The Horse Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a 4 year old who's broke WTC but now we're working on collection and using our body and hind end. I need some exercises and advice on how to achieve that since he tends to giraffe out and get heavy on the forehand. He's lazy and doesn't want to use his body. I'm not expecting it to be acheived overnight and I'm ready to put the work in just need some help on how to acheive it. I've had a trainer tell me to only work him in a circle/half ring and the first time her youngsters go in a straight line is at a show but I feel like thats cheating. Any advice would be appreciated!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,046 Posts
Get him ussping his back end by asking movement away from the leg, just one stride of a turn on the forehand to start so he brings the inside leg under him, he will drop onto the bit as he does so.

Lots of leg and foreward work especially at a trot, not necessarily asking him to come on the bit, if he is bringing his hind leg under him then his head will come up.

Near in mind that often young horses are stil growing and can get tired very quickly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,523 Posts
Are you able to get him to accept contact at all? If so, are you quick enough to release at that time, to reward him?

With my Moonshine, we had to practice this a lot at the standstill before she really got it.

With Pony, working in circles helped a lot -- lateral movement (him moving off my leg) seemed to naturally get his head down. I don't know why you think this is cheating -- if it works, then do it. Once he understands what you are asking, you can introduce it on straight lines. Use pressure and release (release when he even thinks about doing what you are asking). You have to be fast on your release. Really fast.

I think there are two parts to this: (1) just getting the horse to even think about dropping its nose (and proceeding, from there, to better and better form, and (2) letting the horse know that this is the right thing (rewarding with release of pressure). You need to have both: you can't reward the horse if it's not at least moving in the right direction. Some tips for achieving part (1) are (i) circles, getting him moving off your leg, (ii) increasing your contact until it becomes annoying enough for him to start thinking about ways to get that release, (iii) "sponging" alternating hands to move the bit in his mouth, or just sponging the inside hand if you're doing circles, (iv) keeping your hands low and even below the withers (by spreading them apart more).

And of course (part (2)) it's super crucial to reward him. At this point, you need to reward even the try. This is why it might be easier to start at the halt, because you're not thinking about anything except what his head is doing. The second he even thinks about dropping his head, you can release the pressure. Then move on to requiring more and more.

ETA: it's a lot more work for the horse than you might think, to do this. So if you get a really good try, you can reward even more by letting the horse walk out on a loose rein for a few seconds, or something else he really likes. Don't ask for too much collection all at once. Take it slowly. I've been working on this with Pony for a year now (he is ridden 3x per week). IDK, maybe I could have done it faster, but it's important to me to keep his happy personality and not make him work sour.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JoBlueQuarter

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
26,877 Posts
Forward movement is key. Get that first and then work on frame. If he's lazy and not using his hind end correctly then if you aim for "headset" now then what you will is a false frame. He'll look the part but he won't be in a true frame.

Once you have him moving forward then ask him to give to the bit - immediately release when he does. Then ask again. and again and again but don't make that your entire ride. Warm him up, get him moving, then add that as part of your ride but don't make it your entire ride - it's not something that you can rush.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bsms

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
He's started using his hind end way more than he used too and he'll accept the bit for moments at a time he just wants to fight me on it by pushing his head higher and then settling down for .5 seconds lol. I just thought her method was cheating because she'd also throw them in a shank snaffle or correction bit. I can get him to do it in a curb bit but then we're just getting the headset and not the true frame. He might just take longer since he's a bit stubborn
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,523 Posts
Hmm, I don't really know anything about bits. Moonshine is in a simple single-jointed snaffle and Pony is in a plastic or rubber mullen mouth bit. If that helps at all.
 

·
Registered
Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
Joined
·
2,080 Posts
I've been dealing with exactly this with a four year old I've been riding. At first I worked on just getting forward out of him and not worrying about where his head was. That was his business. Now that he's getting fitter and more confident going forward, I'm asking him to connect with the outside rein and maintain a light contact with it. I'm only doing this at walk and trot, and only on a very very large circle. I'm not riding him in straight lines, I'm not turning corners with him, and I'm not cantering him. I'm just working on forward + getting the inside leg to outside rein connection, and keeping slight bend and flexion through his body. When he connects, his head comes down, he rounds and carries himself a lot better, and he steps under himself nicely instead of being quick and choppy. Some people describe him as lazy, but I think he's actually just listening very hard and being careful, and his default is to slow down or stop when he's confused or frustrated. Doesn't see like a bad thing at all to me!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
526 Posts
I've got a 4 year old who's broke WTC but now we're working on collection and using our body and hind end. I need some exercises and advice on how to achieve that since he tends to giraffe out and get heavy on the forehand. He's lazy and doesn't want to use his body. I'm not expecting it to be acheived overnight and I'm ready to put the work in just need some help on how to acheive it. I've had a trainer tell me to only work him in a circle/half ring and the first time her youngsters go in a straight line is at a show but I feel like thats cheating. Any advice would be appreciated!
How about a training level dressage test? These could give you a "battle plan" for your rides. Forward, regular paces can help achieve a good rhythm which will help with balance, which is probably why he is struggling. Transitions will help with the laziness.

https://www.usdf.org/docs/showflash/web/tests/2019/USEF_TLT1.pdf?t=10/3/2020 5:55:12 PM

I think it is also good practice to use the Training Scale. As you will note, Collection can only be achieved when the correct foundation is laid first. Good luck!
 

Attachments

  • Like
Reactions: JoBlueQuarter

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,055 Posts
For irrelevant to the question reasons, I am working on just this with my nine year old Morgan. After struggling off and on for years, we are finally making real progress. First and foremost because I have an excellent dressage instructor, but also because when I practice alone, I have the concentration to feel the truth, which is that my mare only can pull herself together and be on the bit when she is RELAXED. She tenses or worries and up goes her head and she gets all hollow. I can tell she has to work hard at it because when she is really thinking and trying hard her lower lip flaps, it's very silly.

For me, I only get collection when I do everything right -- deep seat, steady hands, and so forth, but also patient, encouraging, praising. If I can't come up with that I may as well just go for a trail ride. We can work about ten to twenty focused minutes and then she needs a break.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49,434 Posts
In all honesty, I do not think that question, the OP's original question , can really be answered without watching how she/he rides this young horse, in what bit, and how the horse moves with NO one riding it.


Yes, the above posters made great suggestions, but without seeing how YOU ride, one can only speculate as to twhy the horse 'giraffs'.


I will say this, what do you do when he giraffs? do you pull downward with your hands? ( do not do that!!!)
are you riding two handed in a snaffle? spurs? in an arena, or outside, how many times a week, . . . etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
In my opinion, people tend to want to rely on the bit for "collection" WAY TOO MUCH. Collection is all about the hind end. If you get the hind end driving up under the horse, 90% of the head stuff will take care of itself. I applaud you in taking this slowly and accepting the horse taking frame for short periods of time. That is key. Trying to prolong collection too quickly is a sure recipe to a dull and hard mouthed horse.
Worry about connecting his hind end to your legs. If you can ask for him to drive up and you feel his hind end come up under him and his back lifts, the rest is a simple matter of practice and prolonging his response to the cues.
A very simple place to start is to see if you can walk him forward from a standstill by having him step with a hind foot first, into collection, rather than him stepping with a front foot first, hollowing his back out. I doubt that 95% of people can consistently walk off with a hind step first and that's a pretty darn big deal when thinking about collection.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
591 Posts
My advice is don't think about contact or collecting per se, but rather think of straightness, relaxation, suppleness and controlled energy. With these, your horse will naturally be inclined to relax over his topline, thus coming to accept the bit. Riders, trainers and instructors alike can often focus too much on that "pretty picture" a horse produces. But it can be lost between the lines that a horse accepting the bit is actually a result of correct training in the other areas, mentioned above.

My personal experience is that many riders and instructors push a horse to go into a frame too soon with short cuts and whilst the horse may look good for a while, that particular method results in horses with holes in their training. Firstly, it becomes somewhat of a chore to get the horse to "stay in a frame", whereas the horse should just WANT to seek the bit immediately. Intrinsically, it creates a negative relationship with the bit, rather than a positive one, and this can cause tension related issues in the long run. The correct way does take a lot longer, but it results in a horse that is easy to ride and a horse that always seeks out the bit, unless his body is not correctly aligned for it.

For perspective, I will give you an example of the bit issues (more extreme than what you are dealing with) I had created and corrected on my own horse, which took several years. As a 4 year old, I had taken my horse to the barn I was riding with, at the time. This trainer was really helpful with teaching me the ins and outs of groundwork, but had an unsuitable method for teaching a horse to frame up (pressure-release system). At the time, I questioned some of his actions, but was young and ultimately did not have the experience to walk away. I then had this trainer train my horse. I started to see the negative impact on my horse within a few weeks. My horse was very responsive to all aids, but had developed lots of anxiety towards the bit, which resulted in persistent gaping and ducking behind the bit. Fast forward to years after we left that barn.... I had worked with several other instructors and my horse became a bit better, but still went back to gaping. It became very clear that gaping was a coping mechanism for the anxiety he had over the bit, and this extended to when he was learning new things or was just done with work. I began working with a grand prix dressage instructor and just could not fix the problem no matter what we tried. Eventually, I became tired of all the quick fixes that never worked long term. Then, one summer I decided to take several months to go back to the basics and work on teaching my horse how to move into the bit with groundwork. I decided to just let my horse invert if he wanted to and only work on his body alignment. I worked on it only at the walk and he would relax once he was positioned properly, then I mixed in a few steps of trot. We took things quite slow ....until my horse was happily reaching for the bit wtc on a long rein. ALL the issues went away and my horse became such an easy ride. I really didn't even have to think about putting my horse on the bit because he would seek it, even when we were on the buckle. I have since used variations of this method with several other horses and had success with all of them. It really taught me that there are no short cuts to success.

So firstly, look at whether your horse is truly keeping forward at the walk, trot and canter. Make it his job to keep forward without you 'nagging' him to stay forward. Also, how well does he respond to your seat? Are you able to use your abs/back muscles to slow him easily? These are two things he should be able to do easily before accepting the bit.

Then, check his level of straightness. This should be able to be maintained on a longer rein, as well. At your horse's level, I look for whether they are dropping or pushing out shoulders. If he is falling in (dropping the inside shoulder) all the time, then that needs to be corrected. If he is pushing his outside shoulder out, then you need to teach him how to move off (indirectly) from that outside rein. This step teaches him to stay in between your reins and seat, which should be your primary aid for steering when a horse is in a frame.

You also need to work on suppleness. Is your horse able to bend? Can your horse move off your inside leg? Will they move off your outside leg, laterally? Exercises that would be good to do for this are fig.8s, circles and serpentines.

Once you can check those things off, then you want to work on "energy control", as I like to call it. By that, I mean you are able to "recycle or control" your horse's energy. You should be able to send the horse easily foreword into the bit, then use your seat (half-halt) to bring him back. Subsequently, you will wrap your legs lightly around him again to bring his hind end further underneath him and then relax your elbows foreword, so that he can relax his neck. The reason for the half halt is to rebalance him, when he is about to do something new or on the verge of going onto the forehand.

Lastly, a horse will only relax over their topline and into the bit if they are, well... relaxed. When I start feeling tension in a horse that is starting to invert, my first response is to either let them go long and low for a break or to pat them with my inside hand for reassurance. If I am in a show where I can do neither, then I would usually just relax my elbow foreword and lightly wrap my leg to encourage the hind end. But, when you are dealing with a young horse, they are going to be unsure about new things. Always be positive when they reach for the bit and never reprimand them when they come up from the bit. No horse wants to feel trapped in a frame and the bit should become their 'happy place'. When a horse comes out of a frame, that means something is missing in your puzzle piece. The horse may have become crooked, may have lost forwardness, may have fallen on the forehand, or may have just stopped relaxing.

Now, this is all from a training perspective and assuming that your position is not contributing to the problem. Although, I very much agree with tinyliny that the inverting can also be related to your own response to the horse inverting. Otherwise, you also should be riding in a bit that is gentle and that your horse likes. A bit doesn't frame up the horse, but a bit should be inviting for a horse to relax into.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
4 years old is too young. He is not finished growing so balance can be an issue. If you want your horse to grow old in good condition slow down and take time for him to develop... unless you are really old (90?) and running out of time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,948 Posts
What worked amazingly for my mare is a figure eight made of cone gates. At each gate I would make a transition. Walk, stop, trot, walk, trot, change rein, stop...
I only did this for less than ten rides and I didn't do it very long during each ride, 5 minutes tops. At the same time I practiced intro dressage tests without asking for collection, we just did the exercises. She became intensely tuned to my seat so I have established a great forward and great responsiveness. Then it was just a matter of asking for a half halt with both my seat and my reins and we were done. I am not an amazing rider (quite the opposite, unfortunately) but my mare is very "bendy" and athletic so maybe that helped.

I think it is a bit of an error to tell novice riders to "sit deep and ask with your seat". Most often, nothing much happens because the horse isn't focused on the rider. Get the horse focused first and only then will the seat make any difference. I speak from personal experience here - I would be wiggling my bum all over the saddle and she was not responding. Now a small nudge gets her trotting and cantering. I can also do turns, shoulder ins, leg yields with just my seat and a tiny bit of leg - no reins at all.

edit: I forgot to add, I keep my rides very short but intense, 20 minutes tops - this kind of focus is difficult for both of us still. I lunge before I ride so I can start working immediately. I also work in walk a lot at the moment because her walk is her weak point (too "bendy")
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you everyone for all the advice! We're going to work more on moving forward he just gets ridden in a regular snaffle bit or d ring myler bit which he seems to like and be more willing with. He's a great horse and is enjoying work more day by day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
591 Posts
Great to hear @LevonLove. A little suggestion for working on forwardness. First start with his response of the leg. When he puts a bit more pep into it, I would actually stop the ride then and there to reward him and show him that is exactly what you want. I find that this *clicks* with horses much better than working on 3-4 things within a ride. The BEST training rides are the shortest ones aimed at reinforcing behaviour. Take this a little further each ride.



When he is consistently giving you a nice response off of you leg, you want to keep him forward enough that you feel some non-heavy pressure going into the bit. When he slows, ask for him to go forward to that spot again. Anytime he goes beyond the point (they will often invert at this point or get heavy), then bring him back to a walk/halt, or whatever gait below to which you are working at. Re-balance him at that gait and then ask for him to move forward again. Eventually, this will become your half-halt, where you can momentarily still your seat until he "pauses", but continue to ask for him to trot.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top