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  1. #1
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    Default Could use some insight on lack of connection...

    Since we are still rehabbing from an injury torn tendon in his foot) and am only allowed to walk, I have been filling in some of the gaps in our training. (Tried just letting him meander around but Dubbies decided he wants to work, so work we shall.) Anywho, we have been having a problem with keeping the connection. He comes up from behind, up through his back, but we lose the connection in the bridle. He goes on, then comes right back off again. Mostly behind the bit, but sometimes above, it is all over the place. I thought maybe he wasn't engaging his hind end enough, but even when he is really underneath himself it is still happening. So then I thought it must be coming from me, that I am not be steady and consistent with my hands/arms/back. So I bridged my reins and pressed my knuckles into his withers. Nothing changed....

    I did notice his bit was a touch small and his lips might be getting pinched. (Herm Sprenger WH Ultra Loose Ring) So I tried an eggbutt. It was also the same issue. Teeth are good and I don't think strength is the issue.

    Ideas? What am I doing wrong...
    Celtic Charisma (R.I.P) ~ http://flickr.com/photos/rockandracehorses/2387275281
    Proud owner of "The Intoxicated Moose!"
    "Hope is not an executable plan" ~ My Mom
    I love my Dublin-ator



  2. #2
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    my guess is that his balance is meandering due to the torn tendon and lack of fitness. It will most likely improve with time.
    It could be you. bridging your reins in a telescopic gait isn't a productive/telling experiment.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


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  3. #3
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    Hi, Showjumper:

    It sounds like the problem lies with you, not with him (doesn't it nearly always lie with us?). The mechanics of the walk demand oscillation of the head and neck - the oscillation is the continuance of the swing through his back, and your job is to follow it. Bridging the reins and dropping them onto the withers will very effectively interfere with consistent connection in the walk, so it's not a great answer.

    Try following the up/down swing of the neck in both hands equally, as though your two hands were one hand, being mindful of keeping a consistent level of connection through each phase of the walk. You should not feel, if you are following correctly, and far enough, any increase or decrease in the pressure of your connection at any time during the walk strides.

    The desire to ask a horse to "engage" more in the walk while providing a fixed hand leads to rhythm mistakes which can be very hard, and often impossible, to eradicate.

    I applaud your dedication to your horse, and to his recovery. You can do a great deal of training within walk, and you've identified the first major hurdle. Good luck!


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  4. #4
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    It is very common to lose connection at or just before the withers. Thinking about the fact that to be connected through this area a horse has to lift their shoulders, neck and head with their abs, it isn't surprising that they'd rather not if they don't have the fitness for it. An injured foot can't make things any easier.

    In any case, trying to establish connection at the walk will create more problems than it solves, imo. If it were my horse, I'd work on getting the poll highest and keep at good forward rhythm until you guy is sound enough to work at the trot.
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MATRIX1 View Post
    Hi, Showjumper:

    Try following the up/down swing of the neck in both hands equally, as though your two hands were one hand, being mindful of keeping a consistent level of connection through each phase of the walk. You should not feel, if you are following correctly, and far enough, any increase or decrease in the pressure of your connection at any time during the walk strides.
    I did concentrate on this before attempting bridging, but thought maybe I still wasn't being quiet enough. (I feel like I am being very quiet, and I don't have this problem with my other horse.) When I pick up contact he softens and is right there, then he starts... up, down, up down, up, down.... moving his neck as well. (I'm not sure this was explain very well in my first post.)

    Giving him loose reins results in trotting off and other fun antics. But the on/off up/down is driving me nuts.
    Celtic Charisma (R.I.P) ~ http://flickr.com/photos/rockandracehorses/2387275281
    Proud owner of "The Intoxicated Moose!"
    "Hope is not an executable plan" ~ My Mom
    I love my Dublin-ator



  6. #6
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    Honestly? I think the walk can be boring for horses who have done more before an injury. Perhaps if you have a smart horse, this might be contributing to the issue. I suggest walking over ground poles that vary in length from more collected walk to more of a free walk - poles help capture a horse's brain. You can also walk a "crossrail" course of jumps, moving your horse forward in the walk as you come up to each "jump". Walk through fanned crossrails or rails placed at 90 degree turns. Practice turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches on the rail. Go walk around the pasture or out on the trail if he likes it and won't get carried away. Don't worry at this point about the connection, worry about the use of his back and the leg that was injured. The connection will come when he feels engaged and comfortable. Good luck!!
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Showjumper28 View Post

    Giving him loose reins results in trotting off and other fun antics. .
    This means he is guarding with tension in his body. Also a symptom that he's not forward to the hand.

    He may not be able to sustain shape for very long. He's in rehab after all. Try playing yoyo with him. Bring him into raised shape using your seat and legs to invite him up into the bridle. Sustain that for 10 steps, then have him seek the hand fdo as you encourage his hind legs to be looooong strided. See how far down he can go. Try to sustain that for 10 steps, and then slowly invite him up into the bridle back in raised shape again.
    Do this in a pattern he excels at first, then you can start incorporating it into other ribboning work.
    Last edited by Petstorejunkie; Apr. 26, 2013 at 09:07 AM. Reason: My phone is not a novelist
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  8. #8
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    Double post
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  9. #9
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    Default

    I would suggest that working on maintaining a steady connection on a rehabbing horse is not a good idea. It is something to be played with for a few minutes at a time in a hack put situation, but maintaining a good forward rhythm in the walk on an uneducated horse in an arena can result in a lot of grabbing and nagging.

    Maintaining a following hand by allowing the elbows to go forward and back is crucial to the active walk. The head nods at the active walk. If your hand is not following, you will be alternatively dropping (he comes above the bit), or grabbing, (he goes behind the bit). Then rhythm goes out the window.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.


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  10. #10
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    You really can't fix the walk at the walk.

    The walk is basically a diagnostic of the rest of the work: if the rest of the work is good, the walk is good. If the rest of the work is sub-optimal, the walk deteriorates. Some trainers say don't even ride on contact at the walk until the horse is well established in the rest of his training. Look at the walk an upper level horse has when he gets a break on a long rein: it is a totally different kettle of fish from how the average horse walks, and, because the rider is merely letting him have his head, it is a symptom (and a diagnosis) of the work that came before. You can't lie about it, it either happens on its own or it doesn't.

    The fastest way to deteriorate a walk is to mess around with it.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    You really can't fix the walk at the walk.

    The walk is basically a diagnostic of the rest of the work: if the rest of the work is good, the walk is good. If the rest of the work is sub-optimal, the walk deteriorates. Some trainers say don't even ride on contact at the walk until the horse is well established in the rest of his training. Look at the walk an upper level horse has when he gets a break on a long rein: it is a totally different kettle of fish from how the average horse walks, and, because the rider is merely letting him have his head, it is a symptom (and a diagnosis) of the work that came before. You can't lie about it, it either happens on its own or it doesn't.

    The fastest way to deteriorate a walk is to mess around with it.
    I completely agree. His walk was much better when we first started. LOL But 35 mins of walking is extremely boring. He is a go, go, go horse, and after about 15 mins he keeps trying to slide into the trot. I have concentrated on a few things I have let slide before, but this issue is rather new.

    Merrygoround- that is exactly what I concentrated on yesterday. And even when I was lengthening he was still doing it. I will try it again this morning and really concentrate on me...
    Celtic Charisma (R.I.P) ~ http://flickr.com/photos/rockandracehorses/2387275281
    Proud owner of "The Intoxicated Moose!"
    "Hope is not an executable plan" ~ My Mom
    I love my Dublin-ator



  12. #12
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    instead of worrying about the contact why not practice perfect geometry instead?

    the fastest way to ruin a walk is to worry about the connection in the walk before the horse is ready.

    agree with Meup 100%


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  13. #13
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    I was in a similar situation rehabbing coffin joints (and then, of course, the stifle was the first next thing to get weak) on a very hot/reactive horse last year. We entertained ourselves with ...
    1. Poles at varying intervals to give her something to think about
    2. Slightly uneven ground / trails
    3. Baby obstacles you might find at an obstacle challenge or trail class
    4. Through water

    It was great for our relationship and helped her develop a little patience about the world. Made losing her that much more painful, but I learned a lot.
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