Working in an outline

Donkey Kong

New Member
Nov 4, 2019
6
2
3
37
Hi, I'm a new poster here and I'd appreciate some insight about dressage. I've always been taught to get a horse to use itself correctly by focusing on rein aids as well as leg aids. My horse will start off hollow, with a high head carriage but if I don't do anything with my hands and just warm him up with lateral work after about 20 mins he reaches for the contact and raises his back. It's a very different feeling to putting him on the bit.

The thing is I'm not sure if that's the correct way of riding him. Every dressage rider I've know doesn't let their horse choose where to put its head. They don't give it the opportunity to be high headed. My horse resists rein aids to put him on the bit but given time to warm up he naturally goes on the vertical when he raises his back. Is this a correct way to ride?

This may sound silly but I feel like I should be able to ride like everyone else does. However I'm starting to think the reason for his resistance might be physical. So after this long essay Id like to hear other people's opinions on what I'm doing:)
 
Last edited:

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
21,172
11,222
113
38
Suffolk, UK
Pulling the head down into position is a short cut that rarely works to get a horse truly engaged and working through it's back, what you describe of warming up and getting them to lift and seek the contact is the 'correct' way to get true self carriage, keep going, you're on the right track :)
 

carthorse

Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
7,062
2,568
113
What you're doing IS putting him on the bit, what they're doing is almost certainly cranking in the front end while leaving the majority of the horse hollow and unengaged. I say almost certainly because some horses are naturally round and wouldn't choose to work head high, or would look for long and low as a default.and obviously with them you would have a different approach. Don't worry about being the same, not if the same is wrong!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong

New Member
Nov 4, 2019
6
2
3
37
Thanks for replying. I'll keep at it and ignore what other people are doing. I think it's a good point about some horses naturally not carrying their head high. That may be what I'm seeing a lot of the time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: carthorse

Jane&Ziggy

Learning together!
Apr 30, 2010
17,529
5,324
113
59
Surrey Hills
I am no dressage expert, but I think that what you are doing is more correct, kinder to the horse, and likely to result in better musculature and self carriage in the long term. Kudos to you - if I could get that response from my horse I would go on doing it!
 

newforest

Living every little girls dream- stuff the adults!
Mar 15, 2008
26,516
9,915
113
My coach wants mine to have impulsion from behind, and carry herself. I only need to have enough of a contact so she feels a connection.

It sounds basic and simple, but it's actually their job to carry themselves not yours to pull, poke and prod them into shape. I am glad about that because I am rubbish with maintaining a contact!! We worked on that last lesson and bless her she reaches.

Strangely enough you don't want to be riding as other people do. They are not on your horse and the chances are if they were they may find what you do works well.
 

Donkey Kong

New Member
Nov 4, 2019
6
2
3
37
My coach wants mine to have impulsion from behind, and carry herself. I only need to have enough of a contact so she feels a connection.

It sounds basic and simple, but it's actually their job to carry themselves not yours to pull, poke and prod them into shape. I am glad about that because I am rubbish with maintaining a contact!! We worked on that last lesson and bless her she reaches.

Strangely enough you don't want to be riding as other people do. They are not on your horse and the chances are if they were they may find what you do works well.
That's a good point.
 

OwnedbyChanter

With out my boys life would be bland
Apr 16, 2009
7,458
2,307
113
Raininghamshire
I actually disagree with the other. Riding a horse that is hallowing is not good for the horse even for a couple of minutes let along for a whole warm up until the horse drops to reach for the contact. A better way is to encourage long and low and allow the horse to work up to the contact keeping a soft back. Lateral can still be achieved long and low and also allow the horse to stretch through the back and ribs.

My horse is built very upright in front and has struggled with long and low but you can still achieve impulsion to allow the horse to come up on to the bit. But that is just my opinion and they way I have been taught.
 

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
21,172
11,222
113
38
Suffolk, UK
I'd totally overlocked the bit where the OP said he was hollow to start, IME most tend to start in neutral, not hollow but also not fully engaged and that's what I was thinking of. I would always take some contact and ask them to step into it, not just leave them going around like a giraffe, but equally wouldn't be yanking their head in to get them 'on the bit'.
 

carthorse

Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
7,062
2,568
113
I'd totally overlocked the bit where the OP said he was hollow to start, IME most tend to start in neutral, not hollow but also not fully engaged and that's what I was thinking of. I would always take some contact and ask them to step into it, not just leave them going around like a giraffe, but equally wouldn't be yanking their head in to get them 'on the bit'.
The same, I interpreted hollow as not round, though reading the post again the phrase used is high headed which may not mean hollow. If hollow I would take a light contact, but only a light one and still, no fiddling or sawing. A contact that encourages them to accept it and seek to take it forward, not one that's unsteady or with a backward feel.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Donkey Kong