I'm glad you sent some videos along with this question, as even though he doesn't look particularly spooky or backed off in these videos, I can get a much more clear picture of what is going on... (Click on Question or Video Title above (in blue) to read full answer)
I totally hear what you are saying... it sucks to get older! Aging riders often have to deal with chronic pain and stiffness from past falls and injuries, in addition to the "normal" problems of aging. I think that many of the ideas to keep older horses going strong will benefit riders as well! (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Question # 300: Do leads matter when riding XC? (Ellen) Hi Ellen!
When galloping along between fences - no, not really. Although the ability to switch to the inside lead to make an upcoming turn will certainly make it easier to keep the horse balanced (and less likely to slip and fall around turns.) But there is an important point here that I want to bring up... something that most riders never think of, and can make a difference in their horse's soundness... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer) Question # 299: My OTTB was recently diagnosed with some major back pain associated with saddle fit (I guess two different saddle fitters looking at it 4 different times wasn't enough!).......The vets recommended chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture and some other therapies, as well as work on strengthening his back and core since it is underdeveloped due to pain from the saddle (my saddle is too big for his back, it sits past his last rib). He has always been adjusted regularly, and we are working on easing him into acupuncture (so far he is not a fan) with the help of some other therapies to help relieve his tension. My question is, do you have any groundwork exercises to improve his back and core strength until I find a saddle that fits him better? My current plan is to hand walk him up and down long gradual hills 3 times a week with maybe some lunging 2x a week between those days. He is in decent shape other than his back, and we are shooting for a schooling show and clinic 5 weeks out contingent on finding a better saddle and his comfort/strength level. We would shoot to do a Combined Test at Beginner Novice, we have competed successfully through Novice I just don't want to push the height so close to his reconditioning. Once we find a new saddle, I plan on implementing your other exercises recommended for building a topline and for horses with tense backs, I just want to start on the ground so we don't lose too much conditioning! Thank you so much! (Natalie)
You can probably ask 10 different trainers this question, and get 10 completely different answers. I am of the opinion that... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Question # 296: I have a question about "bitting up" versus moving up.......This past weekend I took my 9 year old OTTB to a schooling show, we have been schooling Novice but I decided to compete at Beginner Novice since our cross country experience is limited and we don't get much opportunity to school XC with a coach. Dressage was tense, but good enough for a 34.7. He has been relatively quiet in stadium, but in this particular case he was very difficult to keep from running at the fences, the only line that held him was the 2 stride. Cross Country was exhausting, in between jumps he would put his head down and just lean and try to take off. He didn't back off of any of the obstacles even the ones that were placed on a very awkward line. In the past at shows he's been a bit green on xc, the fences back him off a little and he tended to keep his head up. What do you think the best course of action is after a ride like this? While we did well at this competition, I don't think this is a good way to continue! I don't know that the Novice jumps would have backed him off any, and I don't think he would have actually made a couple of the turns on that track the way he was going! I've never used a gag, so I would rather stay away from bitting up that much if you think its appropriate in this situation. Thank you for your help!! (Natalie)
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. That will lots of information that you will need to make the switch. And as for things that you may need to focus on in terms of your riding... the biggest thing that Hunter or Jumper riders need to think about as they switch to Eventing is... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Question # 294 and Video # 92: My question is about banks, specifically jumping down.......I don't know exactly what my body should be doing and I know that I don't release the reins enough as I jump down. Often in courses the down bank is followed by a jump to test your accuracy and control which makes me hold onto the reins even more as my horse has a big jump and a big stride and I am always afraid that I won't be able to get back in touch with him if I let the reins go. This video clip is of us schooling this weekend, the bank is at about the 56 second mark. My horse is a lovely, honest, athletic type and I want to be able to do him justice, he is very forgiving but I know if I keep hitting him in the mouth at every bank he is going to start thinking about whether or not it is worth jumping! (Susanne)
It's great that you are doing some cross training and jumping your Dressage horse! You will probably find that your Dressage work only improves, as the variety will help her to enjoy her work even more!
You raise a very interesting question... If you have trained your Dressage horse to be so forward thinking and "hot" to the leg, how do you develop or practice a jumping position with your lower leg on without losing that sensitivity? (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer) Question # 290: I recently started riding a very nice, well trained thoroughbred. She is pretty big, probably 17+ and a little long backed. My normal ride is a 15 hand compact very (overly) sensitive ottb, so she feels ginormous.......She also takes a lot more leg, more than my horse, which I'm still getting used to. I forgot to mention that I'm 5'2" so my leg literally comes to half way down her barrel. I've been struggling a little with feeling in sync with her especially at the canter, she has big almost warmblood show jumper like hind movement, and I believe I'm bracing a bit in my stirrups in trying to find my balance, because when I drop them I can get the exact ride I'm after and it's wonderful, and so fun.( It's been great riding a horse that can do all the things after a lifetime of green ottbs.) :-) I'm wondering if you have any advice or exercises that I could work on to keep from bracing, because I'd like to be able to get that great ride with my stirrups too. (Amy)
Don't panic! Since it sounds like he seems otherwise very bold, and appears to like the water once he is in it, I think there is a good chance that your horse will come around about this. There are some very specific things that you want to do when schooling the water from now on, that will set you up for the best chance at success, however. And that is to... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer) Question # 281: My mare has always had an issue with bucking/pulling upon landing in the next stride after landing from a fence when doing cross country......It’s inevitable the first few times, even with proper warm up. I've had her since she was a yearling and she is now 10. I'm sure if I was a better rider, this wouldn’t happen. She also has always had difficulty with holding the left canter lead. I'm sure chiro would help. What are your suggestions? (Ellen)
It sounds like you are dealing with the very common problem of... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer) Question # 278: I am a dressage rider who is currently working on 2nd level. I have some days where I am really capable of connecting my seat to sit the trot very fluidly and straight...... (as I have a problem of tending to put too much weight on my right seat bone). This usually happens when I am able to fully soften and relax my spine. I have been doing several exercises to release and stretch my psoas muscles, but I just find that if I try to sit the trot multiple days in a row, my muscles get progressively tighter and unwilling to relax and move with the horse. I am wondering if you have any additional thoughts that help individuals to relax into the sitting trot, exercises, or stretches that you find particularly helpful. As sometimes I feel extremely connected, straight, and relaxed in the sitting trot, and some days I cannot figure out how to get back to that feeling, so if you have any advice, it would be much appreciated! (Berott)
It sounds like your tendency to want to sit a little crooked causes some tension in your muscles... or the tension in your muscles is causing you to sit crooked! Sometimes it can really be like the story of the chicken and the egg... which came first? Without seeing this happen to you, I couldn't begin to guess which problem is causing the other. But it really doesn't matter anyways - as you have to fix them both! (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Question # 277: I would like advice on how to get comfortable switching from longer Dressage seat stirrups to Stadium and XC short stirrups as a middle aged working amateur rider? ...I am blessed with two horses and ride 3-4 times a week = 6-8 chances to adjust stirrup length/week. I usually hack a hole longer and adjust up for jumping. I also ride without stirrups a few minutes every ride. But I never feel secure unless I concentrate on one discipline or the the other. (Nancy)
A lot of horses (especailly mares) are "girthy" to some degree, (and if you haven't yet tried one, our sponsor, Total Saddle Fit, makes a great girth designed to keep horses comfortable in that area - check it out here), and sometimes it is something that you just have to learn to live with. BUT, since it sounds like this is a new problem, or at least one that is getting worse, it sounds like maybe... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Question # 275: My little quarter horse mare likes to tilt her nose to the left at the trot and canter when working indoors......She doesn't do it when jumping, at the walk, or when out hacking. She is consistent in this behavior regardless of what bit she has on: I use a plain snaffle at home and a mullen mouth pelham out foxhunting. I've ruled out physical problems: she's had her teeth checked, saw the vet & chiropractor. What can cause this & how do I fix it? (Kellyn)
This of course can be a very common problem with horses that are built downhill! First of all, check out this article on Dressage with the croup high horse, which discusses ideas on how to get the best work out of this type of horse. And for a thorough description of how to make downward transitions and half halts work to truly cause your horse to carry himself better, read this... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Question # 273: I'm wondering if you have any favorite exercises for strengthening a horse's back and building topline?...My old guy has been back to work for about two months after being off since June with major hoof trauma/crazy ulcer flares, He's (knock on wood) doing well, but he's lost all of his topline, and I'm having problems with him getting a little back sore. I've had a fitter out to adjust my saddle and pads to accommodate his frame now, and he's also getting body work. He's going on 21 so I know that it just takes longer to regenerate muscles on these old guys, I'm just wondering if you have an other exercises in mind beyond the tried and true long and low, that might help? I've been thinking about doing some long lining work with him, just to take my weight out of the equation, but I don't know a lot about long lining, so if you have any pointers there that might also be helpful. (Amy)
You don't say how old your horse is, but it may be a good time for a thorough exam by a good lameness veterinarian. There are many soundness issues that present in a way that the horse isn't actually outright lame, but their performance is negatively affected. Especially with bilateral lamenesses, such as when both front feet or both hocks hurt equally. In this case, the only way the horse can "speak" about his issues is to try to avoid things that cause him to hurt. So when a horse that was previously forward thinking and a willing jumper, begins to not enjoy his work... pain issues defintely need to be ruled out.
Good for you for being aware of this situation! I see many riders who don't seem to notice that their horses have insufficient topline muscles - and they sometimes ask or expect too much of them, resulting in unnecessary resistance. Making the time and effort to build up your horse's topline strength will go a long ways towards turning him into a happy partner and a willing performer! (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Question # 262: I recently bought a 9 year old Thoroughbred, who I was told had more training than he actually does. When I rode him the first time he acted like he knew nothing, and completely disregarded any aid I gave him.......The first day he wouldn't even steer, now he is a little better with that, but he is still just dead to my leg. He won't move forward or off of pressure. He will only move forward with a tap of the crop to his rump. I have tried using a crop as just kind of an extension of my leg, but I really don't want to get rough, or into an argument with him and make him have bad experiences being that he's so "young" in his training. He's really easy going, but kind of dim. I just would like to know how to go from here. I've worked with young and green horses before but he's definitely different from any I've had experience with. Thank you! (Sam)
I think the best thing to do in this situation is to... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer) Question # 261: I have had my 8yr old gelding about 3 months, previously he had done lots of hunting in his native Ireland but no competing. We have completed four BE 90 classes......And though he scores well dressage I feel he can drift out on circles, it's more obvious show jumping when especially turning away from the warm up, then yesterday, on quite a twisty and technical (for a 90) xc course I had difficulty turning, I kept losing him through his shoulder when turning in front of a jump. We were clear but because of this problem we incurred lots of time faults. I appreciate this is all new to him and further schooling will help but I was quite alarmed when he was doing it xc, especially as there were lots of skinnies and a relatively difficult corner fence. I couldn't ride straight on any lines I had walked, and just had to let him go on whatever approach we had. Are there any articles on your site I should be reading please? Many thanks (Susan)
This is a great question! Scores can be a good guideline, but they can sometimes be misleading... so I wouldn't rely on them exclusively. I have seen great movers get good scores despite having solid enough basics to move up a level. And the sad truth is that the below average mover may sometimes struggle to reach scores the mid 60's despite being technically ready to move up a level. The real question is... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)Question # 254: At what level would a turn on the forehand show up on a dressage test? (Julie) Hi Julie!
The turn on the forehand is not in a Dressage test at any level, but I really wish it would be! Horses at the most basic levels of Eventing or Dressage should know how to do it. If a horse doesn't understand the aids for a turn on the forehand, it won't... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)