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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! So I got to ride solo today and when I was going through the videos, I noticed that Macintosh seemed to dip down and curve his neck. I'll attach two instances of it. The further one away is at the trot, and the closer one at the canter. He is a paint, and I know that they tend to have the lower headset. I come from Friesians so this is so out of the ballpark it isn't even funny. Mostly wondering if this headset is OTV or BTV for paints? Forgive me if it is a dumb question, but I've never seen a paint with their head that low. (Also excuse the riding in the trot picture, that was after a warmup trot and I was still very nervous about riding without an instructor.) TIA
 

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He is moving a little too much on the forehand, but otherwise looks attractive! For dressage, the reins are too loose. He needs to step under himself more, and come up in the shoulder, so ride from back to front.

It really doesn't matter what breed one is riding, the goal is the same.

Cute horse!
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The forehand is our enemy! Agh! But it's definitely something we're working on. I'm just trying to make sure it's not something I should be trying to avoid. He knows he's cute, too...uses it to his advantage. Thanks!
 

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In the second picture it looks like you are not holding on to the reins and one is draping pretty low, if it gets any longer he could put a foot though it.
Perhaps I''m wrong and you are holding the reins . But either way I wouldn't let the reins drape so low.
He is a nice horse and in the first picture looks like he is moving well, just a little over bent but doing the job you want.
 

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BTV is the same for every breed of horse. It doesn't changed due to breed or conformation, it's a standard that's set in stone. This guy is working BTV and heavy on his forehand, and looks like he's bracing against the bit, not to mention he's lacking in good forward motion and to maintain that frame correctly for long periods of time. He needs to learn to reach under and drive with his hindquarters, bring the forehand up, and raise the base of his neck. Paints and AQHA are notorious for being heavy on the forehand naturally due to their nearly consistently downhill conformation, so it'll be a lot harder to get some semblance of collection out of him compared to say, a Friesian or WB, but it's not entirely impossible.
 

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I too noticed the apparent rein hanging low & your apparent lack of holding them. Not a good idea imo until you're more experienced & confident, to ride without holding the reins, but if you do, keep them up out of the way for him.
 

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Yes, being behind the bit is the same for every horse, but some breeds are more prone to going BTB until they develop the correct muscles to do otherwise. We still correct this and ask them to move up to the bit. Most frequently, you'd hear about Friesians and Spanish breeds doing so. Horses can also go BTB to avoid contact or/ and because they are not forward enough, which appears to be the category your horse is in.



First, I'd like to see no slack in the rein and your horse moving in a more forward rhythmic trot. Then, when your horse is BTB (feels too light in the hand) I'd like to see you lift your hands up a bit higher and encourage his hind end to come forward with your leg and perhaps a half halt to keep rhythm. As you do so, you should feel a moment of more contact/ slight weight with the bit. At this stage, you'd allow him to bring the bit slightly forward and follow with your hands. He may engage the hind end if you just use some leg or he may speed up, in which if he doesn't slow with seat, then I would bring him back to walk for a stride (keeping contact) and then move directly back into the trot.


If he goes above the bit (ATB), do not pull the rein back. You need to either leave your hands or raise them in line with his mouth (this does take practice). If you pull your hands back while his head is up or keep them lower, then the bit works on the bars and tongue of his mouth (hands below his head). This usually leads to a horse framing up falsely by giving into pressure rather than moving into the bit. Below is a link to a picture showing hand position to the bit, but the concept is the same.



https://www.google.com/search?q=dre...=1366&client=firefox-b-d#imgrc=Ebo67FRKt4rJlM


Since he appears to be holding his nose in during the second photo, you will have to retrain him to use the correct muscles. This will take time and he will most likely go giraffe style quite a few times, if not more. As he develops more and more muscle, the duration in which he can hold a correct frame will increase. A lot of people get caught up in trying to maintain a frame and dis-encourage when a horse goes above by making the horse give, but this can often be counter intuitive because then the horse feels forced into the frame and it becomes a negative thing. This creates resistance and you want your horse to seek contact on his own. It takes time to build the muscles to maintain a correct frame, much like it takes time for a body builder to lift heavy weights. It can often take much more time than people think and when a horse starts resisting the bit more frequently at the end of a ride, then that is usually an indication to end the ride soon.



Due to the above, i am not concerned that he has a lower frame right now. Horses need to develop muscle behind the wither first while in a frame at wither level or slightly below. Spurts of long and low frame is also good for developing topline over time. At First level, you only really need a frame at wither level or slightly above, then once you start working on collection a little (him taking a bit more weight onto his hind end) you will work towards a shorter/ higher frame.
 

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For reference: a little better self carriage thought still looks rather heavy on the forehand, but still majorly BTV(and yes, this horse is APHA):



As you can see, this horse looks rather forced into his headset BTV and is leaning forward. He's travelling well for an APHA, but he's lacking the extension of a WB or Iberian breed in this "extended trot" and he's pretty short strided in the hind legs. Forcing a headset without properly teaching the rest of the body to maintain that "frame" leads to things like this - a horse BTV, leaning on the forehand, and lacking his full stride in the hind.

I myself am not a fan of the notion being on the vertical, even in dressage(Maybe that's just my lack of love for modern dressage and the show lifestyle. I prefer classical dressage.). I prefer to see my horses a little bit in front of the vertical, with more freedom to move.

Meanwhile, here's a horse(again, APHA) being ridden western in on the vertical, though he still has the same traits of lacking good extension in the hindquartes and being heavy on the forehand like the last horse that was ridiculously BTV.



Now, here's one in front of the vertical and still lacking good self carriage(contrary to a lot of people's beliefs, draped rein that's halfway up the neck doesn't mean your horse travels well):



In conclusion? Teach the body, not the head. He's never going to gain correct self carriage if you only focus on how his head is placed, regardless of whether he's on the vertical, in front of it, or BTV. Self carriage doesn't mean your horse needs to look like one of Oliviera's dressage horses. It simply means you stop prohibiting your horse with your body from moving incorrectly, and you fix whatever mistakes people have made that have taught him to travel incorrectly. I've never seen a feral horse that didn't travel 99% of the time with good self carriage - it's not something they need to be taught. Take the time to properly develop the strength and skill to maintain self carriage, and you'll never regret it.
 

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^Tho how could that last horse pictured possibly balance himself well with the rider so far over his shoulder? I think some underestimate/disregard the fact that the rider's weight & balance will influence the horse's ability for balance.
 

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Alrighty, so a lot of people have given you the answer to your question but I would very much advise you to ride for yourself now and worry about teaching the horses later.

If you are worried about riding without a coach present then you have no place to be worrying about training a horse or riding it for this or that. If the horse is sucking that far back without you holding the reins (which as others have pointed out, is very dangerous, especially at the canter...), then it's an issue you will not be able to fix with your limited knowledge.

As you gain proper training with a competent trainer, start reading up on the old classical dressage masters. Nuno Oliveria, Paul Belasik, and for equine biomechanics, Gerd Hueschman (do NOT watch him ride, though...) Learn the why, the process, and then you can work on implementing the how. We can arm chair coach you all day long, but you won't get it without an expanded toolbox.
 

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@loosie

It was one of the only good photos I could find within a time limit of a horse in in front of the vertical, on a loose rein, at a trot. It's from Ranch Pleasure, I believe. QH judging favors that peanut-roller/perfectly on the vertical headset so much anymore even looking at ranch horses I couldn't find anything else decent and in a similar stride as the other two horses for an easier comparison. The rider is leaning forward, yes, but I think a good deal of her weight is still mostly over the horse's center of balance so it's not throwing him off too much. It's also a pretty beefy horse and smaller rider, so you'd think a horse of that bulk would be able to support himself better despite her and her dangerously draped reins(If I ever went riding around on a real ranch with reins like that, I'd get tangled faster than I could think).

I dug around now that I've got time, here's a better photo for ref:



Interesting thing to note - conformation plays a HUGE amount on how much a horse can extend/collect himself(not talking dressage-level collection, just the extension/collection of limbs in a stride). It's pretty interesting to compare a horse at rest and in motion. For example, this was one of the first photos I came across that I thought would be a good example of ATV but still lacking in self carriage, but looking closer you can see this horse is trying nearly as hard as possible to get that hind leg up and under him. It's pretty darn straight, and yet falling so short of tracking up it's almost laughable. Being post-legged as heck doesn't help. (And yes, I used him because I think we can all agree on a what a travesty a lot of halter horses are. It's a ridiculous industry.) Just something to keep in mind - the horse can only give as much as his breeding dictates. Good conformation will give good results, bad conformation might not yield bad results, but it won't be as good as a horse with good conformation's results.



So, leaving it at that - take conformation into account. APHA don't have the same conformation as WB, obviously. You're not going to ever be able to get the insane amount of self carriage and collection they have. (Honestly, if someone has a picture of a collected AQHA/APHA in dressage(I don't trust what other disciplines like to call collection), I would actually love to see it for comparison to other breeds of dressage horses. I've never been able to find one.) But that doesn't mean with the right resources and enough time, you can't make him a heck of a lot nicer horses with good self carriage and some collection.
 

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^Bleh!! Thanks for that last pic Equinest - I try very hard to forget people have deformed horses that horribly... Ugly as well as non-functional! Why oh why would a caring person buy a horse... or dog, cat, etc - who has been so deformed just in the name of fashion??
 

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@loosie

Yeah, it's nasty. I'm not really an AQHA/APHA fan myself in general, but seeing that just.... makes me kind of sick. That's a horse that will never live it's life without some form of pain from being so darn deformed, whether it be navicular, stiffness/soreness, inevitable hock/knee/pastern issues... I really don't understand how people who breed them can't look at the way they constantly move and stand and think for themselves why they move so poorly. It's one reason I love WB's - they have inspections that actually follow functional conformation and further the breed with it. I really wish other breeds like AQHA/APHA and gaited horses had things like that.

That said, you should check out Judy Wardrope's work on conformation. She's titled it "Functional Conformation", and it seems to hold up(as well as it's just really interesting to read).

Fashion sucks. I get sick of fads in all areas of the equine world, which is one reason why I stay mostly out of sports anymore. If I didn't have to turn around and see some sort of gimmick, training band-aid, or ignorant breeding practices I might be able to stand it... but then again I might not. Showing was never my thing, it's too expensive and relies too much on getting results quickly rather than just maintaining a good relationship and understanding with a horse.
 

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Here's an OLD photos of my APHA mare doing dressage. She's a bit dropped in the back and sucked behind the bit here and there but knew how to be consistent in her frame and track up well for being completely trained by a 14yo kid at the time! Just for some reference.Just had to watch and old video of my riding for this, and holy cow did I think things were good that were not 7 years ago.
Screenshot-2020-03-02-22-46-27(2).jpg

Screenshot-2020-03-02-22-45-55.jpg
 

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@Interstellar



Cool! I tried looking up APHA in dressage after this post because I was curious, but all I found were horses ridiculously BTV and trailing in the hind so I didn't bother to look much further. And that was what APHA was bragging about as an organization! I'd hope there's some more people out there that try dressage on their stock horses - it's my firm belief that all horses should be able to do low level dressage, and if they have difficulty... then there's something wrong going on conformation-wise there. Dressage really isn't that complex if you look at it from it's original standpoint - it's just mobility and balance. It's been corrupted of course, into high-flying legs and unbalanced horses over the centuries, but if a horse has trouble with the very basics of mobility and balance... that's not something that should be praised, regardless of breed.
 

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In all honesty, not much can really be ascertained from that ONE photo of you riding at the trot. a video tells so much more.


but, yes, behind the vertical is the same no matter the breed.
 

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In my opinion, sitting up straight with your elbows at your sides would do a lot to improve your contact and the horse's movement.

As you are new to horses, I would not even give a second thought to collection, as that is the last step in working with any horse. In Spain, our training scale is a bit different than the German scale, as the Spanish scale gives the most importance to impulsion and contact. Once you are more experienced, have a good position/seat, understand contact and know how to control impulsion, then the rest will fall into place.

It certainly takes time, but enjoy the ride!
 
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