Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

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Rosie B
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Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby Rosie B » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:32 pm

Hi Guys,

Bliss is energy conservative by nature and likes to hover a bit and I've been working a lot over the past 8 months or so on having him come out of the barn sharp to the leg and quick behind. For some horses this comes very naturally, but not for Bliss. And because he's not naturally quick behind and is kind of a laid back dude, he needs to be tuned pretty much every ride that YES this is my leg and YES you need to listen to it not in a few strides, but NOW.

Other horses I've ridden come out of the barn like a metronome and it's been very easy to pick up the contact and have them power into it correctly from the very beginning. On those horses it's an easy and natural progression through the ride from basic figures at trot to smaller circles and then into the lateral work, and the connection starts out good and gets better. But with Bliss, the connection doesn't start out good. He's either too low or too high, and finding a good connection in the basic trot work can be difficult. But once we do some lateral work at trot, the quality of the connection improves significantly. The first shoulder in is usually not super, but then everything gets significantly better from there, including the activity.

My usual ride looks like this:
10 min free walk
5 min basic trot work
5 min basic canter work & stretchy trot
walk break
5 min harder canter work - smaller figures, transitions, baby lateral work followed by stretchy trot
walk break
5 min harder trot work - forward & back, trot/halt/trot, lateral work, etc interspersed with stretchy trot
walk break
5 min more trot work, more of the above followed by stretchy trot
10 min free walk

So that puts the total ride at about 45-50 minutes, including the combined 20 min of free walk (warmup and cooldown), lots walk breaks, and stretchy trot.

I guess what I'm looking for is recommendations on how to mix up the ride so that we get the higher quality connection and balance coupled with better hind end activity earlier in the ride. And I'd love to hear your stories about similar challenges or how you work with your horse who's similar in nature or type.
Last edited by Rosie B on Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Ponichiwa » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:21 pm

Does walk lateral work help him at all?

I had a gelding with a similar attitude towards self-propulsion who really benefited from lateral work in the walk during the warmup (usually HP zigzags or SI to renvers to HI-- mainly, the key was asking for a sharp reaction to whatever lateral movement I wanted and then changing it within 10-15 strides so that he maintained his sharp reactions). I followed that up with trot/halt/trot work-- and eventually trot/halfsteps/trot-- to keep that reaction.

Finally, he was a horse that was really easy to connect in the canter but was much tougher in the trot. So I pulled the canter work forward in our rides and didn't work the trot until the canter was where I wanted it.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Dresseur » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:39 pm

So, in my experience, horses like Bliss need to motor asap. I know of and have ridden one that is almost exactly like Bliss, down to the coloring lol.
He came with a terribly hovering trot and late changes that multiple trainers couldn't fix because he was so slow and lazy behind. He's now made a very successful I-1 debut (I say this because it's proof of progress).

So, he went into a longing and in hand program - longing was with an eye to being able to push out and bring back at any point. In hand was trot/halts done very snappily and eventually half steps to get him firing. The ridden work was all about getting him to motor. There was stretchy trot, just walk breaks - because the stretchy trots slowed the trot and changed the balance. So, because he was already warmed up, it was straight into getting him to fire behind. That horse does hundreds of transitions, between and within gaits. His tendency is still to slow, and as he's learning piri's you can see it, so he doesn't take one step of piri without firing behind.

Willie (the one with the horribly lateral canter that I brought up to 3rd level before selling was similar) Again, no stretchy anything until the end because he took advantage. He was another where if I put my leg on, he wasn't allowed to slow or hold back - so there was a zero tolerance policy there. Tons and tons of sharp transitions up, and he was also longed in the beginning until he got the idea. He was also very disrespectful in the bridle because he was used to pulling his 50+ year old owner out of the tack, so we did a lot of remedial work there. In hand work, flexions etc. In the end, his canter was pure, and he had clean changes and we were working on 4 tempis with him.

Miro is very loose and a bit lazy behind, but in a different way than the other two. For him, it's more about him being so loose than it is about him actually being lazy. He works hard, he just questions the effort he needs to put in - but, you only have to tell him once or twice and then he trucks along. So, for him, what I found is that I do my first trot set and get him moving, big circles and changes of direction so that he's honest in both reins and not getting stiff. He likes to just kind of cruise and guess, which leads to him going "I got this" and tuning me out. Then I do my canter work - again, circles and lots of forward and back. THEN into my trot work - laterals are now settled and soft as opposed to the first few being stiff and a bit lurchy to start them. Then I do my canter work. Depending on how he feels, I will do either trot/canter or walk/canter. If he's trying to take lazy steps behind, he does trot/canter. If he feels good behind, he does walk/canter. I've started walk piris again and half pass and it's all about his response to my leg. Again, I usually only have to tell him once - whereas the really lazy ones you have to tell again and again and again. If I've been away for a few days or he's had a few too many days off, he gets longed and does some in hand work - trot/halts. We don't do a ton of transitions under saddle because he comes TOO far under behind, so that response needs to be tempered a bit.

So, I guess to me, it sounds like Bliss tunes you out in the forward department, not necessarily like Miro who tunes me out in the reaction off one leg or another. So, I personally would experiment with dispensing the easy/slow work to start and get him motoring right away, even if that means pulling the canter work up to start - but the thing is, you can't let it get too big, because then he still won't be using the hind legs in a useful way.

Edited to add, if you find that the lateral work helps, I'd go into that much sooner. Just experiment with where you are putting things in your routine to see if it helps.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Rosie B » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:51 pm

Thanks guys - this is very helpful.

ponichiwa - lateral work at walk doesn't help. It's so easy for him to get sticky in the walk plus he has a huge overstride so I tend to avoid doing much lateral work in the walk at all.

Interesting points Dresseur... what do you do with a horse who longes well generally and is obedient, but has little to no respect for the longe whip? How do you start out longeing? Should the horse be in SR? VR? How should they be adjusted? High and shorter? And very good point on the stretchy trot. You're probably right in that he's taking advantage. He usually curls up a bit too much and that's an evasion really.

Why do you do trot/canter with Miro as opposed to walk/canter when the hind end isn't snapping? Is walk/canter easier from a hind end POV?

Thanks!

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Dresseur » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:18 pm

So, by not respecting the longe whip - do you mean Bliss doesn't go from it? Because if that's what you mean, that's part of the problem. So, if that's the case - the horse gets a warning (if I lift the whip tip and the horse doesn't go, that's followed swiftly by an "I mean go" flick on the rear. For a horse that is generally good about it, I will give a warning flick first - for horses that just say "wth do you mean by that", it's a zero tolerance. That way, the horse pretty quickly figures out that when I say go, I mean it. Transitions are to be done promptly, and I don't worry so much about the downs with a behind the aids horse. I use longing as a diagnostic as well. So, I'll ask to see if I can push the tempo. So, what you may find if you try longing is that Bliss may continually jump into a canter if you ask for the trot to move out. That's the wrong answer - and you bring him down and ask over and over until the trot changes. Then huge reward. For Miro - he had to change the quickness of the hind, he would just go bigger and floatier, so I watched his hind legs like a hawk. If they didn't speed up, no dice.

Personally, I do side reins - the leather ones that the horse can't bounce on (like donuts and elastic). I start on the triple usually, if the horse tends to want to duck, I put the line under the chin and give some upward snaps on the line and send forward - think an upward hh and leg in riding). With Bliss's neck shape, I'd entertain the turrets above the triple. They don't need to be super short, but you have to have inside bend.

To answer the question with Miro - so, he would do transitions obediently, yet like molasses. So, I boost the trot up first - if I can't lengthen the trot before the canter (meaning, if he keeps popping into canter without me), then he's not on me and he's not using himself properly. So, I test with a bit of forward and back in the trot, test to see if I can push the neck FDO, and then canter - and he needs to take that first step like his hair is on fire. I cycle through a bunch of those. What he does in the walk to canter is gets really short behind, then leverages his shoulders up - think mini levade into the canter. This is bad and wrong lol. So, doing the trot/canter keeps the hind true. Then I can go to a walk, and as long as the walk stays big, he will do a proper transition. If not, he just sort of hops into it because it's easier for him to cheat.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby khall » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:53 pm

Rosie you are speaking my tune! Rip is most definitely an energy conservationist and there have been several things I have done to help the issue, some of it is timing of the aids and some of it has just been get your A$$ in gear stuff. Half steps in hand have definitely helped, also helps the WC transitions, working medium trot and GO has helped put that other gear into him. The new instructor I am working with is also having me push the trot in the SI and Counter SI. Using the engaging action of the lateral but keeping the GO. Timing of the aids is use the whip just before the leg is about to come off the ground, the only time you can influence an actual leg to activate or just in general activate with the whip when he does not go off the leg. So ask nicely first and then chase him off even if he gallops off (a bit different than dresseur) then go back to the light aid.

I do this work US, if I tried this on line I would get too much leaping, I can activate on line with the lunge whip but not by chasing him just by tapping on the HQs for quicker hind leg. I have to say though it is the medium trots and the half steps that is the most effective in activating Rip. Medium canter too, but Rip's canter is easier to activate than his trot is for whatever reason.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Rosie B » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:52 am

Thanks khall - also helpful.

I currently work a fair bit of shoulder in really pushing the trot out. But I was viewing that as building expression rather than activity behind, but I suppose that amounts to the same thing. :)

Dresseur - I had time for a quick longe this evening and put the VR where you suggested (I don't have SR) and really made him pay attention to the whip. It didn't take much at all and he was motoring around beautifully. So my new plan is to longe a few minutes before hopping on. If I can get him motoring inside of 5 minutes of work like I did tonight (not counting walking around to warm up), that will significantly reduce my length of time in warmup, and make my rides more productive while also shorter... plus it should help the overall quality of the work. Thanks for the tips everyone and I'll make sure to update you all with progress.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Tsavo » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:14 am

I was just reading about I. Klimke's warm up which she learned from her father. It is about f/d/o on contact and making sure you have a supple swinging back. If you have that it might make the engagement of the hind better quicker.

The way to improve is to nail the warm up and by that I mean get your horse to the point you last left the training in as short a time possible so you have time and energy to advance from there. For years, it took me the whole lesson to get the warm up done. It was only when I learned to get all the elements in 10 minutes that I had a hope in hell of advancing. It is focus.

I keep a writing from an instructor of mine from over 10 years ago that really echoes what Klimke is saying.

She starts with stating the horse must be IFOTL. This is code for having the horse's attention in my opinion. Then she says work over the back into consistent hands and be able to stretch down at any time via a HH. A supple back is the prerequisite for relaxation and strengthening.

The goal is a relaxed horse who is giving you his attention and who is in a position to take a HH and be soft. This then is the foundation for the ability to collect and maintain the correct response to aids.

As for the rider, she says "tons of core strength" is required and I will agree with that... the more you have the easier riding becomes. Then you need "feeling elbows" to make corrections and release within the contact to reward. This last point eluded me for years and I would overdo the release reward so much that it interrupted my riding. Then you need a quiet mind and a technical understanding of the sport.

Rosie I think you can do all of this. My main suggestion would be to do initial W/T/C after free walk in f/d/o like Klimke. With the back swinging he can engage the hinds and you will have something to work with. Focus on the back.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Tsavo » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:54 am

The other thing I forgot to mention is you don't have to fight the forward battle every day. You can solve it. The same instructor whose writing I kept all these years says she does not work on forward on her horses because they know they are required to be so when working. She only woks on the other elements in warm up.

I struggled with forward for years as my horse evaded by sucking back or running. But once you find the forward, you focus on taking no prisoners about having it when you start riding each day. It should be the first thing if he doesn't come out that way. My instructor started her list with IFOTL for a reason. It is a behavior not a skill. Horses can learn this job like they can learn being lead or lunging.

For me, it was seeing her horses come out forward and then me finally asking her about it looking like she never has to work on forward with them. She expects forward and gets it from the first step. She's a GP trainer so she has the focus to cash those checks but I think anyone can learn it. It is mental focus by the rider more than anything in my opinion. If you are focused on this the horse will be.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Tsavo » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:16 pm

Let's take this example that you wrote...

"ponichiwa - lateral work at walk doesn't help. It's so easy for him to get sticky in the walk plus he has a huge overstride so I tend to avoid doing much lateral work in the walk at all."


It doesn't matter that it is "easy" for him to get sticky with this. If you had zero tolerance for sticky he would stop doing it. That is what it means to be trained. There is no doubt in my mind that you can stop this stickiness in walk lateral work. You can teach yourself to do this in less than a minute.

I don't understand your point about overstride here. That indicates his back is relaxed and swinging. My horse has a 2-3 hoof overstride at walk and it never held him back from any lateral work.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Ponichiwa » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:24 pm

I do (get her point about the overstride)-- some horses have a walk that's so big that when you try to compress it by shortening the "wheelbase", the walk gets lateral. Doubly so if the walk also gets sticky. You can school counted walk to really separate the hoofbeats and maintain rhythm but it's walking a thin line with a horse that also gets sticky in the walk as it may turn into full-on balk (and sometimes a rear).

That said, shoulder-in is generally the palliative cure for lateral walks.

Other exercises that may help include square turns in walk/trot/canter, or variations on halfsteps transitions (trot to halfsteps to trot, walk to halfsteps to extended trot, etc.). I also like Dresseur's checklist trot: if you can lengthen the trot without it breaking, you've got your horse with you and you're good to go. If the trot breaks to the canter without really giving you longer strides, time to really start checking in on what the missing component of the connection is.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Tsavo » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:24 pm

I have no experience with fixing a lateral walk despite a large overstride but I did plenty of counted walk so maybe that work avoided lateral walk as you say. That wasn't why I did counted walk but it's good to know.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby demi » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:27 pm

http://www.arrowequestrian.co.uk/erikarticle4.php

While not about lateral work an horse types, this article by Erik Hebermann covers tuning different horse types. It's a quick read but full of some of the best advice on tuning a horse to the aids. It has some great insight on horsemanship and discusses the rider's responsibility in the matter of keeping our horses "tuned effectively so that small animating aids elicit lively responses" (Hebermann's words).

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby kande50 » Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:49 pm

Tsavo wrote:If you are focused on this the horse will be.


I've found this to be true. If I focus on one single thing, like ifotl, it's not hard to get it, but then the trick of course, is to not lose it when I start to focus on something else.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Imperini » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:51 pm

I certainly have much the same struggle as Rosie with my girl. Sometimes I feel like I give her the excuse of being a heavier built horse but then I see these drafty types who are even heavier than she is cruising along just fine and that excuse goes out the window. This is a horse that's always trying to conserve energy even without human involvement. All the horses come running up to the gate from the back of the paddock? Guess who is last? Everyone running around like crazy maniacs? Guess who is standing there munching her hay and looking at them like they're idiots?

Still I have found as mentioned by others that I just have to stop being tolerant of ignoring my leg as well as making sure that my goal is responsiveness to the lightest aid. The better I get with my timing, reactions, corrections, and being quiet when things are right the better Pal gets. She really seems to appreciate me being quiet and responds well to it. I also added lunging to the beginning of our routine for a while and that was helpful, but I really dislike lunging so now I just do a lot of work at the walk at the start of the ride, making sure it's a good forward walk as well as lots of halts and then checking the response when she's asked to move forward again.

Thanks for that article demi, I found it to be useful reading very much in line with the work that recently helped me change my thought process to view it as the horse's responsibility to maintain the forward which for some reason that really helped me.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Sue B » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:26 pm

As the owner of a "lazy" warmblood who does not have Bliss's lovely trot, I would suggest that part of your plan include addressing his lack of respect for forward aids on the lunge. Perhaps even deal with this issue via work-in-hand as well. Even when I am leading Tio to the arena, i make sure he is marching by my side, not shuffling along behind me. Given his green status, I do allow him to be on the rushy side of things during warm up just to establish "go when I say go" and only work on leg yield etc after our initial canter. Once he's properly warmed up, i also do a million transitions--primarily t-w-h then h-w-t at least 3 per 20m circle until all I have to do is whisper. Then we do some "big" trots down the long side or across the diagonal to re-establish reaching out for the bit, and then rinse and repeat. If all is going well, then I do a few t-c-t, but not more than 3 or 4 as he isn't strong enough yet to maintain good form.

Your horse is far more advanced than Tio, but it gives you an idea of what I do to keep horse in front of leg. Rudy, my TB, does a lot of stretchy walk, trot and even canter because he has such a strong tendency to curl. With him, I have to be careful to maintain a good cadence while he stretches so that he doesn't flatten or rush--particularly in the trot. I do lateral work soon as he's had his walk warm-up, starting in the walk. Then it's TL level trot warm-up and boom into lateral work, same with canter. I always canter out of the trot first to keep that more open frame. Anytime i feel Rudy sneaking behind the leg I go straight into t-h-t, and later, rubber band exercises within the gait.

Maybe this is of help?

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Rosie B » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:01 am

Hey guys :)

Thank-you all for the insights. I do a lot of these things already (like lots of w/t/w transitions and t/h/t transitions to get him listening), but I wasn't getting through to him like I wanted, and I didn't think he was really being honest with me.

I've had two rides the past two nights and the change has been really positive and I'm cautiously optimistic that I'm on my way to solving the problem I've been dealing with from the very beginning when I started him.
Here are the specific things I changed:
* Lunging before riding for 10-15 min or until he's soft and through and swinging.
* Short enough vienna reins so that they are in a similar position and length to where they'd be when I'm riding. I never realized until these past two days how short that really is. This is CRITICAL and why I think I haven't had as much success with lunging before - because I was scared to shorten the reins.
If I do a good job of the lunging, the riding changes are much easier:
* reins as short as the vienna reins, hands out in front and acting like the vienna reins, but still soft.
* NOT TOLERATING a half assed response to an aid. Immediately following up with the right level of aid to make him say "YES MA'AM!' If he hasn't said 'YES MA'AM!' it wasn't strong enough. You only need to get that response once or twice, then you probably won't need that strong of an aid again. Last night it took me a few minutes to work out that I was getting half assed responses so I had the yes ma'am moment and then I didn't need to go there again. Tonight I didn't need any strong aids. I was able to ride softly and lightly and he was super forward from the moment I got on, super connected, and everything felt easy. It was honestly the best ride I've ever had with him.

So I'm cautiously optimistic. :)

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Tsavo » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:43 am

Excellent work, Rosie!

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:48 am

Great thread and great update, Rosie. I'm learning lots.

p.s. It is embarrassing how mean I am to Emi at the walk if she doesn't immediate react to leg. I nail her at walk at the beginning and then the rest of the ride is much more peaceable. I've just gone through this again as my working student (who tends to use leg/spur instead of light leg/big whip rode her while I was out of town).

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Rosie B » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:15 am

It is embarrassing how mean I am to Emi at the walk if she doesn't immediate react to leg.


THIS.

I felt absolutely evil nailing Bliss. I actually had to nail him a couple times on Wednesday night. I felt like an absolute evil witch. :oops: BUT then I was able to use light aids, and it carried over into my ride last night as well... I didn't have to even tap him - he was just going off the leg.

Also, interestingly, the quality of my riding last night was muuuuuch better than usual. BECAUSE he was going much better than usual. Riding really is a chicken and an egg thing. In order to ride really really well, the horse has to be going really really well, and in order for the horse to go really well, you need to ride really well.

So I think that reaffirms in my mind, if lunging gets the horse going really well before you even get on, DO IT.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Chisamba » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:06 pm

In the simplest terms, despite their differences and temperaments and confirmation horses go as we ride them.

If a walk is sticky, we have allowed it, if a horse is rusty, same thing really. I sort of have a rule of three. First ask is light and polite. Second ask is more, a warning, as it were. Third ask, I let the horse dictate, but it's as firm as I need to get a sharp response. In reality I want the third ask to be memorable enough to the horse that they actually understand the second was a warning.

I only want to have to be that harsh once. I avoid frog in the pot aids.

You know the saying. If you out a frig in hot water they jump out. But if you put them in pleasant water, and increase the temp gradually, they won't jump, they stay til they die.

Ok, so try not to incrementally increase the pressure in such a way as to acclimatize the horse rather than warn them.

I think one hard aid is less mean in the long run than frog in the pot riding.

However, having said that, my harsh aid has never left a mark, drawn blood, or frightened the horse, so I'm not advocating cruelty.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Tsavo » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:22 pm

I think that the best way to suss out a physical problem is to have the horse routinely at the forward/IFOTL end of the spectrum. Once a track record is established such that if the horse is in the arena (or whereever,), he is forward, if he ever doesn't come out forward, that is likely a physical issue.

I like the potential clarity of this state of affairs. Of course it is only a good as how consistent you are about not just expecting but getting IFOTL from step one (or two but not three).
Last edited by Tsavo on Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:49 pm

"I think one hard aid is less mean in the long run than frog in the pot riding. "

I completely agree---and my mare finds it absolutely fair (and there is no cruelty or marks, and the strong correction is over in a hurry). But since I am but an amateur and modest rider, I admit to feeling a bit evil in accomplishing this--even though I do it! (see cozy pal thread)

That said, there are times of year when it is cool and damp and my horse simply doesn't feel that good physically (PSSM muscle tightness). During these times, she struggles to come out with forward gaits from the get go. She really needs to "dial up" her gaits over some minutes. So Tsavo, while you are generally right, being in front of the leg is not necessarily only a training issue. However, I think *I* have let those physical challenges affect our training too much. I'm going to keep this thread in mind come autumn and remember the power of lungeing first!

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby kande50 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:10 pm

I think the best thing to do under these circumstances is to try to put yourself in your horse's shoes. If someone had the kind of control over you that you have over your horse, would you want them to give you one good whack whenever you were feeling blocked, or would you rather they tap, tap, tap to remind you to stay forward?

It also might be useful as a trainer to honestly assess whether one could be using conflicting aids, whether the aids are soft enough so that the horse can move freely for as long as one would like him to, and whether one could be trying to get way too much way too soon.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Imperini » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:48 pm

If I was my horse then I'd probably rather just hang out in my paddock with my buddies eating hay all the time. Maybe some grooming once in a while and treats. However my horse has to work 4 - 5 days a week for maybe an hour, often less, and is usually at least 20 minutes of walking and maybe 20 minutes of more difficult active work. In exchange the rest of the time she can hang out in her paddock and get some grooming and treats, proper veterinary care, a steady supply of food and water, a pretty decent life really. I believe even though she has no concept of this "exchange" that she is not displeased by this arrangement even if I require that she put in more effort in a ride than she would herself without extra encouragement. She typically seems happy to see me when I take her out of the paddock and in general.

If I just gave her a tap, tap, tap she would ignore me. I know, I've tried it. The only thing that has worked so far is a good whack, and then I don't have to repeat it for a while. She seems happier with this arrangement than she did when I previously tapped frequently. You see horses interact with each other out in the paddock, when they are "arguing" over who gets what or who's in charge they usually give a warning and then if the warning is not heeded they'll go all out. They can be much meaner to each other than I would ever be but they don't have to do it very often if there's a clear leader.

Of course there is a balance and a rider certainly must assess what issues they're bringing in. That's the challenge and I think the majority of us here care enough about our riding and our horses that we're trying to achieve that.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby heddylamar » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:11 pm

OMG. If someone tap-tap-tap-tapped me, I'd flatten them. :twisted:

I'm generally a good solid single thump (just my leg) rider, and tend to not ride with a whip or spurs. It seems to work. All of my mares move when I say move. Anzia prefers a subtle leg, but she's also far more likely to leap off my leg if I squeeze too hard. Maia has bad days where I'm irrelevant. Her lack of response is 50-50 gawking at something or an iron-sides moment. One good thump gets her attention back on me, and I rarely have to do it multiple times in one ride.

As for lateral work timing, with Maia I normally get on, walk a few circles, then trot a few circles, then we go right in to lateral work. If she's having a hot day, I ask for a few steps of haunches in at a walk on the circle, then straight, then haunches in as needed. The haunches in keeps her from launching :roll: If I can keep her attention on me for the rest of the ride, those are generally our best rides.

After walking, my old mare, Joy, warmed up best at counter canter with me in two point. She needed that time to loosen her back, and after 3-4 laps of the arena, she was ready to go. Once I discovered that trick, our rides improved tenfold.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Rosie B » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:22 pm

kande - you are making an assumption that the horse is feeling blocked.

There are a myriad of reasons why a horse may not go IFOTL. Feeling blocked is only one of them.

I agree that regular honest assessment of your own riding is a requirement to making progress. I ask those questions of myself regularly and experiment/address as warranted to ensure that's not the case.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby kande50 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:59 pm

Rosie B wrote:kande - you are making an assumption that the horse is feeling blocked.


Not a hard and fast one, but yes, I think the majority of horses who are not responsive to the cues to move energetically are either not clear on what the cues mean, or are feeling blocked in some way.

There are a myriad of reasons why a horse may not go IFOTL. Feeling blocked is only one of them.


True, but because it seems to be a common problem in dressage, with at least one proposed solution involving hitting the horse with a whip, maybe it would be a good idea to explore the myriad reasons?

After all, if one was going to hit a horse with the whip it seems like that would be a one time lesson for a young horse who didn't yet understand what a slight movement with the whip meant?

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby kande50 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:07 pm

Imperini wrote:She seems happier with this arrangement than she did when I previously tapped frequently.


So your vote is for infrequent whacks rather than more frequent tap, tap, taps?

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Imperini » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:43 pm

kande50 wrote:
Imperini wrote:She seems happier with this arrangement than she did when I previously tapped frequently.


So your vote is for infrequent whacks rather than more frequent tap, tap, taps?


Yes. I don't think a *frequent* tap tap tap is beneficial for my horse or me in any situation.

Now your original question assumed that the rider was blocking the horse in which case neither option is really the right one, the rider should correct themselves. I'm reasonably certain given the fact that my horse is an energy conservationist at liberty and on the lunge that she had just learned that I wasn't going to require forward so she could go however she preferred. No correction was made and now it's become the norm. It will take some time to change the norm. It's not an impossible task but it may take some corrections that make me feel mean. She still seems happy to see me when I show up and I think that's important too.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby kande50 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:07 pm

Imperini wrote:She still seems happy to see me when I show up and I think that's important too.


It may however, mean little as far as how she feels about her work, as I know a lot of horses whose owners work them very hard and over the years have damaged them severely, but their horses still seem happy to see them (or at least don't try to avoid them).

In fact, I'm a little surprised at how "forgiving" horses are, which may be at least partly due to learned helplessness (why try to avoid something that can't be avoided)? IOW, they may not "blame" their owner for the hard work, or the damage, any more than they'd blame the rest of the herd for any hardships that befell them.

Or at least if they do make the connection between their owner, or the herd, safety apparently trumps pain and hardship.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Imperini » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:36 pm

kande50 wrote:
Imperini wrote:She still seems happy to see me when I show up and I think that's important too.


It may however, mean little as far as how she feels about her work, as I know a lot of horses whose owners work them very hard and over the years have damaged them severely, but their horses still seem happy to see them (or at least don't try to avoid them).


That's a fair point, horses are forgiving that's for sure. I do try to be fair to my horse though, I truly do want her to be content and happy. I also think it's in her best interests to have good training (what if something were to happen to me? My DH likes her but he's not going to keep her for himself) and part of that is respecting the leg.

On another of the other subjects in here, with regards to adding lunging to the routine how does that change your actual ride? I shortened my typical non-lunging warm up work but I still always felt like if I added lunging she ended up working longer and I worried about that.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Rosie B » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:08 pm

Working duration without lunging first: 45-55 minutes.
Working duration with lunging first (includes lunge + ride time): 30-45 minutes (sample size: 2) :)

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Imperini » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:26 pm

Interesting that your total work time got shorter, at least the first two times. I guess after lunging you're able to go straight to work, get the quality of work you're looking for, and so are happy to finish up? When I was doing the lunging I still had to get my hips and back with the program after getting on so I couldn't go straight to work so that's probably the difference for me.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Rosie B » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:55 pm

Today in total it was 55 minutes... but while I was lunging an "oversized load" truck pulled up immediately next to my arena and hung out for about 10 minutes, so my lunging took a little longer than planned. ;)

I had another super ride, so the lunging is definitely helping. I rode too long though and although the quality at the end was good compared to last week, it wasn't as good as it was earlier in the ride because he was tired. So I think I need to get on, get to work, touch on only a couple things, then finish on a high note and gradually build on his strength and stamina in the new improved connection and impulsion.

Imperini - I am young and limber enough that after a couple laps around the ring and a 20m circle each way at rising trot, I am good to go. :)

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Rosie B » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:00 pm

Hi guys,

I had a lesson yesterday (first one in 7 months!!) and I lunged first. The instructor said he's at the point where lateral work should be part of his warmup. So we did lots.

Let's see what you guys think of how he's going now. Do you see any improvement from the last video I posted?

https://youtu.be/OwJtZI3s1uI

Here's the last one from April:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpJ95Yyhq30

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Dresseur » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:15 pm

Rosie, IMO, yes, there is a subtle yet big difference. The extra oomph has steadied him up front and he looks a bit more up in the shoulder. He just looks like he's moving in one piece.

The place where I would be pushing the envelope is in the canter work - that looks to my eye like the hind end needs to be quicker, he's a got a bit of a lazy look behind that makes me suspicious about taking that quality of canter into changes eventually - the very, very last canter bit at the end of the video looked quicker behind - so, if it were me, I'd be cycling between some lengthenings and regular canter to get him moving and don't dare let him slow in the downward transitions.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work

Postby Tsavo » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:18 pm

I am out the door for a saddle fitting but I love your following seat. And I like the general sense of looseness and no bracing about your riding. That's what I aim for.

I am also going to have the fitter design a padding system for my Forestier (foam). I rode in it recently to see if it would slip less than my Custom but there was not enough clearance at the withers. But it was HEAVEN being in it again. So comfie. I missed it. If I wasn't already married... LOL.
Last edited by Tsavo on Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby Rosie B » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:10 pm

Thanks Dresseur - you're bang on as usual. That is absolutely the focus of all my canter work and will continue to be so. I need to feel that quick bounce consistently before I'll want to attempt changes. Thanks as well Tsavo - there is definitely tension at times but I aim to be loose. I find it's MUCH easier for him to go forward when I'm loose. Duh.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:58 am

I do appreciate you sharing video over time, Rosie. My sense is that your seat has more integrity or structure in the latest video. I also felt that Bliss was on the cusp of very good canter work. The trot work was also steadier.

One technique I like is to touch the inside hind leg with the whip in down transitions (whether going canter to walk or working to collected canter) as a way to remind/encourage horse to tuck the pelvis. I think Bliss is built slightly out behind in the pelvis so this will require attention as he develops.

Bliss overall still gives the impression that he has way more to give! He is a lovely horse even so.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby Chisamba » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:29 am

O am often not certain what you mean by quickness behind Dresseur. Its a term you use quite often. Do you feel Bliss is losing rhythm? I did not see that.

I thought the canter rhythm was good. I agree that I'd like to see more reach as piedmontfields suggests. Sunstorm, my first GP horse, was built out behind and we never overcame it and still managed GP, but he was a tempi machine. I thought changes were superbly easy until I realized they were simply his forte.

I don't think our behind will inhibit your changes.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby khall » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:47 am

For me Bliss needs more active hind leg, it needs to be quicker off the ground, make a higher shorter arch instead of being on the ground so long. Still a bit that way in the trot but so much better which shows in his more uphill carriage and steadier in the contact. So many WBs move this way and can lead to that hovery half passage type trot. That's why these horses I feel need to train a bit over tempo whereas a more active or forward thinking horse you would not. Those that want to run and get quick, work in a slower tempo. The hard part is to get the activity without having to keep after the horse all the time! They need to be fit enough and work in this manner enough that they can sustain it on their own.

It did help me with Rip to keep a bit of a soft leg on him which is a bit different than the collective wisdom with the energy conservationists! Hot horse-leg on, lazier horse-leg off. But I found with having a bit of a hug to my draped leg, just a bit of tone instead of so soft that keeps the energy going better with Rip, keeps him thinking engaging and energy in the hind legs. I'm not always great about doing this because I've ridden so long with such a soft leg but when I do it makes a difference.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby Chisamba » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:05 pm

Again I ask, because I really want an explanation, do you think his rhythm is incorrect? If he needs quicker stride with less time on the ground does he need it in all four feet, ie to maintain rhythm.

He does have the hover trot which obviously would need to be quicker off the ground in all four feet.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby Tsavo » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:23 pm

Is "quicker hind leg" a kind way to say the horse is moving like a hunter? That I understand. Literally quicker hind leg, for the reason Chisamba stated, I can't grok. If you quicken just the hind it will ruin the rhythm.

Bliss is not a daisy clipper in my opinion. I have seen daisy clippers.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby Chisamba » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:28 pm

Sorry I didn't comment on the video, Rosie. I see steady improvement, and agree still room to improve but definitely moving in the direction to do so.

I think he could still be quicker off the ground in the trot.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby Dresseur » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:41 pm

I mean that the tempo of the canter all around could be quicker. But, I say the hind because I'm assuming that the hind effects the front. That is an error on my part - I've seen horses with very quick, hocky action behind and be relatively normal looking up front.

So, to my eye, the canter is a little sluggish and flat - the best canter bit was at the very end, before the video shut off, where he increased the tempo a bit. Overall, the canter gives the impression that if Rosie where to push it out, he would not respond with more energy and that the stride would flatten. The rhythm overall is steady, I would want to inject some more energy into it. And yes, there is still room for more energy and quickness in the trot - but that is so much improved.

I'm saying this because I've seen and ridden the fall out from a horse that moved exactly like Bliss does.

And Rosie, again, you are doing an amazing job with Bliss. There is so much natural talent there and so much potential for upper level work out of the both of you!
Last edited by Dresseur on Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby khall » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:42 pm

Tsavo no quicker off the ground is not moving like a hunter. No where did dresseur or I compare him to a hunter. It is that hovering, lack of energy, lack of engagement which means he needs more power and the hind end is where the power comes from. Power up and engage the hind end and the front end takes care of itself. It will elevate and be lighter on the forehand.

Bliss's canter is too slow, lacking energy and engagement. He needs to be quicker off the ground and have more air time. I would be doing lateral work in canter some to encourage that engagement, to strengthen him and close up the hind legs, aka tuck the pelvis. SI, HI, renvere, HP etc both on straight and bending lines.

Bliss has that natural elasticity and suppleness so many of the WBs have, just adding in more power for better gaits, encourage the hind legs to come under more. Collection is about power and energy, not slower.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby Rosie B » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:45 pm

Thank-you all very much for the comments/insights.

I don't have time to respond individually at the moment but you are all right about what you've observed and those are all things I'm working on so I'm glad that you see the same issues I feel, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

What's important to note (anytime anyone posts anything, whether it's video or pictures for critique or what have you) is that it represents a snapshot or a moment in time of where the horse is in its training. So while it's easy to point out opportunities for improvement, it's less easy to recognize how much those opportunities are being targeted in daily work, and how far they've already come. :)

I mention this not because I took offense or anything with what was posted, but because it's important to recognize that what you get with a critique is just a reflection of a moment in what is ultimately a very long journey. :) That's why I try to post video regularly, so people can follow that journey I'm on with Bliss if they're interested. Anyway, more later!

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby demi » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:00 pm

I watch your progress and appreciate that you share it! I have no doubt that you are on the road to producing some really nice FEI work with Bliss. I wish I had some helpful comments other than just positive reinforcement. I understand the “reflection of a moment in time” thing very well, and factor that in to even my positive comments.

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Re: Musings on horse type and lateral work - video added

Postby khall » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:30 pm

Rosie I hope you do not take offense, I see great improvement with Bliss in the trot, the canter is just a little behind. It is difficult to work with this type of horse as opposed to one who has that innate energy and go i.e. activity. Both of my main riding horses are this way, which is weird because their dam is not. She is much more active innately.

Question I am pondering right now, could this have been prevented earlier on? Rosie this is aimed at me and I will start another post about this topic.


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