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My TB mare has a strange trot

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  • My TB mare has a strange trot

    Hello,

    I have a TB mare off the track that I have brought back from starving a year ago. Ive had two vets look at her in this years time and both have told me she is fine, no lameness or problems. Now she is about 300 pounds heavier, 4 1/2 years old and Ive started working with her a bit.

    My question is: When I get her to move into a trot, it feels just like Im on a Paso fino. I had to laugh at first because I have a Hanovarian mare who has a trot that can not be mistaken. On my TB mare it feels so smooth I have to think to find the beat to post.

    Im going to have my instructor look at her but for now I have to wait because she is too tall for my trailor. I plan on getting someone here at my place to look at her soon, but in the mean time, I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced this sort of thing on a TB.

    Do you think she's lazy, or doesnt know how to pick her feet up yet? or maybe she still needs time to develope more muscle. I watch her all the time. I watch her walk and run in the field all the time. She looks fine.

    I dont exspect her trot to be like my warm blood, but really!! Any ideas or relating would be great. Thanks Molly
    SkyDancer5000 --3rd Level

  • #2
    I've ridden lots of remedial horses and one thing I've found is that many of them get very nervous under saddle so they hold their backs tight and don't bend their legs all the way. It doesn't feel like a trot at all. It goes away with patience and wet saddle blankets. This could be what is happening if she has a nice trot in the pasture.
    http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      it sounds like she may be holding her back instead of letting the energy swing through her spine.
      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
      chaque pas est fait ensemble

      Comment


      • #4
        What others have already suggested (tight back and no swing through her back) is likely. It sounds like she is a "leg mover", but doesn't use her back. My older Tb mare has a huge, floaty trot, and my trainer comments how she uses her entire body when she moves (and it feels like it when you are riding that trot). My young WB horse was started by a hunter trainer--she was a "leg mover" (legs going a million miles an hour--but no back movement). But over the last year, (from age 3.5 - 4.5) through training, she has learned how to swing in her back and really work into contact. Now her trot is starting to feel (and look) more like my Tb's trot.

        Another thought--do you have shoes on her or is she barefoot? My young horse was also footsore when I got her (which is what I suspected). Sure enough, she reacted to the hoof testers on the PPE We put shoes on her (just fronts at first) and it made a huge difference.

        A combination of training to teach her to swing through her back, increased strength from consistent work, and shoes may make a difference.

        Comment


        • #5
          Perhaps you are just lucky! I have ridden some TBs who are super smooth.

          You could post video clips - there are always lots of people willing to contribute their views.
          Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
          ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

          Comment


          • #6
            You will need to teach her to swing her back. She sounds tight and is holding herself instead of swinging through. It used to take 20 minutes of warmup for my warmblood to go from very average trot (smooth, easy to sit) to big, swinging trot (needed to activate the core to sit!). Teaching her about stretching to the contact is step number one. Once she is totally relaxed and stretching you can start adding relaxed impulsion back in which will give you the swing.

            Comment


            • #7
              You would need to post videos for a more accurate assessment but I second the above in that I think it sounds too like she is holding her back tense, which is producing a "leg moving" trot.

              More in-depth (from the book Tug of War by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann):

              "This tension blocks the movement of the hind legs and prevents impulsion from flowing over the back to the rider's hand."


              "When looking at a horse with the skin removed, the first thing visible over the back is a broad, white, tendinous sheet, referred to as the back fascia."
              This fascia binds together the back, croup, and hamstring muscles though other muscle groups also originate from this group (ie, forearm muscles) that is bound together, so states of tension are not restricted to a single muscle group. As such, obviously then tension in one muscle group is reflected in other muscle groups. What this means, is that if the back is held tensely, the forearm and hindleg muscle groups will also be affected and held with tension, which will affect the horse's movement.

              In the trot: "If the longissimus back muscle is blocked, there is a delay and shortening of the forward-swinging phase of the respective hind leg..." The hind limbs are unable to reach forward under the horse due to the tension in the back. The forearm is also restrained and the front limbs are ""thrown" forward from the elbow with the points of shoulder unable to open up because the forearm is held so tightly. Then, in order to make contact with the ground again, the limbs must be quickly pulled backward. When viewed form the side, the even "curve" of trotting hoof motion described by the legs in correct trot biomechanics disappears".


              In short, your horse's limbs are restricted by the tension in the back muscle. Therefore you get the up-and-down movement as opposed to a stretch outwards and forwards. Usually a tense back is actually hard to sit, but of course it depends on the horse! ETA: of course the trot will change as the horse learns to swing its back and all that power comes up through the back to your hand, too, which might be hard to sit (clearly for its own reasons). It all depends on the horse.

              The solution, IF what we suspect to be the case is in fact the case, is to re-start your mare, keeping in mind the Training Scale. Number one on the list is to develop relaxation. With that comes rhythm (and vice versa). Suppleness is next. Thus with no tension and loose back muscles, she will start to move more correctly. She also needs to develop "pushing power" (ie, forward push from behind, impulsion) first, THEN eventually (likely a couple years down the road) you can start asking for "carrying power" (ie, flexion of the hocks whereby she starts to sit back and shift her weight onto her hind, lift her front, etc). To develop the first few building blocks of the Training Scale and also that pushing power, I would maintain a light seat and only light/minimal contact (even a loose rein at first). Trot her over hills, over groundpoles, and small x-rails. Really develop that relaxation and forward. Allow her to stretch her neck forward and down but do not try to put her head or body in any specific frame. To encourage her to reach forward and down and to relax, you can also introduce her to large circles and loopy patterns (ie, serpentines, etc). Doing so will especially develop her haunches as well, which will strengthen her for carrying power later (ie, to be able to carry herself efficiently). Inducing the relaxation and developing push from behind will help that back to start swinging, up into your hand (eventually) to contact (that SHE initiates). Then I would start introducing (perhaps simultaneously, but with more of a focus on just moving forward on a loose rein with relaxation) lateral work and more intense circular work (including transitions between and within gaits, spiraling circles with inside leg to outside rein, etc) to start introducing the idea of carrying power, to strengthen her body and teach flexibility, and to loosen her up further. You just keep building after that. I LOVE the books 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider and also Progressive Schooling Exercises for Dressage & Jumping (Islay Auty) - they're two books with a ton of progressive exercises that take you from the bottom up as far as the Training Scale goes.

              This is a bit of speculation, but just based on your description of her trot, I would really suspect a tense back. My main guy is an OTTB as well and has a very coiled, compressed, cat-like trot when he is nervous and in fact many OTTB's trot in such a manner. They are tense in general (ie, in their mind, they are anxious, excited, etc) and that reflects in their backs, which reflects in the rest of their body and produces that trot. My boy used to think that is just how one trotted Lots of the above and he has a MUCH better trot now that is forward, relaxed, rhythmic, etc.
              Last edited by naturalequus; Jan. 19, 2011, 12:42 AM.
              ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
              ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

              Comment


              • #8
                When I looked at my horse, his trot was so smooth I laughed and asked my trainer if I needed to bother posting. It was by far the smoothest trot I had ever ridden, and didn't look bad at all!

                He hadn't been worked in about 6 months, so was very out of shape and a little tense due to imperfect footing (he's a footing prima donna). Two months later, I had trouble sitting his trot. 10 months later, today I realized I wasn't posting high enough to make up for the movement of his back when I got him to really use impulsion. Now, he doesn't look like a nice moving thoroughbred - he just looks like a nice mover.


                It's possible your horse will always have a smooth trot, but it's also possible it will get a lot bigger and a lot less smooth as she gets stronger and more relaxed.
                If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                -meupatdoes

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thank You All,

                  What I dont understand is what causes this tightness in her back? Is she sore somewhere? Does her back hurt? Maybe she fell on the track? Maybe I'm paranoid. Maybe I fell on the track. ( :

                  I plan on setting up a tri pod and video taping me on her, but nothing takes the place of a real professional looking at her in real time.(which will happen)

                  She is at the point where she is at no real point in training at all. I have a kk training bit on her and her response to this is, well there is not much response at all. She is just learning what it means to halt and make turns. I dont want anything harsh or narrow in her mouth, though this is most likely what she has been used to as being raced. Im working to re sensitize her. Its interesting though because even with this bit she gets fussy. Everything about her is pretty raw.

                  She walks very sluggish and wont pick it up unless I nudge her with a dressage whip behind my leg. She walks very slow in the field. Im just not too sure she feels good period. Suppliments is the next course. Its only been a year and she's was in a pretty bad state when I bought her. I think Im lucky she lived to be quite honest. She is just now beginning to trust me. Somebody abused her and has given her a sour side which has improved tremendously with handleing and lots of TLC. She has the potential to be a bit dangerous so Im going to find someone to work with her with me.

                  At any rate, Having a tense back could very well be what's going on. She only knows the track and when I get on her with a dressage saddle she doesnt know what I want or what for. If there's nothing wrong with her and she's ok, then this means she's going to require a lot of consistent,patient work to get her to relax. Like a ball of clay, Im going to have to knead and knead and love and love and then knead some more in careful measure. ( :

                  Thanks everyone for your imput. I will keep in touch with a video coming up real soon. Molly
                  SkyDancer5000 --3rd Level

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Poor mare. Sounds like she'll need a lot of TLC and correct work before she can be a decent riding horse.
                    I agree with all of the above posters, including the shoeing part (one of my Ottbs really needed shoes on all 4 feet to move decently, otherwise she was just shuffling, even in soft sand).
                    If she were my horse I would also have her checked over by a good chiropractor. When I bought my current Ottb she had a weird, very smooth but "flat tire" type trot. I had the chiro work on her 3 times over a year in the 1st year I had her, and it made a world of difference. The chiro told me she was "off" in her poll area, near the withers, and in the pelvic area. He gave me specific exercises to do in hand and under saddle.
                    She was also hitting herself in the back pretty badly (rope walker). Correct dressage work and muscling helped tremendously and she is now a very decent ride.
                    One more thing: a magnesium supplement will help if her back is sore / tight.
                    Good luck!
                    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      YES. Thank You She has shoes on her front feet.
                      SkyDancer5000 --3rd Level

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Molly Micvee View Post
                        Thank You All,

                        What I dont understand is what causes this tightness in her back? Is she sore somewhere? Does her back hurt? Maybe she fell on the track? Maybe I'm paranoid. Maybe I fell on the track. ( :

                        I plan on setting up a tri pod and video taping me on her, but nothing takes the place of a real professional looking at her in real time.(which will happen)

                        She is at the point where she is at no real point in training at all. I have a kk training bit on her and her response to this is, well there is not much response at all. She is just learning what it means to halt and make turns. I dont want anything harsh or narrow in her mouth, though this is most likely what she has been used to as being raced. Im working to re sensitize her. Its interesting though because even with this bit she gets fussy. Everything about her is pretty raw.

                        She walks very sluggish and wont pick it up unless I nudge her with a dressage whip behind my leg. She walks very slow in the field. Im just not too sure she feels good period. Suppliments is the next course. Its only been a year and she's was in a pretty bad state when I bought her. I think Im lucky she lived to be quite honest. She is just now beginning to trust me. Somebody abused her and has given her a sour side which has improved tremendously with handleing and lots of TLC. She has the potential to be a bit dangerous so Im going to find someone to work with her with me.

                        At any rate, Having a tense back could very well be what's going on. She only knows the track and when I get on her with a dressage saddle she doesnt know what I want or what for. If there's nothing wrong with her and she's ok, then this means she's going to require a lot of consistent,patient work to get her to relax. Like a ball of clay, Im going to have to knead and knead and love and love and then knead some more in careful measure. ( :

                        Thanks everyone for your imput. I will keep in touch with a video coming up real soon. Molly
                        The tightness in her back COULD be made worse by a previous injury, but that is not what we are getting at. Even if a previous injury is healed etc she will still be tight in her back, and possibly sore as a result of so much tension. The reason being she lacks relaxation (mentally/emotionally) and because she has not been taught to move in a correct fashion. If she is not relaxed in her mind, her body cannot be relaxed. It sounds like your mare is at a fairly low level of fitness as well; that combined with her not having been taught to move in a manner that enables her to carry the weight of a rider efficiently, means she HAS to tense her back. I won't get into any more biomechanics here but I HIGHLY suggest professional help and also reading a few books (such as the one I mentioned in my previous post) so you can understand how and why she is moving the way she is, and thus how to fix it.

                        If she is still fussing with her current bit, I would look at bridle fit (ie, is the bit high or low enough in her mouth? It can't be hitting any teeth but it can't be pulling on her cheeks either - two wrinkles is the rule of thumb generally), your hands, saddle fit, and her mouth conformation. Maybe the bit you have in her mouth is too thick, or if it only has one break in the mouthpiece maybe she is opposed to the nutcracker action on her tongue and the joint hitting the roof of her mouth, or maybe she doesn't like her tongue squashed down (in which case, a bit with two joints in the mouthpiece would be better). These are all questions for a reputable professional who sees her.

                        I second having a chiropractor look at her, and also a vet if you feel she is not feeling well.

                        Anyways, definitely get yourself some help with this mare.
                        ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Oh! Naturalequus just reminded me about the bit. I meant to mention that in my post, too.

                          You said you didn't want a thin/harsh bit, but for many TBs, a thicker bit is very uncomfortable. I have a very sensitive mouthed TB who will gape his mouth if either a single jointed bit or a thick bit are put in it. Same thing if the bit is heavy - so the thick, double jointed, very gentle bits used on many of the horses at my barn are horrible to him. He has a small inside of his mouth - low palate, little extra room beyond his tongue. This is fairly common, and means the thinner bits can be gentler to a horse if they fit better in their mouth. Good news is, a thinner, lightweight, dressage legal bit is (IME only) less expensive than many other bits.
                          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                          -meupatdoes

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Thank You Naturalequus.

                            I will look into it. She doesnt gape her mouth. Ive had her teeth looked at, they are fine for now. I know about properly fitting a bridle. I suggested professional help to myself before you did. Ha! that came out funny. I guess this means Im either crazy or I all ready know what I need to do, just would like some confirmation which Ive gotten. Thanks All!!! it's been good. Molly
                            SkyDancer5000 --3rd Level

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I dunno about your mare but you are really funny and I hope you stick around.
                              "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                              ---
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                When she trots, is she moving in an exact 2 beat rhythm? Or is the timing a hair off, like both diagonal legs not quite hitting the ground at the same time? This would make a smooth "trot".
                                Maybe do a little shoulder-fore with her and see if that helps a bit either way.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Having a tense back is actually quite normal in the beginning of training. Believe it or not, you must teach a horse how to relax. I'm not just talking about mentally either, a horse can be asleep but still have tight back muscles. It's about teaching her through education with the half-halt to stretch her back and neck muscles forward, down, and out. The stretching and suppling of these muscles will relax them and allow them to become strong enough to one day begin collection.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'm just going to put this out there - I had the reverse scenario. I went from riding TB's to riding warmbloods.

                                    The first time I started to trot, I thought I was about to be catapulted off the back of the horse. OMG did my legs hurt by the end, I thought I was going to die. I kept wondering when the walk break was going to be, but it never came! LOL!

                                    It could be that you're so used to the big warmblood movement, that the TB trot feels practically non-existent. I do think OTTB's need a lot of work to get them to stretch long & low and use their backs properly, but honestly - I've never met a TB that ever *felt* like a WB under saddle. I'm sure that's probably why her trot feels so strange to you.

                                    Good luck with her!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Just a reminder regarding the trot work of OTTB's.
                                      At the track the majority are backtracked at a jog [short fast steps] and not trotted with any lengthening. This jogging tightens the back and impairs the hindquarters.
                                      www.hartetoharte.org
                                      Ask and allow, do not demand and force.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Regarding CZF's post, while it may be more common for WB's to have a trot with more suspension--there are Tb's that have large, swingy trots too. I have ridden and owned both Tb's and WB's and I have rarely ridden a bigger, springier trot than my older OTTB mare (yes--she sucked as a racehorse). And I've ridden some schoolmaster dressage horses that have big, educated trots. So I don't think it's an TB "thing". What I will say is that Tb's can have a tendency to be more hot and sensitive (ala tension in the back) which can create the trot the OP is probably experiencing. And if they were started on the track--they weren't taught to reach down and relax through their neck and back in the trot (heck, they weren't taught to trot at all--just jog). So it will require training and time to build strength in order for this horse to learn how to move differently.

                                        OP: Have you tried longing this horse with side reins? That may be a good way to start. That way she isn't dealing with weight on her back and can focus on understanding how to connect to the bit and relax in the back.

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