The halt must come from the body of the rider, not the reins.
Doing the same thing day after day can hinder growth. Think about how that might apply to your riding.
You will spend much more time galloping than you will actually jumping when out on cross country. Learning how to gallop well on uneven terrain will help to keep your horse sound, as well as make for successful jumping.
When working with horses, always be mindful of the feedback you are giving your horse at any given time... whether intentional or accidental. When your horse misbehaves, make sure you don't give him an accidental reward by stopping to regroup (which to him is a rest and a reward.) Keep moving, get the horse to do something (anything) well, and THEN stop to regroup if you must.
A horse can become lazy or unresponsive to the aids within a single ride. It's up to YOU to make sure he remains responsive to light aids at all times.
Gridwork and gymnastic lines are meant to teach the horse to better solve problems when jumping. They develop the horse's "eye" for jumping, as well as his mental focusing skills, timing, and judgement. And of course to be more clever with his footwork. Make sure you leave your horse alone through the gymnastic lines as much as possible, to let him learn from the specific exercises you have set up. Your job is to get into the grid correctly - straight and balanced, with the right amount of impulsion for the specific question. And then leave him alone to let him do his job!
"Use a repetitive process to help young horses learn. You may have to repeat an exercise many times but it will be worth it." ~ Eric Smiley
Try to get away from prioritizing how your horse is carrying his head, and instead focus on how he is using his back.
Did you know that horses push upward with their front feet to begin a jumping effort? That is why it is so important that you don't lean forward as the horse is trying to take off. Your weight leaning up the neck at this crucial moment hinders the horse's ability to raise the front end.
Just because you can't see your grass growing doesn't mean it's not. And the same can be said of your progress as a rider. Much of the time it is not noticeable until you stop and look back at where you came from.
"Is the rider able to ride all the movements with a long rein, long with contact, then as long as possible? It is possible to ride piaffe on a long rein when the rider rides 100% with a balanced body, and the horse is on his aids." ~ Christoph Hess
"You can’t ride rhythm into a horse – they have it – you can only ruin rhythm by bad riding. When you let them loose in the paddock, you see that they move well. When you ride, because there is an argument here or there to get the frame or whatever, you can get bridle resistance and that can create unevennesses, and the loss in the rhythm and the tempo. Only a totally submissive, loose horse can really show perfect rhythm." ~ Clemens Dierks
The very best riders are often not the best teachers... It all comes too naturally to them, so they often don't know how to help those who don't have their gift.
I find that many riders are using bits that are too big for their horse’s mouths. While certainly better than a bit that is too small, when a bit is too big there is too much movement of the bit sliding back and forth in the horse’s mouth. Horses want the bit to be still in their mouths, they don’t want it sliding left and right all the time.
"Limited understanding induces many novice riders to commit the worst possible fault, which is to interfere with the hands to produce a set head position. They manage to get the horse to flex at the poll, either by sliding the bit to and fro in the mouth (sawing), or by constantly closing and opening the fingers. Because of their preoccupation with the position of the head, their hands are never still. Constant fiddling with the reins achieves nothing more than an artificial arching of the neck. The parts behind the saddle, loins and hindquarters, escape the action of the reins and besides this, the continually busy hands interfere with the regularity of the motion of the limbs." ~ Udo Burger
"Dressage is controlled excitement." ~ Erin Sweeney
"I want to make the horse shorter because he is rounder, not because he is shorter, squeezed, jammed." ~ Miguel Tavora
Both horse and rider should learn to love that deep takeoff spot. Otherwise they are an accident waiting to happen.
"We work a lot on the canter transition: canter walk canter because it is very good exercise to collect and to improve the canter." ~ Miguel Tavora
Some horses like a contact with the reins all the way up until the point of takeoff at a jump, while others prefer to have soft or even loose reins in the last stride or so. Make sure you know which type of horse you have.
Any issues you have at the canter are usually there at the walk too, but just don't bother you as much because you're not going very fast. But it is easier to fix things at the walk! So don’t miss that opportunity.
"The outside rein is like any relationship....if you aren't 'there' when you're supposed to be, you allow people who counted on you to fall.” ~ Becky Rickly
You don't really do yourself any favors when you cater to your weaknesses. For example, if you only like to ride with your whip in your right hand, and it feels odd and uncomfortable in your left - you need to make yourself ride with it in your left hand. And if you are uncomfortable riding amongst distractions or with people watching, you only better yourself by seeking out those conditions.
Problems can only truly be fixed by finding their root cause, and addressing that rather than merely addressing the symptoms. Address the symptoms alone, and they will keep coming back. Or new symptoms will develop.
You should always be a nickel behind the horse's motion when jumping at a high rate of speed.
In your Dressage seat, let your legs hang quietly down - close to your horse's sides for easy and intimate communication, but not tight, which would lessen your ability to communicate in a subtle manner.
When you give an aid, whether it is a half halt or an aid to canter - ask very lightly, and then wait a bit to give the horse time to process and respond. This takes the pressure off of the horse, which lets him think more clearly about what you are asking. This will allow him to respond in a more focused way.
Mental limitations are often much more career limiting than physical limitations when it comes to riding. If things are difficult for you physically, don't give up!
With any related distance, make any needed adjustment early on in the line, and then focus on riding the rhythm and quality of the canter, while patiently waiting for the jump to "come to you."
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