View Full Version : A pic from Sat. - and yikes, upside down neck!
Oct. 1, 2007, 10:28 AM
Oct. 1, 2007, 01:44 PM
You guys look terrific! She's a pretty girl, too! What saddle are you using now? I have a fluffy arab mare (we are both working on our weight issues...:lol:). I am trying to decide whether or not to keep my Thornhill. It's a little long on her, and width wise it will probably fit her well once she loses about 50-75 pounds. I find my saddle sits squarely behind her shoulders and so far no slipping issues, but I do think it's a tad bit long for her.
Oct. 1, 2007, 01:55 PM
She's a pretty little thing, and I'm actually not a big Arab fan myself. But she's a cutie. :D
As for trying to ditch the ewe neck/upside down neck (is there a difference between these two? I don't know), I've heard longing with side reins can help strengthen the topline. You could also try a chambon or degogue, one's for riding, one's for longing. Both have basically the same effect, encouraging the horse to lower its head and stretccchhhh those muscles. To be honest I don't know a whole ton about trying to fix that issue, because my QH has a big fat neck that is the same amount of fatness all the way through. :lol:
Love your helmet too, btw. I have the half-chaps that match it! :D
Oct. 1, 2007, 02:08 PM
We were having an "Arab Moment" for the first 4 or so miles, but managed to live through it.
Wow, that is so true! Sasha's "Arab Moments" can also go on for several miles... We've only done paper chases so far (the ones we've done are usually 6-7 miles), and I usually feel like he starts to settle down about 2/3 of the way through the ride!
He came to me thinking he was a distant giraffe relative, so we've spent about a year discussing the fact that his head does *not* have to be in my lap the whole time. Lots of dressage for us...
When I'm riding out on the trails, I rarely let him just move forward without working. My arena is pretty terrible, so I do alot of my schooling in the hay fields anyway... so I try to make the trails an extension of schooling. If we're not cooling out on the way home, he's working the whole time. It's definitely gone a long way towards developing his topline and getting rid of the upside-down neck, and trotting down hills while on the bit is great for developing that hind end, as well.
When I am stuck in the arena, I do lots of lateral work... leg-yields, shoulder-in, spiralling in and out on a circle. Also lots of transitions... he's an over-anticipator, so I try to mix it up as much as possible.
Your girl is super-cute... she looks like a lot of fun!
Oct. 1, 2007, 02:25 PM
Pretty picture, and her neck isn't TOO bad - does she always go with it high or is she just checking out the scenery. I have an Akhal Teke, so I know SOMETHING of riding a cross between a llama and a camel.
I use what's called a German poll rein, but (I will probably get nailed for this) I also sometimes just string hay string from girth, out through snaffle ring, over poll, and back to girth. Advantage with hay string is it's plentiful, free and breaks should you have a serious disagreement. Western riders call them "rhythm collectors". I adjust it so the horse has some leeway, but they are encouraged to stretch out and forward or it will apply pressure to the poll. I lunge like this, but I do not ride with it on.
I have a youngster starting now that I swear I have to stand in my stirrups to see over his ears....<sigh>. I work on lots of flexion with him, and I lunge with the poll rein prior to riding out. Then I remove it for ridden work. He does lower his head and really push when we are on hills (which is most of the time) so I am seeing some good results. Mainly, it's a matter of building the topline muscles and discouraging the use of those blocky under-neck muscles. I was taught that it's better to teach the youngster to elevate it's back and push the back over the fulcrum of the withers without the added weight of a rider, and that's what I try to do.
I have used chambon's (lunging only) and degogues - they have so many parts! And I don't see they provide any advantage over a simple poll rein. I have on occasion used german martingale for riding for short periods in a ring - they don't thrill me. I don't like to restrict their head if possible when mounted.
Oct. 1, 2007, 04:36 PM
I wonder if an "Arab moment" is anything like an "OTTB moment"? Is there much bucking involved? Or lion-like growls coming from deep in your horse's chest? Or piaffe and passage, not to mention capriole? Does she chew the bit and roll her eyes?
Just curious. I haven't ridden enough Arabs to know what an Arab moment is, but I'm waaaay too familiar with OTTB moments. I'm guessing yours has lots of sideways movement, eyes rolling, the horse wanting to surge ahead and then stopping on a dime. That was some of my experience with Arabs as a youth. Cressy is too ladylike for anything other than occasional shoulder-ins when she doesn't like a part of the trail.
Oct. 1, 2007, 04:38 PM
I've seen lots of Arab people using draw reins. I'm not fond of them myself, since I'd prefer to work their head down rather than pull it down.
Oct. 1, 2007, 05:52 PM
The headshaking and the tail up in the air -- there's no mistaking an Arab.
Oct. 1, 2007, 06:23 PM
I especially enjoyed the vid of her rearing. She's got excellent balance! The running looked more like the Black Stallion than Seabiscuit to me, but maybe that is because I'm used to seeing TB's stretch out in what looks like a full gallop, then really turn on the gas. It is a beautiful sight to watch a professional runner going full blast just for the joy of running.
Your mare is gorgeous, just like Arabians should be. Little Cressy is pretty, too, but more laid back. She was ridden by an 81 year old lady yesterday and did great.
Oct. 1, 2007, 08:32 PM
Wow! What a sliding roll back in the last video!:eek:
Oct. 1, 2007, 10:16 PM
Firstly, love your mare! She's gorgeous!
Indeed, wowsers on the roll back and I love how the other horse is just watching; probably thinking the same thing you noted in your description. :)
Re: Saddle fit ... smooth shoulder, non-existent wither? Frustrating. I managed to find a real great non-slip pad and converted the billets of my saddle from standard to "y-system". Used to have a big problem with my saddle slipping forward but both these have helped alot.
You mentioned that you don't like gimmicks? Side Reins included? I get quick, quick results attaching them for a longer and lower frame and just working 15-20 mins or so at the trot. The muscles that the horse uses to push the neck down in this frame develop faster than those that it uses to be up and "on the bit". I have found and read anyhow.
My Arab's moments are half reiner/half airs above the ground. Personally prefer the "Arab moments" more so than the "OTTB moments" but it can be a bit difficult to pinpoint the differences sometimes. lol. The TB's I've ridden kind of shut down mentally to the point of being almost scary, but I find my Arab overly entertaining and "zippy" because she over-thinks things. I might have to try some other way to communicate with her but she's still with me. :D
Oct. 2, 2007, 12:12 AM
I'm sure you're right about the over thinking vs. underthinking in Arab and OTTB moments. Butch goes into "racehorse" mode, and he reverts to early trianing. A couple of easy differences: he's never once stuck his tail up in the air, and he doesn't do "prance". He can canter at walking speed, which I've seen plenty of Arabians do. He prefers cantering and galloping to a trot, which it seems Arabians prefer to trot. Maybe that goes to training as well. Right now, Butch looks at trotting as a necessary evil and a good canter/gallop as a reward for patient trotting.
I'm guessing off the track Arabians would have some similar behaviors as OTTB's, but I've never had the pleasure of riding an OTA. I see plenty of them training for distance rides, and they eyeball Butch just as much as he eyeballs them. They seem to recognize fellow ex-racers, but maybe that is my imagination.
If I were serious about endurance, I'd buy my neighbor's OTA. She's 15hh and only 4 years old. Lovely mare. I'd love for them to let me train her on the trail and condition her for a ride. Their son could compete her if he doesn't have time to do the training. I prefer the training rides to the actual competition anyway. ;)
Oct. 2, 2007, 09:27 AM
Sasha's Arab moments usually consist of him deciding he wants to do something -- like catch up to the horse in front of him, or spook at the fallen cornstalk on the ground (they're fine when they're upright, but watch out when they're lying down!) -- then he sticks his head and tail straight up in the air and starts prancing. Sometimes there will be a spook of the leap-sideways-plant-hooves-and-snort variety first.
Since we've been working on his topline lately, he now arches his neck when he sticks his head in the air, and everyone says "ooh, he's so pretty!" (I just wish he'd put his head down and stop jigging:)).
Out in the field, he does that headshaking also, where he puts his nose down at his knees and twists it around while playing. This is my first Arab, so I've been wondering if it's an Arab thing:).
Like Auventura's mare, he doesn't ever buck. Just likes to run. Really fast.
Oct. 2, 2007, 10:40 AM
I'd suggest you might want to also take bitting and hand position into consideration.
Oct. 2, 2007, 12:51 PM
I'd suggest you might want to also take bitting and hand position into consideration.
She loves her bit. Hand position? I was just switching 2 reins and a whip into one hand to dismount when my friend snapped a picture. Wasn't intending this pic to be a "how to" on rein holding. ;) And before you freak on the whip, I found it on the edge of the trail in the weeds. The Arab definitely needs no whip.
Bank of Dad
Oct. 2, 2007, 02:39 PM
Maybe you should post this on the dressage board. She probably needs work with lateral and vertical flexion. Learning to collect up and bend at a trot and canter will work those muscles and top line. Trotting more collected up and down hills is good for that too.
Perhaps what Thomas means is that a bit like a pelham will encourage more bend at the poll, and that will help build up the muscles also.
Oct. 5, 2007, 02:34 PM
Dressage work to get her in a more rounded frame will help, but her neck is short as well as 'inverted', so there is only so much you can do.
That said, she is still young, and may acquire some length as she finishes growing (I have read that the spine is the last part of the skeleton to finish growing: horses grow up first, then out.
Oct. 6, 2007, 12:32 AM
Easiest and fastest way to get rid of the upside down neck is to ask her to work from back to front and come on to the bit. No gadgets needed, no side reins/drawreins/chambon or anything. Simple basic dressage work which will help her endurance too by building her topline and making her work correctly.
While I know you don't want to probably do too much in the arena there is no reason why you can't do this out on the trails.
I suspect that during her "arab moments" you're allowing her to brace against your hands. I see these kinds of necks all the time on endurance horses. When she's racy on the trail, try doing some jaw/poll yields instead -- pick up your left rein and ask for enough flexion, so you can see the outside corner of her left eye. Hold the rein (IOW, don't pull) until she puts slack in the rein, which means she's softened at the poll. Count to three and do it again. if she's really high, you'll probably need to do this about 50 times before she'll become really soft. Then do it on the other side.
Once she's soft, make sure she's traveling straight and ask her to step under with her inside hind leg without speeding up (lengthen her stride). She may toss her head in protest because it's hard work. Just ignore it and let her ping pong between your hands/reins and keep asking until she steps under. Then reward her with a neck scratch or whatever she likes.
Since you've ridden dressage, this should be second nature for you. Same principles. If you do this work correctly over the winter, you should see results by spring.
PS -- I wouldn't do any lateral work with her until she has a better topline and her HQs are more built up. Arabs are notoriously good at bending and introducing lateral work before they have sufficient musculature to perform it just encourages them to overflex. Same with more aggressive bits. And once they start going behind the bit, it's hard to fix.
Oct. 9, 2007, 12:52 AM
What a lovely girl you have!
Oct. 9, 2007, 10:33 AM
A couple of comments since I teach a person who regularly 100 miles three horses (trak x arab). Is the horse really upside down? Or is the horse just looking at a distance? The topline is quite nice, but the horse is likely tired and looking far away, so the underneck is out slightly. However, the horse is gather behind, and fairly balanced.
With my students endurance horses we uses dressage theory as a basis for figures/balance. Merely by allowing a lower(ing) of the neck, it should help relax the under neck. If this does not 'work' then work on positioning (laterally, on circles etc) will help the horse to learn to seek forward/down/out. This then makes a great impact on the ability of the horse to swing through the back and take longer slower strides (which makes the heartrate/etc lower). This students horse always wins conditioning.
A comment (which is problematic with arabs), the saddle could be a smidge more back, particularly if its treeless. Treeless saddles MUST be placed three fingers behind the bony back edge of the shoulder blade, which is almost impossible on shortback/arabtype horses.
Do not attempt to get a distance horse rounder per se. You want such a horse longer, but still out to the bridle. By asking the horse to mobilize the jaw, chew, and allowing it, the horse will relax and go longer. Slowly, methodically, without gadgets. You do not want the jaw to yield per se, you want the horse to chew and then allow the streching. It is not giving you want to engender, it is the ability to follow the hand. The only tossing of a head that might happen is if the rider is clumsy/sustained too long in their request. Equally there is no reason not to pulse the horse out on a circle (a form of leg yeilding), but again ask/relax/ask/relax. Aids are applied for a step, not strides, and not holding to force yeilding.
Oct. 9, 2007, 11:53 PM
I noticed that distance horses don't seem to be muscled the same as horses engaging in other disciplines unless they are cross training. Thanks for the description, ideayoda--it makes sense.
My OTTB doesn't have a muscular topline (or an upsidedown neck), but he attacks the trail and does hills with no problems. I keep having to remind myself that he isn't muscled like a dressage horse or hunter because we aren't doing those sports! He'll come down to the bit if I ask him, but otherwise he carries his head where he chooses, sometimes low, sometimes high. I don't really worry about it unless he isn't listening to me. Lately I've been "asking" more, since he ran away with me on the one distance ride we attempted (RO'd out). I'd like to be sure I can recapture his attention when he gets overly excited, so practice, practice, practice!
A2, it sounds like your mare is doing really well at her job. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" :D