Sunday, May 3, 2009

Part 3--Conrad Schumacher

A young rider on a tense schoolmaster was the subject of the next segment: How to deal with a tense horse. Since I'm a tense rider myself, and I've made my horse tense, I found this part especially helpful.

To relax a tense horse, in the trot stretch down on the long side then gather back up in corner. In counter canter, stretch on the long side, retake in corner, etc. Counter canter is a great exercise for horses that have a tendancy to run thorugh the aides. A horse can’t run in counter canter. The stretching over the topline helps disodedience.

Make sure you ride your changes with a straight neck. Don't bend the next back and forth.

Ride with quietness and determination.

In the reinback, take horse back with hauling on the reins. Turn one wrist inward, once the horse steps back on step, give with the wrist. Only do a reinback using one hand. Reinback is a good influence on the horse when done properly and without tension.

Recommended Exercises:

  • Mark off a 20-meter circle with four cones (one to the inside of each circle point). Put markers (Conrad used a handful of shavings) in 2 long human steps from each cone, then two more steps. Ride between cones and marker 1 for one circle then ride on marker 1, then ride between markers 1 and 2, then on marker 2. Then go back out doing the same thing. This really helps accuracy and helps the horse listen to the outside rein.
  • Half pass in walk then half pass in trot.
  • Half pass a few strides of walk then a few strides of trot, repeat to the end of the arena.
  • Half pass right, Volte left, half pass left.

At each lunch break, Conrad answered questions from the audience. I found this question and answer especially interesting.

Q: Why are so many horses ridden in this clinic with the poll low? Shouldn’t the poll be the highest point?

A: In the old classical school, the poll was always the highest point because the horses were built downhill and on the forehand and needed to be ridden up. The rider avoided taking the horses down to keep them off of the forehand.

This is not necessarily true with modern horses. Some horses need to be ridden behind the bit and over round to loosen their backs (this is very interesting as my trainer rode my horse yesterday in a clinic with a German trainer, and that's how he wanted my horse ridden in order to get her back up). As long as there is feel in the reins and horse hasn’t dropped behind the bit, this is fine.

Conrad did comment that the "current trend for the head between the legs is rubbish."

Some Misc. Notes:

When warming up, work the stiff side on the circle, go large for the hollow side.

Walk/halt or trot/halt on both sides. Walk/canter, flex neck to inside before asking for canter.

Get the neck really round to stop the bullying horse.

For half pass training, the renver is a good exercise.

Believe it or not, this concluded only the first morning. I'll try to post next Sunday the next installment. I hope you're enjoying this and that you might find some of his exercises useful.


mugwump said...

This is what popped out to me - The classical horse was ridden with the poll as the highest point because the horses were built downhill.
So if I had a horse who rides down hill (can't lie, got one) riding the horse with the poll at the highest point should help lighten my horse.
And by that, are we're talking about driving the horse forward from the hindlegs to the poll with a single surge of energy?
Am I making any sense?

Jami Davenport said...

I hope someone else will jump in if they can explain this better.

My horse was ridden by my trainer in a clinic this weekend with a German who used to coach the Canadian Olympic team. She is NOT built downhill but loves to stick her butt out behind her, lean on the reins, and go downhill. Yet riding her a little behind the vertical and with the poll not the highest point eventually made her lift her back, step further underneath and transfer her weight to the hind end.

On the other hand, a horse built downhill (like my old Morgan-QH) couldn't be ridden like that because he was physically already predisposed to going downhill. You'd still ride him long and low at times to relax him, but you wouldn't let him tuck behind the bit.

Yes, you'd be driving from the back to front and through the back. You wouldn't be pulling the horse's head down with the reins.

One interesting thing this trainer last weekend kept mentioning was only driving into one rein at times. Conrad mentioned that too. I need to ask my trainer her explantion of that.

Does that help?

Shanster said...

Nice post! My mare gets tense and this is where we struggle at shows and clinics... course clinics you work thru it but you have that one shot at your test! These notes will be helpful to me, thanks for posting!

littledog said...

Awesome post, perfect, helpful timing for me, for what we're currently working on!
My Arab/WB is built uphill, but tends to start out head-in-the-air-hollow-back tense, then 15 minutes of walk/trot in different directions in the arena gets him relaxed and working--so now he feels great, stretching, nicely forward, suspension to the trot, steady contact, using his abs and giving me his back--then I see us in the mirror and AARGH! he's behind the vertical!
So I worry-this can't be right-he can't be using his hindquarters with his head and neck in that position, I'm creating a false "headset"-- even though it feels right it looks wrong...
Yay, thank you Equestrian Ink and Conrad-by-proxy, I think we'll continue working by feel for the present and trying some of those exercises!
Long on the relaxed side, circles on the tight side, more relaxation on lateral work, cue both leads on the diagonal and work up to a balanced counter-canter--I am totally inspired, convinced we're really on the right track, and have some exercises to make sure!

Jami Davenport said...

Wow, Ladies, I'm glad this is helping. I'll be posting my new post tomorrow.