Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:07 am Post subject: Riding a green horse
I'm currently leasing a 10 yr old Dutch Warmblood mare who is kinda of green (I have had 9 years of riding experience). She needs alot of work in bending and collecting. I have tried working her in circles but everytime that I put my inside leg on her, she speeds up. I try using my outside rein to control the speed but then we end up "fish tailing". What am I doing wrong? Last time we did this, she got frustrated and bucked.
Also, she has a choppy short strided walk which is very difficult to get longer. The only time I get a nice long strided walk is when she is tired. How can I cut to the chase and encourage the long walk in the beginning of our session?
What sort of ground work have you done to teach her about leg aids? What are you doing with your legs when you're not applying the aids? What other leg aids are you using that she does understand? I don't have quite enough information, yet, to make any suggestions
The choppy short-strided walk sounds like naxiety or a poorly fitting saddle. If she's getting frustrated with being ridden, because she doesn't know what to do and is being repeatedly corrected, then anxiety could definitely be an issue. Horses can get tense in their backs--just like people develop upper back tension--when they are anxious.
A horse who's not responding well or who has a choppy stride could also be trying to get away from a pinching saddle. Sometimes after a certain amount of time in a pinching saddle, a horse has braced till he's essentially numb. At that point the horse may relax and stride out--but not because it's no longer pinching, but because he can no longer feel the pinch.
I'll add that a Dutch Warmblood is likely to have a back MUCH wider than a typical saddle can fit, even a "wide" saddle. I just recently saw a lovely Dutch WB/TB cross (if I recall correctly) who was in a lovely Passier "wide" dressage saddle which was way, way too narrow for him. (His owner is working on rehabbing the minor muscle wastage in his back and will be getting a new saddle once his back is the right shape again.)
Have you ridden bareback? If so, how did she react? If she does better bareback, then your saddle could well be a factor.
When I ride her, I keep my leg off of her as that is what her owner told me to do. She associates "leg" with the cue to speed up. Her owner (who is a trainer) trained her but never had the time to finish her. I'm sure I need to half-halt more often than I do and maybe that may be part of the problem.
As far as the choppy walk, her owner told me that she had a very hard time finding a saddle to fit her and finally got a dressage saddle so I don't think it's her saddle that is the cause. Her owner told me to use just my seat to encourage a nice walk. My trainer had previously ridden her a couple times and seems to feel that she just comes out stiff all the time.
I have not ridden her bareback as I don't have full trust in her yet and we're still getting to know each other (I have only been leasing her for two months). She seems to spook at little things and I feel more secure with the saddle. I have not cantered her as she is not very balanced.
I'm thinking that as far as the bucking, I may have just aggrevated her when trying to correct her. It could have been too much for her that day. Maybe I should ride with a looser rein to encourage her to relax her walk?