How to get a medium in the arena??

flyingfeet

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OK my boy does a lovely medium canter at home, but this weekend he was being exceptionally backward.

Half halt, legs on and nothing, nada. So had to resort to jabbing spurs in to get a response, cue hollow running which looked bloomin awful and dropped our scores to 4's and 5's.

It is the same with medium trot, at home I can get some half decent lengthening of strides, but when out he turns into a total mouse and has to be bullied to go forward (more running and hollowing)

Help!
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Partoow

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I have found that some horses do become introverted when they get to a competition, but sometimes its in response to the fact that we , as riders tend to want more and now.
To the horse i think we must therefore seem to have undergone some kind of personality change!!
When riding at home or for a competition really get your reactions to the squeese of the lower leg, quick, light and small. I often say you want the quickest lightest reaction not the biggest.
I also work a lot on energetic halt transitions where i really concentrate on one aid one reaction. so make sure you stop by using your seat and hand not by using the lower leg at the same time.
Once in the halt relax the body and hand a little and then activate energetically away from the halt really thinking about the hind leg being the first leg to react to the ask [tap]of your lower leg. Repeat this in quick succession so that you get your horse really reacting to you ask.
It is important not to contradict the leg and hand aids as this can make a horse hide away as there is no answer to the question of go aid and stop aid being put on at the same time .
When you are happy with the reaction then think of this on a circle within the pace. so go onto a 20m circle really taking care of the balance [you want to feel the inside and the outside body are the same height , more like a table top than a motor bike] and ride little half halts in the hand but keep the leg very open and light when he goes to stop relax the hand and come quick and light with the leg and maybe back up with the lightest taps with the whip in time with the inside hind leg [i would do all this in rising trot so that you can encourage him to step up under you its all too easy to drive too hard with the seat when they get a bit behind the leg]you will get then some nice transitions within the pace.
It is the ability to get the transitions that will give you the tools to ride the medium in balance and the horse will be used to you asking for this Yo YO style trasitions in your day to day work so that when it comes to the test it is some thing he is used to.
Its pretty much the same ask in the canter but i would try and ride the transitions from a slight shoulder fore position as the asymetric [3 beat] nature of the canter makes the maintaining of straightness difficult and it is vital to have the horse straight under you to gain the collection to get the opening of the steps.
When i ride around the arena i ride the transitions within the pace and even a few trot halt trans just to say 'hey this is just the same as home remember?'
Oh and remember to breath!! sounds daft but the amount of riders that get to certain movements and hols their breath is amazing!!
 

flyingfeet

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Again ever with the halts he is heavier at a competition and harder to squeeze up into a nice halt. Its a bit like riding a steam roller, slow to get going and slow to stop.

As an aside would you get marked down for tapping him on the top of the bottom with a schooling whip to send him forward? Just using my legs tends to cause this hollowing when he doesn't want to go, but tapping him on the top of his bottom gets him forward and with his hind legs underneath him.
 

TarrSteps

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All of the above, obviously, but also, what sort of area do you ride in at home? Do you set out a competition sized area? Schooling in an appropriate space gets both him and you used to the speed of response and accuracy required. I find some people get almost panicky about doing things at the letters in the dressage ring and the horse shuts down (or gets tense depending on temperament etc) because it feels rushed.
 
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