Help! Good excercises to help the hind end connect to the front?
My mare is still learning to balance herself and a rider at the canter. She has a difficult time keeping herself straight and drops her inside shoulder while scooting her hind to the outside.
The trainer I work with on occasion suggested I work on counter flexing to help her get stronger. I know I'm not the only one with a disconnected horse, so I would love to hear what worked for those of you who went through this.
I'm sure there are already threads on this topic, I just didn't know how to best search for them.
Ideally, I would just have the trainer ride her for 30 days, but the trainer is traveling a lot right now so that isn't an option.
Sometimes my pony does the same thing and I will counter bend her then back to bend to the inside. This seems to straighten things out.
Does she know how to leg yield? You could do spiral in and out. This really gets them stepping under themselves with the inside hind. I know others will chime in with some exercises.
You will find you have this problem over and over again.
I'm not sure if it happens with *every* horse or not, but it certainly happens again and again with my TB. We keep returning to the training scale, we get rhythm and relaxation, contact, increase the impulsion... and he goes crooked. He gets stronger and straighter, reinforce the rhythm and relaxation, contact, increase impulsion... and he goes crooked again. In his case, it's an evasion because he naturally is stronger on one side, so as he works harder it's easier to use his left hind/side more than his right. Getting him straighter means getting him stronger so he can carry himself straight. As we add more and more collection, we have to return to the basics from that direction as well.
My Friesian-x doesn't have many straightness issues (yet) but I suspect it's due to the fact she carries herself far less, and actually because she's greener! I'm sure we'll see them soon enough.
I'm assuming your horse is pretty green as well based on your description. I would definitely do bend and counterbend and spiraling in and out, plus general keeping her between your aids practice. Are you able to manage a shoulder fore at the canter? That may be an option to work on, as well as in and out of transitions.
Depending on her strength and temperament, a lot of trot work to build up strength can help, and a lot of transitions where you insist on straightness and don't hold the canter too long can help as well. With the Friesian-x I have done a LOT more trot work than canter because her canter is naturally pretty weak and unbalanced - and it helps a lot.
Originally Posted by Silverbridge
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Dr. Klimke has an excellent book on the use of cavaletti which would be excellent for you both I'd think. Sounds like you need more drive/impulsion from the hind in order to sustain balance and straightness, which means that cavaletti work in trot which helps to strengthen the drive from the hind, will improve your canter work. I believe that more often than not, you fix a weak canter in trot, not by more canter work. Lots of school figures in trot, spiraling in on a circle has already been suggested, square turns and transitions within trot are all excellent strengthening tools.
Also remember that young or weak horses need forward momentum to balance, sometimes that means you may need to be cantering in more of a medium canter than a working canter, especially when you are first warming up. Consider galloping sets in an open field, the ability for the horse to proceed straight and work on transitions may be a useful stepping stone to being able to balance in the smaller, tighter space of the arena. It also allows both horse and rider to establish what true straightness is without the rail as a crutch. You may be pitching to the inside without knowing it in an attempt to balance the horse or get the lead.
Trot work up hills is also highly valuable.
I always find that issues like this are usually symptoms of a different problem rather than a problem in themselves. If you treat the symptom, you'll never solve the problem, so I always step back and assess what the true root cause may be before focusing too intently on what I perceive is the 'issue' at hand.
If a horse is dropping their shoulder there is always a point where they have to pick it up somewhat in a turn... With a horse that was VERY leaned inward, I would start walk trot in smaller circles... small enough that they have no where to go up outward if they want to be comfortable.
The same at the canter. Ask for the canter and go straight until the horse falls in then ask for as much turn as you can, and then straight again and then sharp turn and straight.
Try doing only a couple of revolutions and then trot across your diagnol and go the other way.
I found hill work to be super valuable in strengthening my mares canter, when I got her hind end stronger her canter in the arena naturally got more balanced and it was less frustrating for both of us to work on.