Pony trot?

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Tsavo
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:55 am

Josette wrote:These comments are giving me some insight into what may have been the previous training "baggage" with my guy. It may explain his tension and nervousness when entering the ring before. He use to take off like one of those sale videos which may look expressive but certainly not relaxed. Fortunately we resolved it but now I am fairly certain it was previously used on him. Anyway this slower trot approach has worked out well to help with relaxing his shoulders. My priorities are to use whatever warm up works best for my horse.


That sounds excellent! Very good reason for pony trot.
Last edited by Tsavo on Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:36 am

Chisamba wrote:Impulsion is actually fourth rung up.


I am starting a thread on impulsion versus forward.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:11 pm

Chisamba wrote:
Rosie B wrote:
Bats79 wrote: Podhajsky refers to warming up in the slowest trot on the longest rein (but not necessarily what would be called long and low) through all the movements including laterals in trot and canter before asking the horse for collection


Bats, do you remember which book this was in? I don't remember reading this in any of his books that I've got.
Bats i hope you do not mind if i reply:

the exact quote is:
"While the best way to relax the horse and loosen his muscles is by a steady shortened trot, the rider sitting with the reins as long as possible, this exercise will be effective only if the horse trots with short and relaxed steps. " he goes on to say that if the horse begins to drag his hindquarters to ride him forward energetically but not to cause tension by overdoing it. after a short time at the increased pace the rider should return to shortened steps until the horse executes them in a completely relaxed manner and gives himself up to the will of his rider.

From "the complete training of horse and rider" sorry i do not have the page number on my kindle. by Alois Podhajsky.

you can read this book over and over and understand something new and better each time.


Thank you and appreciated. I'm glad memory served reasonably well. :)

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby demi » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:32 pm

I used this "pony trot/ little trot" again with Rocky, today. What Podhajsky calls a "steady shortened trot", describes what I am doing with Rocky and for future reference, that's what I am going to call it. A steady shortened trot.

I am thinking about the whole quoted statement from Podhajsky. I understand (I think) the reasoning behind having the reins as long as possible, and with Rocky it isn't very long. She has more energy than I can ride and stay balanced with right now and I am using the steady shortened trot to keep us together. I keep my reins "as long as possible" but they are relatively short. If I were to let them become any longer, either by letting out more rein through my fingers, or even just straightening my arm and putting my hands more forward, she gets too speedy and gets TOO FAR in front of my legs, and consequently, out of connection with my seat. The rein length I used today allowed her to move freely, but not freely enough so that she could get ahead of me and ignore my seat.

We never got out of the steady shortened trot today, but that's fine with me. I am just aiming for a good connection at this point, while she gets back into the routine of waiting for me, and while I get stronger and more supple. I loved how she felt today. A couple of times, when I allowed her more forward by putting my hands just a little more forward, she wanted to race ahead. But when I brought her back into the steady shortened trot, she still used her energy, but in a loftier steady shortened trot, in front of my legs, and on my seat. I couldn't get to a place where I could allow her into a bigger trot today without losing the connection, so while things were going nicely, I halted and got off. I looked at how she halted and it was perfectly square and her hind legs well under! That, and the fact that we both pleased with ourselves( I know she was pleased with herself. I know her well.) told me that the steady shortened trot was good for us, for now.

This was my own experience with one of my horses, quite different than what Rosie described with Bliss in the very first post on this thread. Emma is different than both Rocky and Bliss and I don't know what I will get when I try this with her.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby AmityBee » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:13 am

I tried to use this technique in my warm up today and it really doesn't work for us :D

I actually knew that it wouldn't but I thought I give it another go just to make sure. The New Welsh is one lazy pony and ralaxation is not really an issue for him. So, I did the no pushing just trotting along, big lines, 20m circles, serpentines... and his tempo got worse. The only good thing it did was physically warming him up. Everything else: disaster! :D He just stomps along, relaxed, tail dangling, neck down and out, getting more front heavy and less forward by the minute.

To be honest, this "pony trot" is basically the opposite of what I usually need to do get him going. He needs a long warm up. I usually start with 15-20 minutes of walk on a long rein sometimes longer. Then it depends, sometimes do a bit of trot and canter on a long rein as well, but I need to make sure he moves. This is just to get him physically warmed up.

Our real work is basically everything I know on how to get a horse off the forehand. Baby school halt, shoulder in, haunches in, counter shoulder in, renvers. All just for a few steps, always making sure I move just his shoulders to align to the haunches for each new movement. Change, change, change, transition, transitions, transitions. Everything to get him up, foreward and alert. Getting those heavy, drafty shoulders up and out of the way to make room for his hind legs to step under.

The "school trot" however is very useful for us. It's more of a baby school trot. In the past, he wasn't strong enough to keep up with lateral work at the trot. He either blasted through the shoulders or droped into a walk. Now he trots, slowly, but he keeps going. I was worried about the slow pace at first, but my trainer thinks, that as long as they are carrying (using their hind end, stepping under) it's ok. For now.
Last edited by AmityBee on Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:33 am

demi wrote: If I were to let them become any longer, either by letting out more rein through my fingers, or even just straightening my arm and putting my hands more forward, she gets too speedy and gets TOO FAR in front of my legs, and consequently, out of connection with my seat..


The way I understand it is that the reason that relaxation (which I prefer to call calm) is at the bottom of the pyramid is because we shouldn't be using the reins to rate the horse, and the only way to avoid using them that way is for the horse to be calm enough so that he doesn't want to rush off when we give with our hands. The test of that, of course, is to give the reins completely and see if the rhythm and tempo stay the same, and if it doesn't then the horse is not yet calm enough.

I also think that holding a horse back with the reins may actually interfere with getting calm, because some horses feel trapped when they can't move forward freely and that just makes them more anxious, which is the reason that circles are generally much more effective for interrupting any rushing and helping them to calm down.

The way I've most often seen it done is to start right out with a longer rein and then when the horse speeds up just gently guide him around a circle until he slows down, and then let him off the circle until he speeds up, and then ease him back onto the smaller circle. IOW, no shortening the reins, no pulling, no holding, no drama, but just let the circles teach him that there's no reason to rush around because he's free to move, but he's not going anywhere so he might just as well relax.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby demi » Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:30 pm

kande50 wrote:
demi wrote: If I were to let them become any longer, either by letting out more rein through my fingers, or even just straightening my arm and putting my hands more forward, she gets too speedy and gets TOO FAR in front of my legs, and consequently, out of connection with my seat..


The way I understand it is that the reason that relaxation (which I prefer to call calm) is at the bottom of the pyramid is because we shouldn't be using the reins to rate the horse, and the only way to avoid using them that way is for the horse to be calm enough so that he doesn't want to rush off when we give with our hands. The test of that, of course, is to give the reins completely and see if the rhythm and tempo stay the same, and if it doesn't then the horse is not yet calm enough.

I also think that holding a horse back with the reins may actually interfere with getting calm, because some horses feel trapped when they can't move forward freely and that just makes them more anxious, which is the reason that circles are generally much more effective for interrupting any rushing and helping them to calm down.

The way I've most often seen it done is to start right out with a longer rein and then when the horse speeds up just gently guide him around a circle until he slows down, and then let him off the circle until he speeds up, and then ease him back onto the smaller circle. IOW, no shortening the reins, no pulling, no holding, no drama, but just let the circles teach him that there's no reason to rush around because he's free to move, but he's not going anywhere so he might just as well relax.


Just to clarify and add a little bit here, I am pretty sure that there are nuances which only come with a deeper understanding of dressage. ;) I have a good basic understanding of rein length, but there are nuances that advanced riders are aware of, that I am not.

When I stopped doing dressage training with Rocky almost two years ago, we had already gained good rhythm, good relaxation, and were working on connection, specifically, acceptance of the aids. We had started countercanter and she had several other elements of first level plus she was starting walk-canter-walk transitions, and TOH.

So to get back to the topic, I think that in order to do a "steady shortened trot", one would need to be a little beyond the first two rungs of the training scale (rhythm and relaxation) or at least have those rungs well in place. And even then, as AmityB points out, the technique doesn't necessarily work with all horses. I did mention that I'm not sure how it will work with Emma, but I have a feeling it will help....we shall see.

Still waiting for the Soloshot 3 which I think will aid in these discussions.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:48 pm

demi wrote:
Just to clarify and add a little bit here, I am pretty sure that there are nuances which only come with a deeper understanding of dressage. ;) I have a good basic understanding of rein length, but there are nuances that advanced riders are aware of, that I am not.


Yes, I think there are always nuances, at every skill level, which is what makes horse communication so endlessly fascinating.

So to get back to the topic, I think that in order to do a "steady shortened trot", one would need to be a little beyond the first two rungs of the training scale (rhythm and relaxation) or at least have those rungs well in place.


I think that may be true, but without some sort of understanding of what a steady shortened trot is, we may all be discussing completely different trots! But irregardless of the actual gait, should a horse ever speed up when the rider gives with their hands, or should he just seek the bit (stretch his neck forward) while maintaining the same rhythm and tempo until the rider cues him with seat/legs to lengthen?

Still waiting for the Soloshot 3 which I think will aid in these discussions.


For sure, as video adds a whole 'nother dimension to the discussions.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:06 am

demi wrote:
So to get back to the topic, I think that in order to do a "steady shortened trot", one would need to be a little beyond the first two rungs of the training scale (rhythm and relaxation) or at least have those rungs well in place. And even then, as AmityB points out, the technique doesn't necessarily work with all horses. I did mention that I'm not sure how it will work with Emma, but I have a feeling it will help....we shall see.

Still waiting for the Soloshot 3 which I think will aid in these discussions.



The training scale isn't a set of levels that have to be achieved before you go on to the next one. They are foundations of development. That doesn't mean that you have to perfect one before you go on to the next.

You do the exercises to ESTABLISH the steps on the scale. You do the warmup as is being discussed TO establish the rhythm and relaxation. Then you do exercises that build up the contact and impulsion and then you do more movements and exercises to increase the straightness and collection.

The training scale are suggestions of what you should be aiming for, and markers to know that your training / warmup is on track.

Every ride that improves the horse will touch on EVERY part of the training scale.

If you do a change of direction maintaining the connection you are improving straightness.

If you do a halt or a half halt and the horse steps through to the connection then you are touching on collection.

Short of a ride where you are just grateful you didn't get bucked off then every ride should achieve just a little glimpse of the whole scale.

At least that is my opinion and that is what I try to give my pupils.

Edited to add - that doesn't include the times when you are riding to learn new concepts of course. That period and those times of learning often mean we don't truly get to make forward steps with the improvement of our horse - but neither (at the time) should they be of detriment to the horse. It is simply that when we are trying to get our heads around things we often don't bring them to fruition immediately.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby demi » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:18 am

Bats79 wrote:
demi wrote:
So to get back to the topic, I think that in order to do a "steady shortened trot", one would need to be a little beyond the first two rungs of the training scale (rhythm and relaxation) or at least have those rungs well in place. And even then, as AmityB points out, the technique doesn't necessarily work with all horses. I did mention that I'm not sure how it will work with Emma, but I have a feeling it will help....we shall see.

Still waiting for the Soloshot 3 which I think will aid in these discussions.



The training scale isn't a set of levels that have to be achieved before you go on to the next one. They are foundations of development. That doesn't mean that you have to perfect one before you go on to the next.

You do the exercises to ESTABLISH the steps on the scale. You do the warmup as is being discussed TO establish the rhythm and relaxation. Then you do exercises that build up the contact and impulsion and then you do more movements and exercises to increase the straightness and collection.

The training scale are suggestions of what you should be aiming for, and markers to know that your training / warmup is on track.

Every ride that improves the horse will touch on EVERY part of the training scale.

If you do a change of direction maintaining the connection you are improving straightness.

If you do a halt or a half halt and the horse steps through to the connection then you are touching on collection.

Short of a ride where you are just grateful you didn't get bucked off then every ride should achieve just a little glimpse of the whole scale.

At least that is my opinion and that is what I try to give my pupils.

Edited to add - that doesn't include the times when you are riding to learn new concepts of course. That period and those times of learning often mean we don't truly get to make forward steps with the improvement of our horse - but neither (at the time) should they be of detriment to the horse. It is simply that when we are trying to get our heads around things we often don't bring them to fruition immediately.


Thanks for the input. I have to say I am frequently in a position of trying to get my head wrapped around things! This board helps me a lot in that respect. Reading about the same exercise with different types of horses, and different riders, helps to fill in pieces of the puzzle.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby piedmontfields » Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:00 am

Well, I will say that "kicked" = strong leg aid from my world view. It might be a 1 pounder aid. It might be a 10 pounder if necessary.

I will see how my description of the "emi" slow trot warm-up goes with a young rider who is helping me out while I travel over the next month. I know it is not what she is used to. I did emphasize that *this will feel weird but hang in *!

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:32 pm

So yesterday I got to put my pony trot warmup to the test in front of an audience. Sort of. My lesson was supposed to start at 11:15. I was in the ring at 11:05 to allow for some walking before starting the lesson proper. The lesson before mine ran over and mine didn't start til 11:35... But I used that time to try to warm him up as best I could on a 20m circle at the far end of the ring in pony trot.

When it was time to start the lesson, the instructor said that from watching the pony trot work she knew Bliss was behind the leg and we spent the whole lesson on the 20m circle working on that. And because we weren't able to do any bending lines, he never really got truly warmed up, and I felt like I was fighting tension in his body. He spent the lesson going in a training level frame when at home we are fairly solidly schooling 2nd.

Colour me a little frustrated. :?

I just wanted to post this because there were fears expressed on here about how you will be judged for warming up in pony trot, and this is relevant to the discussion.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:41 pm

Rosie I think that experience qualifies as jumping the rails. Did you try to explain you were using pony trot in the same way Hubertus Schmidt recommends?

At the same time I don't fault the instructor for not knowing you were using pony trot.

I have been in a few clinic situations where I felt it jumped the rails and that I learned nothing because the clinician was not aware of whatever. In hindsight, I think I was probably not correct in my assessment and that the clinician was correct. But your case is different. I think it jumped the rails really.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:45 pm

The other thing is after years and years I developed the ability to tell an instructor that I thought they misjudged and then attempted to show correct work. Some times I succeeded and sometimes I failed. But I learned to speak up. Speaking up is very very very hard, especially in a clinic situation with an audience. It can sound like apologizing when it is just explaining. Fine line.

The warm up is individual for rider and horse and I am thinking that the clinician should have at least asked you what you were doing without automatically assuming you had an issue with IFOTL. Any high priced clinician should know that from personal experience in my opinion. I have to say that I would be wary of working with that person just by what you wrote.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby demi » Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:14 pm

Tsavo wrote:Rosie I think that experience qualifies as jumping the rails. Did you try to explain you were using pony trot in the same way Hubertus Schmidt recommends?

At the same time I don't fault the instructor for not knowing you were using pony trot.

I have been in a few clinic situations where I felt it jumped the rails and that I learned nothing because the clinician was not aware of whatever. In hindsight, I think I was probably not correct in my assessment and that the clinician was correct. But your case is different. I think it jumped the rails really.


agree

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:29 pm

Rosie B wrote:So yesterday I got to put my pony trot warmup to the test in front of an audience. Sort of. My lesson was supposed to start at 11:15. I was in the ring at 11:05 to allow for some walking before starting the lesson proper. The lesson before mine ran over and mine didn't start til 11:35... But I used that time to try to warm him up as best I could on a 20m circle at the far end of the ring in pony trot.

When it was time to start the lesson, the instructor said that from watching the pony trot work she knew Bliss was behind the leg and we spent the whole lesson on the 20m circle working on that. And because we weren't able to do any bending lines, he never really got truly warmed up, and I felt like I was fighting tension in his body. He spent the lesson going in a training level frame when at home we are fairly solidly schooling 2nd.

Colour me a little frustrated. :?

I just wanted to post this because there were fears expressed on here about how you will be judged for warming up in pony trot, and this is relevant to the discussion.


I think that running over so that your clinic started half an hour late is already problematic. Having a clinic in an area where there is no other decent place to warm up is complicated. I have had to deal with the second, although mostly not the first. Most of the clinicians i have had the pleasure to work with have stayed pretty much on time.

So one of the huge disadvantages of clinics is you are subject, unfortunately,to preconceptions. Show up in the wrong bit, or with the wrong attire, have your horse be slightly spooky, or have a clinician that has a problem with weight/overweight and you can loose your whole ride time having to outlive the prejudice. I have learned at times that when a clinician says something, like, your horse is not off the leg, i will ask them what do you mean by off the leg. What would you prefer the horse to demonstrate. I had a clinician click to me constantly once. I asked, do you want more tempo? do you want a larger stride, please tell me what you want the horse to demonstrate because a click means nothing to either of us. Sometimes it helps, but often it is just in indication that the clinic has jumped the shark completely

you learn what you can from the experience, and you decide if you would or would not attend a clinic with that person again. I hope it was not too expensive, but even i you feel you did not get the best advantage, the opportunity to school in a different venue under awkward conditions is a useful training tool anyway.

not relating to the clinic, and related to the show i went to this year, my horse was tense and so i was was warming up slowly on a longer rein attempting to get her to relax onto my aids. I did not notice because i tend to become really consumed, but my reader commented that she suddenly saw several horses slow down, add transitions, relax their elbows. I think it really depends on the length of stride you are getting. if your horse slows and is taking a long stride in front and a short stride behind, you actually do not have the horse off the leg and you have lost the balance from behind.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:26 pm

Tsavo - I did attempt to explain, but I was unsuccessful. :lol:

This is a clinician whom I have ridden with many times over a period of years, with Prussia. I had not had a clinic with her on Bliss though. I respect her deeply and she is one of those instructors that can and will improve any horse and rider and take them as far as they are capable. I do think that yesterday was not our best day together, but sometimes that happens. 8-)

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:38 pm

Rosie B wrote:Tsavo - I did attempt to explain, but I was unsuccessful. :lol:


Okay well I guess we can't assume everyone agrees with someone who has produced more GP horses than anyone else alive. :arrow:

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:51 pm

I didn't specifically mention Hubertus Schmidt. Maybe that's where I went wrong. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:54 pm

Rosie B wrote:I didn't specifically mention Hubertus Schmidt. Maybe that's where I went wrong. :lol: :lol: :lol:


That may be the point where it jumped the tracks! It's probably is never wrong to drop Schmidt's name.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:09 pm

Chisamba wrote:
So one of the huge disadvantages of clinics is you are subject, unfortunately,to preconceptions. Show up in the wrong bit, or with the wrong attire, have your horse be slightly spooky, or have a clinician that has a problem with weight/overweight and you can loose your whole ride time having to outlive the prejudice. I have learned at times that when a clinician says something, like, your horse is not off the leg, i will ask them what do you mean by off the leg. What would you prefer the horse to demonstrate. I had a clinician click to me constantly once. I asked, do you want more tempo? do you want a larger stride, please tell me what you want the horse to demonstrate because a click means nothing to either of us. Sometimes it helps, but often it is just in indication that the clinic has jumped the shark completely


Thanks Chisamba, this is excellent advice. There was definitely some of that going on. She saw Bliss at a show 2 years ago and how he was going then was (one of) the preconceptions I think.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Flight » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:24 am

Rosie B wrote:So yesterday I got to put my pony trot warmup to the test in front of an audience. Sort of. My lesson was supposed to start at 11:15. I was in the ring at 11:05 to allow for some walking before starting the lesson proper. The lesson before mine ran over and mine didn't start til 11:35... But I used that time to try to warm him up as best I could on a 20m circle at the far end of the ring in pony trot ....


Ahh bummer!! That does explain more in the goals thread. Also why it can be easier to work with one instructor regularly (I know you can't do this) that knows you and your horse well.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:06 am

Tsavo wrote:The other thing is after years and years I developed the ability to tell an instructor that I thought they misjudged and then attempted to show correct work. Some times I succeeded and sometimes I failed. But I learned to speak up. Speaking up is very very very hard, especially in a clinic situation with an audience. It can sound like apologizing when it is just explaining. Fine line.

The warm up is individual for rider and horse and I am thinking that the clinician should have at least asked you what you were doing without automatically assuming you had an issue with IFOTL. Any high priced clinician should know that from personal experience in my opinion. I have to say that I would be wary of working with that person just by what you wrote.



Definitely. They should have asked and then, if they couldn't get a 2nd level horse to show "in front of the leg" in 5 mins, the clinician was not giving you the right advice and wasn't up to the task.

"Pony trot" is only supposed to be used as tempo and balance control. When you go through your exercises the horse gradually loosens and is able to start lifting the forehand and so weight can be transferred to the hindquarter and impulsion and cadence increases.

Unless establishing tempo control was the actual aim I wouldn't expect to "pony trot" for more than 10mins. Being stuck warming up that way for 30 mins could be detrimental. It's a shame they didn't tell you that they were running behind and give you the option of stopping or at least trying something different for a bit.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:31 am

Bats79 wrote:Unless establishing tempo control was the actual aim I wouldn't expect to "pony trot" for more than 10mins.


The whole idea of working in pony trot is to save the horse while teaching him what the aids mean, and because of that the bulk of the training, rather than just the warmup, is done in it.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:08 pm

Bats79 wrote:
"Pony trot" is only supposed to be used as tempo and balance control. When you go through your exercises the horse gradually loosens and is able to start lifting the forehand and so weight can be transferred to the hindquarter and impulsion and cadence increases.

Unless establishing tempo control was the actual aim I wouldn't expect to "pony trot" for more than 10mins. Being stuck warming up that way for 30 mins could be detrimental.

I'm just quoting this because I think it is worth repeating.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:52 pm

I agree with Bats and Chisamba. The delay in Rosie's start time was so bad. That would have thrown me I think.

When I started pony trot, I worried I would be untraining forward. I was so worried about this that I was hyper-vigilant about monitoring the balance and made sure to ask for more as the longitudinal balance progressively came. There is a clear balance point between forward and keeping the weight back. I ride that edge. Just paying attention to where that edge is has us out of pony trot within a few minutes (note that is only after large walk for 15 minutes on the trail). If I think it is taking too long I will ask. The balance is either there or not and then I stay in pony trot or go into the work depending on what my horse can do at that point.

I don't use pony trot for tempo control. I use it as a good way to ease into work for an old horse. It works for that. My horse has never been ring sour and I intend to keep it that way. Barefoot is testing him though. But he likes the soft ground once in there and will walk pretty large now. I think his stride length is close to normal now. It is very large on soft grass. Need to resume work. The party of the first part needs to get into work soon so that the party of the second part in addition to the party of the first part does not get hurt through any irrational exuberance. I hope he can get back into shoes in a few weeks. Or boots until he can have shoes.
Last edited by Tsavo on Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:59 pm

The only place I was "stuck" for 30 minutes was on the 20m circle. I have been letting him pick his tempo and stride length when I warm him up at home on lots of bending lines. As he gets looser, his stride opens up, and he goes nicely forward. I have found on my own that kicking is detrimental and he tightens against it instead of going more forward. The clinician told me that's because I was kicking him wrong.

At the clinic, I couldn't do ANY bending lines, so he didn't loosen up as much (and he had some tension due to being in a new place) and I can easily see how she said he was behind the leg. So I really can't blame the clinician for wanting to address that. I know it probably sounded in my previous posts like I was blaming her, but a few days have provided a bit more perspective. I just wanted to make it clear that we were not forced to do anything, other than stay at the far end of the arena, for 30 minutes. I CHOSE to ride him like I did during that time... and I'm not sure what else I could have done to get him looser while stuck on a circle because he really seems to need the bending lines. I did lots of transitions, and tried to get him stretching, while letting him pick his tempo, but it was not effective as my warmups at home usually are. And in hindsight maybe that wasn't a realistic expectation as we were in a new place (and an indoor) that he is not used to.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Ponichiwa » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:01 pm

I've spent several years installing a "forward" button (as in, move off my leg in whatever direction I ask you to) on Kiwi as she's definitely got whoastorm tendencies. When she was younger, these would sometimes have threats of going upwards.

But it took a recent schooling show to make me aware that I haven't actually gotten an honest response to the leg, really. I've been asking her to run off when I put my leg on so that she doesn't think about stopping, which I thought was great training. SO much forward! Except that I don't have a whole lot of middle ground. So when I was at this show, and there were flying changes everywhere when she got a bit behind the leg, I had a bit of an epiphany.

So. For the last week I've been warming up in pony trot and pushing the limits before I trigger a whoastorm. When she offers to rush, I have put her on a circle or serpentine, which helps self-regulate the tempo. And lo and behold, her stretchy trot circles are much improved and her balance doesn't feel nearly so precipitous.

This has been a timely thread for me, everyone. Thanks!

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:27 pm

Tsavo wrote:
When I started pony trot, I worried I would be untraining forward.


Seems like the cure for that worry might be to teach them what the aids mean.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:08 pm

Ponichiwa wrote:I've spent several years installing a "forward" button (as in, move off my leg in whatever direction I ask you to) on Kiwi as she's definitely got whoastorm tendencies. When she was younger, these would sometimes have threats of going upwards.

But it took a recent schooling show to make me aware that I haven't actually gotten an honest response to the leg, really. I've been asking her to run off when I put my leg on so that she doesn't think about stopping, which I thought was great training. SO much forward! Except that I don't have a whole lot of middle ground. So when I was at this show, and there were flying changes everywhere when she got a bit behind the leg, I had a bit of an epiphany.

So. For the last week I've been warming up in pony trot and pushing the limits before I trigger a whoastorm. When she offers to rush, I have put her on a circle or serpentine, which helps self-regulate the tempo. And lo and behold, her stretchy trot circles are much improved and her balance doesn't feel nearly so precipitous.

This has been a timely thread for me, everyone. Thanks!


Years ago I heard someone say they were criticized for their horse being "chased" as opposed to forward. That was an FEI horse by the way. I think what you wrote might be a description of chased, no?

Running is an interesting evasion. I often got criticism for it. My horse will still do that sometimes though less than he used to. I find it hard to deal with. Since it is always accompanied by dropping the back, I will focus on getting the back up by asking for bend like you do or using collecting aids or just massive leg.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:05 am

kande50 wrote:
Bats79 wrote:Unless establishing tempo control was the actual aim I wouldn't expect to "pony trot" for more than 10mins.


The whole idea of working in pony trot is to save the horse while teaching him what the aids mean, and because of that the bulk of the training, rather than just the warmup, is done in it.



No it isn't. It has nothing to do with training except for muscle memory. It is about loosening in a calm way that allows the training that is already there to be utilised before having the horse in the dynamic position that allows new training and increased gymnastic control. Of course "dynamic" is individual to each horse - some horses might need to be reminded to stay in front of the leg even in pony trot and keep the hindleg active or they will not loosen, other horses need to remember the half halt and wait and not run themselves on to the forehand or they will not loosen. Then the work, even if it is in the aim of improving directional responses or balance responses should always be directed to increasing flexion in the hindlegs and lift in the forehand so that the horse comes closer to a collection that WILL save it's body. That is what saves the horse's body.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:11 am

Rosie B wrote:The only place I was "stuck" for 30 minutes was on the 20m circle. I have been letting him pick his tempo and stride length when I warm him up at home on lots of bending lines. As he gets looser, his stride opens up, and he goes nicely forward. I have found on my own that kicking is detrimental and he tightens against it instead of going more forward. The clinician told me that's because I was kicking him wrong.



I'm still not "with" the clinician on this point. Did you have only the one lesson? I prefer to either only audit or have three lessons so that at least the next ones might give the previous one more clarity. I realise that isn't always possible.

But clinicians can get stuck in a rut too.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:21 am

Which point are you not 'with' the clinician on? About the kicking? I wasn't 'with' her on that one either. :P And I'm still not. In the lesson, I had to at least try what she was telling me.

Yes, I only had one lesson. I had signed up for two, but was told at the last minute (a couple days before) that there was no room for me the second day. I hadn't had a lesson in 4 months, and I've worked with this lady before, so I was fine with only one lesson. Ordinarily I'm with you though. You need at least two with a new person... preferably three.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Josette » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:33 am

I will admit that I have an issue with a clinician who does not use the whole ring. Figures and frequent change of direction are so helpful to both the horse and rider IMO. I've audited some clinicians in the past and have never seen the entire lesson stuck on a circle. I'd probably go rogue and ride off in other directions and add figures. :roll:

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:38 am

Bats79 wrote:

No it isn't. It has nothing to do with training except for muscle memory. It is about loosening in a calm way that allows the training that is already there to be utilised before having the horse in the dynamic position that allows new training and increased gymnastic control. Of course "dynamic" is individual to each horse - some horses might need to be reminded to stay in front of the leg even in pony trot and keep the hindleg active or they will not loosen, other horses need to remember the half halt and wait and not run themselves on to the forehand or they will not loosen. Then the work, even if it is in the aim of improving directional responses or balance responses should always be directed to increasing flexion in the hindlegs and lift in the forehand so that the horse comes closer to a collection that WILL save it's body. That is what saves the horse's body.


No it doesn't save the horse's body, because as more recent diagnostics are showing all it does is transfer the damage from the front legs to the neck, back, and hind end where it's less obvious. What damages horses is overwork, and it does them no favors to believe that working them harder is somehow protective.

Work in walk and pony trot is protective simply because it puts less stress on the horse during the years and years in which the trainer works on perfecting the responses to the aids (fluency). It doesn't mean that the horse is stuck in pony trot and can't move when asked, but only that those who are interested in long term soundness don't use what they don't need.

Gal mentioned that he did most of Totilas's training in pony trot, and for all Totilas's problems he certainly didn't have any trouble moving when he needed to.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:51 am

Josette wrote:I will admit that I have an issue with a clinician who does not use the whole ring. Figures and frequent change of direction are so helpful to both the horse and rider IMO. I've audited some clinicians in the past and have never seen the entire lesson stuck on a circle. I'd probably go rogue and ride off in other directions and add figures. :roll:


Just about all of them do it for practical reasons (because it's too hard to hear if they use the whole ring). I just go around a few times and then ask them if they mind if I reverse, which they never have, and after that I just take off and make big loops to reverse frequently. It doesn't even interrupt the lesson when I do it because they know where I'm going and that I'll be right back.

The other thing I do is I tell them when it's time to walk for awhile. I blame it on being old and light headed, but I can actually go around and around all day but feel like my horse needs more frequent breaks then clinicians do, and since I'm the one who will be stuck with a lame horse if he breaks down I have no problem speaking up for what I think he needs.

I've probably ridden with maybe 15 different instructors over the last 8 years (ride-review-rides plus lessons) and not one has shown even the slightest bit of irritation when I've asked to reverse, or walk, or work on something else.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:43 am

kande50 wrote:
Bats79 wrote:

No it isn't. It has nothing to do with training except for muscle memory. It is about loosening in a calm way that allows the training that is already there to be utilised before having the horse in the dynamic position that allows new training and increased gymnastic control. Of course "dynamic" is individual to each horse - some horses might need to be reminded to stay in front of the leg even in pony trot and keep the hindleg active or they will not loosen, other horses need to remember the half halt and wait and not run themselves on to the forehand or they will not loosen. Then the work, even if it is in the aim of improving directional responses or balance responses should always be directed to increasing flexion in the hindlegs and lift in the forehand so that the horse comes closer to a collection that WILL save it's body. That is what saves the horse's body.


No it doesn't save the horse's body, because as more recent diagnostics are showing all it does is transfer the damage from the front legs to the neck, back, and hind end where it's less obvious. What damages horses is overwork, and it does them no favors to believe that working them harder is somehow protective.

Work in walk and pony trot is protective simply because it puts less stress on the horse during the years and years in which the trainer works on perfecting the responses to the aids (fluency). It doesn't mean that the horse is stuck in pony trot and can't move when asked, but only that those who are interested in long term soundness don't use what they don't need.

Gal mentioned that he did most of Totilas's training in pony trot, and for all Totilas's problems he certainly didn't have any trouble moving when he needed to.



I'm sorry that you don't recognise the difference between bad training and good training. As to "recent diagnostics" please do show the evidence of the studies that show that good training transfers damage to the hindquarter. I don't believe there is any such study at all.

I don't think you realise what Podhajsky was talking about when he said "small trot". It is NOT what you are thinking or imagining. The horse is still up to the bit - which is why the rein is "as long as possible" but not flapping around without contact. And it is never to save wear and tear on the horse, it is to bring the horse to "warmed up" in the least stressful or argumentative manner so that the horse is loose, warm, in front of the leg and waiting for direction before going to the next stage of the exercise period.

I don't know where you got the idea that you "trained" the horse is pony trot. I have never seen that recommended anywhere, ever.
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:46 am

Rosie B wrote:Which point are you not 'with' the clinician on? About the kicking? I wasn't 'with' her on that one either. :P And I'm still not. In the lesson, I had to at least try what she was telling me.


Yes, about the kicking and then spending the whole lesson getting the horse 'in front of the leg'. And yes, you did have to try what she was telling you if you wanted to learn if it would be effective, helpful or detrimental to this horse and if it would offer you a learning experience for another horse or (often in an instructor's case) might be a help for a pupil.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Ponichiwa » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:33 pm

Tsavo wrote:
Ponichiwa wrote:I've spent several years installing a "forward" button (as in, move off my leg in whatever direction I ask you to) on Kiwi as she's definitely got whoastorm tendencies. When she was younger, these would sometimes have threats of going upwards.

But it took a recent schooling show to make me aware that I haven't actually gotten an honest response to the leg, really. I've been asking her to run off when I put my leg on so that she doesn't think about stopping, which I thought was great training. SO much forward! Except that I don't have a whole lot of middle ground. So when I was at this show, and there were flying changes everywhere when she got a bit behind the leg, I had a bit of an epiphany.

So. For the last week I've been warming up in pony trot and pushing the limits before I trigger a whoastorm. When she offers to rush, I have put her on a circle or serpentine, which helps self-regulate the tempo. And lo and behold, her stretchy trot circles are much improved and her balance doesn't feel nearly so precipitous.

This has been a timely thread for me, everyone. Thanks!


Years ago I heard someone say they were criticized for their horse being "chased" as opposed to forward. That was an FEI horse by the way. I think what you wrote might be a description of chased, no?

Running is an interesting evasion. I often got criticism for it. My horse will still do that sometimes though less than he used to. I find it hard to deal with. Since it is always accompanied by dropping the back, I will focus on getting the back up by asking for bend like you do or using collecting aids or just massive leg.


I've certainly chased her in the past when she's given that indication that she may stop in the next 2-3 strides, I'll admit. Especially when she was in the phase where stopping felt dangerous. She has a tendency to give in extremes: half halt? FINE I'LL STOP. Go off the leg? I'M OUTTA HERE! Not a whole lot of middle ground.

And the really insidious thing about the alternating running/behind the leg syndrome is that it can be present in all work. So while yes, she's absolutely capable of the 3rd/4th level work we've been schooling, the tendency to duck behind and then scoot forward/ahead of the aids is still there in the collected/medium/extended gaits and associated lateral work.

Training isn't easy, guys.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby demi » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:55 pm

I did a lot of thinking about pony trot last night. Pony trot has been working well for two weeks. I am using it to solidify a good connection with Rocky. It has been the whole work part of our ride after a 10-15 minute walk warmup. For two weeks the schedule has been 3 days in the arena followed by one day of trail ride and then one or two days off. So....

Yesterday was the ride after two days off and she was tense during the walk warmup. Looking for things as though she needed to be on the lookout. Not spooking, but ready to gallop away at a moment's notice. I walked her on 10,15 and 20m circles instead of the whole arena. I used a shorter rein for my own safety. It wasn't short in the sense of tight, but short in the sense of having my arms straighter and hands well forward. She didnt relax after 15 minutes so I went into the pony trot anyway. She cooperated briefly and then started going behind the vertical and getting behind my leg. I worked her patiently (at least I thought I was being patient). She got better, but I wasn't able to get our best connection. To quantify, I would say our best connection is an 8 on a scale of 1-10. Yesterday the best we got to was a 5.

In the past I would have "sent her forward!" but after getting bucked of Emma a couple of months ago, I was not confident enough to do that. (I lucked out by not breaking any bones on Emma, but I do have osteopenia and must remember that) I thought about getting off and longeing or double loungeing her. I decided not to. I continued with the program as we had been doing. It wasn't a good ride, but neither was it terrible, so I accepted it.

Last night I thought a lot about how to go about today's ride. After all sorts of scenarios (including longeing or doulble longeing before the ride) I finally decided to continue with the pony trot program just as we have been doing for a couple of weeks....I'll report back later today ;)

I am open to comments, suggestions, etc.

I agree Ponichiwa, training isn't easy.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:13 pm

demi wrote:Yesterday was the ride after two days off and she was tense during the walk warmup. Looking for things as though she needed to be on the lookout. Not spooking, but ready to gallop away at a moment's notice. I walked her on 10,15 and 20m circles instead of the whole arena. I used a shorter rein for my own safety. It wasn't short in the sense of tight, but short in the sense of having my arms straighter and hands well forward.


That's what I do, too. I don't increase the contact, but just keep the reins short enough so that I can bend them as they spook without changing my position, rather than having to adjust my reins or widen my hands or otherwise take up the slack.

I used to get those hypervigilant behaviors a lot, and what I would do was start my work wherever he was comfortable (and some days that was back in his pen) and work there until he could calm down. And then, once he was calm enough I'd start gradually increasing the distance until I got to the arena, and then eventually to the other end of the arena. Some days I'd do the bulk of my work close to the other horses, while other days he'd get over whatever was worrying him right away and be ready to go work in the arena.

It actually worked out very well, because by the time I got this horse I was over the whole idea that I had to do things a certain way, so was much more interested in problem solving instead of going along with what someone else might want to do. And the more I thought about what might work for us, the better things worked for us. :-)

One thing I did figure out on this part of the journey is that I really like working my horses inside their comfort zones, because that's when I could get the nice, rhythmic, steady gaits and soft aids that made riding so rewarding for me (and probably him, too).

I agree Ponichiwa, training isn't easy.


It certainly isn't, which is no surprise given what we're trying to teach them.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:05 pm

To me a pony trot requires a horse to be more off the leg than a working trot. A pony trot should be slow enough that the horse would find walk easier. But you tell it it may not break, it should be harder work, not less work than a working trot.

So it keeps the horse tuned to both the leg and the connection

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby demi » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:30 am

Chisamba wrote:To me a pony trot requires a horse to be more off the leg than a working trot. A pony trot should be slow enough that the horse would find walk easier. But you tell it it may not break, it should be harder work, not less work than a working trot.

So it keeps the horse tuned to both the leg and the connection


I agree, pony trot is harder than a working trot, and needs to be more off the leg. And I think that is why Rocky started resisting yesterday, after going along with the new pony trot program for a couple of weeks. She was finding it to be more difficult. I followed the same program today and she was better than yesterday. I did "give" to her a little, which I'll explain. After a 15 minute walk on a long rein, she came right into a nice contact for the steady, shortened trot (pony trot) and was cooperative. Not the very best contact we've had, but clearly better than yesterday. I kept it for only 2-3 minutes and then allowed her into a working trot. It was a nice working trot, IFOTL and IFOTV, good rythym, good contact. I did the rest of the ride (only another 15 minutes) going from working trot to pony trot to working trot. I am kind of excited about this because up until now, there hasn't been that much adjustability in her trot.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby demi » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:41 am

Kande, thanks for your input. I also like to work my horses in their comfort zone but too often I get greedy. I think it is good and even necessary to push them a little out of the comfort zone, but that can be tricky. Just how much does one push? I think that is often where amateurs make mistakes because it takes a lot of experience, not to mention very skillful riding, to know when, where, and how to push past the comfort zone.

In retrospect, I am fairly sure that the mistake I recently made with Emma (when I got bucked off) was that I pushed her too far out of her comfort zone. I had worked on the ground all winter with her and when I mounted up in the spring, the contact was so lovely that I got greedy and asked for too much, too soon. I wish this thread about pony trot had come up back then!!

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:47 am

Demi I read a great article recently from dressage today. I think it was by Ute Graf but I could be wrong.

She said that you almost never ask for 100%. Instead you ask for 75, or 80% at most during your training. Knowing where that line is though is the hard part. The way I look at it is "how was that compared to the usual?" If it was significantly better, I take a break or do something else. If it was about the same as usual, I try to make it a bit better, then I take a break.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:06 pm

Rosie B wrote:Demi I read a great article recently from dressage today. I think it was by Ute Graf but I could be wrong.

She said that you almost never ask for 100%. Instead you ask for 75, or 80% at most during your training. Knowing where that line is though is the hard part. The way I look at it is "how was that compared to the usual?" If it was significantly better, I take a break or do something else. If it was about the same as usual, I try to make it a bit better, then I take a break.


I agree with this notion, however, neither the horse nor the rider are very good at knowing what hundred percent is. I took my Irish Draught mare for a beach ride once, the sand was quite taxing and as we reached our turning point, the light house, my horse was tired, she was plodding and i feared that i had overtaxed her . We turned to go back and she never took a single walk step the whole way. She jigged and pranced and scurried etc. At that point i realized that she had been playing possum,, not only on this trail ride, but when we schooled dressage too. Five miles of prancing after acting dead tired. Ha.

You ask for 75 or 80 percent of what the horse can give, not of what the horse feels like offering. In horses that are averse to expending energy, that can be difficult and conversely in horses that are high Adrenalin that is a lot less than you think. forward rushy tense horses may seem like they are still full of vigor but they may well be near empty, and horses that are energy averse may feel like they have given it all, and still have a full tank.

that is way its way easier to say something than to do it.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:26 pm

Chisamba wrote:
Rosie B wrote:Demi I read a great article recently from dressage today. I think it was by Ute Graf but I could be wrong.

She said that you almost never ask for 100%. Instead you ask for 75, or 80% at most during your training. Knowing where that line is though is the hard part. The way I look at it is "how was that compared to the usual?" If it was significantly better, I take a break or do something else. If it was about the same as usual, I try to make it a bit better, then I take a break.


I agree with this notion, however, neither the horse nor the rider are very good at knowing what hundred percent is. I took my Irish Draught mare for a beach ride once, the sand was quite taxing and as we reached our turning point, the light house, my horse was tired, she was plodding and i feared that i had overtaxed her . We turned to go back and she never took a single walk step the whole way. She jigged and pranced and scurried etc. At that point i realized that she had been playing possum,, not only on this trail ride, but when we schooled dressage too. Five miles of prancing after acting dead tired. Ha.


The lure of the herd can be a powerful force. :-)

I had the same experience on a trail ride. I was riding with horses my mule didn't know so he wasn't wild about going off with them to start with, and then the further we went the slower he got. I didn't push him because he was barefoot and the gravel roads were hard and stony and I thought he was probably getting footsore. Or at least I did until we turned around to go home and he suddenly had a burst of energy that lasted all the way home.

I think the reason I misinterpreted his reluctance was because he's usually fine with anyone we ride with as long as we're with another horse or mule, and he's not normally barn sour so I didn't even consider that as a possibility. But apparently, he's become much more discerning and is no longer willing to settle for just any old horse companions.

You ask for 75 or 80 percent of what the horse can give, not of what the horse feels like offering. In horses that are averse to expending energy, that can be difficult and conversely in horses that are high Adrenalin that is a lot less than you think. forward rushy tense horses may seem like they are still full of vigor but they may well be near empty, and horses that are energy averse may feel like they have given it all, and still have a full tank.


We can always use respiratory recovery times to assess whether the physical work is appropriate, but the ability to pay attention well enough to learn efficiently may be much harder to determine.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:35 pm

demi wrote:Kande, thanks for your input. I also like to work my horses in their comfort zone but too often I get greedy. I think it is good and even necessary to push them a little out of the comfort zone, but that can be tricky. Just how much does one push? I think that is often where amateurs make mistakes because it takes a lot of experience, not to mention very skillful riding, to know when, where, and how to push past the comfort zone.


I think many who have learned the "how far is too far" lesson well have learned it the hard (ground) way. Not always, because some learn it the lame or sour horse way, but it does seem to be one of those skills that would take multiple lifetimes to learn well.

And yes, "out of their comfort zone" can mean very different things to different trainers.

kande50
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:39 pm

Chisamba wrote:To me a pony trot requires a horse to be more off the leg than a working trot. A pony trot should be slow enough that the horse would find walk easier. But you tell it it may not break, it should be harder work, not less work than a working trot.

So it keeps the horse tuned to both the leg and the connection


I agree, although I think of it as staying between the hand and the leg, which is a much more delicate balance than just riding them forward onto the bit.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:30 am

Chisamba wrote: and horses that are energy averse may feel like they have given it all, and still have a full tank.

that is way its way easier to say something than to do it.



You are not wrong. I have a pupil who has been having issues with tension when she goes out to compete. Turns out that she was trying to "save" her, sometimes uncommitted horse, from being tired by the 2nd test and was just not warming him up sufficiently. This was making him both uncommitted AND edgy which was a dangerous combination in a "new" environment. Hopefully we are turning that around but I had to attend the competition with her to see what was going on.


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