Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chrome's Bath & Tenth Ride

 Okay, after Chrome's mud bath yesterday I just HAD to give him a bath!!!  So here he is after his bath all clean and pretty.  :)

 Impatiently pawing, brat!  He doesn't do it often and stops when I tell him to, so I took a second to snap a picture.

 Rubbing his itchy throat on the gate.

 Trying to push the gate open with his nose.

Here he's giving me the stink eye for telling him not to push the gate open.

Just in case you can't tell he was absolutely full of himself! So I decided to take him for a walk while he dried, hoping to avoid the popular after bath roll.

 I LOVE this shot!  He looks so Arabian in it. :)

 That vinegar rinse leaves him so shiny!

 He kept wanting to trot around because he was feeling his oats, but he was too close for me to keep him in the frame for pictures.  :(

The only decent trot picture and he's still partly out of frame (not to mention in a weird stride).

 Watching me and Faran at the same time lol.

He's so gorgeous in my totally biased opinion!  He skinny little haunches need some hill work LOL!

After our walk we had our tenth ride.  I got video, but it turned out so bad I'm not going to post it.  I guess my husband had it zoomed in or something because we were out of frame most of the time (or it was staring at Chrome's legs).  I did manage to get a couple of still shots from the video though.  :D  He was doing well on his long and low work and responding to my cues fairly well (I'm still working on consistency of my cues; I MUST stop looking down at him and start thinking forward with my body!), so I worked on steering a little.  He was totally confused.  He can't walk and turn at the same time (if it's my idea, does it fine on his own lol) because he thinks the reins mean stop I guess, even when I use just one rein.  Weird.  So I'm going to backtrack a bit and work on flexions from the ground, then from his back.  We will get there.  This has been a good lesson for me on breaking things down into tiny steps for success!

So I have a question for my dressage readers (especially those of you who have started babies), is this a good place to be for his long and low work?  Does he need to be lower or higher with his head?  Is he stretching through his back?  I'm going to have to start carrying a whip because he's losing impulsion in the walk (when he starts thinking of something besides just forward, such as steering).  If I put my leg on him when he's already walking he gets really confused, which makes me wonder if he still has no clue what it means lol.  I've actually caught him walking off simply from a seat cue!!  Is it okay to teach him just the seat cue and leave my legs relaxed?

P.S. Please don't critique my position.  I'm in a bit of a chair seat (heels not lined up with hips and shoulders).  Any tips on fixing that bareback?  It's way easier to get the correct position in a saddle lol.  :)

In this last photo his head is a little higher (too high to be considered long and low?).  So how does he look?  What do I need to be encouraging him to do?  Do you think ground poles would be a good exercise for him (to stretch his back, improve impulsion and give him something to do; how far apart should the poles be for walking through them?)?  As far as my position goes I need to roll my thigh and get my calves/heels off of him (I may have been asking him to walk forward with leg pressure here).  I really need to strengthen my core so I can improve my position.  I forgot how difficult a dressage seat is while riding bareback.  :D

Also, does he still look too small for me?  I'm seriously considering taking a break from riding to give him more time to grow physically and mature mentally.  I've been enjoying working on our ground work (and it definitely needs more touching up and consistency), so it won't upset me to not ride him right now.  Knowing that I can makes it easier not to lol.  I just want to give him the best start possible in learning to use his back and I don't want to make it more difficult for him by riding him before he's ready.  I totally forgot to mention he trotted with me again today!!  We had just returned from our walk and I got on.  He got carried away and wanted to find Faran and Zep so he trotted off (right under low hanging branches lol), but he stopped when I asked him to and we were fine.  So I don't think it's "difficult" for him to carry me, I just don't want him to learn to drop his back under me.  I'm probably just over-analyzing everything!

Anyway thanks for any tips, hints or advice you can offer!


  1. Since I don't do dressage but hunters we do lots of ground poles and also work with impulsion from the rear end. He needs more from what I can tell. The ground poles will help and it will also come with time when you can push him from seat/legs. The ground poles should be probably 2-4' probably. That's about how much I start Pippi at and you can adjust from there depending on him. But dressage riders may do it differently then me.

  2. Thanks Miranda! You confirmed what I was thinking. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Classical dressage doesn't deal with ground poles much, maybe some cavalletti if anything. But I am also not classical ha! I like ground poles to help but while being long and low is good for him my suggestion would be to get him to fully understand commands before you start long and low too much so you are working on only one thing at a time. Long and low also has a few different meanings depending on who you follow, one mentality is riding with their nose almost to the ground at a w/t/c to maximize the stretch and back muscles. While my App can do that, my theory says your picture shows about the right headset for long and low IMO.

    For you riding him I think you may be tall for him in regards to your leg position but he is not too small for you size wise. Your riding him isn't going to set him back imo because you don't appear to weigh that much and you aren't riding him 4 or 5 days a week. Ensuring his joints have closed is the only 100% sure way to go but at 3 he is more than old enough to be ridden, both physically and mentally.

  4. Chrome is looking most handsome after that bath! We have had nothing but rain here and both Vidock and Violette are absolutely filthy!

  5. He looks so pretty after his bath! Now why can't they stay that clean!
    I am not a dressage rider but in my opinion I would continue on with the basics until he really gets those before you move on with anything new!
    He looks great!

  6. Appydoesdressage, thank you for your comment! I know Chrome's not ready for cavaletti (they are only really helpful at the trot and canter I think), but I think the ground poles will help him stretch his back and lengthen his stride (he still walks with a short stride while carrying me). I probably should wait a while before doing them though because I don't want him to pull a muscle. Hmm, we'll see. I know I'm overly cautious, but I'd prefer to prevent a problem than have to figure out how to solve a problem LOL!

    Chrome will walk around with his nose almost on the ground, but I don't really like that because then there's no way to steer or anything. I agree with you that I like where he has it right now. That's probably all the stretch he needs to do at the moment anyway. :)

    Yeah, being so tall makes it very difficult to use my leg efficiently on him because he's still so narrow. I'm not too concerned about that right now. I know at three that their leg growth plates are usually closed, but those aren't the ones I'm worried about (although that is why I waited until he was three to ride him). I'm worried about the growth plates in his spine because they don't harden until six or seven years old!! That means a horse under seven years old is at risk of having their spines damaged. I know I'm not doing anything crazy on him like jumping him or vaulting onto his back, but I still worry about long term damage or weakening. They say a young horse should only carry 15% of their own body weight. I'm closer to 20% of his body weight. I'm sure that's not that big of a deal, but I'm a total perfectionist so those things cross my mind. I'm having fun with him and not worrying about it constantly though (although that's how it sounds in the post), just doing some thinking and trying to decide how I want to proceed (as I am, or take a break). Dunno. I'll follow my gut and see where that takes us. :) Thank you for you comment!! It's fun discussing these things with my readers.

  7. I am not a trainer of young horses, but I wouldn't worry so much about how he is carrying his head as I am with just forward movement.

    Also, stirrups will lift your legs up a bit. Most people err on the side of "too big", so I much prefer to see you on him with the legs a tad long. I personally prefer a smaller horse.

    Also, riding bareback, I think the legs come up a bit more than they would if you were in a saddle with stirrups (I think) It will be interesting to see what people say.

    A riding crop will help if used properly - you could also just swing your arm back and gently propel him forward with your hand with a gentle slap on the rumpus.

  8. as to riding bareback... I meant the legs come a tad more forward.

  9. I agree with Margaret. Forward is more important than head position. If his neck is long, then he is taking long strides and stretching his back. His neck is really just an extension of his back in front of you, so it is an excellent indicator of what his topline is doing.

    That being said, when his back is stretching it is not as supportive of the rider's weight. This is part of the reasoning behind using rising trot in the stretchy-trot circle in dressage tests and in the long and low warm-up. I know that you are just walking, but his back is still vulnerable in the stretched position. I think that this has been brought up before, but I believe that it would be in the best interest of his training to get him a saddle that will distribute his rider's weight over a larger area and keep his spine free of pressure. This would also remedy the leg position, which you questioned. Bareback naturally puts your legs forward.

    I know that you care a great deal about your horse and have come a long way with him. I only want the best for you and wish you the utmost success.

  10. I agree with the others who commented that forward is what to work on at this stage. Simple cues - leg on to walk - stop your motion to halt - reinfored thru out the ride. Ground work in between rides helped me most with Riva - and I still do a brief session of ground work before every ride.

  11. His head position looks pretty good to me - you're not asking him for a contact particularly at this stage, so it's really good that he's happy to stretch down. And I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about your position - riding bareback makes it really hard to sit correctly - trying to force a correct dressage seat when you're bareback will probably just be uncomfortable for both of you. I'd just keep doing what you're doing - getting him happy to take you forward. Definitely carry a schooling whip to give him a little energy, as it's better than having to kick all the time!
    You could try a few poles, but I'd do them more as ground work than ridden at the moment. He's still getting used to the feel of a rider and I would let him get the hang of that before you ask him to negotiate poles as well.
    And you don't in any way look too big for him - he carries you really nicely and his back looks strong so I really wouldn't worry about this!
    You're doing great!

  12. I loved reading this post! I'm so glad to hear about your progress!


I appreciate all comments, advice and questions! Your comments are what makes blogging so worth it. I love to hear from my followers, so thanks for taking the time to share your comments. :)