View Full Version : loosening the neck and jaw
Dec. 21, 2010, 12:31 PM
Hi guys, I have a 4/5 year old mutt pony that I have been riding for a bit now. At the walk she is very supple and loose over and through her back. At the trot she likes to have her head straight up (which, of course, is a young horse thing) and has a very tense jaw. Not too much of this at the canter. What are some of your easy (read: beginner pony) exercises to help a horse limber up their neck and jaw?
Dec. 21, 2010, 01:40 PM
This is kind of a hard q to answer- just because it could be caused by a few things, or a combination of a few things.
I've had horses that needed their jaw/poll adjusted by a chiro. I have horses that I use a heating pad at the very top of their neck before riding to loosen those muscles. It could also be a balance thing...
And of course I don't want to insult your riding in any way, but I also have seen rider enhanced issues... I inherited a student who had a chair seat, and in the posting trot she would fall into the saddle and send her poor horse thru the roof! lol
it could also be a lameness or soreness in the hind end that he compensates for... geez, the list is almost endless!
Maybe a video would help narrow down the cause... =)
Without knowing the cause it's hard to say about excersizes, but I avoid flexing the neck side to side as it can cause evasions in young horses. (They learn to push thru their shoulder) I like fexions with treats that focus on the poll and asking them to come between and behind their fetlocks for a treat. But I really like massage and heat therapy.
Dec. 21, 2010, 02:23 PM
If you need a good massage therapist (not sure if you have one) let me know - I use the same one as Susie and she's awesome. :)
When are you taking super pony to the barn so I can see her? Or going back for a lesson- how's your mare doing?
You'll have to see my mom's horse go sometime - she was super duper stiff in the jaw - she really wants to brace. Just doing circles with correct bend, and leg yielding in and out as we go once she got strong enough have really helped a lot. I'm sure a lot of it is newness to the work, but just proper circles and leg yields tend to ask for a give and softness. I have yet to ride a horse who can be truly soft in the body and locked in the jaw at the same time.
Dec. 21, 2010, 07:29 PM
Try using just the inside rein and asking for some lateral (side to side) bend in the neck (even if it is slightly overbent compared to the bend in the body). Drop the outside rein. Leave the outside rein long, loose and sloppy.
Ride serpentines and switch the inside rein and drop the outside rein through each bend ... gently pick up the new inside rein as you ride through the change of direction/bend.
Figure-eights will work also.
Trot forward through all of this. Posting or two-point will work as long as you are able to use your hands independently of your seat.