The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:06 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:00 pm
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Location: Belgium/Tielt-Winge
Marion asks us nowadays to work some more on collection by training on the takt in his hind legs by asking him a piaffe like movement, I started training this by sitting down into collection in my body and making a 2 takt movement in my legs+ having the hand closest to him upwards (to get more collection) and moving in the same takt up and down, I am at his hind end at the moment...
I do the same with my hand down pointing at his chest for a passage (which works great)

but now I get a lot of terre a terre instead of piaffe and then in a bend away from me... I believe it has to do with my hand position because on a circle I use this high hand for asking his hind end in (travers wise) but I am at this moment walking backwards keeping his shoulder out with my shoulder...
So I stand next to him facing the same way when I try the piaffe

any ideas on how to have a difference in aids that is clearer???
should I stand looking at his hind end for piaffe because it is not a forward movement? and have that as a difference with the terre a terre??

Marion, who just trains with a bridle could not help me, she just gives me exercises and sees what I do with it , which is fun... but I love to share ideas and figure this out together

I will see what the difference is if I try the exercise facing him, I just feel it will give him a larger amount of pressure because I will have my bellybutton towards him...

so I look forward to any advice and ideas...

big hugs
Barbara

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:34 pm 
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I'll just write some things that come to my mind when reading the description of your piaffe aids:
- when I try to set the pace for the piaffe for Mucki, I often jump from foot to foot, trying to mimic piaffe steps. That can be interpreted as cue for canter jumps sometimes, when we have done that a lot before.
- the position at the hindquarters and the association of the raised hand with travers may put the attention too much on the hindquarters and him into the canter mode, as travers is a precursor to canter

With Mucki, travers helped us to the very first piaffe steps, as it made him focus on collection. He does not offer terre à terre though, so he does not think in that direction very much.
I guess, sandwiching trot with collection will eventually do the trick. And playfulness of course ;)

I just reviewed one of my videos from the winter, where I got Mucki's first hints of piaffe steps. I remember that I just switched between forward movement in trot and exercises, that brought his weight on the hindquarters. I gradually reduced the trot speed to a halt and after some time, he offered a bouncy upward trot. He was in a very playful mood as well...

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:41 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:00 pm
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Location: Belgium/Tielt-Winge
What a beautiful connection there is between you two...
I love you're school halt and see the his collection is very good, Beau will much easier start to rear when asked to do school halt, he will not get this low in his haunches, therefor I think this is the difference between the ease with which Mucki will start to piaffe as to the difficulties Beau has and that is probably why he will go to terre a terre. He finds it difficult to bend his right hindleg because of an injury he has had as a young horse, it remains his weakness.
I will continue to work on his school halt and try to get it slower, more controlled and for a longer time, do you have any tips on how to do this?
Then I will work on more transitions and I believe that when I can use changes between travers and shoulder in on a bigger circle (like lunging) he might give me a more collected trot.

I'll keep you posted on how we are doing...

Big hugs
Barbara

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:22 pm 
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Barbara wrote:
I will continue to work on his school halt and try to get it slower, more controlled and for a longer time, do you have any tips on how to do this?
I used these things to improve school halt and hindleg engagement:
- Rewarding for very early stages of rearing (i.e. interrupting the high rear by rewarding for just the preparation for it). Since the rears are so self-rewarding, I found it otherwise hard to make the horse focus on the beginning of the movement, namely the bending of the haunches. While rearing, most horses do a decent amount of bended haunches and that way, the bending becomes a conscious action.

- The Mountain Goat stance helped us the install a cue for stepping forward, under the weight with the hindlegs. This I could later use in combination with the weight shift back to get more bending in the hindlegs.

- I also used rears a lot for training the hindquarter strength. What I did though was that I cued Mucki not with raised body, or arms. Instead my cue is going deep into a crouching/squatting kind of move, while imagining that I lift Mucki up with my arms. It feels very similar to the warrior position in yoga. Very strong, very grounded.
Don't know if that would be beneficial to you though, since you want to get away from rears and jumps as a default behaviour...

- I also tried to use situations, where bended haunches are a natural thing, make sense and are fun. Backing up towards natural, or artificial borders on the ground. Shifting weight back while standing with the front-legs on a pedestal (tree stump, uphill).
With Mucki, even bad weather had its benefits ;).

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:59 pm 
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Location: Belgium/Tielt-Winge
I still remember the film af you two working in the bad weather, it was wonderful to see. I do use his rears, in a low version and there is a difference with the school halt.
school halt= sitting down putting my weight back and down
rear= I do the same and combine it with lifting my arm closest to him, and the moment I do that is right after I do a pass or 3-4 of stepping in place (this gives me a feeling of build up of energy in place)

I believe I need to practice getting that energy build up without stepping, that might help to get a slower rear... the way I do it now is sort of building to an explosion...

Today I practiced further on getting a better 'takt' in his hindlegs by stepping more clearly and really focussing on my steps and lifting my legs, I got a better 'schwung' in his hindlegs, we practiced this in shoulder in and then went to travers, when in travers I would go to a halt (walking in front of him going backwards and then stopping, using my shoulder to slow his shoulders and pulling him in with my bellybutton after which I would make myself bigger resulting in him going towards schoolhalt).

combining this with me going in a collected trot-movement got him to start lifting his hindlegs in a faster 'takt' which looked like a piaffe movement, but not yet a real one, at least we had the energy and the movement I'm looking for...

of course after 10 minutes of preparing him... but it felt great!

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