Friday, December 2, 2011

And going left, Part 2 Nov. 27 footage

Today was not a great day for going left -- this footage, not work that I'm proud of, was the very start of our ride, and you can see Ri twisting at the poll. I felt stiffness and resistance to bending left, and I'm either a) pumping my left leg to get him to leg yield out, b) trying to counter bend, or c) working that inside rein. Feeling a little lost, I do what I often do, loosen the reins and go for more forward. Obviously the left rein is floppy/inconsistent so maybe Ri doesn't trust it?

Another note: Whether I was riding Harv five or so years ago, or Ri today, I find that I don't really get at that suppleness/submissiveness till the last 20 or so minutes of my ride. Anyone else experience this?


  1. many years ago before i became a horse owner i leased an older OTTB and turned him into a rather nice jumper. With him i found i had to pre warmup W/T/C before i could ask for any sort or of real work. I have also found with my horse and most others i have ridden along the way that they too prefer a quick on the buckle warmup through their paces before they will focus on anything.

  2. I have the opposite problem. My Friesian x is attention deficit sometimes, so we do our best work in the beginning. After awhile, he just tunes out. Riley is still quite young. It will probably evolve.

    That poll twisting looks almost timed ... like a "reset" or how a short loop in video would appear. It seems to happen rhythmically, kind of with breath. Wouldn't know how to fix that. My Friesian likes more rein contact and my pony likes less. Sometimes, it is the horse finding rhythm, contact, or balance.

    Another thought: My pony mare used to do this when the loose ring was pinching her lips. I switched her to an eggbutt. No more flinching or twisting.

    I could be WAY off ... but it's worth a thought. :)

  3. Every horse is different, but the things that help my horse are transitions, a mix of large and small circles, corners, and lateral work. My horse does not feel really nice in his trot until he canters. I can get more quality time if I canter sooner in the ride and then return to trot work.

    This was not always the case, however. Cantering used to be so exciting that I had to save it for the end, because he would often check out once we switched to higher gears. His confidence and balance are such now that we can switch between the two at will and I can finally use the canter to my advantage in the warm up.

  4. Your right hand appears to be moving quite a bit, almost bouncing off and on the outside contact. You could try setting it on your knee or the front of the saddle to see if that makes a difference.

    My trainer used to have me lift my hand a little on the side opposite the twist. Just a quick little lift would tend to straighten things.

    As to taking time to get supple--that is not so unusual. A lot depends on the horse as to how long a true warmup takes. You could do some suppling exercises at the walk before you start schooling at other gaits. Figure 8s and circles swapping from one outside rein another tend to help the horse start to use his body sooner in a ride--all at the walk.

    Trotting a serpentine, again focusing on pushing his body to the new outside rein in the change of bend helps supple as well.

    When you are riding, all we see is your going around the arena on a large circle. Adding in changes of direction, spirals in and out, and all kinds of schooling patterns will help Riley use himself correctly sooner in the ride. Think of them as "means to an end" rather then the "end of what you mean to do."

  5. What I've found works for my OTTB are lots and lots of suppling exercises. We rarely ride a full circle on the rail. We do 20+ minutes of figure 8s, diagonals, circles, direction changes, etc. During this time I ride mostly on a medium rein and I don't fuss much with my legs or hands. He responds very, very well to my back & seat. Once he's supple and warmed up then I can start asking for serious bending and coming onto the bit. If I ask for that at the beginning all I get is a stiff, tense, rushing x-race horse.

  6. My horse's harder side is his left. When I start out the warmup in the walk, I flex his neck to each side while he's walking straight. It helps him loosen up. I suppose you've had the chiropractor look at him?

  7. I agree with the OTTB "on the buckle" warmup before starting any real work. I also go from walk (10 minutes or more) to canter and THEN to trot. My horse OTTB has a very choppy trot (sewing machine ;o) until he has cantered first. He doesn't get "higher" at the canter, which is a good thing.

    Also, your spurs seem a bit high. The spur rest on the tall boot is rarely in the correct spot, I've noticed, so using it as the place to "set" the spur often makes it stick up so you're cueing without meaning to. Ask your trainer to be sure, but try putting the spur below the "rest" so it's closer to the boot heel. See if that makes a difference.

    I think your posting looks better going this way, maybe because you're focusing on getting Ri to leg yield. You and he make a very nice picture. You "fit" each other. ;o)

  8. I absolutely have to give my TB at least 15 minutes of movement before asking him to be round or step under himself at anything more than a walk. When you said that you have to do that I would think nothing about it at all cause that is just what my horse needs and I see no ill effects from letting his body warm up. It does make it difficult to jump on to have a quick ride and get any training in but then again why would I even want to force him into my schedule. I trust his body to tell him/me what is best for him.

  9. I know that feeling of stiffness on the left hand rein and trying to leg yield them out of it. How about starting along the wall w/ shoulder in? Walter Zettl starts the riders out on a loose rein, lots of stransitions, and gradually picking up the contact. He also has them do shoulder in. Then you come out of the corner and do a volt. Also, have you tried a steadier outside rein and more halt halts, more softening?

  10. I kept watching the spur, worrying that you were nagging him with it, but couldn't really tell if it's making contact or not. If so, I'd take that out of the picture. Your toe is def. pointing outward a bit in this footage.

    If you're getting good work the last 20 minutes I'd change what you're doing in warm-up and see if you can come from warm-up right into good work.

    I have found with my Hano that he likes warming up on the buckle at the walk and trot, then we do some big movement work to open everything up and get him into his "high" gear. Big trot, canter, with me focusing on my own body and letting him move his.

    THEN we go into the more precise work and he goes right into what I call his high gear. I barely have to do anything but ride.

    I mention this because I've heard from a number of folks that a lot of Hanoverians operate this way. I was training with someone who had worked mostly with TBs and my lessons often went the way of struggling the first 20 minutes to get things rolling, which wore me out and annoyed Keil Bay. I figured out that if I did the warm-up my way, as described above, we got good stuff right off the bat so the lessons were vastly more productive and happier.

    He also gets bored doing the same old routine - a lot of folks do the arena work first and hack out after but I find that riding out and doing something fun wakes Keil Bay up so that the arena work is very very good and satisfying and we can end on that wonderful note.

    Just a thought!

    I too noticed the rhythmic head twist - it almost looked to me like a subtle sign of ouchiness that happens when a particular hoof is hitting the ground - not sure. Or is it happening when you use your leg? Does he do that on the lunge line or just under saddle? I would personally make a point of ruling out all physical issues that might be exacerbated by going left, going left under saddle, etc.

  11. I agree with Jean. take a break from the large circle and work on other things. My mare gets very bored and anxious if we do the same thing over and over. Serpintines, figure 8s, and spirlas all keep the mind engaged so he can't start to fuss over his head, your contact etc..

    Also, do you work with cavelettis at all? Even putting just a single one somewhere on the circle will give you both something else to focus on then just moving around in the circle. I love using it for transitions (which is the thing my mare hates the most) where you use it to pick up the trot or canter or as a point to go down a gait. It works really well to get them using that hind end of theirs.

    For warm-up, I found out a year ago that if I allow my mare to canter on a loose rein to warm up she is much better behaived and more supple throughout the ride. If I just try to walk a bit, it takes much longer for her to loosen up.

  12. it appears to me that you are pinching your knees. i would suggest try getting a smooth and active walk, then up transition into sitting trot. keep your legs away from the saddle until you can effectively put all your weight in your stirrups and keep them still and heels down. when that is consistent then start to post and make sure to watch your knees and if necessary, over due your heels down to reinforce it. my old trainer used to call this your grounding --- feel like you have trees growing down into the ground. the horse needs that to feel secure and steady -- then he will seek the contact. the other thing you can do is make sure you keep your thumbs up -- no piano hands. it will make a difference on your contact and help reduce floppy reins.

  13. I always start my dressage schools with lateral work -- a bit of leg yielding, some shoulder in, -- at the walk, then do some canter work to loosen up.

    At the canter I usually do some counter bending/straight/bend routine for about five strides of each, on a circle. I wonder if there's some stiffness in his neck that he's trying to fix with the twisting of his poll. I start with a very subtle flexion and as the horse get's more advanced make the bend deeper.

    Do you have any trails near you? I've always found that a couple of good long hacks over varied terrain does a lot to get my horse relaxed and more balanced. I sneak in some leg yielding and suppling exercise out on the trails or in the fields but because my horse is always more forward he doesn't seem to realize he's "working".

    I don't have a ring on the property where I board (we have a town ring that I hack to) and in some regards it's a blessing because my horse always gets a nice long walk before we even start to think about work.


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