The Art of Natural Dressage

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 Post subject: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:05 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:23 am
Posts: 69
Location: Norway
The last time I rode Meeg, was 2nd of January in 2008. I wanna start up a little again, as I feel the time is right now! I have been sitting on her back a few times lately, for one minute. I don't know what to do! I don't dare do anything else than just sit there and jump off. I'm afraid I'll put on too much pressure if I try making a move or suggest that she can walk, or back up, and stuff like that. I also want to move towards collection.. I wanna use the cordeo only.. Anyone who has anything wise to say? I just need some inspiration..!


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:21 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 3:20 pm
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Location: Norway
Do the same as on the ground.. :)

If she has learned to walk in a cordeo with you on the ground - try to transfer it to the back.. :) And so on. Or - just go for a walk, with you on her back some of the time.. :)


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 3:09 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:00 pm
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Location: Belgium/Tielt-Winge
I started with sitting on him too, in between the exercises and then ask the same exercise on his back as on the ground. Now I spend more time on him, sitting and moving my body, so I can see what reaction I get. I'm getting to know my body and the movements I need to do in order to get Beau to understand me. When I do something in my body like tilt my pelvis or turn my shoulder or touch him with a leg I ALWAYS get a response, maybe not what I wanted but at least what it meant to him :) He does not get mad, because I do not force him and do not punish him and we are really evolving now.

So if you ask and do not keep asking she will probably wonder what you are doing and will try something as a reaction.

At least that is what I am seeing with Beau now.

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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:39 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:04 pm
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Every time I start riding (I don't ride often, maybe twice a month) I just get up and see what happens. We do some exercises in walk now like shoulder in and out and everything that goes sideways is fun when you ask my horse so we do that a lot (like, when I actually want a halt).

Mostly the same exercises as we do on the ground but with me sitting on her, trying to find her reaction to stuff. We also do a lot of weightshifting.
I'm busy straightening my horse out, so the weightshifting is really good for her, basically it's me shifting my weight and her staying under need me so shifting her weight, we made a game out of that.

So to me it's what my horse wants to do, with what my horse really needs when it comes to practice (she has been diagnosed kissing spines so we really have to straighten her) and a combination of things.

I;m not sure wether or not this was actually helpful for you... but I hope so.

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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:32 am
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Location: New York
Hey Kaja:

Here are some thoughts on prepping for riding -- some of which are ground approaches, some of which are on the horse approaches, that might be helpful:

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1846

Another great source of ideas are Brenda's videos -- one game that she created that my horse Circe and I are just starting to play with is -- oh, rats, I'm forgetting what Brenda calls it -- but we put food down at various points in the arena (I put it on upside down buckets) and go from one to the next.

I found that I really needed to do this from the ground first so she got what the game is about. (First time we tried it I had made the apparently ENORMOUS leap that she'd know there were yummies on the next bucket without showing her first by playing the game on the ground with her...see Leigh saying, "Circe, trust me, there's something really cool over there!" and Circe saying "Huh???") ;)

I also am exploring moving around on her quite a bit -- laying on her, doing "around the world", etc.

And the key for us, which I'm continually finding better ways of landing in, is keeping it FUN, FUN, FUN!

A couple of nights ago I did the crazy clown/drunk dance (Brenda and Donald talk about this in the link above) where I was spinning around her -- turning around and around up against her body as I moved all the way around her -- yelling "wheeeeeee!" -- this gave both of us the giggles (or at least me, but her energy got light as mine got light), and when I got on her we both still had that bubbling...it was the most relaxed either of us had been to date when I was on her -- and when I got on her briefly again last night (as she was eating her supper), she was lighter and more relaxed with me about it than she's been.

All of this said, I'm also experimenting with just doing what we're doing until one or both of us gets bored with it and it occurs to us to do something else, too. We're doing the "riding while grazing" thing I talk about in that link the most, and we move when she wants to -- I'm doing this, at this point, in a fairly small pasture (so I'm not worried she'll head off into the sunset! 8) ;) with no tack whatsoever -- I hold onto her mane. This has been great for me, too, because I'm learning how to better be a passenger, both mentally and physically -- am learning to feel her weight changes/energy changes, etc. as she begins to move -- essentially, I'm learning how to listen with my body. I often close my eyes when we're doing this so I can really focus on what I'm feeling rather than what I'm seeing. When this feels boring, we'll find the next step...

Hope this is helpful!
:)

Best,
Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:23 am
Posts: 69
Location: Norway
Thank you so much Kirsti, Barbara, KDS and Leigh! :) This was very helpful! The last times I have been on her back I have just sat there for a while and jumped off, and sometimes I ask her to back up just like I to when we're on ground, or walk a few steps. It's great! :D I walk up on a chair and she has not walked away from me even once when I've been trying to get on her back. Everything is going well so far.. :)


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:00 pm
Posts: 1681
Location: Belgium/Tielt-Winge
that's great! :applause:
well done! it's so wonderful when your horse stays close to you and actually wants you to get on... :love:

_________________
Horseriding is an art

My horse is a beautiful living sculpture


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:30 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:23 am
Posts: 69
Location: Norway
Yes it is! :)

Here are from today:
Image

Backing:
Image


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:30 am 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 11:57 am
Posts: 1983
Location: provincie Utrecht
well done !


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:32 am
Posts: 3270
Location: New York
Woohee!!!

And oh, man, he's gorgeous!

(And I just love your spiffy plaid britches...too styling, the two of you!) :D

Congratulations, Kaja! :cheers:

Best,
Leigh

_________________
"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi
www.imaginalinstitute.com


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:46 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
Hi Everyone:

Since this topic is perfect for what I want to ask, I have decided to post here (hope you don't mind Kaja.

I started riding Magik, my QH and since he is so small (950 lbs), I wanted to start riding with only a bareback pad and a halter to start, then a cordeo.

I do feel safe with him but...I don't really ask much.
Is it a good idea to start with a bareback in order to feel the horse's movement, IOW, do we feel the horse's movement more with a bb or not. Is it better for the horse to ride with a saddle (that fits of course) or would a horse prefer the bb since it hardly weighs anything.

Your opinions would be greatly appreciated.

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Jocelyne
[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 2:20 am 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 8:18 pm
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Location: Alberta
Oh, so lovely!!!!! :applause: :applause: :applause:

My suggestion is, for something like walking forward, use your verbal cue...do you "chirp" or smooch or cluck for walking forward when you're on the ground? Do the same when your sitting on her. This makes a suggestion, but leaves the response up to her. Also, for any forward movement that you ask, make sure you sit up and don't lean forward or back. Just sit centered, relaxed and passive.

I think Meeg will show you how it should go. I love the idea of placing food around the arena. You can do it a couple of times with you on the ground and show her where the food is too.

Love it! Congratulations!!!!

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"Ride reverently, as if each step is the axis on which the earth revolves"


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 5:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:32 am
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Location: New York
Hey J:

As to your questions about saddle pad or bareback pad...

There are probably as many answers to them as there are horses and people! :funny:

Here's what I've done with Circe:

I've done a bunch of no saddle, no pad, nekkid sessions -- these are our "eating while grazing" sessions -- she's getting to hang out and wander as she'd like and munch and I"m letting her get used to my weight. We've also done this a few times in the arena without food and I've moved around a bunch on her back, done "around the world, laid across her, etc.

My purpose for this is to get us both comfortable with full body contact -- I don't like the "only touch the horse" from the saddle training that I have inadvertently gotten over the years. I think it makes both horse and person nervous (or at least can) because the vocabulary of physical contact is so narrow -- if something shifts or is unexpected, there is no familiarity with anything but butt in saddle -- for either player!

I've used a bareback pad with her a couple of times, but I'm finding I don't like them -- or at least the one I have -- on her. She is very round (and has great padding along her spine -- this is one of the reasons that I've been comfortable doing this with her, because I'm not sitting right on her spinal column), and she's got a really round barrel. So, on her, with the cheapo pad I have, I actually feel less secure than I do when literally bareback.

I have also used the saddle some, too -- it is one option when we work together but not a given when I'm on her. (This is as much about reminding me to not push her too hard as anything else -- easy for me to fall into old riding habits when I've got those boots in stirrups!) But if we are going to try to do anything with focus, I use the saddle, so if she scoots or skips or does something unexpected, there is no negative impact for either of us (I'm not grabbing at her because she scooted sideways and I lost my balance, for example...).

So, in terms of saddle, I would experiment -- some horses are really comfortable with little or nothing between them and person. Some prefer some padding. Magick will probably tell you! And experiment with what makes you feel the most secure -- if you are really comfortable w/no saddle, that's great. If it makes you a little tense, then I'd go with a saddle until you're both really comfortable with each other. I think the tack here is FAR less important than having soft, fun, relaxed time with each other.

Bottom line, for me it's about what the best equation is for horse and person comfort. I do use a treeless saddle, so I'm feeling pretty close to the same amount of movement in my saddle as I do a bareback pad. And while I love the bareback game, I don't think starting there is better for either person or horse if it makes either one tense -- and it won't screw up your training (either of you!) to start in a saddle and move to a bareback pad or literally bareback sometime later on in your training.

(Also, as an aside, I don't like riding in a halter -- I know some people do -- I've used it a bit on Circe, but I find that it feels like a really clumsy, imprecise tool. I much prefer riding in a bitless bridle if I'm asking for anything. I just don't think halters were designed for the kind of subtle communication that bridles were -- I don't like how imprecise the pressure is on noses, I don't like the thickness of lead ropes, etc. As I said, I know some people are perfectly happy to ride in a halter, but for me it doesn't feel in any way superior or even equal to a good bitless bridle, whatever version works for the horse/person.)

Hope this is helpful!

Best,
Leigh

_________________
"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi
www.imaginalinstitute.com


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
Thanks Leigh for the info.
I completely forgot about the bitless bridle. I was at one point going to buy one but here in Quebec, there aren't very many people using them therefore the tack shops don't have any. I would have to order online. And buying online is risky. What if it doesn't fit.
Which bitless bridle do you have? If I were to order one, what should I know about size? I've heard alot about Dr. Cook's bb. Is this the best fitting?

Also, you're right about riding both, with and without saddle. I have a tucker endurance saddle which, I believe fits him well since I've saddled Magik a few times and he didn't seem to be disturbed by it. But this was last year. But I think I'll keep in mind: when not asking anything (like I'm going to be doing for awhile in order to learn how to move with the horse), I'll use the bb pad and when I decide to ask for the walk or anything, I'll use the saddle.
I will look into buying a bitless bridle. It makes sense. The halter was not made to ride but to walk the horse.

Thanks so much.
Joc

_________________
Jocelyne
[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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 Post subject: Re: How would you start?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:32 am
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You are so welcome! Glad it felt helpful.

I do use Cook's BB and like it, as do my horses.

Again, I think this is a horse/person preference thing -- Claire, for example, tried Cook's with one of her girls, who really didn't like it, so they created a light, simple sidepull (there may be pix of this somewhere...???) which has worked really well for them. Karen's horses have gone well in sidepulls or cavesons, Donald is a fabulous advocate for and user of La Jaquima...

For my purposes, the Cook's has worked really well -- and I think it's a reasonable place to start. They have pretty good sizing information on their website -- the only thing I've found at all an issue is that Circe has such a big forehead, the browband was tight on hers. They come in both Beta (a synthetic material) and leather -- I love the tradition of leather but have actually liked the Beta's better. They're soft and flexible and easy to clean and release well, IMO. And Cook has a great return policy -- they'll give a full refund if you don't like it, they'll switch out brow bands if they're the wrong size, and if you start with a Beta and decide you want a leather, they'll credit you for the Beta if you return it. So I don't think the online buying is a huge risk at all with them.

You should also go look at Josepha's store just to see the options that she has -- I'm sure she can tell you lots about each! (And online buying isn't a risk with her, either...) ;)

(And how totally exciting that you and Magick are getting serious about the riding portion of your playtime! Yay for you both!) :)

Best,
Leigh

_________________
"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi
www.imaginalinstitute.com


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