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28 April 2009 @ 10:46 pm
Busy, Busy!  
Things sure have been busy at my barn.

Cynda, our now 23 year old Arabian mare was diagnosed with Lymes. We had initially suspected Cushings, but luckily it wasn't that. She was put on 4000mg of Doxycycline 2 times a day for 10 days and she improved! However, she was still walking very tender. The lymes had allows laminitis to set in. Our farrier came to the rescue and put nice padded shoes on her. Within 2 weeks she was trotting around again. She is scheduled May 8th to have xrays done of her feet to see if everything has resolved. Keep your fingers crossed, we love our old girl!

As for Storm, my 11 year old Arab gelding (Cynda's son), I have decided to once again compete in the B circuit. It has been 6 years since we stopped showing, only to ride around on the trails and it has been quite the challenge trying to get everything set right! It seems for me that my legs are the biggest problem. They keep sliding forwards. That's something I'll just have to focus on more. As for him, he refuses to keep his head down. He has most definitely improved, but I'm am so tired of reminding him, "head down" and left-righting. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I am planning on working on it at the canter. Ask him to canter (while reminding him head down) and if he pops his head up, return to the walk and try again. I did that a few times today, and he seemed to understand it. I just need to keep working on it. Once he is good with that, I'll continue that at the trot, and then walking should be a snap.

I have already preregistered at a show coming up on May 10th. It's an open show run by the local Appaloosa group. I was told today however, that this is a very crowded show. I'm unsure if I should wait until the following weekend, or the weekend after that to show. I would have more time to prepare, and I wouldn't be terribly strapped for cash. But I'm pretty excited about this show, it looks like a good time. Plus, I still have 2 more weeks in which to practice and in the 3 weeks we have been training (when we can, it's been raining buckets lately) we have improved leaps and bounds.



 
 
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hagazusa: cute boohagazusa on April 29th, 2009 07:35 am (UTC)
It seems for me that my legs are the biggest problem. They keep sliding forwards. That's something I'll just have to focus on more. As for him, he refuses to keep his head down. He has most definitely improved, but I'm am so tired of reminding him, "head down" and left-righting. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Do you ride English or Western?

If you ride English, re the legs shooting forward, you try working without stirrups to stretch your legs down and then working with longer stirrups to put you into a more classical dressage position, if that's what you're after. Putting your horse on the bit would help with the head carriage. But this is all English stuff. Don't know about Western though.
Summer: fairylomundra on April 29th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
I'm riding English now. I was considering doing something with the stirrups. Would you suggest keeping my stirrups so long while in the show ring, or tightening up to where I have them now?
hagazusa: cute boohagazusa on April 29th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
If you're doing dressage showing and schooling, people generally ride with longer stirrups and a longer leg. But if you jump, you'll need shorter stirrups. It depends a lot of the discipline.

But if you're worried about your legs shooting forward in general, you can do schooling without stirrups and with longer stirrups to help your legs stretch down in the classical position if that's what you're after.

Good luck!

Hannah: all dressed upbuymeaclue on April 29th, 2009 11:14 am (UTC)
It seems for me that my legs are the biggest problem. They keep sliding forwards.

Bet you a dollar you're either having a saddle fit or design issue here or else your stirrups are too long for the saddle that you're using.

If not, think about letting your weight drop down the front of your knee and letting your knee down--almost a feel like you're kneeling--and about stepping your heel onto your horse's back foot. Watch what you're doing with your feet in general; a lot of folks end up in a chair seat because they're trying to jam their heels down, but that's not what you want anyway.

As for him, he refuses to keep his head down. He has most definitely improved, but I'm am so tired of reminding him, "head down" and left-righting. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Yes. Knock off the "left-righting." We call that sawing on the bit and it's a false prophet. But you don't have to take my word for it! Here's Jane Savoie on the subject:

If you "saw" on your horse's mouth by alternating squeezing and releasing with your hands, you're riding your horse from front to back. He might look like he's "on the bit" because his head is down and his nose is on the vertical, but you don't have an honest connection from back to front.

The only part of your horse's body that you can affect by "sawing" or vibrating both reins is his jaw. Moving the bit in his mouth encourages him to chew. When he chews, he flexes in the jaw.

So, if you saw on the bit, all you have control over is a flexed jaw. And your horse has a whole lot more body besides his jaw that you can't influence.

When you just flex the jaw, you might think your horse is on the bit. But then you wonder why he comes off the bit when you ask him to do something like a transition.

The reality is that he was never on the bit to begin with. All you had was a flexed jaw.


He's not refusing to keep his head down. He's just not being worked in a way that helps him to use his body correctly. What you need to work on is not so much getting his down as the overall quality of your connection, with all that entails, and it starts with the leg issue you mention: if you're out of balance because your base of support is FUBARed, you're not going to be able to help the beastie improve his balance.

Hard to say too much specific without seeing you go. A good in-person instructor would probably be a good idea.

Edited at 2009-04-29 11:16 am (UTC)
Summer: fairylomundra on April 29th, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC)
The issues with my legs - I think it's a lot of me just moving them around. my equitation has really suffered in the past several years. I'm used to just zipping around all the trails around my barn, not focusing on my seat. If it is indeed the saddle fit, well there's nothing I can do about that I'm in no way capable of buying another one :(

That quote clears some things up for me. Since I was told to left-right and I've been doing it, he doesn't seem to listen to my commands to slow down to a different gait. He'll speed up because I'm not pulling back to "whoa", instead urging him on with my legs. Interesting. I never thought of a clenched jaw, but I guess I would do the same thing if there was a bit in my mouth.

I did a little more research this morning over a few sites and they all seem to be insisting that doing more dressage work, leg yields and the like. Many of them also tell me that just having them "set their heads" using either the "sawing" method or artificial aids is only a quick fix and isn't what you really want. I believe I have a dressage book somewhere in my home library, I'll see if I can find it and get some tips out of there.
Hannah: on the landingbuymeaclue on April 29th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
Since I was told to left-right and I've been doing it, he doesn't seem to listen to my commands to slow down to a different gait.

Yep. Chances are good--again, obviously it's hard to say for sure without seeing you two, but chances are good--that what you're doing with the sawing is teaching him to drop behind the bit in particular and your aids in general. So maybe you get a reasonably attractive shape to his head and neck, but you can't really influence the horse and/or his way of going.

I don't think using the bit is wrong, by any means. It's there for a reason, yes? But it's only part of the picture. Better to ride the whole horse.
Summerlomundra on April 29th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
I'd much rather ride the entire horse correctly, then just have a quick fix that's only there for cosmetic reasons. It's not fair to him because it's not comfortable for him.

I'm going to see if I can get a friend to videotape me riding later this week. It's hard to critique yourself as well when you're in the moment riding.
Hannah: on the landingbuymeaclue on April 29th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'm going to see if I can get a friend to videotape me riding later this week.

Very good idea.
hagazusa: cute boohagazusa on April 29th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
Listen to her. She knows way more than me! :)