From Endurance to Dressage
Connection But No Collection
I never in a million years ever expected to get to the point where I would be lamenting our lack of collection, but here we are.
Speedy's connection is now pretty good. He has developed some relatively good impulsion, and the thrust is mostly there. He is steady in the bridle, and is in every practical sense, a very broke horse.
As I reviewed the purpose of the Second Level tests, a few things caught my eye.
To confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, and having achieved the thrust required in First Level, now accepts more weight on the hindquarters (collection); This is where we're a wee bit stuck, that part about accepting more weight on the hindquarters.
moves with an uphill tendency, especially in the medium gaits; and is reliably on the bit. Well, no, not so much. He is reliably on the bit, but the uphill tendency is still a bit of a problem.
A greater degree of straightness, bending, suppleness, throughness, balance and self-carriage is required than at First Level. I feel reasonably solid here. The dude is bendy, swingy through his back, and while he has sufficient self-carriage at the trot, he doesn't want to always sit and push at the collected canter.
As I was hauling Speedy's butt to a halt on Saturday, I started thinking that I might need a new bit. It occurred to me that I should pop Izzy's correction bit on him or even the double bridle. With a snaffle, Speedy is able to just lay on my hands and let me carry him.
He's in a French link Baucher right now, but when he gets ridden next, hopefully this afternoon, I am going to pop the above bit in (after I put the chain back on) and see what I get. This is an MP 04, a comfort snaffle with low port. This is a Level 2 mouthpiece which means that while it still uses tongue pressure, the slight port allows some tongue relief if the horse is relaxed and carrying himself.
This particular mouthpiece is USEF (now USEquestrian) legal, but the Kimberwick cheek pieces are not. I don't care right now. I am hoping that the mild curb action of the cheek pieces will get Speedy's attention and get him to SIT. Right now, when I ask for a half halt, he is leaning on my hands which means there is not enough weight on his hindquarters.
If I get the reaction I want from this bit, I'll consider buying it with legal cheekpieces. It might also just be enough to switch back and forth between it and the Baucher.
I'll keep you posted!
Ugh, I hate it when horses lean on your hands. It's the one thing that will really drive me crazy, especially because it means they aren't using their butts. That said, I've never seen anyone train collection by increasing the severity of the bit. Usually I've seen it done by educating the horse to go forward and come off the bit with the balance changed by the increased drive from behind and the rider's deepening seat holding a half halt.
Penn and I are currently working on the same thing- developing the uphill and collection needed for 2nd/3rd. IT IS HARD. Penn is built slightly downhill and has a tendency to drop on the forehand when he connects to the bridle. But I agree with Austen, it comes from developing the forward, then the rider sitting up and driving the hind end for more while holding the half halts in the seat for longer. I'm finding if I have any pulling rein pressure (from either of us), it all falls apart. More recently, I've found I have loop in my rein while I'm working on it! Otherwise, Penn shuts down because I've closed every door on him when in reality I'm saying sit down, but go forward straight ahead.
2/27/2017 08:26:48 am
Same struggle bus, different day as Jan and Austen. Taran is also downhill and doesn't like to use his butt, plus I loooove to pull on the reins (that habit can die a quick painful death any day now). What I find helps us most is a lot of quick trot/halt/trot transitions, with me thinking about "fluffing" the reins like you'd fluff sheets on the bed in the downward (a small motion, not a giant fluff!). That keeps me from pulling and damn if it doesn't make Taran lighter! Also doing millions of trot/canter transitions, especially from the leg yield into the canter, canter maybe 10 meters, trot, canter, etc... It's SO HARD and it really takes so much time for them to understand and be strong enough to do it... and for ME to be strong enough to help with my core instead of my hands (refer to love of pulling). The struggle is real, but you'll get it!
curb action on my arab mare definitely did not get her to "sit" - it got her to tuck her chin to her chest, drop behind my leg, and evade the bridle, with zero effect on her longitudinal balance.
2/27/2017 04:40:20 pm
I had such a hard time getting Ava to push from her hind end in the canter (heck, any gait). This is why the non-traditional breeds will really teach the rider how to correctly train a horse. They won't let you fake it at 2nd and 3rd.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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