View Full Version : Exercises for activating hqs in older, remedial horse.......

Aug. 3, 2009, 11:58 PM
..........who's pretty happy to trundle around on forehand if I let him.

13 yr old wb, 17.3hh, that is being slowly bought back into work after three years off due to EPSM. He's already straight behind, so the underdevelopment of his hq due to the EPSM just adds to the difficulty he has in sitting and activating the hqs. Disease and conformation conspire to make this a really difficult horse to get working well from behind. Photo here which shows his straightness behind http://vimeo.com/user426112

BUT, we have really come a long way since we started working again regularly, about four months ago. Ride on average three times a week and he seems to be responding well to EPSM diet, so now there is steady contact, he is getting stronger and more balanced and we are ready for some more exercises to encourage him to take more weight behind.

ATM we are doing shoulder-in on circle, lots of transistions, small circles around my leg at walk, shoulder-in in walk and trot down the long sides, a few strides counter flexion at the trot, eight meter circles at trot, some rein back and after warm up and some long and low trot to start off, I go almost straight into canter work because it has now become his preferred, easier gait, I can apply aids more effectively and it really loosens him up, gets him more engaged for the trot work. He can give me a few strides of more collected canter now, so he is getting stronger. The canter has improved out of sight, three months ago he struggled to stay on twenty metre circles for more than one circle, now, in canter left, at least, he is going great guns. (Canter right still tough for him but it is getting better every ride).

So any suggestions for other exercises to help him use his bum better given his physical limitations? I have a lesson once/twice a month and my coaches are excellent, but I could use more input. Another coach gave me an exercise the other day involving counter flexion at canter down the long side but he's not ready for this one just yet.


Aug. 4, 2009, 10:50 AM
You will need to SLOWLY build him up to this but here are two:

Making sure he is coming through - ride a square (walk, trot or canter) doing 1/4 turn on the haunches. make sure rider is sitting on horses bum so horse sits on their bum. When those are good convert to 1/2 TOH then eventually full pirouette (W/T/C).

Another is from long side to short side ride VERY steep leg yield and/or half pass (I alternate between the two a few times as I'm crossing from 1 long side to the other). At first it might just be "M" to "E" then back to other corner, eventually you should be able to fit 4 changes of direction across the aarena.

Start of course in walk, then go into trot.

Aug. 4, 2009, 01:46 PM
At that point I'd stay off anything smaller than a 20m circle... rather be walking, little bit of trotting uphill, cavaletti/groundpoles, and taking it super, super slowly, and I'd definitely check with a vet for a rehab program.

Eclectic Horseman
Aug. 4, 2009, 03:56 PM
Ground poles and cavelletti are very helpful because you can do them on the longe line or long lines without weight on his back.

If you can find a slight incline to longe him on, that is helpful as well.

I rehabbed a former 3rd/4th level teenaged warmblood horse that had EPSM and it worked very well. Eventually he could do half a 20 meter circle with caveletti raised 2' on the outside of the circle and 6" on the inside!

The only caveat is that even once he got strong enough if he had more than a couple of days off in a row he lost muscle tone very, very quickly. He had three weeks off once and it was almost like starting all over again to build up the muscle. He was retired from dressage and started packing around in the hunter classes--about 20 years old now and going strong!

Aug. 5, 2009, 12:04 AM
Thanks folks, all good ideas. Have access to hills and cavalettis so can incorporate those into regime. And yes, I'm taking this very slowly. Have done some of the square/1/4 TOH exercises at walk, seems fine, but will build on that gradually.

Aug. 5, 2009, 02:27 AM
so glad to read this.
I would agree - go slow and I would really just work on hills and flat and hills and flat and make sure that you are really fit yourself- so your core is efficiently supporting him and you can give all the right cues to him. So he just has to worry about his own body. Give it 2 weeks for each progression - so he has time to adjust- do a harder day and a lighter day- just like us athletes- so he can recuperate and come back to feeling good.
Eventually galopping is the best fitness exercise I know and if you are strong enough in the beginning- you can slowly start to set him on his hiney- by HH'ing from your core- first let him roll a bit then bring him a bit back on the butt and on and off- as initially he won't have the muscle to hold a longer time...that would be my recommendation. But don't start the canter work until at least 6 weeks of trot conditioning and with the vets approval.

best of luck!

Aug. 5, 2009, 03:21 AM
Thanks S, good ideas. My core is quite strong now, pilates and exercises to manage ankylosing spondylitis helped there, so that area is covered. Now just need to skill to use HH as effectively as possible.

I am just loving my horse so much, he tries so hard and is really fun to ride. He's just tops.