One on one help and advice for you and your horse!
This is me and Willow - my 6 year old Connemara mare. She is an incredible horse and starting out on our eventing career she has completed three events (up to BN) on her dressage score. Unfortunately our dressage scores are poor (high 30s low 40s) due to the tension you see in this warm-up video. While this is at a show grounds she is like this anywhere, including at home. She has her teeth done regularly, gets PEMF and massages, has had several lameness exams (including a 5-stage PPE with radiographs) and has properly fitting saddles. She rides in a soft rubber mullen.I have worked with many in-person trainers and not much has been accomplished. I'd say that her main problem is that there is no stop in her. She is extremely hot and sensitive and hates to be pulled on but pretty much the only way to stop/slow her is to pull and that bracing seems to cause the tension. I've tried the "turn to a stop" and that has really helped her relaxation but she is happy to keep turning all day. We've seem to hit a wall in our progression and am really hoping for some guidance. (Rose) Hi Rose!Willow is so cute! When she relaxes and slows down, I bet your scores will go up dramatically. I have LOTS of ideas for you! (Click on Video or Question title above to read full answer)
In response to your quote "The more often you give the reins, the softer your horse will be… both in the mouth and in the body." - I give the reins a lot. Like every time she asks. She is very soft. But I think she is also on the forehand? Your thoughts? (Linda)
This is a great question! Because although there are LOTS of riders who find it hard to get in the habit of regularly softening the rein, there are also many riders who take it a bit too far - giving the rein too much, or not at the right time. Timing is absolutely CRUCIAL! If you give at the right time, your horse can enjoy freedom and self carriage. If you give at the wrong time... best case scenario, your horse will simply remain on the forehand. More dangerously, you may be teaching your horse how to make you take the pressure off whenever they want you to. (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
I have a 3 (soon to be 4) year old ottb. I'm hoping to do eventing with him, even though there's not much of a competition scene where I'm at her in New Mexico. I've gotten to the point of forward that he's swinging his hind end and moving forward in good balance for the most part. What are the next steps to encourage him to lift his back? He's been giving me a few steps here or there naturally, but I'd like to encourage him even more. (Amanda)
I am SO happy that you are asking this question! Many riders don't think nearly enough about how the horse is using their back. And that is the holy grail! It is the key to keeping our horses sound, happy in their work, and supple in their bodies. The key is to teach your horse how to truly seek the bit. (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
What are some good rider exercises to fix keeping your body too close to the horse in the air over fences? (Anne)
That is so common, isn't it?? So many riders seem to be jumping much bigger fences than their horses are jumping. ;) And riders doing too much with their upper body can definitely negatively effect the horse's balance over fences. Especially with the horse who doesn't have a great natural balance over fences. I do have a few tricks for this problem! (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
I have a young horse that likes to drop to trot right before fences. She is quite brilliant otherwise, but that little glitch just doesn’t seem to be going away with more experience, grids or placing poles. ideas? (Anne)
I have come across several horses with this problem over the years! And there are a number of different issues that can cause this. Here is a list of things that can cause horses to break from canter to the trot right in front of fences. See if any of these might sound familiar to you: (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
For example, he'll take a few strides of canter, and then start trotting again, and it's hard to get him back into it. Sometimes, too, we'll be trotting and he'll just stop. How can i fix this? (Josie)
It sounds like you have 2 problems here. One is that your horse may not always respect your leg aids, which means that it is easy for him to stay behind your leg. And the other is that he may have balance issues in the canter. That is actually quite a common problem... when the horse gets strung out in the canter (very often from a poor quality, running upward transition into the canter), and falls back into the trot as the hind legs trail behind and the impulsion is lost. (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
Welcome to the wonderful world of Eventing! There is nothing like it, you will be totally addicted! First of all, check out this entry on how to get started in Eventing. The single most important thing for you to work on as you delve into the world of Eventing is to... (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
I'm working with a very talented jumper who keeps "ballooning" over his fences. Because of this trait, he misses distances, takes poles down, and pulls his rider forward after landing. Are there any exercises that you know of to help teach him? You were soo helpful with the last problem, that I was hoping you could help me with this. Thank you. (Pat)
This problem can have several different causes, so I could probably help you the most if you could send in a video of this happening. I do have some ideas for you that should help you even without a video though! Start by reading this article on the horse that jumps too high... (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
I see a few issues here, that are likely contributing to the fact that your horse isn't naturally engaging his hind legs and carrying more weight behind... (Click on Photo/Question Title above to read the rest of the answer, and the critique of this photo.)
Is there any chance you can tell me how to fix this obnoxious habit, and perhaps what might be causing it? I have a hard time keeping my right hand closed, and even though my reins are the same length (they’re laced, so I can count the lacing on each side), my right one inevitably feels too long, and my arm gets stupid. 😂 Is it just a bad habit, or a posture issue, or ...? Also, are my hands, even my left, too low? (Kayla)
Your bad habit is one that many riders struggle with! Hands that turn downward like your what your right hand is doing here make the connection feel rigid to the horse. Even if your arm is relaxed, your horse will feel the "block" where your wrist begins to turn downward. And when horses feel this block, they will invariably stiffen and resist. So this is definitely a habit that you need to break!
One of the best ways for you to beat this problem is to... (Click on Photo/Question Title above to read the rest of the answer, and the critique of this photo.)
First of all, I'm glad that you had so much fun at your hunter pace! Those are always so much fun and such a great experience for both horse and rider. And they are getting harder and harder to find, unfortunately. I'm glad you have access to one! Now, onto your question!
I think you will find all of the answers that you are looking for in this article on the horse that drifts when jumping. But there is something that I also want to mention that shows up in this series of photos.... (Click on Photo/Question Title above to read the full answer and critique of these photos.)
I took a lesson from a dressage instructor last week and am confused about something she said. We were on a circle when she told me to use the bit on the "bars". She had me using an opening inside rein, pulling down on the outside rein while keeping my hands far apart. My mare was giving and soft, chewing the bit, so it was working. What is the bit usually on? I thought it always sits on the horse's bars, so I'm a bit confused. Also,it's very difficult to recreate it at home. Can you clarify this for me? (Anonymous)
The bars of the horse's mouth are extremely sensitive, and many riding disciplines take advantage of this fact by using downward pressure on the bars to teach the horse to submit to rein pressure by lowering their head. An example of this is... (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
So our balance seems to be getting better because Ranger no longer feels the need to run into our departures. We can’t quite get one from a walk, but we can from a very slow jog. Now we are working on keeping consistent contact through them. To the left he actually is doing a lot better, but to the right, he uses his head and neck for leverage to pick his front end up when he makes the transition. Most of the time, he is really good and consistent with the contact up until that step off into the canter, so I can’t really abort the transition. Any advice? (Kayla)
Glad to hear that things are improving, and your horse no longer runs into the canter! That kind of progress is always rewarding, isn't it?? When horses try to hollow in upward transitions, it is usually because... (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
My horse's natural stride length is ten feet, so for all our courses I've been setting distances to his stride, not a twelve foot stride. But I know that all the courses we ride in competition are based off a twelve foot stride. So should we work on developing a stride length to match, and should we ride in that all the time? (Kayla)
This is a great question! As MANY riders have horses that don't have a natural 12 foot stride! Some riders are on huge horses with a natural 14 foot stride. And many others are on smaller horses or ponies who have a natural 10 foot stride, or even smaller! So do all of these riders have to make their horses conform to the normal 12 foot striding to make the distances happen smoothly on course? And do you have to school over 12 foot distances at home if that isn't the length of your horse's stride? Well, yes and no... (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
I recently took over the ride on a talented but fairly willful Half Arab, a breed that's a bit outside of my wheelhouse having always owned and ridden OTTB's. He's a dream to jump and is light and responsive over fences, but is the complete opposite with flat work.
He did not have the best start, being jammed into a false frame with a kimberwick and pelham from 3-5 years old, so now at 6 I have quite a bit of undoing to do.(head tilt and all) He's making progress in straightness and leg yielding, but he's a total crab about it all. He'll try all the evasions(above the bit, behind the bit, the occasional rear) to get away from actually using himself before he realize I won't give up, then he grudgingly does what I ask. It is getting easier as time goes on, but I worry about making him sour, but I also know that I need to get him through it, So I have to find that balance of insisting he do that work and but not over doing it.
So I guess my question is do you have any strategies for a horse with a defiant personality like this? Any exercises that you could recommend blending to together that could mitigate his dislike of flat work? I have started to end my flat sessions with just a few jumping lines to remind him that we have fun too.
I'd love to know your thoughts. (Amy)
This sounds like a good challenge for you! Every horse has something to teach you, and it sounds like this horse will have plenty of things to teach you. :) Have a look at this article, which discusses dealing with horses that are somewhat dominant or defiant by nature. You say that since he likes to jump you let him end your flat sessions with a few jumps... But what I would try instead is... (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)
I would like to ask your opinion regarding a horses natural jumping technique and how much it can be improved. I can set fences at home to get him jumping with better technique but then we go to a show and he reverts to jumping like this. He had been having 4 to 5 rails every round. How much can a horses jumping technique be improved? My feeling has always been that you can improve what they naturally have to an extent but you're not going to turn a "3" into a "10". And right now I think he's a 3 or 4. (Kaley) (Click on Video or Question Title above (in blue) to read the answer and the critique of this video)
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