Hot horse lazy in the back end over poles - suggestions?
So my horse is four years old and quite hot. I am trying to get her to pick up her back feet better at the trot so I am doing a lot of pole work both while lunging and riding. She is so lazy with her back legs!! She will hit the pole, then overcompensate the next round, then hit the pole... if she trips she starts galloping around like a maniac (lunging) despite the 35 degree heat. I have been mixing up the exercises for weeks with no luck. She is a very energetic horse and more than capable. I have had the massage therapist out and she is plenty loose in her back end with great muscle development. I would love to do hills with her but I am not yet at the stage where I trust her to trail on her own (hopefully by the end of the summer). She has beautiful movement and is not particularly heavy on the forehand with excellent balance. Any tips or thoughts?
Last edited by TannerS; Jun. 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM.
Perhaps start in a different direction - go to trot/halt transition where you ensure she's bringing her hind end underneath herself into a square halt (no walk steps).
Once you get that 90% of the time go to 4 in a row "graduated" trot poles - first on on ground, next one up about 4 " then 8" then 8", but do it in steps - all on ground, then as soon as she's clear on that 1st pole on ground next 3 up about 4". Then move to first pole on ground, next 2 at 4" and last pole up at 6" , etc... Maybe she gets so excited she doesn't pay attention. You might also try some magnesium and/or hops in her diet to see if that helps her pay more attention to you (although it's probably just her age).
At four years old she doesn't need to do a lot of pole work, she needs to become confident, not scared, of the where she puts her feet. Perhaps the biggest fear a horse has it the loss of balance (they are animals that are preyed upon and falling down means the predator can get them). It sounds like she is not lazy but afraid of losing her balance, which makes her anxious.
At this point I would walk her over a single pole once in a while, to help her get more confidence and take her out on hacks, but keep her in a walk when on hills and very uneven ground. Trot or canter only on the even parts of the track. I have an upper level dressage horse who is great on hacks but it took him until he was over 6 years old before I trusted him to trot downhill without miss-stepping.
My mare has this problem, I work on this under saddle only. I do this because I can help her to figure it out. If she rushes because she is nervous, it is just going to be a mess and make it worse. You have to talk to her and hold your seat to ask her to slloowww doowwwnnn and relax.
Young horses will try several different methods each time through, trying to figure it out. Don't worry if it seems to get worse the first few times. Remain quiet with looser rein, let him/her look at the poles.
Be careful not to overface with too many poles than she is ready for and be sure to use solid wood poles.
I started with quietly walking and trotting through a line of 1 then 2 and 3 poles. I set for a bit bigger step than normal to help them in case they accidently step on one. I aim for 5.5 feet for my 16hand mare.
Then once that was quiet, (different day, you want to do the above several times to build confidence), I use 2 poles and propped one side of each up, one being propped on the right side and the other being propped on the left.
Walk through until quiet and eventually trot.
(Keep the distance slightly longer between poles)
Later on once they are confident with that I will raise the propped end to 12" to get more lift through the hock.
I love the raised pole excercises. Play around with it, make a circle with them eventually. It really helps my mare relax and get her loose.
Proud owner of one Lunar acre! (Campanus Crater, The Moon)
It's probably weak stifles. Just need to do a lot of work without poles to get her to come up and through and learn how to carry more on her back end. The poles, depending on how you set them and what you're doing before and after, are probably hard and tiring for her and they are not doing anything you want right now.
Go back to solid work under saddle and have some patience. Lateral work with help build strength and the ability to carry, but don't obsess over it.
I agree with Velvet re cause and cure. Lots of walk work and some lateral work at the walk will help. If you work her in hand, you'll be able to see the progress...but it will take time, as you know. If she gets in a tizzy easily, her relaxation is another thing to work on, so she can focus, learn, try, succeed, and gain in confidence.
The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry www.reflectionsonriding.com