Monday, June 8, 2015

Dressage Lesson or Triceps Workout?

We had a dressage lesson on Friday and I have no media from it at all except for this:

Fixed it. (I had shut it in my car door a couple months ago.)
And this:

Standard Dover fly bonnet is waaay to small for Maggie Mule Ears.
Anyway, the lesson. I brought my dressage test from the GHF 2-Phase  to my instructor and we went over my scores, which she assured me were good. 6.5's, 7's, and one really isn't bad at all, but I expressed my dissatisfaction with them by telling her "I know we can do better, though" to which she replied, "Everyone can always do better in dressage!" I suppose that's true, yes...

Instructor wanted to focus this lesson on submission. We tend to have comments on our tests along the lines of "needs more consistent contact" and "needs more relaxation". Fortunately (I guess?) we usually have the same problem during lessons as we do during tests with Maggie being "looky". When I say "looky" I mean something catches her attention and she wants to look at it, thus taking her attention off me and how she's using herself. Basically this:

If you look on the back of the dressage test at the collective marks, submission is defined as "acceptance of steady contact, attention, and confidence".

Yup. That sounds exactly like what we need. Oh, and counts for double on the USDF tests!

So the goal of this lesson was to try and get Maggie to commit and submit. (That's not a bad manta actually: Commit and Submit.) My trainer wanted me to set my upper arms and NOT MOVE THEM; I could only soften with my hands and wrists. The idea was to keep Maggie on a strong contact so that she had no other choice than to give to the reins, hopefully keeping her more focused. After about 2 laps of the arena my triceps were absolutely burning from trying to keep her together. We could get a few strides of really nice committed trot, tracking up and working over her back, and then...

Ohhh Maggie...

So I used a lot of rein this lesson. Sometimes it seemed effective in holding her attention, sometimes not at all. Neither my instructor nor I could figure out if anything was really making a consistent difference. For this lesson, Maggie was consistently getting distracted on the long side parallel to a wooded area and she would always try to turn her head and look into the woods. My instructor had me try overriding her before the turn onto that long side, giving lots of half-halts with the inside rein in hopes of catching and keeping her attention before she could get distracted, but she could still always find a way to drop her inside shoulder and look to the outside.

We ended the lesson with attempting to work with side-reins on the lunge line, but my instructor didn't have short enough side reins for Maggie's tiny bendy neck! Oh well...I did still get a mini lesson on how to lunge with side reins. My homework is to work her with the side reins with the same idea of trying to get her to relax into the reins and focus. So....I guess I probably need some pony sized side-reins.

Has anyone else ever dealt with an A.D.D. horse? Is it something that they essentially just need to grow out of or is there anything you have found to help them focus?


  1. Bobby has serious ADD when flatting. Sometimes he deigns to bring his attention back and work, and sometimes he just does not and I move on to something else, like a trail ride.

  2. No suggestions - just wanted to pop in and say I loved your GIFs!

  3. All I know is that I love the dog from that movie SO MUCH. That is not very helpful though!

    1. Possibly one of the greatest movie dogs of all time

  4. um that ear bonnet picture is solid gold haha - her expression says it all!! re: the ADD, i dont' really know much about fixing it other than just keep on working on it. i love the 'commit and submit' mantra tho!

    my trainer is actually thinking of trying a milder bit for isabel to help with the consistency thing. this surprised me bc i thought my kk ultra was almost as mild as they get - but she wants to try a nathe. her idea is to give something isabel can really grab and carry forward - so she can really push into my contact rather than popping above or ducking below. not sure if that's really the same issue for Maggie tho...

    1. Yeah, I definitely think there is an element of it just taking work and practice!

      Bits are confusing, man... I was liking the french link baucher that I've had her for the past couple weeks, but lately I haven't been so sure and have found myself wanting to back to the regular loose ring that I had in her in before. The nathe idea is very intriguing though! I'd give it a try!

  5. Thankfully an ADD horse is not something I've had to deal with! I do own that dog though. :)

  6. I don't think I've seen that movie. As a Doberman owner I'm sure they made the Doberman the jerk in the dog social order. So sad. But back to horses. I don't really ride dressage (I have before, here and there), but I have had that same pain not in my triceps, but in an upper back shoulder muscle I've forgotten the name of. I remember literally not being able to pull off my pajamas over my head the next morning I was in so much pain. Who needs yoga or weight lifting when there's dressage?