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czarsmom

Dressage on the undertrained horse

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Do most of you that ride dressage have horses that were specifically trained for the discipline? How many people are in the same situation that I am-older horse that had little training (none of it in dressage) and now trying to teach the basics of balance, cadence etc.? Any success stories? Please share.

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My 16 year old QH was a hunter under saddle horse on the AQHA circuit...we did not start any dressage work until he was 13 and we were BOTH new to it:-) It has been a bit challenging and he really is not bred to be a dressage horse, but he is successfully showing first level and just about ready to make the jump to second. I have had this horse for 13 years and all of this has been so rewarding to me!

What kind of horse do you have that you are working with? Do you have any photos?

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Czar is an 18-20 y/o Arab cross. He allegedly was used as an endurance race horse a few owners ago. When I got him and started training with him he had no concept of balance, refused to tolerate any sort of bit let alone bit pressure, was extremely head shy and distrustful of all humans in general. This past spring/summer my trainer has been working with us in spite of all the setbacks( poor condition of the ring due to poor weather conditions, lack of training time due to the weather, and most recently lameness from tearing off a shoe that was set poorly in the first place). Our progress has been painfully slow but some things we have accomplished are as follows: Czar is beginning to bend through his whole body and turn correctly rather than pivoting on his inside hoof. He is just beginning to accept the bit and yield to rein pressure-mostly in the walk and just started in the trot before he came up lame. He is beginning to stop throwing his head in response to the bit and at the walk he is relaxing and rounding up under himself. He is starting to obey leg aids although for a long time he acted like he had no idea what they meant (who knows, maybe he didn't) He has stopped being as spooky as he used to be. We are a looooong way from dressage but with determination and luck hopefully some day we will get there. I asked my trainer why anyone would want to ride a horse without teaching him basic skills like the ones we are working on and her answer was that if he was truly used for endurance, it is possible that it didn't matter how he got from point A to point B, just that he did it in a reasonable amount of time. If that is really true, I think it's sad because it couldn't have been very comfortable for him and it must have been very frustrating for his rider!!

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"Allegedly" is probably the key word... his "endurance career" was likely short and not too sweet, since horses that are successful in that sport need to be VERY rideable. Sounds like Czar just had a plain old bad start period. Good for you for putting him on the right track now!

If it makes you feel better, most of my sixteen current students are riding horses of various breeds, shapes and sizes that were trained (or not!) for other sports. All are in various levels of progress between Training and Second Level. Some are "easy" and some move along at a snail's pace... but we all have a good time and the horses are always happy at the end of the lessons.

I've taken several horses off the track and rehabbed them as lower level dressage horses, and I currently have a hanoverian jumper who's learning a whole new way of looking at the world. I wouldn't know what to do if someone offered to buy me a died-in-the-wool dressage horse!

[big Grin]

[ 08-20-2006, 05:02 PM: Message edited by: MHJLittlefield ]

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My daughter's 15 year old Arab gelding had been trail ridden, jumped, and done "all breed " horse shows. He competed (quite successfully) in Saddleseat(yes with Saddlebreds); Costume(Arabian Native ) English Pleasure, and trail. I needed a dressage horse; so ---He and I started learning dressage. We never advanced past first level at schooling shows but he was quite game and loved to learn new things. He was very quick to learn and did the tests with utmost accuracy. He also loved Musical kur (our club had this class for lower level horses to add fun to our schooling shows.) My health prevented me from continuing beyond two years,but the horse was wonderful. I think the meaning of the word dressage is "training" And I feel every time you mount a horse--You are training and the horse is learning --Good, bad or indifferent! Go for it- If you can ride the horse you can do dressage- albbeit will take effort and training on both of your parts. Good Luck!!! and let us know how it turns out! [Cool]

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I bought a 3 year old off the track that couldn't steer, much less do any dressage, and we were winning dressage shows within 4 months. A year ago this time he was living in a field in Oklahoma, now he's schooling First Level. Just follow the training scale, and all the peices will fall in to place, some things sooner than others.

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I bought a 7 yr old arab mare two years ago that was broke and just used for trail rides, she hated bits so her former owners just used a hackmore. now she gladly schools 2nd level movements happily in a double jointed full cheak snaffle. [smile]

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My first Dressage experience was on a 15 yr old QH that was trail ridden only. He did very well!

My current mare is an 8yr old Appaloosa. I got her as an unbroke 3yr old. I started her with just basic riding, had a western guy put 6 weeks of trail training on her as a 4 yr old, then worked on arena work. I've always used a Dressage-type foundation, so when we decided to go that route for showing, she was easy to prepare.

My advice would be to treat your horse like he was unbroke and knows nothing. It's MUCH easier to start over than to try and figure out how to "fix" what you have.

~Barbara

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Luvs2ride, that is exactly what my trainer has me doing with him. It has been hard getting over expecting him to know basic training given his advanced age. Now that I am trying to look at it from the standpoint that he is just as green as a very young horse just starting under saddle, I seem to be making more progress. Slooow progress, but progress just the same. He is more relaxed now too since he is learning what I expect from him. Like I said before, I don't know how anyone ever rode him but it explains why he spent the last two years before I bought him just running around free in the pasture. He is a quick learner and actually seems proud of himself when he understands things. This just seems like a slow process because I am basically starting from the ground up. I only rode schoolies before him so this has been an adventure

[ 08-21-2006, 01:54 PM: Message edited by: czarsmom ]

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I helped train/showed a mare last year while I didnt have a horse of my own. Smudge is a 13 year old Lusitano/Trak. X who had been a hunter for all of her years. She had no balance in the canter and would run around on the forehand, and when she walked she would just rush around idnoring the aids. She had no concept of correct contact whatsoever and didnt have anywhere near the correct muscling that she should have had. In all upward and downward transitions she would hollow her back and run. We did lots of long and low work with her to get her to stretch, as well as lots of half halts. We gradually introduced a more connected contact, as well as lateral movements to get her to bend and use herself. Now she is showing Training Level with scores in the upper 60's and low 70's (has been to Junior Champs twice) and is schooling first level.

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I'm just curious, I've never ridden a horse that has trained as a hunter or jumper, so I honestly don't know the answer to this question: Are they usually not trained to use their hind ends? Don't they still need the impulsion from behind? I guess I just assumed that all performance horses were trained with some of the more basic points of self carriage, acceptance of the aids and such just to make them ridable. I'm not trying to start a debate over what style of training is right or anything like that, I just honestly want to know how those horses are trained.

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Good hunter trainers put a strong dressage type foundation on their horses. Now, obviously, not all trainers are good ones... But the past two hunter barns I've been to have emphasized a strong flat work (dressage) foundation. Now, we're not necessarily talking a 2nd level collected way of moving. But we were doing the equivalent of 1st level dressage with my youngish hunter before he went blind.

Tracy

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My gelding had a previous career on the track, then doing some western stuff, then as a younger rider's hunter prospect mount (he failed..) and then I got him. He didn't know how to bend or flex properly, or carry himself, or maintain the correct lead, or...he was very good at looking like a giraffe.

It feels like we're moving along rapidly because he improves at every ride. But if you compare him to other horses, we're moving slowly. I rarely canter, working mostly at the walk and trot.

So I've stopped comparing and started riding him [Razz] Every horse is unique and goes at their own pace. He's going quickly for him, and slowly for others.

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I have been to a hunter barn who does dressage type things on the flat- probably like first level stuff. But the barn that this mare came from didnt do anything close to dressage work. They didnt emphasize doing things correctly, as long as the horse looked "pretty" it didnt matter what muscles they were using or if they had any impulsion at all. But like someone said above, some trainers emphasize it and some dont

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It has been very encouraging listening to your stories. I feel a bit more optimistic now about what we are trying to do with Czar. Thanks for sharing!

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My horse essentially had nothing that was worth calling training before I got him. Basically, he knew how to move around with someone on his back and if you had a strong enough bit in he at least thought about stopping. He also bucked, reared, and layed down with people on him. He had some really bad care takers, health and physical problems that weren't taken care of, and his conformation lead to some challenges.

Once I got him, I started to work with him on basics. I then met up with a dressage trainer, and she helped me to re-start his training right. He now stops in a regular snaffle, walks, trots and canters on the bit, does lateral work, and is learning piaffe and passage.

He is now 10 years old.

Nothing is impossible. [smile]

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Yep. I think so anyway.

My horse is 15ish, and I've had people tell me everything from "she's really green" to "she was probably someone's high level jumper".

I dunno, it's all just a work in progress right now.

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quote:

Originally posted by luvs2ride79:

My first Dressage experience was on a 15 yr old QH that was trail ridden only. He did very well!

Me too!! lol Weird, eh?? Only he was 12-13 yrs old!!

-

(The armpit-fart dance!!)

[ 08-23-2006, 07:22 PM: Message edited by: wiseacre ]

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Boy, there is much to say on this topic. Basically, cause I am in the same position.

Elvis came from the track, no training at all.I've been riding horses for 12-15 years. But riding without a clue what so ever. On the forehand, round, on the bit...? What the heck?

This green rider took her untrained horse to a training facility last fall. It was really hard, but a good hard, if that makes sense?

I think one of the biggest obsticales has been that I didn't know how to engage a horse, put him on the bit, make him round. And I had a horse that did not accept the bit or how to use himself. His muscles were not developed enough either. He had the endurance to go all day long, but a canter on a 20 metre circle, using himself properly was a serious challange for both of us. My timing is too slow, I am learning and he is just oh so patient with me!

So, we started at the beginning for both of us. I did not always ride him every lesson. My trainer would put me on a dressage master quite often. Sometimes a horse that would give it to me if I "sort of" asked properly, sometimes one that would force me to do it all properly. Always a lunge lesson at least once a week. If I didn't ride him in a lesson, I'd tack him up straight away and ride him immediately afterward. My trainer often working her own horses and she'd be there to encourage me, stop me from making mistakes.

There are other upper level riders at this barn. They were so wonderful to me, encouraging me and helping me along. Even the man from the Spanish riding school, showed an interest in our progress. I think because I was and am determined to get this and get it right. We worked so hard and I loved every second of it.

I got much negative feed back from people about being a green rider on an untrained horse. That made me even more determined to do it and suceed. Sure, Elvis and I will likely never show. But that is ok. If I can become a decent rider and a knowledgeable one, then, that is good enough for me.

As for the discussion about H/J horses. Recently at this barn that I speak of there has been many many H/J people show an interest in the dressage horses for sale. I guess, they want them due to the training that they have on them. They say that they find a trained dressage horse is nice to train for H/J.

[ 08-24-2006, 02:43 PM: Message edited by: Bend N Flex ]

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You go Bend and Flex! I'm a determined green on green rider too and I think my trainer is taking special interest in us because 1. we are a HUGE challenge for her and 2. she knows how badly I want this and that I'll do anything to become a better horsewoman. Lunge me till my legs fall off if that's what it takes! Sew a bar into my shirt across my shoulders to keep them back and straight-whatever-I just want to learn this and help my horse along the way. [Jump]

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It's exhausting at times isn't it. Almost an obsession in a way.

I so wish I could have continued on at this place with Elvis. But it has come to an end. I still do my lessons on my trainer's horses at least once a week.

BUT! There is an indoor just up the road. My next plan is to see if they will allow me to rent the arena during the winter months. My trainer has agreed to come to me now, if I can find a suitable place to train in.

And like you said, she to gets excited when I have those "lightbulb" moments. I hope that in the end, I will be a better rider because of this.

Let us know how your lesson goes this Sat. Now that you have your new shoes and Czar is good to go!

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