Dressage help - coming down and round (without cheating!)

melv1lle

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I am in the process of retraining my ex racer to compete at prelim dressage level. Although he has wonderful paces we have the ongoing issue of his head carriage i.e. he does a good impersonation of a giraffe at times! Although I know that bringing him down and round is a matter of schooling and patience I wondered if people thought changing a bit to one that uses slight poll pressure would help (he is in a loose ring snaffle at the mo)? We have made huge improvements in our balance and carriage (see before and after pics below) but I thought that using a bit like a Baucher might be a help - what do you think? I don't want to use one if it is just a way to "cheat" him into an outline.

March '06


June '06
 

GDB

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Well take that bloody martingale off him for a start and put on ordinary snaffle bridle, with hanging snaffle. He needs more engagement and to work from behind, so forget what the front end is doing for a while until he learns that his engine is at the back.


Hx
 

melv1lle

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Why what will the martingale be doing? That was put on him at the advice of an old instructor. And when you say ordinary snaffle bridle do you mean get rid of the flash noseband? He has that because he has a habit of messing around with his tongue (which isn't teeth related as I have them checked every six months).

Anyway so you think a) cavesson noseband, b) no martingale and c) the hanging snaffle? To be honest dressage is as new to me nearly as it is to him (we are learning together as my back ground is show jumping) so am very interested to learn expert's opinions (noticed that you are a BD judge).

Agree with you about moving the engine BTW, but when he hasn't got his head in the air he is leaning on the reins so teaching him to have impulsion without tanking forwards is taking a while.
 

_jetset_

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I agree about taking the martingayle off... my girl came with one and we soon got rid of it. It alters the line of the reins a little and therefore the contact you have between hand and mouth too.

I do use a flash on Hannah because she has the habit of getting herself in a stress and putting her tongue over the bit no matter what bit you have in (I have tried many, believe me!) But I obviously don't have the flash in her double so we are still in the process of riding through the paddy in that when she realises she can't get it over.

I also agree about forgetting the front end for a bit and concentrate on getting his back end going. Someone said that to me for a while and I couldn't understand how it would help but it suddenly made a huge difference!

Also, one final thing... do you have a good instructor? This also made the world of difference to me and my horse. Since changing instructor I have progressed further than I ever thought I would with Hannah, culminating in her qualifying for the Elementary class at the Derby House Championships in her third ever elem test!
 

GDB

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Yes, a caveson (which is what i meant to type in the first place, but multi-tasking) a flash and a snaffle. Keep it simple and the path of least resistance..He wont have to put his head up to balance himself when he is working over his back, and carrying himself more


Hx
 

pfarrugia

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I can give you the number of a superb dressage instructor in surrey if you're this end of london. Worked wonders with my horse in one session and not by pulling him in the mouth and poking spurs into his side ( as a couple of other BD trainers i've had have done). He was like butter in her hands and all she did was take him back and talk to him!!!

I had the same prob with my boy but he's 17.2 and an ID! This BD instructor has worked wonders with him (and me!) and he's now being placed in prelims!
 

Sags_Deer

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i agree take martingale off and that grackle noseband, a baucher is good i have one for sale if you are interested a lovely neue scheule brand new never used, 51/4", and again ride leg to hand to enable horse to go forwards into a contact. you must never pull a horse into a head carriage, far better to above the bit and forward from leg then the horse can learn to swing through his back. It does not happen overnight, muscles take time to change shape and strengthen but the challenge and learning is well worth it. lol
 

spotty_pony

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noI wouldn't change the bit if he is comfortable in it, just keep working at it! it just takes time I'm afraid!
I ride my youngster in a loose ring eggbutt snaffle with a french link in it to make him "play" with the bit more in his mouth. am having great success so just keep it up - I can already see an improvement in the way he is going from your photos - he is working much nicer in the June photo! Good Luck with your schooling!
 

Sparklet

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Can I firstly say what a beautiful horse he is and well done to you for bringing on a ex race horse - TB do have lovely loose paces so I am sure he will do well at dressage.

I would keep your bit, take off the martingale and replace the grakle with a cavesson and flash (if he messes with his mouth).

The main problem you have is that he needs to learn to work more over his back so posters are right when they tell you to ignore the front end and focus on the hind legs. There is no quick fix and the longer you think 'round' is to do with head down the longer it will take you to get him working correctly. Believe me I learnt this the hard way.

Get some lessons from a good dressage instructor who will give you exercises to help engage his back end and once that is working correctly he will stretch over his back and his head will naturally fall into the correct place.

Good luck with it all - and is he a fabulous horse.
 

Tempi

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id say put him in a kk ultra or something similar if you cant afford one. Take off the flash and maringale and concentrate on getting him working forwards and through from behind and down the rein into the contact. You wont get anywhere by just riding off the head end. You need to get engagment sorted before you think about his outline. See if you can get a few lessons, will help you both loads and then you will have something to work for each week. He looks gorgeous btw!! good luck xx
 

melv1lle

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Thanks all for your advice (and also Sparklet for saying how handsome he is
). It is probably hard to tell from the second photo but I did take the grackle away and he is now in a cavesson and flash. I have a good instructor who keeps me focused on having a consistent contact (as suggested by some) but I will admit that we haven't discussed much about increasing power from behind. I have a lesson tonight so my plan of campaign will be 1) take off martingale - I never knew that having one was such a bad idea amazing what you learn on this forum! and 2) speak to my instructor about working him from behind more.

I just hope that he doesn't mind me trying to change his ways like this ... after 9 years of racing (steeplechasing) I do wonder sometimes if he thinks this new way of working is some form of unusual punishment
 

katiejaye

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Hiya, in the second picture it looks like you are doing a great job! I echo what has been said above about martingale etc. However I think that you should keep the bit if he is comfortable in it as sometimes changing it can complicate the situation even more.

I have one more sugestion though for helping with engaging the quarters and balance (my boy used to be very unbalanced behind and hollowed a lot). I have found lungeing before I ride or at least once a week can help. I use a de gogue which I find fantastic as it encourages lower head carriage and more power from behind but without forcing the horses head down. It also loosens the back and quarters and helps to build up muscles behind.
 

melv1lle

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Does it work a similar way to a Pessoa? I am not a fan of gadgets but I have been lungeing him in this once a week and it does seem to be helping.
 

katiejaye

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[ QUOTE ]
Does it work a similar way to a Pessoa? I am not a fan of gadgets but I have been lungeing him in this once a week and it does seem to be helping.

[/ QUOTE ]

This is how it works when you are lungeing (click on bottom left picture):

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl...6lr%3D%26sa%3DN

and like this when your riding (page 3 bottom left):

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl...6lr%3D%26sa%3DN

I use a passoa sometimes too but I find the degogue more useful as it can be used for both ridden and lungeing exercises. I also don't like gadgets but like to lunge and I always hated side reins as I feel that they put the horse into a more "forced" outline. The degogue allows the horse to stretch down and forwards into the contact.
 

Farrieress

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You have yourself a lovely horse and it looks like your doing a great job in re-schooling him
Not sure why you need to change bit, or why everyone is odsessed with bits, if he is comfortable in his mouth then thats fine. I would lose the martingale though, the main reason beeing ... you cant compete in it lol
If you keep going in the direction you are im sure you will be fine x there is a lot of muscle adjustment to be done, allow him to stretch over his back and come through from behind. If he is used to racing he will have been using different muscles to the ones your asking him to use now, so bare with him, take it slow, there is no quick fix and i look forward to a post saying how well you do in your first dressage test! Good luck
 
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