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Re: Nose in the air/head tossing

At 09:28 PM 10/24/1999 -0700, wrote:
>aahhh- got you to give some of your excellent dressage riding
instructions.  But
>please fix my ignorance - what are balancing reins?  

Thanks.  And balancing reins are the same thing as German sliding reins (if
you know what those are.)  Basically, the rein attaches to the girth above
the level of the elbow, go thru a snaffle bit from outside to inside
(you're going from a wider area to a narrow area with these reins), then
attach to a D-ring near the pommel.  They have adjustments on them and you
should adjust them to the point where the reins make a straight line from
the pommel to the bit and then from the bit to the girth area when the
horse is standing in a relaxed but alert position.  After you've been
working the horse for a while, you may have to tighten the reins...the
horse may be collecting more and the reins may be in danger of getting too
loopy (a hazard.)  If you tighten the balancing reins, be sure to loosen
them and allow him to stretch every 5 or so minutes.  These are NOT the
same as draw reins (which I also don't like) because they balancing reins
are not held by human hands.  The saddle or surcingle is *much* steadier
and kinder. ;-)  They can't be quickly cranked in and held quite tight
quite as easily...and you don't ride with them (except for maybe a few
minutes just to transfer the info over to what you're doing in the saddle.)  

  Its harder to learn
>steady hands when the horse is hollowing defensively before you can get
>in rythm.  

The solution to this is to get off of his back...even at a walk.  When you
warm up, go into your two-point as soon as possible.  When you sit back
down, do it *very* gently and gradually.  Encourage him to stretch his neck
down as low as possible when he starts walking (usually more successful at
this part when at home...can do later when at a ride. <g>)  When he starts
to trot, get off of his back immediately and go into your two point until
you've steadied your hands and he's relaxed some.  Concentrate on your
position -- continuously fix it and correct it when you are warming
up...always...forever!!  And then continually fix it *after* you're warmed
up...and basically as long as you're in the saddle. ;-)

When the two of you get the movements coordinated, you can start adding
more movement.  If you start to tighten or tire, go back to walk...stop
doing whatever you're doing BEFORE he starts to lose his position or you
start to lose yours.

Also helped to be in an arena and do smallish circles as an aid to
>start or re-start him rounding if my hands lost contact and he went into a
>defensive heads up hollow back frame.  And definitely helped a LOT to have an
>instructor telling me right away when I started bumping his mouth because
I lost
>my rythm and giving me specific advice for what I was doing wrong. 

Smallish circles are good for increasing the horse's flexibility and
ability to give at the jaw, but they can be hard on the joints and often
result in the rider dropping the inside shoulder and causing the horse to
fall to the inside -- on *his* inside shoulder.  Then the rider continues
to practice falling to the inside for however long it goes on.  (They get
real good at it after a while. ;-))  Do big circles and concentrate on
keeping your shoulder up and don't drop your hand.  Use your inside leg and
inside rein.

Now that you have the horse limbered up <g> establish contact.  Practice
keeping your light contact at a walk until you can keep real steady
following on the reins.  A horse that is fairly new to contact or pretty
out of shape or green will move his head around a lot at first...stay with
him.  Eventually he'll strengthen the right muscles and be able to move
more smoothly...and also learn that, no matter where he moves his head, you
are going to be right there with him...not snatching him back when he
wiggles around.

When you get out on the trails, you can't just stop any old time and do
nice, pretty circles to get the horse to relax and on the bit and bending.
You need to have a different way to get that horse to round and come on to
the bit and lift his back.  If you're walking, add an inside leg and inside
hand...and keep steady on the outside hand -- and look UP!!!  Looking down
adds weight to the horse's forehand making it more difficult to carry
himself.  If you're trotting, go into your two-point and concentrate on
your hands.  Wiggle the rein in the inside hand (right hand if you're
turning right...or either hand on the straight) and add a little off-on of
your inside leg.  Get off of his back.  When your hands are quiet and
holding in one place, add the posting.  Don't let the reins get loopy.
This is something that you can practice in the arena because he will then
recognize the drill more quickly on the trail.  Pretty soon the corrections
will be quicker and more subtle with both bodies.

And don't forget to keep your eyes up.  I've haven't talked about the eyes
as much, but they are also an important part.  Looking down at the horse's
mane or your hands adds a lot of weight where you don't want it.  Add a
little extra upward glance whenever you do any upward or downward
transitions (particularly important when you halt) or whenever you go over
a log in the woods or a cavaletti in the arena.

Tyee Farm
Marysville, Wa.

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