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TB or not TB?
Feb. 19, 2010, 02:22 PM
I'm working with a 4 y/o who was started western, which, while it gave him a good foundation, has brought up a few small issues. Like most horses in a growing spurt, he doesn't always know what to do with himself and his body :D

I'm focusing on forward, straightness, tempo (in that order), and have found that he has trouble maintaining balance in figures. Nothing unusual for a baby. However, the previous trainer's method to fixing this was to do very small (8m?) circles with motorcycle turns to force him to adjust his balance. (He wants to pop his ribcage to the inside as well, and this did prevent that, if not in the way that I would choose). The problem then becomes if he gets unbalanced (ie through a corner), or becomes crooked, he immediately leans in like a motorcycle and tries to prepare for the small circle.

Other than time, patience, and keeping things simple, any suggestions on exercises that might give him a lightbulb moment? I have a few ideas still, but I like COTH brainstorming :)

Blugal
Feb. 19, 2010, 03:18 PM
I would work on suppleness. (Training pyramid stuff... rhythm suppleness contact, impulsion, straightness, collection).

I do simple leg-yielding (just start with one step, say "over" like you do in the cross-ties, it helps!) shoulder-fore, head to the wall, tail to the wall etc. It doesn't have to be perfect, the horse just needs to move his body parts around. I also do counter-bends, bending neck but keeping body straight, and "straight lines" with help, e.g. trotting poles with guide rails on the inside and outside. The better he becomes at this, the easier it is to get him straight - usually all you need to do is correct his unbalance/crookedness with a leg-yield, shoulder-in, or haunches-in.

Mastering all that usually gets them going from leg to hand as well. E.g. I find leg-yield on the circle with a green unbalanced horse will get them off my inside leg (i.e. no more motorcycling) and into my outside rein, with bend, and stepping under with their inside hind. Works wonders.

EventerAJ
Feb. 19, 2010, 07:53 PM
Agree completely with Blugal.

You must install the "buttons" to be able to fix your problems. Using your leg (perhaps with outside rein) is the proper way to correct crookedness... but the horse must first understand what that aid means! Spend lots of time, repetition, that "leg" means move the hind leg under the body, move the shoulder away; outside rein means slow down that shoulder, rebalance on the hocks, etc. Once the horse learns the proper response to the corrective aid, your corrections will suddenly become more effective. ;)

Spend time at the walk doing leg yields; head to wall in the beginning, to establish YIELDING and help prevent "running." Go slow, ask for 2-3 steps at a time, reward straightness and obedience. Then graduate to traditional leg yields down the quarterline, and spiral in/out. These exercises will not "fix" your horse's crookedness-- but they will give you effective TOOLS to fix the problem (and all the other ones that will crop up down the road!).

lstevenson
Feb. 20, 2010, 12:32 AM
You must install the "buttons" to be able to fix your problems. Using your leg (perhaps with outside rein) is the proper way to correct crookedness... but the horse must first understand what that aid means! Spend lots of time, repetition, that "leg" means move the hind leg under the body, move the shoulder away; outside rein means slow down that shoulder, rebalance on the hocks, etc. Once the horse learns the proper response to the corrective aid, your corrections will suddenly become more effective. ;)


Yep. :yes:

Shoulder in is the ultimate straightening excercise. But your young horse is not ready for that yet. Spend time working on educating your horse on these basic tools from which everything else in his career will build on.

In addition to what Blugal and EventerAJ suggested, I like to use a very specific excercise to teach a horse how to balance on turns and circles. I call it the diamond excercise.

First of all you should teach your horse turn on the forehand, perhaps starting on the ground, and building up to doing it both ways under saddle. When he knows that, start at the walk on a large 30m -40m square or diamond shape. And what you will do is walk on a straight line from the first point of the square to the next. When you get to the next, halt - still on a straight line. Then do a few steps of turn on the forehand until the horse is facing the next point. At which point you close your outside leg to send him forward to the next point. When you have done the pattern a number of times, your horse will probably start to anticipate the turns on the forehand when you start to halt. Take advantage of this by teaching the horse already at this young age to respond to your "position" to the inside. As you halt to prepare for lets say a turn on the forehand away from your right leg, look to the right and slightly turn your shoulders by bringing your right shoulder back. THEN apply your aid to turn on the forhand from your right leg. If you position right before your leg aid every time, the horse will usually eventually start to respond before the leg aid even comes on. Someday down the road, you will appreciate this, as when you go to do a 10m circle in the trot, all you will have to do is increase your position right to get more bend on that circle.

Anyways, when that is going well, you progress to not halting in the corners. Slow down a bit, and do a walking turn on the forehand. When that is going well, trot the straight lines, and come back to the walk on the corners and do a walking turn on the forehand. And when that is going well, stay in trot, again slowing down on the corners and asking for turn on the forehand. A horse cannot actually really do a turn on the forehand in the trot. But look for him to step under his body with his inside hind leg in a few steps of leg yield.

Again, I find this is a great way to show the horse how to balance himself on turns and circles. Particularly for those that want to fall in like you describe. There is a whole 'nuther square excercise for those that want to fall out. ;)

Good luck!

SEPowell
Feb. 20, 2010, 08:20 AM
Yep. :yes:

Shoulder in is the ultimate straightening excercise. But your young horse is not ready for that yet. Spend time working on educating your horse on these basic tools from which everything else in his career will build on.

In addition to what Blugal and EventerAJ suggested, I like to use a very specific excercise to teach a horse how to balance on turns and circles. I call it the diamond excercise.

First of all you should teach your horse turn on the forehand, perhaps starting on the ground, and building up to doing it both ways under saddle. When he knows that, start at the walk on a large 30m -40m square or diamond shape. And what you will do is walk on a straight line from the first point of the square to the next. When you get to the next, halt - still on a straight line. Then do a few steps of turn on the forehand until the horse is facing the next point. At which point you close your outside leg to send him forward to the next point. When you have done the pattern a number of times, your horse will probably start to anticipate the turns on the forehand when you start to halt. Take advantage of this by teaching the horse already at this young age to respond to your "position" to the inside. As you halt to prepare for lets say a turn on the forehand away from your right leg, look to the right and slightly turn your shoulders by bringing your right shoulder back. THEN apply your aid to turn on the forhand from your right leg. If you position right before your leg aid every time, the horse will usually eventually start to respond before the leg aid even comes on. Someday down the road, you will appreciate this, as when you go to do a 10m circle in the trot, all you will have to do is increase your position right to get more bend on that circle.

Anyways, when that is going well, you progress to not halting in the corners. Slow down a bit, and do a walking turn on the forehand. When that is going well, trot the straight lines, and come back to the walk on the corners and do a walking turn on the forehand. And when that is going well, stay in trot, again slowing down on the corners and asking for turn on the forehand. A horse cannot actually really do a turn on the forehand in the trot. But look for him to step under his body with his inside hind leg in a few steps of leg yield.

Again, I find this is a great way to show the horse how to balance himself on turns and circles. Particularly for those that want to fall in like you describe. There is a whole 'nuther square excercise for those that want to fall out. ;)

Good luck!

What a well thought out strategy. I've been doing something similar for a mare I have, but I haven't been quite so organized and sequential about it. I'm going to try this today! Thanks :)

TB or not TB?
Feb. 20, 2010, 05:07 PM
Again, I find this is a great way to show the horse how to balance himself on turns and circles. Particularly for those that want to fall in like you describe. There is a whole 'nuther square excercise for those that want to fall out. ;)

Good luck!

Thank you! This is exactly what I'm looking for. With a more educated horse, I would be all about upping the lateral work to straighten him out, but he is still learning the basics of w/t/c and whoa (and unlearning a few bad things). He has only been ridden probably 15-20 times. The square exercise sounds great for his level and abilities, since there are small steps we can progress to and work in hand to do as well.

Blugal
Feb. 20, 2010, 09:22 PM
TB or not TB, I do all the exercises I mentioned with complete greenies. As in, broke for 2 weeks. They have no idea that they are doing "shoulder-fore" or leg-yield or anything else. They are just learning to yield to pressure and I just apply aids in the right sequence until I get what I want. Usually only one or two steps at first, reward, repeat until they consistently do those one or two steps from that set of aids.

I'll work with their weaknesses, e.g. a horse that is light in the right rein but solid in the left rein, I can do some shoulder-fore without any problem to the left. Going to the right, I will do some counter-bend (easy) around the corner, then switch to a smaller circle and leg-yield out, one step at a time, to get the horse more in the right rein. From that I will see if I can go back on the left rein and counter-bend a bit (the hard way), perhaps put the head to the wall and do a little yield away from the wall into my right rein. Confirm the shoulder-fore a bit more at walk, change rein and see if I can do some shoulder-fore on the right rein.

Moving into canter, horse is still light in the right rein and falls in - so I'll do a big loop and counter-canter on the long side with the wall on the "inside" of the lead - they can't fall in and often their balance improves immensely after even one session doing this.

I was taught that you ride them as you want them to go - even as young horses. There is not a totally separate set of aids for green vs. broke, as that just makes more work and is confusing!

lstevenson
Feb. 20, 2010, 11:42 PM
You're welcome! :)

TB or not TB?
Feb. 23, 2010, 01:57 AM
I was taught that you ride them as you want them to go - even as young horses. There is not a totally separate set of aids for green vs. broke, as that just makes more work and is confusing!

If he was one I had started myself, I would probably be right there with you. With his given wonky issues, I am trying to make things very easy and straightforward, as he is a worrier. The previous trainer basically did 10 meter circles over and over at all gaits, so we're working on the magic of straight and forward. :) I better understand the type of lateral work you are mentioning though. I didn't mean to imply that such things were only for advanced horses, just that in this case there are bigger fish to fry first (as in, "Contact is Fun!" and "Leg pressure Is Not Our Enemy") ;) I so prefer a clean slate. :sigh:

Candle
Feb. 23, 2010, 02:55 AM
Where have you BEEN????????? :D /hijack