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Molly Micvee
Jan. 18, 2011, 09:27 PM
Hello,

I have a TB mare off the track that I have brought back from starving a year ago. Ive had two vets look at her in this years time and both have told me she is fine, no lameness or problems. Now she is about 300 pounds heavier, 4 1/2 years old and Ive started working with her a bit.

My question is: When I get her to move into a trot, it feels just like Im on a Paso fino. I had to laugh at first because I have a Hanovarian mare who has a trot that can not be mistaken. On my TB mare it feels so smooth I have to think to find the beat to post.

Im going to have my instructor look at her but for now I have to wait because she is too tall for my trailor. I plan on getting someone here at my place to look at her soon, but in the mean time, I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced this sort of thing on a TB.

Do you think she's lazy, or doesnt know how to pick her feet up yet? or maybe she still needs time to develope more muscle. I watch her all the time. I watch her walk and run in the field all the time. She looks fine.

I dont exspect her trot to be like my warm blood, but really!! Any ideas or relating would be great. Thanks Molly

enjoytheride
Jan. 18, 2011, 09:34 PM
I've ridden lots of remedial horses and one thing I've found is that many of them get very nervous under saddle so they hold their backs tight and don't bend their legs all the way. It doesn't feel like a trot at all. It goes away with patience and wet saddle blankets. This could be what is happening if she has a nice trot in the pasture.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 18, 2011, 09:38 PM
it sounds like she may be holding her back instead of letting the energy swing through her spine.

slp2
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:04 PM
What others have already suggested (tight back and no swing through her back) is likely. It sounds like she is a "leg mover", but doesn't use her back. My older Tb mare has a huge, floaty trot, and my trainer comments how she uses her entire body when she moves (and it feels like it when you are riding that trot). My young WB horse was started by a hunter trainer--she was a "leg mover" (legs going a million miles an hour--but no back movement). But over the last year, (from age 3.5 - 4.5) through training, she has learned how to swing in her back and really work into contact. Now her trot is starting to feel (and look) more like my Tb's trot.

Another thought--do you have shoes on her or is she barefoot? My young horse was also footsore when I got her (which is what I suspected). Sure enough, she reacted to the hoof testers on the PPE We put shoes on her (just fronts at first) and it made a huge difference.

A combination of training to teach her to swing through her back, increased strength from consistent work, and shoes may make a difference.

mzm farm
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:11 PM
Perhaps you are just lucky! I have ridden some TBs who are super smooth.

You could post video clips - there are always lots of people willing to contribute their views.

dwblover
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:54 PM
You will need to teach her to swing her back. She sounds tight and is holding herself instead of swinging through. It used to take 20 minutes of warmup for my warmblood to go from very average trot (smooth, easy to sit) to big, swinging trot (needed to activate the core to sit!). Teaching her about stretching to the contact is step number one. Once she is totally relaxed and stretching you can start adding relaxed impulsion back in which will give you the swing.

naturalequus
Jan. 18, 2011, 10:58 PM
You would need to post videos for a more accurate assessment but I second the above in that I think it sounds too like she is holding her back tense, which is producing a "leg moving" trot.

More in-depth (from the book Tug of War by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann):

"This tension blocks the movement of the hind legs and prevents impulsion from flowing over the back to the rider's hand."

"When looking at a horse with the skin removed, the first thing visible over the back is a broad, white, tendinous sheet, referred to as the back fascia."
This fascia binds together the back, croup, and hamstring muscles though other muscle groups also originate from this group (ie, forearm muscles) that is bound together, so states of tension are not restricted to a single muscle group. As such, obviously then tension in one muscle group is reflected in other muscle groups. What this means, is that if the back is held tensely, the forearm and hindleg muscle groups will also be affected and held with tension, which will affect the horse's movement.

In the trot: "If the longissimus back muscle is blocked, there is a delay and shortening of the forward-swinging phase of the respective hind leg..." The hind limbs are unable to reach forward under the horse due to the tension in the back. The forearm is also restrained and the front limbs are ""thrown" forward from the elbow with the points of shoulder unable to open up because the forearm is held so tightly. Then, in order to make contact with the ground again, the limbs must be quickly pulled backward. When viewed form the side, the even "curve" of trotting hoof motion described by the legs in correct trot biomechanics disappears".


In short, your horse's limbs are restricted by the tension in the back muscle. Therefore you get the up-and-down movement as opposed to a stretch outwards and forwards. Usually a tense back is actually hard to sit, but of course it depends on the horse! ETA: of course the trot will change as the horse learns to swing its back and all that power comes up through the back to your hand, too, which might be hard to sit (clearly for its own reasons). It all depends on the horse.

The solution, IF what we suspect to be the case is in fact the case, is to re-start your mare, keeping in mind the Training Scale. Number one on the list is to develop relaxation. With that comes rhythm (and vice versa). Suppleness is next. Thus with no tension and loose back muscles, she will start to move more correctly. She also needs to develop "pushing power" (ie, forward push from behind, impulsion) first, THEN eventually (likely a couple years down the road) you can start asking for "carrying power" (ie, flexion of the hocks whereby she starts to sit back and shift her weight onto her hind, lift her front, etc). To develop the first few building blocks of the Training Scale and also that pushing power, I would maintain a light seat and only light/minimal contact (even a loose rein at first). Trot her over hills, over groundpoles, and small x-rails. Really develop that relaxation and forward. Allow her to stretch her neck forward and down but do not try to put her head or body in any specific frame. To encourage her to reach forward and down and to relax, you can also introduce her to large circles and loopy patterns (ie, serpentines, etc). Doing so will especially develop her haunches as well, which will strengthen her for carrying power later (ie, to be able to carry herself efficiently). Inducing the relaxation and developing push from behind will help that back to start swinging, up into your hand (eventually) to contact (that SHE initiates). Then I would start introducing (perhaps simultaneously, but with more of a focus on just moving forward on a loose rein with relaxation) lateral work and more intense circular work (including transitions between and within gaits, spiraling circles with inside leg to outside rein, etc) to start introducing the idea of carrying power, to strengthen her body and teach flexibility, and to loosen her up further. You just keep building after that. I LOVE the books 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider and also Progressive Schooling Exercises for Dressage & Jumping (Islay Auty) - they're two books with a ton of progressive exercises that take you from the bottom up as far as the Training Scale goes.

This is a bit of speculation, but just based on your description of her trot, I would really suspect a tense back. My main guy is an OTTB as well and has a very coiled, compressed, cat-like trot when he is nervous and in fact many OTTB's trot in such a manner. They are tense in general (ie, in their mind, they are anxious, excited, etc) and that reflects in their backs, which reflects in the rest of their body and produces that trot. My boy used to think that is just how one trotted :winkgrin: Lots of the above and he has a MUCH better trot now that is forward, relaxed, rhythmic, etc.

netg
Jan. 19, 2011, 12:12 AM
When I looked at my horse, his trot was so smooth I laughed and asked my trainer if I needed to bother posting. It was by far the smoothest trot I had ever ridden, and didn't look bad at all!

He hadn't been worked in about 6 months, so was very out of shape and a little tense due to imperfect footing (he's a footing prima donna). Two months later, I had trouble sitting his trot. 10 months later, today I realized I wasn't posting high enough to make up for the movement of his back when I got him to really use impulsion. Now, he doesn't look like a nice moving thoroughbred - he just looks like a nice mover.


It's possible your horse will always have a smooth trot, but it's also possible it will get a lot bigger and a lot less smooth as she gets stronger and more relaxed.

Molly Micvee
Jan. 19, 2011, 01:28 AM
Thank You All,

What I dont understand is what causes this tightness in her back? Is she sore somewhere? Does her back hurt? Maybe she fell on the track? Maybe I'm paranoid. Maybe I fell on the track. ( :

I plan on setting up a tri pod and video taping me on her, but nothing takes the place of a real professional looking at her in real time.(which will happen)

She is at the point where she is at no real point in training at all. I have a kk training bit on her and her response to this is, well there is not much response at all. She is just learning what it means to halt and make turns. I dont want anything harsh or narrow in her mouth, though this is most likely what she has been used to as being raced. Im working to re sensitize her. Its interesting though because even with this bit she gets fussy. Everything about her is pretty raw.

She walks very sluggish and wont pick it up unless I nudge her with a dressage whip behind my leg. She walks very slow in the field. Im just not too sure she feels good period. Suppliments is the next course. Its only been a year and she's was in a pretty bad state when I bought her. I think Im lucky she lived to be quite honest. She is just now beginning to trust me. Somebody abused her and has given her a sour side which has improved tremendously with handleing and lots of TLC. She has the potential to be a bit dangerous so Im going to find someone to work with her with me.

At any rate, Having a tense back could very well be what's going on. She only knows the track and when I get on her with a dressage saddle she doesnt know what I want or what for. If there's nothing wrong with her and she's ok, then this means she's going to require a lot of consistent,patient work to get her to relax. Like a ball of clay, Im going to have to knead and knead and love and love and then knead some more in careful measure. ( :

Thanks everyone for your imput. I will keep in touch with a video coming up real soon. Molly

sophie
Jan. 19, 2011, 04:57 AM
Poor mare. Sounds like she'll need a lot of TLC and correct work before she can be a decent riding horse.
I agree with all of the above posters, including the shoeing part (one of my Ottbs really needed shoes on all 4 feet to move decently, otherwise she was just shuffling, even in soft sand).
If she were my horse I would also have her checked over by a good chiropractor. When I bought my current Ottb she had a weird, very smooth but "flat tire" type trot. I had the chiro work on her 3 times over a year in the 1st year I had her, and it made a world of difference. The chiro told me she was "off" in her poll area, near the withers, and in the pelvic area. He gave me specific exercises to do in hand and under saddle.
She was also hitting herself in the back pretty badly (rope walker). Correct dressage work and muscling helped tremendously and she is now a very decent ride.
One more thing: a magnesium supplement will help if her back is sore / tight.
Good luck!

Molly Micvee
Jan. 19, 2011, 08:18 AM
YES. Thank You She has shoes on her front feet.

naturalequus
Jan. 19, 2011, 01:23 PM
Thank You All,

What I dont understand is what causes this tightness in her back? Is she sore somewhere? Does her back hurt? Maybe she fell on the track? Maybe I'm paranoid. Maybe I fell on the track. ( :

I plan on setting up a tri pod and video taping me on her, but nothing takes the place of a real professional looking at her in real time.(which will happen)

She is at the point where she is at no real point in training at all. I have a kk training bit on her and her response to this is, well there is not much response at all. She is just learning what it means to halt and make turns. I dont want anything harsh or narrow in her mouth, though this is most likely what she has been used to as being raced. Im working to re sensitize her. Its interesting though because even with this bit she gets fussy. Everything about her is pretty raw.

She walks very sluggish and wont pick it up unless I nudge her with a dressage whip behind my leg. She walks very slow in the field. Im just not too sure she feels good period. Suppliments is the next course. Its only been a year and she's was in a pretty bad state when I bought her. I think Im lucky she lived to be quite honest. She is just now beginning to trust me. Somebody abused her and has given her a sour side which has improved tremendously with handleing and lots of TLC. She has the potential to be a bit dangerous so Im going to find someone to work with her with me.

At any rate, Having a tense back could very well be what's going on. She only knows the track and when I get on her with a dressage saddle she doesnt know what I want or what for. If there's nothing wrong with her and she's ok, then this means she's going to require a lot of consistent,patient work to get her to relax. Like a ball of clay, Im going to have to knead and knead and love and love and then knead some more in careful measure. ( :

Thanks everyone for your imput. I will keep in touch with a video coming up real soon. Molly

The tightness in her back COULD be made worse by a previous injury, but that is not what we are getting at. Even if a previous injury is healed etc she will still be tight in her back, and possibly sore as a result of so much tension. The reason being she lacks relaxation (mentally/emotionally) and because she has not been taught to move in a correct fashion. If she is not relaxed in her mind, her body cannot be relaxed. It sounds like your mare is at a fairly low level of fitness as well; that combined with her not having been taught to move in a manner that enables her to carry the weight of a rider efficiently, means she HAS to tense her back. I won't get into any more biomechanics here but I HIGHLY suggest professional help and also reading a few books (such as the one I mentioned in my previous post) so you can understand how and why she is moving the way she is, and thus how to fix it.

If she is still fussing with her current bit, I would look at bridle fit (ie, is the bit high or low enough in her mouth? It can't be hitting any teeth but it can't be pulling on her cheeks either - two wrinkles is the rule of thumb generally), your hands, saddle fit, and her mouth conformation. Maybe the bit you have in her mouth is too thick, or if it only has one break in the mouthpiece maybe she is opposed to the nutcracker action on her tongue and the joint hitting the roof of her mouth, or maybe she doesn't like her tongue squashed down (in which case, a bit with two joints in the mouthpiece would be better). These are all questions for a reputable professional who sees her.

I second having a chiropractor look at her, and also a vet if you feel she is not feeling well.

Anyways, definitely get yourself some help with this mare.

netg
Jan. 19, 2011, 02:00 PM
Oh! Naturalequus just reminded me about the bit. I meant to mention that in my post, too.

You said you didn't want a thin/harsh bit, but for many TBs, a thicker bit is very uncomfortable. I have a very sensitive mouthed TB who will gape his mouth if either a single jointed bit or a thick bit are put in it. Same thing if the bit is heavy - so the thick, double jointed, very gentle bits used on many of the horses at my barn are horrible to him. He has a small inside of his mouth - low palate, little extra room beyond his tongue. This is fairly common, and means the thinner bits can be gentler to a horse if they fit better in their mouth. Good news is, a thinner, lightweight, dressage legal bit is (IME only) less expensive than many other bits.

Molly Micvee
Jan. 19, 2011, 08:53 PM
Thank You Naturalequus.

I will look into it. She doesnt gape her mouth. Ive had her teeth looked at, they are fine for now. I know about properly fitting a bridle. I suggested professional help to myself before you did. Ha! that came out funny. I guess this means Im either crazy or I all ready know what I need to do, just would like some confirmation which Ive gotten. Thanks All!!! it's been good. Molly

EqTrainer
Jan. 19, 2011, 09:03 PM
I dunno about your mare but you are really funny and I hope you stick around.

princessfluffybritches
Jan. 19, 2011, 09:54 PM
When she trots, is she moving in an exact 2 beat rhythm? Or is the timing a hair off, like both diagonal legs not quite hitting the ground at the same time? This would make a smooth "trot".
Maybe do a little shoulder-fore with her and see if that helps a bit either way.

dwblover
Jan. 19, 2011, 10:34 PM
Having a tense back is actually quite normal in the beginning of training. Believe it or not, you must teach a horse how to relax. I'm not just talking about mentally either, a horse can be asleep but still have tight back muscles. It's about teaching her through education with the half-halt to stretch her back and neck muscles forward, down, and out. The stretching and suppling of these muscles will relax them and allow them to become strong enough to one day begin collection.

CZF
Jan. 20, 2011, 01:34 PM
I'm just going to put this out there - I had the reverse scenario. I went from riding TB's to riding warmbloods.

The first time I started to trot, I thought I was about to be catapulted off the back of the horse. OMG did my legs hurt by the end, I thought I was going to die. I kept wondering when the walk break was going to be, but it never came! LOL!

It could be that you're so used to the big warmblood movement, that the TB trot feels practically non-existent. I do think OTTB's need a lot of work to get them to stretch long & low and use their backs properly, but honestly - I've never met a TB that ever *felt* like a WB under saddle. I'm sure that's probably why her trot feels so strange to you.

Good luck with her! :)

spirithorse
Jan. 20, 2011, 02:04 PM
Just a reminder regarding the trot work of OTTB's.
At the track the majority are backtracked at a jog [short fast steps] and not trotted with any lengthening. This jogging tightens the back and impairs the hindquarters.

slp2
Jan. 20, 2011, 06:06 PM
Regarding CZF's post, while it may be more common for WB's to have a trot with more suspension--there are Tb's that have large, swingy trots too. I have ridden and owned both Tb's and WB's and I have rarely ridden a bigger, springier trot than my older OTTB mare (yes--she sucked as a racehorse). And I've ridden some schoolmaster dressage horses that have big, educated trots. So I don't think it's an TB "thing". What I will say is that Tb's can have a tendency to be more hot and sensitive (ala tension in the back) which can create the trot the OP is probably experiencing. And if they were started on the track--they weren't taught to reach down and relax through their neck and back in the trot (heck, they weren't taught to trot at all--just jog). So it will require training and time to build strength in order for this horse to learn how to move differently.

OP: Have you tried longing this horse with side reins? That may be a good way to start. That way she isn't dealing with weight on her back and can focus on understanding how to connect to the bit and relax in the back.

EqTrainer
Jan. 20, 2011, 07:33 PM
Thanks slp2, I was just going to get out the pics of the TBs trotting around :lol:

CZF
Jan. 21, 2011, 09:01 AM
I would argue that your horse was the exception rather than the rule though, no? I'm not saying they aren't out there, but I think it's a rare find. I've ridden many many WB's and many many TB's, and I don't find a lot in common in terms of how they are built or move.

I think as a general rule, they don't move like WB's which is most likely why you rarely see a full blooded TB in UL dressage.

Just my opinion of course ;)

EqTrainer
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:02 AM
I would argue that your horse was the exception rather than the rule though, no? I'm not saying they aren't out there, but I think it's a rare find. I've ridden many many WB's and many many TB's, and I don't find a lot in common in terms of how they are built or move.

I think as a general rule, they don't move like WB's which is most likely why you rarely see a full blooded TB in UL dressage.

Just my opinion of course ;)


No, not really. I've had lots of good moving TBs. Since I am partial to them, I look to them first when shopping, which is probably why I find them LOL

CZF
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:25 AM
Ok...I guess we'll have to agree to disagree :)

I guess my own personal experience has shown me otherwise, but obviously this hasn't been the case for you.

Anyhoo - best of luck to the OP. There are some real gems to be found off the track and I hope yours will be a wonderful partner for you. I'm sure all you need is time and training and your horse will come around. I think it's a big adjustment for them mentally and physically to go into their new careers, but TB's have so much heart, I'm sure yours will turn out awesome. :)

EqTrainer
Jan. 21, 2011, 02:20 PM
It's not easy for me right now because not all my pics are on this IPad but I will post some pics of the TBs we've had so you can enjoy them, too :)

Jeito
Jan. 22, 2011, 07:57 AM
Ok...I guess we'll have to agree to disagree :)

I guess my own personal experience has shown me otherwise, but obviously this hasn't been the case for you.

I've owned both WB's and TB's. I think its true that Warmbloods tend to have more suspension. The very nice ones have tons of suspension (though I can't say I've ever found myself "catapulted" :confused:) I don't think you'll ever find a TB like Totilas. Ever. That's unrealistic. On the other hand, most of the WB's ordinary riders can afford are rather ordinary. Sometimes owners are "barn blinded" by the Warmblood label and $25,000 price tag. You usually need to spend more than that to get a super nice Warmblood that will do the FEI levels.

There are some TB's that already come with natural suspension. With others, you have to work to develop it. And it takes lots of time. Most people simply aren't willing to invest the time, or don't know how to do it correctly. If you do, you'll never get a horse like Totilas, but you might get a horse that's just as nice as many Warmbloods. I am, of course, currently the owner of a young OTTB and thoroughly biased :winkgrin:

Regarding the original post, I think it's impossible to evaluate a horse and give accurate advice over the internet, especially without seeing a video. I hope your instructor helps you figure it out :)

ideayoda
Jan. 22, 2011, 12:03 PM
For the OP: Are you saying that it is a lateral walk, or just very comfortable? The later is a good thing, it is not a tense back at all.

Molly Micvee
Jan. 23, 2011, 01:53 PM
CZF Wrote: I'm just going to put this out there - I had the reverse scenario. I went from riding TB's to riding warmbloods.

The first time I started to trot, I thought I was about to be catapulted off the back of the horse. OMG did my legs hurt by the end, I thought I was going to die. I kept wondering when the walk break was going to be, but it never came! LOL!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Boy! Can I relate to that. There have been so many times when Ive been asked to sit trot in a lesson and OH My God, here we go!!! All hands on deck!! I can do it all right because Ive practiced and have been working on strengthening my stomach muscles but sometimes the way my warmblood mare goes it gets to be rediculous. I get angry and I want to yell at my instructor to the top of my lungs, "YOU get up here and do this, and see what it's like!! I'd be willing to wage bets her top notch horses dont feel like this.

OK Fine, and then there would be an explanation from hell stating that this is because she's got her horse collected and working from behind, the feel at the trot becomes more evened out when the horse is properly engaged. >Indicating of course that I am far far away from ever being there myself.
Im far away, But not "that" far.

And then, some other rider comes into the area who is on an old school horse, and hey! they have no problem. trot, trot, trot. It must be me!!!!! iT must be mee!!!!!!!Im retarded... This kind of psychological trap occurs when it isnt acknowledged by the instructor that yes in deed your horse does have a hard to sit trot, but there are things you can do to help this with in your self and your horse. No, nothing is said at all.

Anyhow, I figure that I will stick with it, which I have, and know that if I can develope myself enough to stay secure while relaxing on this horse, and keep working on her, it will get better and also this will make me a much better rider in the end. I want a flat,toned up stomach, I guess I hava a good reason to get one now. I wish you could just buy em at Wall Mart. ( : Silvia

merrygoround
Jan. 23, 2011, 03:26 PM
OP! With all the suggestions and surmises you have received, there is ine thing lacking.

They are all attempting to diagnose in the dark. It reminds me of a kids Halloween party, where in a dark room various harmless items are passed hand to hand, with horrific descriptions. :eek:

If "One picture is worth a thousand words!", what would a video be worth? ;)

That said, I'm with EqTrainer. Good movers are restricted to no one breed.