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View Full Version : Getting the swing in the back, at the walk?



Doctracy
Jan. 20, 2011, 09:33 PM
I'm dabbling with dressage on my fox hunter/ jumping TB since I've retired myself from over-fences. I'm needing some exercises to loosen his back and increase his length of stride, especially at the walk, where I can feel a lot of tightness. Really, at all three gaits but not sure how much pounding my neck is going to take (why I got out of jumpers, arthritis from a fracture/fusion) but I can at least start with improving his walk and go from there. I'm sure I can handle lower levels while I'm still posting but sitting a big trot may just not be possible anymore.
I actually prefer riding him to my other horses because the tension in his back causes him to be very smooth but I know we need to move forward. I also need a better walk out in the hunt field since I find myself changing gaits to keep up with some of the bigger moving WBs and large cobs.
He is very good at lateral movements but needs a lot more forward. I have a lot of rate at the canter from showing Eq/hunters, can increase and shorten that stride but have not worked much on the walk or working trot.
I'll be working by myself for now but am hoping to enter some Training Level classes with him later this year. Hoping to eventually do First, maybe Second level but only if my neck can handle the sitting trot, of course.
Anyway, from what little I know from past experience and watching horses go at the different levels, we really need a lot more "swing".
He's a 13 year old, OTTB, I showed him Eq and jumpers, have hunted him for about 6 years.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 20, 2011, 11:19 PM
video always helps ;)
get loose in your lower back (salsa hips)and visualize your lower body as a bell, swinging from side to side. then i like to do figure eights with the cross over traveling toward the front of the horse, then quiet seat, long legs, back to bell swaying.
also i don't school the walk on one i'm purifying gaits for until we've trotted a few laps on teh buckle to loosen up.
hills are also one of my favorite tools. do the bell sway with your leg underneath you, lean back, and really encourage that hip roll down the hill at a slow considered pace.

ACP
Jan. 20, 2011, 11:46 PM
video always helps ;)
get loose in your lower back (salsa hips)and visualize your lower body as a bell, swinging from side to side. then i like to do figure eights with the cross over traveling toward the front of the horse, then quiet seat, long legs, back to bell swaying.
also i don't school the walk on one i'm purifying gaits for until we've trotted a few laps on teh buckle to loosen up.
hills are also one of my favorite tools. do the bell sway with your leg underneath you, lean back, and really encourage that hip roll down the hill at a slow considered pace.

Excellent suggestions! :D

Doctracy
Jan. 21, 2011, 03:36 AM
I was actually thinking more about the horse's back getting loose, lol! But, I'll try those ideas anyway, must be good for me.
But, really, trying to get a bigger step at the walk and get that swing in my horse's stride.
And, of course, in the trot as well, still posting, though.
My own back, well it just tries to keep my neck from falling off my head. Going through 6 months in a body brace for the fracture really did a number on my core strength but I'm starting to feel stronger than I have in years.
Anyway, let's try to keep the discussion to loosening my tight TBs back.
Thanks!

yaya
Jan. 21, 2011, 07:04 AM
Getting your back loose helps the horse's back get loose.

He can't swing and stride out if you are tight or tense. You can't push, either. I'm finding with my horse that if I try to push a bigger walk, he just tenses and takes smaller strides. Loosening my seat helps loosen his back.

cleozowner
Jan. 21, 2011, 07:36 AM
I find that walking over ground poles during my 10 minute walk warm up does a lot to start loosening my horse's back.

ArabDiva
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:58 AM
I was actually thinking more about the horse's back getting loose, lol! But, I'll try those ideas anyway, must be good for me.
But, really, trying to get a bigger step at the walk and get that swing in my horse's stride.
And, of course, in the trot as well, still posting, though.
My own back, well it just tries to keep my neck from falling off my head. Going through 6 months in a body brace for the fracture really did a number on my core strength but I'm starting to feel stronger than I have in years.
Anyway, let's try to keep the discussion to loosening my tight TBs back.
Thanks!

Yes, but loosening your hips and back are exactly how you will get the horse to loosen his back.
The poster who mentioned "Salsa hips" is exactly correct. Or even think of it as "hula hips". When my horse is really stretching underneath herself in a nice swingy medium walk, I feel this wonderful side-to-side rock in my hips and waist.
Think of a labrador dog that is so excited to see you that his whole body is curving and wagging along with his tail. That's the motion your horse's body will make except on a much smaller scale :)
Once you begin to feel that rock you can also manipulate it by pressing your legs alternately at the girth in rhythm with his stride, encouraging him to bend just a little more, just a little more with each stride.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 21, 2011, 01:24 PM
Those instructions are to get the horses back loose. ;)

netg
Jan. 21, 2011, 01:35 PM
I'll ditto on moving your back is the best way to get your horse's back loose at the walk.


Leg yielding at the walk with frequent changes of direction in the leg yield and not necessarily worrying about being perfectly straight/show worthy helps get the hind legs working right to carry, which then allows more swing and push as well.

Go forward from the moment you get on. I've found most horses who want to be slugs at a walk need to be taught forward, at all times. Backing off in your demands immediately revert them to slugs again, too. Guaranteed your horse CAN walk faster, but doesn't want to. Forward and swing in your back will make your horse's back swing, too.

pony grandma
Jan. 21, 2011, 01:48 PM
The salsa hips and the hula hips. :lol:

We call it the Marilyn Monroe walk. and yes, the rider has to walk it!

For the kids I call it the goosey loosey - they have no idea who Marilyn is or how she walked.

ArabDiva
Jan. 21, 2011, 02:12 PM
We call it the Marilyn Monroe walk. and yes, the rider has to walk it!


Ha, Marilyn Monroe! Love it!

Doctracy
Jan. 21, 2011, 02:59 PM
Yes, but loosening your hips and back are exactly how you will get the horse to loosen his back.
The poster who mentioned "Salsa hips" is exactly correct. Or even think of it as "hula hips". When my horse is really stretching underneath herself in a nice swingy medium walk, I feel this wonderful side-to-side rock in my hips and waist.
Think of a labrador dog that is so excited to see you that his whole body is curving and wagging along with his tail. That's the motion your horse's body will make except on a much smaller scale :)
Once you begin to feel that rock you can also manipulate it by pressing your legs alternately at the girth in rhythm with his stride, encouraging him to bend just a little more, just a little more with each stride.
Now I understand!

TKR
Jan. 21, 2011, 06:50 PM
Do some stretching before you get on and ask your horse to stretch his neck towards the stirrups for a treat on both sides and down between his legs before you start. Skip the arena and hit the trails at a relaxing walk and trot, particularly hills. The more relaxation you get, the bigger walk with more swing you will get. Then work on stretching into the bit.
Pennyg

Equibrit
Jan. 21, 2011, 07:37 PM
TBs really loosen up at the walk after a good cleansing gallop.