From Endurance to Dressage
Wednesday: A Lesson in Whoa!
I did have a lesson on Wednesday, but I've been too busy to sit down and write about it which is a shame as it was a really good lesson.
A few weeks ago, JL addressed Speedy's lack of activity behind. We now have activity, but it has hurt us in the front end. I now lack a little bit of control. Think loose race car speeding around the track out of control.
Speedy has also tried to be evasive by powering his head into my hands. He's got his engine revved and running, but now he wants me to hold up his front end. He's basically diving into my hands. Oomph!
To help fix all of this, JL told me to stop him and back him up to get him back on his hind end and off my hands.
Oh, I tried, but there was no whoa. We spent the next 45 minutes learning how to execute a correct pulley-halt. I know many dressage riders disagree with the pulley-halt. Feel free to comment, but it is working for us.
The pulley-halt revealed a great many things; the most obvious one was that Speedy tends to ignore my inside left leg. I planted my left knuckle in his neck and pulled straight back with my right hand, and Speedy's hind end swung inside, completely ignoring my left leg. I may have stopped his forward movement, but we clearly had a problem with HALT!!!!
We repeated the halt over and over. JL had me shorten my reins until they were about 12 inches long (Speedy's neck can REALLY bend). She then had me start the pulley-halt with his nose tipped in a left bend. I also added left leg and pushed him sideways. THEN I planted my left hand and pulled back with my right. Eventually, he started to stop squarely WITHOUT swinging his hind end in.
When he did swing his hind end in, we did lots of circles with me KICK, KICK, KICKING with my inside left leg until he swung his haunches back out. All of this was at the walk .... sheesh.
Once we got it at the walk, we started doing some halts from the trot. I had trouble controlling his hind end initially, but we eventually got it. JL's instructions for this week included lots of pulley-halts in our warm up. The goal is that eventually when he feels me lower my inside hand, I won't even have to engage the outside right hand.
This does connect to the half-halt. There's no way he'll listen to the half-halt if he won't listen to the pulley-halt. When I rode on Sunday, we did our pulley-halts from the walk, and I was pleased that he stopped square with very little right rein. Progress! We also spent a bit of time moving off my inside left leg. I am hoping JL will be at least impressed when we return on Wednesday.
7/9/2012 01:43:30 am
No problems with the pulley-halt if the horse is ignoring the stopping aids, however, I do not see Speedy's hindquarter movement as bad. It was actually biomechanically correct. You can control the angle and placement of the hindquarters with the outside rein for haunches-in and half-pass. The outside rein is also helpful in placing the quarters in for a horse (or rider) that has trouble picking up the correct lead. Of course excessive movement of the quarters is also a sign of stiffness, but if the rider really hauls on one rein, one can hardly blame the horse for swinging his quarters in the opposite direction. Just something to think about as you look toward your future goals in dressage.
7/9/2012 08:27:34 am
In Speedy's case, the falling in of his hind end was a complete evasive maneuver. We were walking, and I was far from hauling on the rein. In fact, JL had me see how little outside rein I could use. The point of the lesson was for Speedy to get off my hands and onto his hind quarters. He didn't want to rock back so he evaded by allowing his butt to drift off course.
I remember reading an article in Practical Horseman a few years ago that was following a George Morris clinic. He was telling his students to use their "pulley-rein" to gauge speed on their horses while working over some jump exercises and grids.
7/9/2012 08:30:45 am
JL teaches her horses to not only stop, but to then back up. This keeps them light on the forehand and keeps their weight over the hind quarters. She feels that if the horse are well schooled, a rider rarely needs to use the pulley-rein. Even just practicing for a few days at the walk Speedy is getting lighter up front and he's stopping much more squarely which means he's paying better attention to my inside leg.
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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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