can I do it reliably? No.

But Bandit and I aren't exactly diamonds of riding. More like sacks of coal. I'm a sack of coal who reads but who has had very little live instruction, and has ended up rejecting most of the live instruction I've received. A Craigslist rider on a Craigslist horse. Two scrubs, six legs!

But when I wrote "No", I really meant, "Not yet". Because we ARE getting there, and doing it while rejecting collection and on the bit and soft contact and conscious use of leg and almost everything else that the English riding books tell me I need.

But thanks for all the effort you are putting into your replies. It would be so much easier if we could go for a ride together and talk horses over dinner! The Internet is great for meeting, but it is so hard to have polite and thoughtful disagreement on!

I don't think the traditional English approach is "wrong". It is hard to argue with millions of horses doing things well. But then, I feel that way about western riding. Millions of horses getting the job done can't be all wrong.


Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 09-02-2017 at 11:46 PM.
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post #1095 of 2060 Old 09-03-2017, 02:43 AM
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think of it not as necessary, but just an additional fun thing to do. like Dancing. it isn't necessary, but it is fun. I hardly ever ask X to come onto the bit. but, knowing that I can, and that he will gives an extra element.

Sometimes I ask him before we head down a hill, so that he is aware that he should slow down a bit, again, for me. I don't want him just ambling or crashing down the hill I ask him to slow, collect, pause, balance back a bit, then I give him head to start down the hill. I will sometimes stop mid hill and ask him to rebalance, and BACK up a hill. this is to build his muscles, and his willingness to stop when asked, even if it's easier for him to slog down the hill. it's an exersize.
That's about what I might use putting him on the bit for , as a trail rider.
it's just about slowing, rocking back, rebalancing a bit, and getting ready for a change.
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post #1096 of 2060 Old 09-03-2017, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms
PS - Excellent video, @updownrider . Less than 60 seconds, and it shows how that approach to riding should be done. But it doesn't answer what Littauer didn't explain - WHY would I want to use constant contact?
To be fair, you read books and watch videos about Dressage and Jumping, and there must be some level of control and training to ask a horse to jump or ask a horse to execute dressage movements.

Yes, I say ask a horse. Dressage and Jumping horses are asked by a cue to perform a movement or jump an obstacle and trained to say yes.

Note: You only watched a preview of Bernie's video.

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post #1097 of 2060 Old 09-03-2017, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Bsms - WHY would I want to use constant contact?
This is what it comes down to for me. @Tinyliny talks about many things that I've been taught as well, and for me the issue comes when you believe making the horse accept continuous contact is important, necessary, that the horse is using his body better, that he is not well trained as well without it, etc.

It's not that I feel many horses ridden with the contact such as in the video are being mishandled, but why is it believed so pervasively that we must train horses this way? Again, it's not just English riders that are training this, but Western riders as well. I have seen over and over the show horses practicing before their Western classes with the rider "reminding" the horse that he must hold his head and neck in a certain way, and riding him into the contact until he "softens" and then the rider drops the contact and tries to get the horse to hold the position. The winning horses hold the position for a long time with few reminders.

It is the belief that horses must move this way and not raise their neck or "hollow" the back that drives so much of training, especially for showing. One time I tried an experiment. At one show I let my horse move naturally with her head up and nose out, and didn't win any ribbons even though her transitions were sharp and she was moving quietly in a nice, balanced rhythm. The next show I rode her on bit contact, putting her neck down unnaturally low and her nose behind the vertical. This made her canter transitions more on the forehand, her trot more stilted, and I won ribbons because she had the right look even though she was using her body worse.

I've just read so many convincing things including the recent post by @bsms that have changed my beliefs away from those widely held but not scientifically backed philosophies about how and why we ride horses with the neck elongated or arched rather than held up, and about how we contain the horse's energy and balance him with our hands and the bit.

This old guy is crazy...the way he rides. But his points are very thought-provoking. As he points out in the article below, if energy was from limb angulation (such as the hocks), then how can a tiny dog with straight legs leap several times his own height in the air? The truth is that the muscles and tendons themselves store the energy and release it. It's not the bend of the hock that allows for more propulsion if the horse can get his weight over his haunches. The entire body of muscles, joints and tendons store energy and propel the horse, with the front end creating more upward force than the hind in measured studies.

This you can easily see in the rearing horse at about the 1 minute mark. It's his front end that provides the most lift. I'd never thought a lot about this before, but when horses have reared with me I realize now I didn't feel the hind legs pushing but rather felt the front legs thrusting me up.

Mechanoresponsiveness 34

I believe that understanding these concepts will help my riding. It's not that I want an easier way. I just feel that it is a lot of wasted time and effort working to get a horse to accept a constant contact and work into it, if it doesn't actually help their balance or locomotion the way I've always thought it did. If it doesn't strengthen the back or build the correct muscles so the horse can carry a rider better, if it doesn't lead to more balanced turns and get the horse off his forehand, then why would I spend the time training the horse to do it?
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post #1098 of 2060 Old 09-03-2017, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
but why is it believed so pervasively that we must train horses this way?
I will try to answer and I will speak for the riders I know who have a goal to ride dressage or jump. As I said above, there must be some level of control and training to ask a horse to jump or ask a horse to execute dressage movements. Safety of the horse and rider are paramount.

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post #1099 of 2060 Old 09-03-2017, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by updownrider View Post
I will try to answer and I will speak for the riders I know who have a goal to ride dressage or jump. As I said above, there must be some level of control and training to ask a horse to jump or ask a horse to execute dressage movements. Safety of the horse and rider are paramount.
But see, you are equating control and training with the ability of the horse to be on the bit. As others have pointed out, a horse can do quick turns and one tempi changes at a certain point in the arena without having a constant contact on the bit. Same with jumping. A rider can go around a course without having bit pressure. A very hot horse is probably going to have more contact with the bit to keep him from rushing, but is that better training? That is actually my point, that it is believed that a horse is better trained if they are taught to accept a constant bit pressure. That is the bias I've had in the past, but I don't believe it anymore.

As with my experience in the show ring, dressage has become so congruous with the ideas of keeping contact with the bit, that a person could not show successfully without putting the horse on the bit. There are many examples of horses in collection and extension doing all the dressage movements without a bridle on the internet. So obviously it is not necessary, but as threads on this forum have shown, people are very against the idea of showing dressage without a bit. Jumping is a different story, and there are many cases of riders going around on loose reins, bitless, bridless, etc.


Again, I'm not against the idea of using bits, or cueing with bits, or having contact with the reins at times. I'm against the pervasive idea that horses must be taught to move into prolonged bit pressure and "accept" it, in order to be well trained. Not even for athletic, fast paced events.
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post #1100 of 2060 Old 09-03-2017, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
think of it not as necessary, but just an additional fun thing to do. like Dancing. it isn't necessary, but it is fun..

Sometimes I ask him before we head down a hill, so that he is aware that he should slow down a bit, again, for me. I don't want him just ambling or crashing down the hill I ask him to slow, collect, pause, balance back a bit, then I give him head to start down the hill. I will sometimes stop mid hill and ask him to rebalance...

...it's just about slowing, rocking back, rebalancing a bit, and getting ready for a change.
Done for fun, I understand. I'll ask my horses to do something just because I want to do it, and they generally do. Particularly if they trust I'll let them do something THEY want to do a little later.

What I object to are terms like "better balanced" or "using their backs better". The word and judgment "better" is what I object to.

Now, before I head down a hill, I want my horse to have experienced other hills, shorter and less steep, and to have built up his experience in going down hills. When we head down a hill, I don't collect him so he'll know to slow down a bit. He does what is needed, because he has been trained to know how to go down hills.

He'll amble down some, if our general pace is ambling. He won't crash down any. Not prudent. Dangerous, even. The steeper it is, the more cautious he'll be going down. Trooper is more experienced, having been ridden in the mountains. If need be, he'll test each step,moving his hoof around until THAT foot feels right, and then the next step.



Those sheepherders are not trained riders. They don't know anything about collection, and neither do their horses - both half-brothers to Trooper. But a couple of weeks after this picture was taken, they were grazing their sheep on the mountain slopes ahead. And riding their horses on those slopes, all day. I did vegetation surveys on some of those slopes nearly 40 years ago, on foot. Tough going!

But horses can do it. Trooper did. Bandit could not, not unless he learned more first. But no one rides there using half-halts, on the bit, or re-balancing their horse. I think that is superior to a horse who needs to be re-balanced, who cannot be trusted on his own. The horses ridden on the slopes above the cliffs are ridden with slack reins. No one has the guts to do otherwise!

If someone wants to suggest putting a horse on the bit is best for competing in dressage or jumping, have at it! I don't object to either and I wont tell anyone how to train for them!

But I strongly object to the idea that a horse "on the bit" is better balanced than one "off the bit".

Quote:
Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
...One time I tried an experiment. At one show I let my horse move naturally with her head up and nose out, and didn't win any ribbons even though her transitions were sharp and she was moving quietly in a nice, balanced rhythm. The next show I rode her on bit contact, putting her neck down unnaturally low and her nose behind the vertical. This made her canter transitions more on the forehand, her trot more stilted, and I won ribbons because she had the right look even though she was using her body worse...
I posted this picture some years back, and was told emphatically that Trooper was hollow-backed and out of control:



The saddle and pad cover his entire back, so they were not basing their assessment on his back. His legs? His hind feet are going underneath & his front are not stretching out, so he obviously is not strung out. And if he had been hollow backed, he'd be stiff and rough and my daughter wouldn't have been comfortable riding him.

Same with out of control. The reins are resting on the saddle horn, but he is playing with my daughter. They are goofing off. He was doing exactly what she wanted, while she wanted it, and changed what he did when her desires changed.

But...he isn't looking at his feet. Same with Bandit a few days ago:



I've had a number of people tell me a horse like that is moving badly, unbalanced, hollow-backed, tense, completely undesirable...but I was on him. My DIL rode him, ans she was all smiles and saying how easy it was to canter on him. It isn't fun to canter on a strung-out, hollow-backed horse!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
...Again, it's not just English riders that are training this, but Western riders as well. I have seen over and over the show horses practicing before their Western classes with the rider "reminding" the horse that he must hold his head and neck in a certain way, and riding him into the contact until he "softens" and then the rider drops the contact and tries to get the horse to hold the position. The winning horses hold the position for a long time with few reminders...
What a lot of western show riding has descended to makes me sick. They will intimidate a horse into holding a false position so they can satisfy the superficial judgment of judges, and that is winning?

I pulled this from the Internet. Don't know who it is, and their face isn't showing anyways. I find nothing to admire in this:



Unfortunately, it is much easier to turn to false practice than to achieve what is correct.” François Robichon de laGueriniere (1688-1751)

An emphasis on "round" and a misunderstanding of dressage has turned some western arena sports into caricatures. Using intimidation makes it worse, far worse. I think that picture is proof that people can love horses, be very experienced - and blind to what they are actually doing.

Quote:
For what the horse does under compulsion, as Simon also observes, is done without understanding; and there is no beauty in it either, any more than if one should whip and spur a dancer. - Xenophon
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Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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