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First Day Back, Too Long of Frame?

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  • First Day Back, Too Long of Frame?

    Just getting a second opinion.

    Today I hopped on a mare that I am very familiar with. She is a very laid back TB (and chestnut to boot! Go figure...) and has been out of work, with only a ride here or there, for quite some time. Last year her owner was working on solidifying quiet canter transitions and leg yielding. She is out of shape and looks pregnant (but isn't!). Anyway, like I said I hopped on today and had a nice ride. And I'm looking forward to continuing working with this sweet mare to get her going for her owner.

    I only rode for twenty minutes (including warm up/cool down) which was enough to loosen her up laterally... some, got her sweating and huffing a little bit too. I decided there would be no straight lines (she feels like wood when you first ask for bend in her body) and I kept her in a long frame without asking for "bigger trot" and I just focused on keeping rhythm and balance.

    My question is... am I keeping her in too long of frame? felt like I could try gathering her with half halts but I felt focusing on the lateral was more important today. I feel I could ask her to step a hair quicker with her hind leg. But really just wanted thoughts on the longer frame (too much on the forehand? She does not have much strength to rock back right now).

    Here is a photo for reference:
    (using a lighter seat to start as we warm up)
    (after warming up, doing a half circle of sitting trot)

    Conformationally she has a lower set neck and is a bit straight behind.

  • #2
    With "wooden horses" I don't ask for any collection (if they offer it then fine, but I don't ask). I focus on long, relaxed, lateral bending and suppling, and re-introducing the aids one at a time.

    I aim for developing a good working gait (over a few days) that has consistent rythym. I begin asking for a bit more activity from the hind legs and I ride them forward into the bit more.

    But, I will go back to the previous days light work and do some simple things from that.

    ETA: the working gaits can have some collection depending on how comfortable both horse and rider are with the aids. It is better to just have a good contact and gently, but firmly, continue to ask for a more active hind leg. If you can't keep the work into the bit soft you will not be training correctly. Just back off a bit and keep a good rythym and work on bending, then straight, bending, then straight, begin moving your horse to the outside "rail" using your inside leg ... stuff like that unitl you both get stronger and MORE COORDINATED (getting back into condition).


    • #3
      It is not a sin to allow your horse to be heavy on the forehand when you first start getting organized.

      Unless you are in excellent condition (hours in the saddle per day of very coordinated riding) and have a solid Independent Seat, you will be creating more problems by asking for too much too soon.

      Take it a bit slow, gain some conditioning (for yourself) and your horse will follow


      • Original Poster

        BaroquePony, your thoughts are exactly in line with what I was thinking for this mare. Keeping her long and asking for her to loosen up laterally before asking her to start carrying herself more. I really enjoyed how relaxed she felt today after she was able to start bending and the rhythm was overall nice as well. As she gets more consistent in her bend I plan to start asking for the quicker hind leg. Once this all is easier for her then I will work on helping her rock back - which I think will help solidify her canter departures. I'd like to have her at solid first level next spring (if footing holds in the arena through the winter). Thank you for the input!


        • #5
          Once this all is easier for her then I will work on helping her rock back
          Don't think "helping her rock back" ... that is thinking front to back. Think riding her forward (seat with leg on as needed) and softly catching that energy in your hands. Back to front.

          Focus on your seat, soft spine (yours) and your equitaiton as you ride and your horse will literally fall into your hands.

          Most people try too hard (then everyone gets tense) and sometimes more is less


          • Original Poster

            we have different definitions for the same phrase...

            helping her rock back, to me, means utilizing half halts from the seat to help her engage her back/core, keep balance, keep her reaching forward with the hind legs and carrying more weight behind. Of course it is important to keep her forward through all of this.

            And it cannot be done by riding front to back. Doing that does the exact opposite. It would put her more on the forehand, break at the third vert., drop her back, stop the hind legs from reaching forward and she absolutely could not carry more behind.


            • #7
              Oh goody At least you can ride

              Half halts

              Sounds like you are off to a good start.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by BaroquePony View Post
                Oh goody At least you can ride

                Half halts

                Sounds like you are off to a good start.

                haha! Well, at least I can type a good game. We'll see how it goes over winter.