LOOOONG reply warning.
(if you feel like not reading a whole lot..skip this whole part until the next sentence in brackets
Donald: You are absolutely right about not using both reins in those moments. I have heard of the one rein stop, but never got around to practicing it. For safety, I should, and I will. This afternoon, in fact.
The pressure-release is something I actually find difficult to do..I am aware of it, and try to remain aware of it during riding but sometimes I do forget. Same with building up signals, sometimes I get so frustrated I just go for the stronger aid straight away, which is not the right way, of course.
Karen: You are right about the balance thing. My own seat and balance have drastically improved over the last months, so I am working on that as well.
Pain is my major fear (that she is in pain). But I really donâ€™t think that is the problem..after all, yesterday, the second we went for the outside ride everything was fine. And there are days where riding is really great. If the saddle was truly hurting her, I doubt she would be so much happier for just a change of scenery, mostly. I will do some groundwork with her saddle on though, to see what will happen. And I have been looking around for a different girth, since she is not too fond about this one. Perhaps that will help as well.
I will definitely go through BrendaÂ´s videos, thank you for the link!
Josepha: Because she trots faster and faster because she wants a canter. So I thought okay, letâ€™s do that then, but on my command. The speeding up is not a balance thing (she does it in the arena as well), it is her wanting to canter, and me not having control over her speed. And then we have days where this is fine, where I can collect her or send her off flying on my seat and voice alone. So I donâ€™t feel I ask anything of her she is physically incapable of doing; she has done it all before.
My left leg has been a problem for a long time. Somehow she just is extremely sensitive to it. I try to ride her on my seat alone, with as little leg pressure as I can, but I cannot completely avoid it at times. Even so, biting me is not allowed. She has sometimes bitten at my leg, without actually touching; that for me was a clear sign something was bothering her, so I changed my riding style accordingly. But actually biting..no.
The problem with letting Dafner call the shots is that this is what she is already doing half the time when riding. Take the trot. She tends to just want to go fast, fast, fast! Some days I can slow her down quite easily, and we will have a really nice ride. Other days she will not listen at all, and just continue to run. Letting her call the shots there would mean: letting her run. Next time, I wonâ€™t be able to slow her down at all, anymore. And I have tried that..so I know from experience, not just guessing here :P
The one thing I tried which I could go back to, is the first 15 minutes or so I would control the gait, she the speed. After those 15 minutes I would take speed control as well. I know I did it, canâ€™t quite remember why I stopped doing it, but I will try that again.
Dafner did not like the situation..but does she have to like every single second of everything we do? This sounds horribly un-AND-like, but what I mean is..if I allowed Dafner to do what she loved most, it would be eating (in the field) or cantering (in the arena). If I ask her to back up, she isnâ€™t going to love doing it. But it IS good training for her. Just like walking out in the open field is difficult for her, but good training.
Can you see the conflicts here?
I want Dafner to experience riding (in every location) is fun and I want her to show initiative -- but right now she is taking too much initiative without letting me ride her.
I hate pulling the reins or doing anything which could cause her the slightest pain -- but sometimes it appears to be unavoidable, and then I get so frustrated with my own behavior that I get frustrated with her for making me behave that way (because she will not listen to anything else) and next time I will pull even harder.
Above things do not happen all the time, we have great days as well, so she is not in great pain, she is physically capable of doing it all, and she understands what I ask of her -- so WHY does she refuse half of the time?
I am receiving conflicting messages from each side as well. My dressage friend gave me tips which really helped me out, but some of her viewpoints of course clash with what is being said here; and that is again different from what my instructor has said, which is different from what other people at my stable say and do.
I couldâ€™ve just skipped EVERYTHING above, I think..)
-moment of epiphany here-â€¦.but I think the greatest problem is my mindset.
Groundwork was entirely new for me. Iâ€™d never done it. So when I began that, I was already soaked in the NH and AND viewpoints, of using positive reinforcement, no pressure or pain, no force, and letting the horse have freedom of choice as well.
Riding I have been doing for years according to traditional riding style, and it appears to be much more difficult to change my mindset there, than it was to adopt a new one for the groundwork.
I need to change. And then Dafner will follow.
Because she DOES do the groundwork exercises. She DOES do what I ask of her, when I ask it. So why should it be so different in riding? I need to have more faith in her. Need to trust in our relationship, trust that she will obey me when it is necessary.
Today is groundwork day, tomorrow I will do clickering and riding. Perhaps that will be the answer. I will also make an appointment with my instructor and ask her to help me out with this - she is quite AND-like, actually.
Hereâ€™s my idea. I will do the clickering. But first, I will let her decide. Just..go, do as you like. To show her that okay, weâ€™re going to do things differently now, Iâ€™m going to give you some freedom as well. Good idea or bad? I could then begin by clicking for every gait transition she makes of her own accord, for example, to show her that I will reward her initiative. And then, when she appears to be done with doing her own thing, I will begin to ask little things of her, while constantly rewarding her for listening.
But what do I do when I ask her to stop, for example, and she doesnâ€™t? Let it be and walk on, and try again in a little bit? Pull harder? (which is what I did before) Send her into the fence so she has to stop?
Oh, and..thank you so much for your elaborate answers and for helping me.