I was just introduced to dressage about a year ago, and have started getting into it and am interested in improving the multiple things I know I'm doing wrong! Under a few different instructors, I was under the impression I needed to keep a firm contact with my outside rein and a slightly opening feel with the inside rein, giving multiple half halts with my outside rein as necessary to get the horse's head to come down. Plus a good forward gait to move the horse into your hands, it basically seemed to work, most of the time. Recently a new instructor told me something I've never been told to do: when the horse is sticking her head up in the air and being stiff, halt and take a lot of rein equally in both hands (felt like 8 pounds or so, maybe more?) and just hang on, not moving, not giving in, until the horse starts to chew and eventually drops its head. My horse tried backing up but I just gave a bit of leg. Although it worked after about 35 seconds of holding firm, it felt kind of drastic. Why have I never heard of this as a way of getting a horse "round" or at least getting her to accept the bit more and not stick her head in the air - what is the right way? Thanks for any help - my next lesson with this guy is tomorrow morning and I wanted to be more prepared!

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I'd go back to the first instructor if I were you!! Gettting the horse round is more about riding the horse forward to the hand than useing the hand alone. Remember the horse must be strong enough in the back and top line before it can come round and work towards being on the bit. Cheers Geoffrey
yes, I agree. All of the instructors I have worked with always emphasize quality of gaits, tempo, and rythm to be able to get the horse round. You shouldn't feel like you have to force the horse into the bridle, but that the horse is willing to move forward into the connection. Good luck!
Thanks very much for the replies!
This is a training method used by Phillipe Karl and it does work! You should read his book! (available on amazon.com) This is very interesting stuff. I audited his clinic last July. i went home and tried his methods and it worked wonderfully without stress for the horse or rider. Now I use his methods a lot and they work every time on both the horses I ride. My own horse was a 3 year old last year that I had broken and he seemed to be stuck in his training. I started using the PK method and everything clicked for him and he started advancing in his training. I also ride a 14 year old gelding that belongs to my friend. This horse has improved dramatically and is now very light and responsive.
Great to know, thank you!
SLC2, has a wonderful way of saying things..really. I am not familiar with dressage, I ride western pleasure so I am used to not having rein contact..but I can tell you that a horse cannot be round and collected properly without motion, and as Goeffrey Pannell said a strong back and topline. I have noticed that many horses with no dressage training in the past (best freind is a 3 day eventer) do seem to be confused in most cases when asked for contact and bending, my friends has started to used a surcingle, and tie down to allow her horse to feel the pressure, give to it, and release himself on the lunge line, then she gives the same que with her hands asking the horse to stretch at the wither..it has worked well for her, and her trot and walk are good from what I have heard.
that does make sense aswell..This horse is abused though..and has learned harsh work on the mouth and "contact" as a punishment..to my knowledge..so giving him the release does seem to work for him..

With the contact as not being a "punishment" what does that make western pleasure riders who ride with no rein contact? I mean we ride with contact (I ride with spurs, my horse knows if I lay both spurs on him and bump them that means his head needs to go down, I roll my spur on my outside leg and kiss means lope/canter along with moving his hip for the cant, putting steady pressure on his sides equally tells him to back up, thent he usual shoulder in, hip out ect ect, roll backs)

But I do release that contact once the said thing I want is done (IE I want him to back a full horse lenght, I put spur on, then once I get the action, I drop the contact) Does that mean I am punishing?

I by all means see where you are coming from, and think that you have a good concept, I am just interested in your training technique.
that again makes sense, I have nothing do to with dressage, or jumping. I am into the APHA/AQHA stuff. I do ride english in Hunter under saddle, but that is far from dressage.

She has been taught this by a reputable dressage instructor and competitor..but I think its a matter of what a person feels comfortable for and what. The way she has done things with the tie down is known over here, lots of people do it ( I don't, but I use other aids). It seems to work for this horse.

One more question..do you see 3 day eventers having more "problems" with putting there head down onto the bit, then a plain dressage rider? Iam just curious as I can see it as the horse may get confused possibly by stadium and xcountry where they need to go over them jumps, see where there going, and in some aspects go fast, collection is not necessary..for 2 of the events, and then for the other event be collected, slower than on the xcountry, but usually the dressage ring is on the xcountry field. Its obviosuly possible, but I just wanted to know..sorry this is going off topic.

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