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  1. #1
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    May. 23, 2012
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    Default Teaching Horse To Rotate Through Shoulder

    Hi Guys,

    I know there are lots of threads on hanging knees and lower legs, etc but I can't find anything that addresses the specific issue of not rotating completely through the shoulder. This is a horse that CAN rotate through the shoulder but is tall and lanky and can't seem to get his front end out of the way quick enough. In other words, 9 out of 10 times he will hang a bit in front but that 10th time he will bring his knees up to or above the vertical. He doesn't hang his knees straight down or anything but they are usually below the vertical. He has scope, is balanced, a great "trier," etc. We do gymnastics and everything and sometimes he brings his knees up but most of the time he dangles. It's not so bad as to lead to a flip and he has never hit a jump with a knee but I'd rather he learned to tuck a little better. In fact, he rarely hits poles at all and if he does its with his toe like normal horses. I know some of them never will but I feel, knowing this horse, that it's more of an issue of him not understanding how to rotate through the shoulder and tuck his front end as opposed to not being able to. He is the type that needs a little extra explanation but once he understands he does it. Any ideas? I have read all about the exercises with the tall Xs and low wide ascending oxers and have and will continue to school them but was curious if anyone had any other tricks, exercises or stretches even to loosen the shoulder. Thank you thank you for your insight.



  2. #2
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    Dec. 7, 2004
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    Chapel Hill, NC
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    Default

    Have you tried trotting ascending oxers with placing poles? Once he understands that exercise (leaving the ground from the correct spot, not rushing) you can gradually make it bigger and wider until it is very difficult for him to get through it without rotating shoulders and tucking front end correctly... good luck!



  3. #3
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    Feb. 14, 2001
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    Can you pinpoint what makes him jump worse and what makes him jump better? Commonly, horses who have a tendency to hang will be worse over short distances at verticals; but they might look better with gappy distances, and/or ascending spreads. With that in mind, I'd school over tall crossrails, verticals, or square oxers with 9' placing rails, encouraging the horse to get to the base and jump up and around. You can also place "V" rails on the takeoff side to encourage straightness and sharpen the horse into snapping its legs up.

    Sometimes horses that are "slow" in front just lack experience, they don't know how (or are not strong enough) to rock back on their hocks and give the shoulders time to rotate. Some green horses will jump over their shoulder because they rush, jump flat, and throw their chest at the fence, instead of using their hindquarters to sit and push. This type of horse needs more flatwork, developing the carrying/pushing power in the trot and canter, and learning patience when the jumps are introduced. Use lots of ground poles; on their own, and approaching jumps (and in gymnastics) to slow the horse down and encourage better footwork. A horse can certainly rush through poles, though, so you have to have the basic relaxation there first.
    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein

    ~AJ~


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  4. #4
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    Oct. 29, 2000
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    Default

    Does he jump in the same form with a trainer as he does with you? If his form is significantly better with a pro, then the problem may be your ride to the jump.

    I agree that horses who are late with their front ends tend to be quick off the ground and jump "at" the jump, rather than "around" it. The difference is where his weight is upon take off.

    There are many different gymnastics that will sharpen up a front end. I like a vertical -> bounce to an oxer -> one stride to an oxer -> bounce to a vertical. However, the benefit to any gymnastic is 1. the distance between the jumps and 2. how the rider rides through it.

    For a horse who wants to be quick of the ground and jump at the jump, the rider's balance is very important. Once the horse has trotted over the first ground rail, the rest of the gymnastic is up to the horse. The rider's job is to stay in the center of the horse and to stay out of his way. A rider pulling on the reins and/or leaning out on the horse's neck can make him leave the ground quickly. The rider has to ease off the reins and maintain a balanced jumping position so that the horse has total ability to figure things out.

    Also, gymnastics do not acomplish a lot until they get hard enough to make the horse have to think. Not stress over the exercise, but to make him organize his parts to be successful. For some horses, that may be 3', while others may need 4'+ to make them jump efficiently.

    So, just saying "gymnastic" does not tell anything about its effect on the horse. as some old sage once said, "Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect."
    "I used to have money, now I have horses."



  5. #5
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    Apr. 2, 2009
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    Default

    Sometimes, it's not all about jumping either. I've been doing some long lining (which I just learned how to do much more effectively than I was), really pushing the horse up into the contact. It is helping figure out how to lift and open up his shoulder and reach forward, which will in turn translate to more freedom in the shoulder jumping as well. He does get his knees up jumping, he's quick with his feet, but more freedom is always better!



  6. #6
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    May. 23, 2012
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    Default

    What I see with him is he's apt to drop the leg that is not going to lead in the next canter stride. So if he plans to land on his right lead he will lift that knee higher and his left knee will be lower. He can snap a knee up though, which is why I feel as though he's just not quick enough yet and perhaps with training he would get better. In other words, it seems as though he doesn't have time to get them both out-of-the-way As opposed to him not being able to rotate the shoulder. He doesn't always hang the same leg. He used to prefer a long spot but he now takes spots at the base of the jump and really rocks back on his hocks. Once he understood that it was less effort to rock back instead of flinging himself over he found it easier to come closer to the base of the jump and rock back. Thanks for all the help guys.



  7. #7
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    May. 23, 2012
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    Default

    And yes, sorry, he jumps the same with trainer. My other trainer believes its a case of him learning to be quicker off the ground - he's a lazy soul and has always tended to use the least bit of effort always.



  8. #8
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    Sep. 13, 2002
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    I'm working with my friend on this very issue with her Novice level horse...
    she and her trainer weren't quite getting it done.
    She came over and we worked on it and fixed it up in one sitting.

    I really like square oxars with a pole diagonally laid across the top of the oxar for a horse who needs more use of shoulder or tends to be lazy with the hind end.
    And I also like to put a lot of stuff on the landing ground line side.

    My friends particular horse (lazy type) worked well through gymnastic as follows:

    ****
    crappy, quiet, no help from rider trot in. sit quietly/float the reins the entire way through. Let the horse do the work.

    pole,
    10 feet,
    2'3" oxar with X in front and a landing ground line with flower boxes,
    10 feet,
    2'6" square oxar with pole across top. front and back ground lines with flower boxes on the back only,
    11 feet,
    2'3" square oxar with pole across top. front and back ground lines with flower boxes
    10 feet,
    pole
    ***
    and then I had her do it once from canter so that he would have to jump from a little deeper distances since it was made for a trot in.

    It was the pole across the top of the oxar and the landing ground lines that did it.
    Those things usually make horses jump scopier.

    I'll go take a pic and be right back! The grid is still set...
    http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p...psf9288cf7.jpg
    http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p...ps3a57da9b.jpg

    I always assess the particular horse over a warm up jump though.
    The way her horse reacted over the warm up jump made me redo the entire gymnastic which I had originally set.
    I think I had set vertical bounces.


    I also warm up a certain way.
    I give the horse an oxar. (placement pole 1 stride out) Oxer has X in front and vertical in back. and go from there.
    **give them a shitty trot. (no leg, no rein) this takes all the pressure off.
    If the horse canters that last step...that means you put too much pressure on. Take off the pressure.

    especially on a lanky horse who needs to think about getting the legs up. Leave him alone so he can think. The moment you try to speed things up it ruins the horse's concentration and rushes them over the fence.

    let him jump slowly in his own time.
    if he screws it up...it is his fault and he will take fault in it if you DID NOT PRESSURE HIM OR TOUCH HIM DURING THE JUMP. then he will come back smarter.
    But if you pressure the horse or interfere and the horses misses, then it's your fault and the horse will not fix himself the next time through.

    The shitty trot is the most important part. It will make your equ feel terrible and you just have to deal. ; )
    what the shitty trot is, is it takes away all outside influence over the horse's jump. No physics/forward momentum to propel him over.
    He will be forced to use his own body to it's fullest to bascule over the jump. this should increase all range of motion.
    (sometimes a little leg or cluck is needed for encouragement at take off ONLY)

    the exercises are very delicate though and you'll need a good ground person (or trainer) and really pay attention to your horse. be careful not to shut the horse down and make him bitter.

    My warm up fence usually gets bigger--toward 3'6" or so. but the gymnastic itself, for a novice type horse, doesn't need to be big.

    small and technical works very well.

    think about changing the environment in such a way that it causes your horse's body to react in the desired manner. You can not help physically from the saddle.
    Let the horse learn to do it by himself.
    Last edited by purplnurpl; Mar. 26, 2013 at 02:09 PM.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Sep. 13, 2002
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IterAndEra View Post
    What I see with him is he's apt to drop the leg that is not going to lead in the next canter stride. So if he plans to land on his right lead he will lift that knee higher and his left knee will be lower. He can snap a knee up though, which is why I feel as though he's just not quick enough yet and perhaps with training he would get better. In other words, it seems as though he doesn't have time to get them both out-of-the-way As opposed to him not being able to rotate the shoulder. He doesn't always hang the same leg. He used to prefer a long spot but he now takes spots at the base of the jump and really rocks back on his hocks. Once he understood that it was less effort to rock back instead of flinging himself over he found it easier to come closer to the base of the jump and rock back. Thanks for all the help guys.
    so you mean he just canters over fences?
    Is it his shoulder that is the problem or is it his non leading canter leg?
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  10. #10
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    Jan. 19, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    so you mean he just canters over fences?
    Is it his shoulder that is the problem or is it his non leading canter leg?
    or if he is just cantering over fences, are they small? I have many a horse that will not snap their legs over a 3' fence. Why...because that is a small fence and they are scopey. They don't use their shoulder over little fences because they do not have too.


    Now if you are talking larger fences. Then some of the suggestions by purp are good. I also find tall X fences to also be good to encourage them to use their shoulders.

    The other issue to really watch is that the rider is not getting ahead at the jump. Even being a fraction of a second ahead of the motion can slow a horse's front end down and cause them to not be as good in front. I know I wouldn't be if someone is weighting down my shoulders!
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **


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  11. #11
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    Jul. 24, 2006
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    Seattle, WA
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    How big are you jumping?

    Some horses will not pick up their legs over little fences...ever. I have a couple of those. I used to joke that my TB didn't learn to bend his legs (at. all.) until 1.40m, and my baby "cantered" the fences all through his 1.10m year.

    Interesting gymnastic line, purplnurpl. I think I'm going to go set it up in my ring this weekend
    __________________________________
    Forever exiled in the NW.


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  12. #12
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    Feb. 22, 2009
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    Thurmond, NC
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    I think that the horse's form in the air can sometimes be changed with footwork drills with ground poles. Sometimes they just need to learn to swing and lift their shoulders on the flat as much as over the fences. I tend to lunge greenies over poles on the ground both at trot spacing and canter spacing so they learn to have to swing through their shoulders. I have a young OTTB mare right now that is so talented, but she just hasn't learned how to use her body yet. Polework both on the lunge and under saddle is really helping her.
    Jessica Bortner-Harris
    www.rockystartstables.com
    "Throw your heart over the fence and your horse will follow."



  13. #13
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    Jan. 4, 2012
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    We have a lesson horse who sounds similar. I'll just explain what we've done. His form over fences can be night and day. He jumps so much better with the out-of-stride distance rather than deeper, which makes since. If he's close he can't pick up his knees. He's a very neat/different horse, in that he's smaller yet has a ridiculously large stride. If my rider spends the time in warm-up developing a nice canter he'll jump correctly. Meaning shorting/lengthening, spiralling in/out, initially getting him lighter in front. We call it a 2-step process.
    Forward first, then balance. To get the quality canter.
    He has to be forward which is easy for him he has a super long stride, but then bringing him "up"/balancing without pulling him back.

    A funny yet simple exercise which did wanders. Simple Line with a pushing ride inbetween. (Not running, just taking away a stride) then bringing him around to a gymnastic. So it takes care of the 2-step process. Forward then balance. So after your line to the gymnastic the next fence you have both pieces and get the fabulous jump you want.

    Has this completely changed his form? Not quite, he's not ridden like this consistently. The saint will cart around my walk/trot kids, but within a lesson by the end we can get him there through establishing a correct canter.



  14. #14
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    May. 23, 2012
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    Oh my gosh thank you so much for that explanation for a grid! I always have trouble thinking up a good one. I really appreciate it. Thank you everyone else as well. Here is a video so you can get the gist. Please don't be mean and critical. He is shaking his head because he is sneezing, not because he's being naughty or because I'm pulling on him. We have been working really hard so please understand that although its not perfect we are doing our best. http://m.youtube.com/results?q=iterandera

    Will reply to all other questions posted above when I get home



  15. #15
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    May. 23, 2012
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    I agree with the flat work statement. He is learning to swing his shoulder but it doesn't come naturally. He used to forge and not be able to get his long front legs out of the way at all but now he can and only forges if he's really tired or not paying attention. He is getting better and better each day about carrying himself and it shows in his flat. And isn't is completely true, purp, he can't think fast enough and does get overwhelmed with demands sometimes. I really like your idea of letting him trot his own trot to the fences. That's totally his type- slow thinker but once he understands he doesn't forget.



  16. #16
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    Honestly....don't worry about his form. From the video, those are very small fences. Not a size I worry about his form.

    What I DID see was a horse who is green on the flat. His canter isn't ready for jumping bigger fences and tough to canter a course on.

    Don't worry so much about the jumping and trying to correct his form via jumping. Get his canter strong and more balanced...then the form will be fine. He is stiff and on his forehand. His canter needs to be more adjustable and more balanced. LOTS of transitions. Teach him counter canter. Work on his suppleness. Basically...work on your dressage and it will improve the jumping. But over that size fence....he isn't going to show you his form really anyway but his canter needs to be better before jumping bigger. I would also trot a lot of fences when you do jump until his canter gets better. He is very cute....just give it some time.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  17. #17
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    May. 23, 2012
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    Ah, yes, the counter canter. He is a fabulous counter-canterer. He could counter canter forever and never offer the slightest hint of change The video definitely shows a weak course canter...I would like to say that his canter without fences included or only a few fences is far superior. That was our first time in about 8 months of cantering more than 4 jumps in a row and unfortunately it shows in those long corners. We will continue to work on the canter and trotting fences.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by IterAndEra View Post
    Ah, yes, the counter canter. He is a fabulous counter-canterer. He could counter canter forever and never offer the slightest hint of change The video definitely shows a weak course canter...I would like to say that his canter without fences included or only a few fences is far superior. That was our first time in about 8 months of cantering more than 4 jumps in a row and unfortunately it shows in those long corners. We will continue to work on the canter and trotting fences.

    If he can do a proper counter canter then do more transitions. An exercise I like is to canter 10 strides, walk 3, counter canter 10 strides and walk 3 repeat. Go around the entire ring and just keep repeating even if it means picking up the counter canter into corner. Another is to do a turn on the haunches in the middle of the long side, as you approach the rail in the turn of the haunches, pick up the counter canter. Hold it through the short end of the ring then do a walk transition before you get to the middle of the long side. Walk a few steps and do another turn on the haunches to a counter canter....repeat several times.

    Do a lot of work of changes within the gait. Open up his canter for half the circle, then collect. Same with the trot.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  19. #19
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    Holy cow. 1. I'm so glad you posted that. 2. I don't know how you even ride him.
    He is sooo stiff. And yes, he counter canters but its a terrible counter canter and even more stiff and unbalanced than his true canter.

    I agree. Don't worry about his jump. It will be fine as soon as he is broke.
    I'd love to say, yes, do transitions in and out of the gait, as well as within the gait. But I don't see this horse being able to do even a standard working gait at this point nor transitions within.
    And there is nothing wrong with that! So don't be frustrated. You just have to choose the correct starting point.

    To me, he doesn't look broke. He looks trained to ride. But he doesn't look broke. He gives you nothing of himself. He frumps around to his own band and has no idea how to react to your aids.
    A broke horse, to me, molds around your aids and does not move against them.

    And honestly, I wouldn't try to fix it through transitions. Those will just make him more stiff.
    When I get a horse in for training who goes like that I don't even get on him. There is absolutely no point. I don't get on a horse until it understands how to give. I teach him to work properly through his back and on the bridle via lunge line, then I will get on.

    start from the beginning of the training scale.
    check out this thread. Its long but its a good read. (hope the link works)

    http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...-extended-trot

    He's nice. He has my kinda body and way of moving. I like the warmblood movers more than the TB types. Once he learns to give with his body his jump will be fine. But he is so stuck through his neck and rib cage at this point that he can't jump out of that canter with class. But he has it in him I'm sure!! Think about it. If he is that stuck through the base of his neck on the flat, there is no way the neck will magically become unstuck enough to allow for full range of motion through the shoulder when he jumps. ; )

    Good luck! Keep us posted!
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  20. #20
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    May. 23, 2012
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    Please please please don't judge him on that counter canter! That's an after jump one, his "asked for" counter canter is lovely. He's actually not that stuck usually. Yes, he has a tendency to be stiff and he does get stuck but its usually when he's doing something new or just warming up. He does give and bend and do transitions within gaits, he is light and soft and he does actually listen to aids but perhaps not while showing. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be defensive it's just that the video is only a good example of his behavior when jumping, not his regular flat work. Thank you for the info though. I will read through the link. I don't really know how to get him un stuck while he is cantering about jumps: on flat-only work it's much easier. He does have a very nice extended trot- just hard in the beginning to get those shoulders loosened up for it. He has a lovely working trot and balanced canter, he collects and extends (more difficult but he can and will do it nicely), counter bends, counter canters, SI, Haunches in/out...etc. He does all these things properly, on nice contact and off light aids but he does stiffen up front until you work him out of it. Please please please don't judge our flat completely by the video I do agree completely though that he is stuck in the base of neck and shoulders - rib cage too but I can work him out of it usually... He listens and responds to my aids but I do agree that he doesn't give me his all, if that makes sense. How do I encourage him to give more of himself (happily) in the ring? Outside of the ring he is LOVELY!!!! I do find that most actions that require a loose shoulder take much more practice. Any advice for loosening him up on the flat is welcome! Thank you again for comments.
    Last edited by IterAndEra; Mar. 27, 2013 at 09:33 AM.



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