Pony trot?

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Rosie B
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Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:15 am

Hi guys,

I've been experimenting lately with warming up in the 'pony trot'. Basically after 10-15 minutes of walking, I pick up trot and do very basic figures, encouraging Bliss to stretch over the topline, go as low as he likes (which can be very low), with whatever tempo and length of stride he likes. And what he likes is to go (what feels to me) very very slowwwwwly. This is in stark contrast to how I've been trying to warm him up for years - trying from the get go to get a huge booming trot and chasing him around to the frustration of both of us.

We go large, we do 20m circles and figure 8's, and then single and double shallow loops. And all I care about in this time is him stretching over the topline. In the beginning, he feels like a western pleasure horse doing an itty bitty jog. I'm sure any dressage person watching us go at that point would be like :shock: WHAT is she doing? By the time we're onto the double shallow loops, he's ticking along fairly well, without me having to chase or push. After that I pick him up a bit more and do a few laps of canter each way in a nice forward bounding canter. If I've done a good job in the earlier warmup, he will bound along with a lot of activity without me having to push him. Then after a walk break, I pick him up properly for some real work and he is FORWARD and super powerful and because I haven't spent my warmup chasing him (and dulling him to the leg), he's super hot off the leg, which is a wonderful feeling.

And this is now consistent - if I warm him up like this, I get super work afterward. So I think I have finally figured out the warmup he needs, and it involves a fair bit of pony trot. He's naturally tight in the back (very high set neck) so establishing the stretch over the back and disregarding the tempo/activity in the beginning seems to be just the ticket for him.

Anyone else warm up or do any other work in pony trot? What does it do for you? What kind of conformation does your horse have and why do you think the pony trot helps?

TIA. :)

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:40 am

Raising hand! Yes, we do pony trot warm-ups. I learned this from a Hungarian cavalry-trained person and then had it reinforced by Charles de Kunffy-trained trainers and then Charles himself. My original teacher taught all of her hotter Arabians and TBs the pony trot as a way to teach them to relax over their topline.

The slow trot or pony trot on Emi (I think of it as "western pleasure trot") is barely worth posting for me. Sometimes I don't. But I do lots of changes of bend in this trot. I do s l o w l y dial the trot up a bit before we got to canter and canter-trots. But I have seriously learned "you can't kick a horse forward into a stiff topline." It is worth taking time and pony trotting with changes of bend. My mare is naturally very tight in the back (leg mover) and rather high headed (think Iberian thick neck).

This has been the year for me where my mind is blown about the significance of the right warm-up. Sometimes it still feels "wrong" or like I don't want anyone to see the warm-up but my god/dess it works!!! I end up with a very different horse in hand (nicely hot, responsive, quick, forward) after I do this warm-up. Thanks for sharing. I'm honestly still establishing confidence that I am doing the right thing--even though this approach has been working for awhile!

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby heddylamar » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:52 am

It's not a "pony" trot, just the trot you get before you loosen up and get moving :-) There's nothing at all wrong with that! Every horse (and human) is different. I'm a firm believer we should adjust for those differences.

My dearly departed eldest mare used to warm up with a loose walk, then a counter canter — then she could do anything. Her offspring warms up with a nose to the knees long legged trot. I'm not sure yet what the third generation will yield. My mother's gelding likes to warm up with a on-the-buckle wandering walk.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:23 am

Rosie that sounds like our warm up except at some point he is loose enough and we go forward into working trot from the small trot. I don't push him and he doesn't hang back at that point.

I recently read about some top trainer doing this. Might have been H. Schmidt. Yes I think so.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:36 am

Rosie B wrote:Anyone else warm up or do any other work in pony trot? What does it do for you? What kind of conformation does your horse have and why do you think the pony trot helps?


I do almost all my training in pony trot because I know that my horse is at risk of breaking down because he has a club foot, and because I'd read that Gal did most of his training with Totilas in pony trot (perhaps for similar reasons).

I also prefer the Baucherist progression, which starts by balancing the horse at the halt, then walk, then slow trot, before adding more energy. It just makes more sense to me, and fits in with my concerns about long term soundness.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:13 am

Thanks for sharing!! Yes piedmont, I am with you on the warmup. Except I have *just* been figuring it out over the last month. And agreed - it's barely worth posting to. I almost find he prefers if I sit at times? Now the challenge for me will be to have an effective warmup in a new environment, in front of a very demanding clinician. I think I'll discuss with her beforehand so she knows a bit where I'm coming from.

Interestingly, it was an article from dressage today by Charles de Kunffy AND that article by H. Schmidt (I think I read the same one as you Tsavo!) that helped me put it together.

Just curious Tsavo - did you find that article on Pinterest? That's where I found both those articles I mentioned above. There's a ton of great stuff on Pinterest these days.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby demi » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:55 pm

I used to do a little trot to warm up Rocky and it had the benefit of letting me really sync with her movement. Reading Peidmont's post about her former trainer teaching hotter Arabians an TB's the little trot to relax over the topline, it makes sense that it worked for my hot little half-arab, too. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw this thread. Thanks for posting it. I will start warm ups that way again and post back after a while.

I also remember a friend who had an OTTB that seemed kind of lazy. She started out pushing and driving him at a de Kunffy clinic one time, and Charles told her to stop driving him. He told her to just let him do a little trot and find his balance. We were surprised that he needed to "find" his balance because we thought he was naturally athletic. In fact, my friend's trainer was always telling her "MORE FORWARD!" Well, the clinic with Charles was three days long, and by the third day, the horse was truly forward. It was such a beautiful sight.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:40 pm

I think there is a lot of misconception amoungst trainers about what forward into contact is. I have seen people running their horses way over tempo, legs flapping as they kick every stride, posting on their tippy toes. they think this is forward. Speed is actually the enemy of impulsion. the horse rushes to maintain balance, and you think you have a contact because there is a steady weight in the hands, but you are actually putting the horse on the forehand as they lean on your reins.

on the other hand, pony trot is not a term i like either. pony trot is a term used by the rollkur advocates to describe this very small trot with the horse behind the contact very low and very round with their eyes popping out waiting for the spur to drive them into a transition. No relaxation, its a small anxious trot. i know this is not what has been described above but it is the term oft used by advocates of "low down and round" so because of that i do not like to use it either.

I do however use a slow trot. I use it on a horse that likes to rush and lean. for a horse that actually wants to be pokey, i ask for a longer stride from behind. Surprisingly the slow trot does work well for a horse that likes to sit behind the contact. slowing down does help the horse find its balance. the goal though is a horse that takes as long a stride behind as it does in front. people talk about reaching under with the hind legs, and collection and the triangle under the belly, but in reality, with the different conformations horses have, looking for the horse to step equally behind and in front, and not drag its toes is my minimum requirement of activity.

honestly, you need eyes on the ground or a video to really be able to tell. most horses will take a longer stride in front and pull themselves along rather than push or carry evenly from behind. Horses will also ( as has been noted in other conversation, bounce up off their front legs more easily than carry behind) it is not really an easy thing to get the horse to balance itself.

what is a straight horse. we talk always about making a horse straight. the simple definition is a horse that carries itself equally on all four legs. people make all these complicated explanations about slightly shoulder in, which legs should be parallel, dressage straight versus straight, its really more simple than that. is your horse learning to carry itself equally on all four legs.

in warm up
in lateral exercises
in transitions
in "forward"

as you I am riding the question i ask myself as i am going along is how well i am succeeding in teaching the horse to carry itself equally on all four legs.

the small trot does help this tremendously in my experience

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:59 pm

FWIW, although I recognized what Rosie meant by "pony trot", I was taught this as "school trot."

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Moutaineer » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:07 pm

We've been working on getting Walker to realize he can move as "one horse" back and front, and have found lots of lateral work on circles of various sizes, in that small not worth posting trot turns the lightbulb on in his brain that his back is in fact connecting the two, without putting undue stress on his body.

I also find that he's very willing to go forward and is set up to go more correctly after this work.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Sue B » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:41 pm

Count me in as another one who does a small trot with encouraging low and round. Worse than Rosie's Bliss, my TB is like an Andalusian with a ewe neck, a refined throatlatch (to make it easier to duck behind the hand) and the shortest back I have ever seen. Oh, and don't forget the massive withers and a barrel so huge that it feels like you are on a Thelwell pony at first. :lol: I know he's ready for more when I can drape my leg all the way down his sides to at least the ankle (the other day I got it all the way to my feet! :D ) and he is firmly but softly "holding my hand." In warm-up I do a lot of curving lines but I also do a lot of transitions in and out of trot. Depending on how he feels in the walk, I sometimes wind up staying in walk for as long as 15 minutes, changing stride length, walking through cavelletti, doing lateral work, until the tempo is spot-on and THEN we go into trot. Usually at that point, he's pretty much ready to go to work, but if his back isn't quite there yet, then it's straight into t-h-t and si with t-w-t maintaining the si, which helps me get that last little bit of back/hind leg. We are working at 2nd/3rd lvl btw and I plan at debuting at 3rd next year.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Josette » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:06 pm

This turned into an extremely helpful post for me. Thank you Rosie B! I tried this approach this morning and liked the results. Chisamba - as always I need a like icon for your explanation. Thank you too.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby DJR » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:20 pm

I just did this today with my 6 yr old. I've done it before, but I seem to have forgotten about it until I read this thread yesterday. I'm so glad I did it again. My guy was getting tense along his topline and having difficulty with lateral work, but the slow trot warm-up really made a difference. I took it into some LY each way with wonderful relaxation and a return to some nice crossing steps instead of "tense & sideways). Thank you for the timeliness of this thread!
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:59 pm

piedmontfields wrote:FWIW, although I recognized what Rosie meant by "pony trot", I was taught this as "school trot."

Agreed, I knew Rosie was not advocating LDR pony trot.

But to me some people use the term school trot to encourages elevation in an half steps kind of way.

Language... So ambiguous lol

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:44 pm

Rosie B wrote:Just curious Tsavo - did you find that article on Pinterest? That's where I found both those articles I mentioned above. There's a ton of great stuff on Pinterest these days.


Pretty sure I read it in DT.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:57 pm

Chisamba wrote:what is a straight horse. we talk always about making a horse straight. the simple definition is a horse that carries itself equally on all four legs. people make all these complicated explanations about slightly shoulder in, which legs should be parallel, dressage straight versus straight, its really more simple than that. is your horse learning to carry itself equally on all four legs.

in warm up
in lateral exercises
in transitions
in "forward"

as you I am riding the question i ask myself as i am going along is how well i am succeeding in teaching the horse to carry itself equally on all four legs.

the small trot does help this tremendously in my experience


I completely agree with this. This is the real deal in words.

It has taken years but I have figured out how to tell if the SI is correct. I would always wonder... not enough bend? too much neck?... It is literally feeling the outside front tracking directly in front of the inside hind while the hinds are each still tracking straight ahead. I was practicing this and every once in a while I felt like this must be happening to produce this feeling. It is the horse stepping through itself is the nearest I can describe it. And the reason I finally felt it is because my horse was as Chisamba says... carrying equally on all four legs. Had there been any lean or any lack of tai chi, I would not feel that. I have thus proven my horse was not balanced and not straight most of the time in SI prior to this.

A correct SI can be described to the nth degree and that is how I have always tried to ride it... are the pieces in the right places? In the end, the most correct SI I can ride is just getting that feeling. If it's there it is correct. I don't think about the pieces any more in that movement.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Bats79 » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:37 am

piedmontfields wrote:FWIW, although I recognized what Rosie meant by "pony trot", I was taught this as "school trot."



That's interesting because I was always taught that "school trot" was a highly cadenced and collected trot that was almost between collected trot and passage.

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.

Of course every horse is a work in progress so the "slow trot" would be only as slow as your horse could maintain balance and rhythm.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:05 pm

I had to look up school trot. Here is what Sustainable Dressage says is school trot...

The Hindlegs Take the Weight off the Frontlegs
How that happens in piaffe is relatively simple to see. The horse moves his hindlegs in under the body, bend all the joints to lower the quarters to get it more under, and thus take up some of the weight that is otherwise on the forehand. But collection is not only piaffe. It's present in school trot, less so in collected trot, and the least in working trot. But when the horse does not stay still in one place, like in piaffe, how does it work?


Thus I am not doing school trot in the warm up. I am doing a small tai chi trot where my horse's (considerable :-) ) flesh feels like it is hanging from his bones. Warming the muscles and gently moving the joints around in ever-improving balance.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby piedmontfields » Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:05 pm

OK, I have been schooled!

The warm up is the little trot for sure.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:43 pm

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.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:28 pm

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.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby StraightForward » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:40 am

Funny, I just happened to read this tonight, clarifying the "school trot from and interview with Gerd Heuschmann. http://www.horsemagazine.com/thm/2015/0 ... ssage-war/

“On the positive side, you have many different variations, you can have the good Portuguese/French school, those horses are trained with a loose back, the back has no positive tension, the back is hanging but not stiff, completely relaxed. They don’t have suspension so they walk in trot, the Old Masters called it ‘School Trot’, always with a pair of legs on the ground, no suspension phase, no need to have positive tension in the back. This is still good riding because the horse is not stiff, the horse is supple, chewing on the bit, the rider can have hanging reins. The next steps is maybe low level dressage, where you start to have positive tension in the back because you need a medium trot, and the higher you come up, the more you get positive tension, like a dancer – positive tension but not stiff.”
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:05 pm

Every time I read anything by Gerd Heuschmann the hypocrite gong goes off in my brain and drowns out all else.

He did not walk the walk to talk the talk especially since he gained so much income and glory talking the talk.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby StraightForward » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:20 pm

I don't care for him too much either, Chisamba. I was actually searching for something I thought I'd read a while ago about Helgstrand Dressage announcing a partnership with him, because we are going to be looking at *that* video of Blu Horse Matine in the Jillian Kreinbring workshop today.

If I've ever heard the term school trot before, I must have just glossed over it, but it caught my eye because of this thread, and I thought he defined it pretty clearly.
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:28 pm

There must be multiple definitions of school trot, because walking in trot with no suspension is not one I have heard before.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:56 pm

(Deleted side discussion of walking the talk and whether that matters.)
Last edited by Tsavo on Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby StraightForward » Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:16 pm

I didn't intend to derail this thread. I don't actively dislike him, I just prefer to learn what I SHOULD do, rather than what not to do. From that aspect, the emphasis on criticism in the book was not helpful to me and I lost interest.

Walking in trot stopped me for a minute, but I get what he's saying. I think some WBs will have a bit of suspension in any trot, but the general idea is the same.
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:22 pm

I erased criticism of GH to avoid derailing the thread however i consider the pictures at this link evidence of hypocrisy

https://www.dressur-studien.de/gerd-heu ... kturpferd/

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:47 pm

Chisamba wrote:I erased criticism of GH to avoid derailing the thread however i consider the pictures at this link evidence of hypocrisy

https://www.dressur-studien.de/gerd-heu ... kturpferd/


Heuschmann cannot possibly claim he is walking the talk. I seriously doubt he is claiming that given pictures like that. I don't know why he got on that horse when he is not an expert dressage rider. I like his books.

Maybe a new thread? Does anyone care about this? LOL
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Rosie B » Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:42 pm

LOL. I liked his book but am so over the controversy. :)

His book can't hold a candle though to the masters. Zettl and Podhajsky. Those are my bibles.

*edited to fix atrocious spelling :shock:
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:20 pm

Rosie B wrote:LOL. I liked his book but am so over the controversy. :)

His book can't hold a candle though to the masters. Zettl and Poshasky. Those are my bibles.

i like podhajski too. i have a few others but mostly the complete training of horse and rider.

I may be over the controversy, but the opinion remains. As I have suggested in other threads, these things help me to decide who i would really like to learn from and whose opinion i respect . I do bring them up when there seems to be a need to support my opinion.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Anne » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:43 am

Thought I'd add a definition of 'school trot' which I read in Steinbrecht ("The Gymnasium of the Horse") today : "The school trot should initially be identified by ....... great collection and elevation as well as diligent, raised, cadenced steps that do not cover much ground. ..... it is developed on the basis of the correctly collected trot in the balanced carriage...". Incidently, a little earlier he talks about the balanced carriage being "... moving more weight onto the hindquarters so that all four legs carry the same weight" - exactly as Chisamba described in this (or another?) thread.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Abby Kogler » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:22 pm

Tsavo wrote:
Chisamba wrote:I erased criticism of GH to avoid derailing the thread however i consider the pictures at this link evidence of hypocrisy

https://www.dressur-studien.de/gerd-heu ... kturpferd/


Heuschmann cannot possibly claim he is walking the talk. I seriously doubt he is claiming that given pictures like that. I don't know why he got on that horse when he is not an expert dressage rider. I like his books.

Maybe a new thread? Does anyone care about this? LOL


I do. I remember long threads about him on the old UDBB and other fora and your comments regarding him in other threads through the years.

With all of your emphasis on Science(tm) and Truth and Evidence etc, it might behoove you to go to one of his clinics and see for yourself. You are so good at criticizing others, dismissing writers and riders that you have not met nor cliniced with nor audited. AT least you've read his books, unlike other writers that you have criticized but not read.

I have seen the guy ride dozens of horses, at different clinics. Every one got noticeably better. For you to dismiss him, especially in the ridiculous way that 'he is not an Expert Dressage Rider' (like, what does that even mean?! What is Expert and who appointed you as arbiter of that designation?!) without even have been to one of his clinics is embarassing. Or should be.

I don't know what he 'claims' other than there are correct biomechanical approaches to work that improve horses and that there are incorrect ways to work them that are harmful.

Chisamba, I respect you for so many reasons, primarily because you don't let propaganda or hyperbole get you hared up and you always ask others, including me and as you should, to question their sources, motives, etc. Have you gone to a Gerd clinic? Do you only have your opinion based on these photos, that have been circulated endlessly?

Ive never heard him say, claim, or write that he is an Expert Dressage Rider(tm), nor that horses should not be corrected when dangerous or spoiled. Ever. The guy rides hundreds of horses at clinics through the years with good results and no temper. What is 'hypocritical' about photos that show him strongly correcting a very disobedient horse? How do those photos negate his work? Where in his work does he ever say a horse that runs away, fights, or has been very badly handled and runs off with its person should be allowed to do so? Why does that make him a hypocrite?

Do either of you believe that aggressive or dangerous horses should not be corrected? If you also espouse correct kind work, does that make you hypocrits? I hardly think so.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:49 pm

excepting that the horse was neither aggressive nor dangerous, by all accounts, even that of GH, nor did its stiff back need to be fixed in 25 minutes. to quote GH himself "“[The Friesian] had a completely insensitive mouth and no reaction to the legs. I tried to get some reaction to the rein aids and then get his back up by using lateral movements.”
Read more at http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/dressage ... XbxFTTz.99

so no mention of dangerous, nor aggressive. simply stiff and unresponsive. So i guess if your horse is stiff and unresponsive its okay to get in a tug of war with it?

he says " the horse should be developed slowly"

and he says, " the horse should not be made to do something"

"and you should not fight against tension"

to me getting on a horse in 25 minutes, and making it do something and doing it in 25 minutes, is a complete hypocrisy to the three above statements. I am not going to get into a fight about it. I have explained why i feel as i feel. not distracting from the thread or defending my position any more.

I do not disagree with the part of his discussions that are correct, i did not discredit his information, i said he was a hypocrite, and as such , i do believe he undermines his outspoken criticism of others.

you have a history of defending him of course, over various threads on every bulletin board over and over again. so we just agree to disagree.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Abby Kogler » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:19 am

Chisamba, thank you for the reply. As usual you are measured and thoughtful. And I do see your perspective and respect your opinion.

I guess I don't expect people to be always consistent or perfect (not that you do). I think his work has so much value and that change in our industry and training practices is so needed that I hate to see his work discounted out of hand (which you are not doing but Tsavo is and others do) because of what I would consider very atypical episodes.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby HafDressage » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:51 am

I'm terrible about reading through all the posts, so I sort of have no idea where this discussion has gone, but I think I'm taking us back towards pony trot discussion:

I've also sort of come to this strategy too. With my "minimalist" haflinger I used to try to chase him around in the beginning to get him moving. I finally decided that was really not effective and have gone to this pony trot warm up. I make him stretch, but don't get after him too much as long as his feet are still moving...even if at a snail pace. It seems that once he does this for a while and finally gets over protesting the idea that he has to move at all, he seems to come into nice working gaits.

Here is my concern, however. Okay, so if we go to a show...and someone is watching...will I get self-conscious of our slug bug pony trot antics and get tense and over push? I guess I'm worried I might feel judged and get tight and blow the entire thing. I mean I can tell mysellf all day not to care what other people think, but I do think about it. So...I'm a little worried about how it will work at a show.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby kande50 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:43 am

HafDressage wrote:Here is my concern, however. Okay, so if we go to a show...and someone is watching...will I get self-conscious of our slug bug pony trot antics and get tense and over push? I guess I'm worried I might feel judged and get tight and blow the entire thing. I mean I can tell mysellf all day not to care what other people think, but I do think about it. So...I'm a little worried about how it will work at a show.


Think of going to a show as an opportunity to practice your goals, and then go to the show with the idea that you're going to practice your warmup the way you'd planned, and you're going to practice staying focused on what your horse needs from you rather than what someone else might think.

IOW, I think it really helps to plan your strategy ahead of time and then think about practicing it, rather than thinking OMG, I may not be able to do as well at the show as I do at home. :-)

And then when you get back think about how you did in an objective sort of way. Did you make progress with keeping your horse's best interests as a priority instead of worrying about what others may or may not be thinking? Are there other strategies that could help with staying focused? And then if you think there are, sign up for another practice session to work on them.

But mostly, be eternally grateful that you don't have to worry about your horse getting hot, distracted, and explosive! :-)

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:59 am

HafDressage wrote:Here is my concern, however. Okay, so if we go to a show...and someone is watching...will I get self-conscious of our slug bug pony trot antics and get tense and over push? I guess I'm worried I might feel judged and get tight and blow the entire thing. I mean I can tell myself all day not to care what other people think, but I do think about it. So...I'm a little worried about how it will work at a show.


Are you working with a trainer? I am a big believer in seeing is believing. Can you watch your instructor warm up your horse and see how she installs the forward button without chasing after pony trot? Watch that several times. Ask her what she is doing. Have her talk through what she is doing. I have asked instructors riding my horse to do this and it is incredibly helpful in learning. Actually auditing in general if you can ask questions in real time has advanced my riding knowledge as much as anything else. Having a GP trainer telling you what she is feeling and what she is doing at every minute and then marrying that to training your eye gives you a sense of what it is like.

I will say that I probably would not be doing pony trot on my horse if I had any issue with finding the forward after it was over. My horse has a clear distinction in his mind between warmup/ponytrot and regular forward work. It has to be night and day or you might erode your forward.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:01 pm

Dele
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby piedmontfields » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:31 pm

HafDressage wrote:IWith my "minimalist" haflinger I used to try to chase him around in the beginning to get him moving. I finally decided that was really not effective and have gone to this pony trot warm up. I make him stretch, but don't get after him too much as long as his feet are still moving...even if at a snail pace. It seems that once he does this for a while and finally gets over protesting the idea that he has to move at all, he seems to come into nice working gaits.


Thanks to everyone who has shared their process---it is really reassuring. I totally get the worry that you will over push when "people are watching" or in a show environment. It is really hard not too---and that says a lot of about dressage assumptions/"training", doesn't it? Again, I'm reminded of JJ Tate's teaching that horses "warm up through the levels." The 4th level horse doesn't look like that when starting work for the day.

The mantra I use to keep myself calm during the jogging warm up is "I will control your line of travel; you (horse) are responsible for just trotting." So I try to put all of my pickiness on very accurate patterns and bending lines---without any kicking at my horse to move bigger. She acts like this is perfectly fair.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:12 pm

If it helps anyone, i have learned to not ask for bigger gaits until the horse is soft light and balanced, if bigger gaits causes leaning, i do fewer steps before asking for softness again. Enough forward to keep the hind end going, slow on a longer rein to develop soft backs and carriage, then forward again.

Trotting is one of those repetitive motion activities, ( like jogging) that is self calming ( almost hypnotizing)
When we engage in the repeated actions, after a short while our minds slip easily from the conscious, active, aggravated state to a subconscious, passive, calming state. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon that many people have learned to take advantage of, including creative geniuses, common children and even ancient shamans. Another way that repetitive motion works is that we release actual energy through the repeated action in a steady, balancing manner. In this way we are actually ‘burning off’ unwanted, negative energy that has been stored up in our minds and bodies in a process that is consistent and constructive. To release all of that energy at once would leave us feeling off and spent, but to let it out slowly through repetitive motion allows us to adjust to the decrease in negative energy build up as it happens.


I have seen people and horses get into a habit like a jogger on a marathon i guess, of being very ingrained and rhythmic in their asymmetry. This might be great for reducing stress but it not particularly great for training the horse for dressage.

changing often challenges that habit. especially changes of i am going to simply say speed. people, especially major classicists argue that you should stay in the same tempo just change length of stride. I think maybe ten percent of riders and horses are capable of this, and for the rest of us, changing speed is the introduction to learning change of length of stride.

changing habits is the most difficult thing in riding. no person can ride perfectly from the first time, so each person has some imperfect habit. changing that habit is possibly the most complicated thing. becoming accustomed to changing, change often, change much, makes essential corrections more intuitive.

So to me, this all starts with changing the trot. Trot slow, warm up, trot forward, trot slow, trot forward, the more you play with this the more likely you are to find that elusive movement that is most balanced, elastic, forward, and beautiful, for you and your horse, and seek to find it again until you can maintain it for longer periods of time.

edited to add, so that while I agree with the slow trot on the long rein in a connection, i do so with the warning that you should not just stay in the slow trot constantly. It becomes too easy to feel good about doing it, why you are just ingraining your asymmetry or your horses gait anomaly.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby piedmontfields » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:14 pm

Chisamba I don't disagree with your points. Many of us on this thread were actually resistant to using the slow trot for warm-up! But it is after all part of the warm-up/getting to work phase---which is different than the work itself.

I do like thinking that CHANGE is at the center of effective training: Change the stride length, change the bend, change the posture.
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:43 pm

The warm up is a time to take stock and to use the pyramid as a guide to know when you can start work. It is finding and getting to the edge so that you can solidify and advance. I think lack of appropriate use of the warm up can hold people back.

Forward is at the base of the pyramid for a reason.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Chisamba » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:49 pm

Actually, it is not. Rhythm, regularity etc

If it were, the pyramid would presupposes that the rider knows what forward is.

Impulsion is actually fourth rung up.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:06 pm

Chisamba wrote:Actually, it is not. Rhythm, regularity etc

If it were, the pyramid would presupposes that the rider knows what forward is.

Impulsive is actually fourth rung up.


Okay near the base. Can't do anything without it. ☺

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby DJR » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:09 pm

I find that this slow trot complements forward, it isn't the opposite. Slow doesn't mean "not forward" necessarily. And vice versa, fast doesn't mean the horse is forward.
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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:14 pm

I think forward is different than impulsion, no? I think impulsion is forward plus self carriage.

Also i think of the first several rungs as preliminaries or prerequisites before you can even start to use a warm up productively.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:06 am

Tsavo your comment is interesting because it exactly what those of us often think who found this warm-up to work (but find it hard to commit to when watched! :lol: ) This is what I assume people are thinking when they watch me do the pony trot: "Why doesn't she give that pony a good boot and get him in front of the leg?" "Why are they doing a western jog?" "They're never going to get anywhere like that." "Forward is the basis of everything!"

Actually, relaxation is kind of the basis of everything, which is why I am s l o w l y realizing again and again that kicking a horse into a stiff topline is pointless/aka it's unfair to ask for forward when they are stiff over their spine. That said, the training scale is not something that is always performed in one order. Many get confused by that.

If your horse is never stiff in their topline, you may simply not know what I am referring to! I have a short-backed Iberian horse whose nature is to not move her back. She is also older and deals with PSSM. These traits do not equal supple and forward on the first step :-)

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Josette » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:48 am

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.

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Re: Pony trot?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:54 am

piedmontfields wrote:Tsavo your comment is interesting because it exactly what those of us often think who found this warm-up to work (but find it hard to commit to when watched! :lol: ) This is what I assume people are thinking when they watch me do the pony trot: "Why doesn't she give that pony a good boot and get him in front of the leg?" "Why are they doing a western jog?" "They're never going to get anywhere like that." "Forward is the basis of everything!"

Actually, relaxation is kind of the basis of everything, which is why I am s l o w l y realizing again and again that kicking a horse into a stiff topline is pointless/aka it's unfair to ask for forward when they are stiff over their spine. That said, the training scale is not something that is always performed in one order. Many get confused by that.

If your horse is never stiff in their topline, you may simply not know what I am referring to! I have a short-backed Iberian horse whose nature is to not move her back. She is also older and deals with PSSM. These traits do not equal supple and forward on the first step :-)


I think pony trot is a very good decision to deal with a mare like yours and like mine. You should mention to the peanut gallery in passing that Schmidt recommends it. My horse is old and is stiff until warmed up.

I agree with you that relaxation is a linchpin. I don't think horses can learn well if not relaxed. Relaxed and forward are orthogonal after they know their job.

I think all horses will stiffen their back if kicked. They stiffen. Kicking on my horse has always been counterproductive. The key is not to kill their interest and their trust hat they will be treated fairly.


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