Very interesting April. So now I have a few questions for you (and everyone).
by putting his hindleg under him, is this only an exercise he should or is it to prepare him for certain dressage moves (I know nothing about dressage).
Do you prefer working in a square paddock (picadero) or a round pen. I'll tell you why. I asked my boyfriend to build me an indoor round pen (50' diameter) because all I've heard about is a r.p. but if a picadero can be used for all the same reasons as a round pen and it makes him physically more fit, I would probably ask for a picadero.
what is your advice?? (I didn't even know that a picadero existed)
The picadero actually helps him to collect. I do this at a walk and if he rushes that's fine. At first, I do this totally at liberty. The round pen came into play to get rid of corners. The cowboys felt the horse would get stuck in the corner. Yes, they do turn into the corner, but lay off the pressure and allow them to find their way around the corner.
The other reason why they will turn into the corner is because they aren't with you yet. This is fine, take mental notes, it's no big deal. It will improve as long as you respect this.
What I really like about the picadero is that once they are finally wanting to be with you, is that, they will step into the corner and actually bend. They have to bring that inside leg under themselves otherwise, they will fall down. They have to stand up going through it. They are doing this, not us making them do this. Allow the corner to do the training. When they come out of the corner, then it's a straight line. This gives the muscles a relaxing time. The muscles need this time.
A horse that isn't use to using their muscles this way, is very very hard. I only ask for about 3 times and then change direction, 3 more times, and then it's done. You don't need to do a lot. Like I stated this is not an easy exercise. Think of yourself, doing palates or stretches for the very first time.
The round pen does absolutely nothing for them except that they can go round and round. The horses have a false bend.
What I would do is go out and walk and trot, just yourself, around the round pen. See how your body bends and how it is used. Where are you legs? Where is your ribcage? Where is your shoulder and is it easy to drop the shoulder into the circle and still move around. Do this at the walk and trot. Just yourself not your horse.
Then you can take a string and make a nice 30-35 x30-35 square pen and do the same thing. Feel how your body goes into the corner and how you have to stand up to make it through and then you'll come out straight. Again, how easy is it to drop your shoulder when you're in the corner? What muscles are you having to use?
I only do picadero work a couple of times a week, then we might do arena work, play, or go for a walk out in the country or just take a walk around the pasture. I mix things up so not to be boring. This isn't about drilling the horse, but preparing the horse and get to know your horse so you're relationship will grow and his own abilities will grow.
If we can teach the horse how to collect, this will benefit his health. It makes him stronger and he'll be able to carry you in a more comfortable way. Also, this will stregthen his back and actually his whole body.
The size of the picadero is important. You don't want it too small nor too big. It also depends on the size of your horse and his own abilities. I had retrained Racehorses and I made the picadero 40 x40 (this is in feet). I tried the smaller 30 x30 but because their muscles have been used differently, I needed to give them more room and not feel crunched in it. As they changed, then picadero size changed to help them further their training. I wouldn't go any smaller than 30x30.
Go with what feels right to you at the time, but I would switch over to a square even if your horse gets stuck in the corner, this is fine and allow them the time to think things over. Take mental notes, that this is where your relationship is right now...no big deal. As long as, you respect your horses opinion and acknowledge him everything is going to turn out okay.
Make it fun being in the picadero. The horse I'm working with right now, will go right under the lines and hang out in it. He'd look at me saying aren't you coming. I have disappointed him, because sometimes we wouldn't do picadero exercises, but we'd do other things and he would cheer up.
I am hoping to be able to have videos done this weekend of me and Shhzzar in the picadero.