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Discussion Starter #1
I was thinking about it and my first post about being on the bit, I didn't get the answers i was looking for, I was talking about breaking at the poll, but I said getting your horse on the bit:oops:

So I have 3 questions:
1.) Is breaking at the poll essential during beginning stages of training?(she knows basics)
2.)Will it come naturally through getting more impulsion, or do you have to have your horse on the vertical to get the impulsion?
3.)how should I go about teaching it, because of some previous posts about being on the bit made me weary that the trainer at my barn is teaching me to do it wrong.
4.)Should I be teaching her to give to the bit vertically?

She say's I should hold until she gives and then release, to get her to give to the bit, and this has sounded right to me until I started reading up on dressage, and it confused me because it sounds like the horses frame should come naturally through impulsion, but I may have misunderstood, as it may have been talking about through the body (i.e. rounding of the back..etc.) ONLY.
 

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It's hard to get impulsion with out softness through the poll but breaking at the poll doesn't mean you have impulsion. You are on the right track with the advice from your trainer.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I know that it doesn't create it, but that's what i meant if it would help with achieving it. Thanks :D
 

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My trainer tauht me to 'push' rena forward, then supple with the reins a little to encourage him to soften his jaw. because sometimes when you push them forward, they brace with their back which gets them to clamp with their jaw.
thats how i got my horse relaxed and swingy through her back. thats how i get them over the back, which i think is the same thing that yoru trainer calls breaking at the poll :)
 

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1.) Is breaking at the poll essential during beginning stages of training?(she knows basics)
It is incorrect to be focusing on the head. When all is right in the world 'behind', the head looks after itself. The head falling freely from the poll is the result of engagement. So, in the beginning, you will not have it because the horse will not be strong or supple enough to achieve it.

2.)Will it come naturally through getting more impulsion, or do you have to have your horse on the vertical to get the impulsion?
Impulsion is something different than I believe you think it is. Engagement first, THEN impulsion. Impulsion is the change of 'forward' energy into 'upward' energy.

Again, the focus is not on the head, but on the hindquarter.

3.)how should I go about teaching it, because of some previous posts about being on the bit made me weary that the trainer at my barn is teaching me to do it wrong.
You don't teach it...as per what I've said above. It is a result of correctly riding the horse haunches.

4.)Should I be teaching her to give to the bit vertically?
No.

First forward, then the training scale: rhythm/relaxation, suppleness, CONTACT (that's 'acceptance of contact, NOT 'on the bit'), impulsion, straightness, collection.

The head WILL be where it needs to be if you follow the training scale.

She say's I should hold until she gives and then release, to get her to give to the bit, and this has sounded right to me until I started reading up on dressage, and it confused me because it sounds like the horses frame should come naturally through impulsion, but I may have misunderstood, as it may have been talking about through the body (i.e. rounding of the back..etc.) ONLY.
The horse should 'seek' contact, not have contact 'taken'. When the horse is forward, relaxed, rhythmic and supple...the next step - CONTACT (acceptance), will be there. It is at THAT time that you may 'test' that acceptance by doing the stretchy trot circle; lengthening the horse's frame, then bring the horse's frame back up - the horse should not change its balance, cadence, tempo. If the horse does not follow the lengthening rein down, or the shortening rein back up, then the horse does not seek contact and therefore does not accept contact, therefore is lacking in one or a combination of: forward, relaxed, rhythmic, supple.
 

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how do i get her to seek contact?
Very simply, with steady hands and riding from back to front, as others have said. Remember, she's going to be seeking/accepting not only contact on the bit, but from ALL of the aids if she's correct. Seeking contact with your seat, leg, etc. aids in addition to the bit. Contact is not about the bit alone, not in this sense. Sometimes I wonder how all of these head and bit centric terms arose when its really all about the back end. :? Classical lunging with side reins may be of some help to you and your mare, but do do that with a trainer since that can be tricky to do correctly and the last thing that you want to do is untrain before you can train. :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
ahh! everything is so confusing.. these are supposed to be things to get her to work over her back and it seems like you need to get them to work over their back to do these things.

Okay, so starting from scratch.. what should be the first thing i work on to engage her hind end?
 

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Okay, so starting from scratch.. what should be the first thing i work on to engage her hind end?
I told you everything you need to know.

First forward, then the training scale: rhythm/relaxation, suppleness, CONTACT (that's 'acceptance of contact, NOT 'on the bit'), impulsion, straightness, collection.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
thanks everybody!
she accepts contact of all my aids so i THINK i have that down.
if she's forward, does it just mean she goes when i ask her to?
all of the rest will come through exercises?
I hope you guys don't mind all of my questions, it's just i'm trying to get started in dressage and I want to have a full grasp of everything before I do really. since it's winter I figured it would be a good time to learn everything before I really start training for it this spring.
 

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.
if she's forward, does it just mean she goes when i ask her to?
In the simplest terms...yes. But forward is also a state of mind. A willingness. A purpose. And being in front of the leg.

all of the rest will come through exercises?
Yes, the exercises create a forward thinking horse who is relaxed, rhythmic and supple. At that point the horse will seek contact.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So i believe she is forward.
when she is supple she can bend either way through her back and neck when i ask right?
we have problems with rhythm though, how would i go about improving this?
 

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So i believe she is forward.
when she is supple she can bend either way through her back and neck when i ask right?
Suppleness is more than just bending left and right.

Suppleness developes out of the driving forces of the rider acting on the hind to produce the energy to allow the hind leg swing to reach its maximun extension (or as far as the conformation of the horse allows).

It is this energy that allows the energy to travel along the back and neck muscles and stimulate the horse to seek contact.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
thanks! but i thought suppleness came first then the engagement?
so confused.. :(
do they come along with one another?
 

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So i believe she is forward.
when she is supple she can bend either way through her back and neck when i ask right?
The neck will bend regardless, so it's not a good indicator. Often times the neck bends too much and tricks the rider into thinking the horse is supple. Also, you have to make sure the horse isn't escaping out the shoulder or haunches and again tricking you into thinking they are supple. So double check.

we have problems with rhythm though, how would i go about improving this?
Try riding to music. Something that fits your horse's trot...nothing to garrish and loud. Something that's soothing for both of you. Or, you can even ride with an IPOD.

Rhythm is often times disrupted by rider core weakness. Every shift of weight by you affects the horse, so it's important you always be 'with your horse's movement' not against it, UNLESS you are trying to change it...as in, if you were to post slower to slow the horse down. Get in a rhythm yourself and the horse will follow.

Ride long straight and long sweeping lines rather than circles and other tighter figures. Then when you've established rhythm, try a very large circle and straighten if/when you lose the rhythm.

Also, rhythm can be disrupted by asking for too much from the horse. A rider can run a horse right off its feet so to speak and throw it off balance. It's okay to test the boundaries to advance, but always know where those boundaries are for your horse.

'Be' with your horse, not a rider on a horse.
 

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thanks! but i thought suppleness came first then the engagement?
so confused.. :(
do they come along with one another?
No, suppleness comes before 'collection'.

Engagement is there all along as soon as the horse is forward. It is the 'degree' of engagement that changes as you progress through the training scale until you reach 'collection'...which is really 'self-carriage'.
 

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Nope, you can't have supple unless you have engagement. Try getting a perfectly balanced 20m circle on a horse that is on the forehand. It is **** hard to steer. On a horse that is engaged, you barely need to indicate the direction and their hind legs will carry them there without the swinging of the hindquarters.

Forward is ALWAYS first, suppleness comes as a direct result of forwardness and engagement. Just about everything stems from engagement, you cant perform any dressage movement to an acceptable level unless the horse is engaged.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
what does it mean when they try to escape out of their shoulder or haunches?
I'm pretty sure i know what trying to escape out of the haunches is, when they try to swing their but out when you ask them to do something? but what would escaping out of the shoulder be?

I believe I have and a good core (I can control my muscles to give her the cues and am relaxed and flowing with her), except when i haven't ridden in a while, or she gets into a POUNDING trot (usually a half halt will bring her back to normal though) and I have still hands. My position is good with long stirrups

when she gets out of rhythm should i just ask her to come back to normal and she will realize with time that it's the right rhythm for her?
next time i ride i will have to focus more on what my body is doing when she gets out of whack with her trot.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
No, suppleness comes before 'collection'.

Engagement is there all along as soon as the horse is forward. It is the 'degree' of engagement that changes as you progress through the training scale until you reach 'collection'...which is really 'self-carriage'.
Try getting a perfectly balanced 20m circle on a horse that is on the forehand. It is **** hard to steer. On a horse that is engaged, you barely need to indicate the direction and their hind legs will carry them there without the swinging of the hindquarters.
She can ride a circle without trying to escape it, this means she's engaged, at least a little right?
I just need to work on keeping her engaged when i come off a circle, i think I can feel the difference when she's engaged on rail and when she's not, what should it feel like just to be sure? Will it actually feel like she's lighter in the front? now that really think about it, she actually feels like this sometimes, when she feels like this she's easier to stop, thats the only major thing i can remember, but i'm sure there's other small details i can't think of :D i'm so glad you all are helping me figure things out it helps so much!! i really appreciate it i feel really ignorant asking all of these questions but you all aren't making me feel like an idiot. thanks soooo much.

OHYEAH! yesterday when i rode i haven't been able to ride in a month she felt different, and did try to escape the circle by swinging out her hindquarters, so she was obviously not engaged right? but when she does it perfectly she is?
 

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Escaping through the shoulders is the same as escaping through the hind quarters. They shoulder in question drops out or in on the circle, resulting in an overbending neck and swinging hindquarters. Generally the swinging hindquarters is coming from a problem in the shoulders, not the other way around.

You say you can ride a circle without trying to 'escape' it. When I say escape i do not mean the horse tries to run away form the circle. It means that either the hind quarters or the shoulders are swinging. The horse is not perfectly straight, balanced and UPRIGHT. Can you drop your reins and still have her remain on a perfectly shaped circle in total balance? If not, she is not engaged.

You will feel the forehand lighten when she does engage her hind legs. You will feel her soften into the bridle, she will be far easier to sit on when her back begins to swing and carry you rather than the back being held stiff like an ironing board and the horse moving with all legs and no back. Depending on the horse and how effectively you have been able to promote engagement, along with your feel, you can feel the wither literally rise. The horse will stretch it's neck from the wither, rather than holding at the wither and tucking it's head. You will know the feeling when it comes.

As for keeping engagement on straight lines. I love shoulder in for this reason. I will ride a 10m circle in the corner, go into shoulder in, and at every marker, or every second marker, ride a 10m circle then back out to shoulder in or travere. This keeps the hind legs well and truely engaged. Once the horse has been clued in to being engaged on the long side as a result of circling and out to shoulder in, I will ride a combination of some long sides shoulder in, other long side I'll ride straight but with 10m circles along the way.
Very rarely will I ride a full long side without riding a few steps of shoulder in, travere or circling somewhere as I like to continuously test for self carriage and ask the hind legs for that little more power. Only when training for an up coming test will I start riding full long sides to test if all my work on self carriage has benifited. And most of the time my long sides are perfectly straight, soft, swinging and engaged as a result ;)

You can also tell that she is engaged by your transitions. If she picks up canter straight away and stays in balance and rhythm, and if she comes back to trot or walk without falling on the forehand and leaning on the bridle to have you hold her up.
 
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