Also known as between laziness and tension in Dressage. Yay!

As we transition from BN Dressage tests to Novice Dressage tests, I know there is an increase in the expected level of carry at Novice. At BN, as long as the connection, rhythm, forwardness is fairly steady, your scores will be fairly good. In Novice, the judges start looking for just that TITCH more. The judge when I scribed at AEC’s brought up this notion, and it’s really stuck with me, as I look at the Novice tests.

On Tuesday, we ran through Novice B. While it was… fine. It kind of all lacked UMPH. May is mostly connected and mostly forward and mostly a lot of things, but I can’t quite get her the half step MORE. I need the hind legs to be more active in every gait. And, like most things, forward really is the answer.

However, nagging for forward is getting us both moving in the wrong direction. Common wisdom says pick up a whip. So I have. I grabbed a whip during our lesson and we did some canter work with the whip. Not even using it, but just holding it. We DID get better work.

But…. whips make May CRAZY. She gets tense, she gets running. My half halts DISAPPEAR. And she gets, quite honestly, straight up, pissed off at me.

But they DO help. I can pick up a whip, school something, and put it down, but I don’t know if it is a long term solution when it screws with our relaxation so bad. Or do I just ride with a whip more and hope she “gets over it.” I can rub the whip all over her body on the ground and even from the saddle. Seriously, she will fall asleep while I do this. But the second I go to just “ride” with it, she get’s tense and becomes 1,000lbs in my hands.

I guess this is just a rant and a request for any recommendations. Anyone have a whip shy horse that they rehabilitated?

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. martidoll123

    Have not had a horse with whip problems (Ha i have to pony beat my horse)…but I think ride with it all the time is the only way to get her better. Is she better with a crop?? Since she would only ever have to do starter with me just ship her south. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ HAHAHAHHA

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      Fine with a crop hahaha. Just haaaaaates the whip. Ugh

      1. martidoll123

        so ride with it every day. have fun (not) hahahah ๐Ÿ™‚ MAYBE she would prefer a pink whip?

  2. LynnT

    Would mild spurs work better than a whip? Is your leg steady enough for spurs?

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      I wear spurs already (just roller balls). They help with lateral flexion through her body. But not so much with the forward thing ๐Ÿ™ƒ

  3. roamingridersite

    Iโ€™d probably start riding with the whip at all times. Begin with riding just at the walk and not really asking for much of anything until she relaxes then go to trot etc. she is a smart mare and realizes that the whip means go so she is getting tense and โ€œgoingโ€. She should figure it out quickly

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      Ughhh you’re probably right. It’s amazing how many of our issues start with “she is a smart mare”

  4. KC Scott

    P was like that with the dressage whip also, so I never used one until the new dressage trainer made me do it. Samesies- pissed off horse running through my aids…at first. A few months later and itโ€™s a non-issue. And Iโ€™m glad I didnโ€™t give up because it really does make a huge difference in his walk (no whip and heโ€™s a snail) and is so much better than pony-club kicking to back up a lighter aid ๐Ÿ˜‚

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      glad to hear you had success with the “immersion” method hahaha. I guess I am carrying one now.

  5. Teresa

    Carmen tends to live in either lazy and relaxed or forward and tense. I was listening to Stacey Westfall who likened it to a teeter-totter and as you work on one side and then other the goal is to get it balanced. For whatever reason that resonated with me. I’ve been playing with it to see if it will work for us. Warwick Schiller uses the same concept in terms of a line.

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