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Suppleness, help!

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  • Suppleness, help!

    I am just starting to get into Eventing and our big obstacle is going to be our Dressage. I am reading as much as I can and was up at the PA horse Expo over the weekend where I saw Jane Savoie do a clinic on unlocking your horses body. She had everyone do a +1 to +7 exercise to help get the horses suppled up (neck and head from to 1 to 7 inches from neutral). We tried this over the weekend and had a VERY hard time with it.

    I know that my boy is VERY stiff through his body and was wondering what exercises everyone uses to help supple your horses?

    We are at the beginning so bare that in mind. He has done all sorts of things in our time together (he is 13 and I have had him going on 7 years, we have done everything from 3' hunters, pace events (high rail) and hunter trials to running barrels in a fun show lol) but we are just now starting to really focus on bettering both his responsiveness and my ability and accuracy in asking for the correct things. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    -SW-
    Precious Few- 1998 OTTB

  • #2
    classical music on the ipod and correct in hand work. my website has a ton of vids under learning tools to show you some basics.
    I don't even both asking for much in the saddle til I have something pliable from the ground.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble

    Comment


    • #3
      This probably goes without saying, but be sure to work on your own riding too. A good seat, relaxed legs, and soft hands are all very important. Think of riding back to front, and learn to feel what is going on with the hind legs.

      As for your horse, a good place to start is correct bending in corners and 20 meter circles. No counter bending, throwing the outside shoulder, or swinging the haunches out. Do lots of circles, serpentines, and changes of rein on diagonals and down the centerline. Eventually you'll be able to develop smaller circles and leg yield, and then shoulder-in.

      I once retrained a horse that had been a jumper for dressage, and she was very, very stiff. These exercises all helped, but it took several months to undo most of what had been done, and she was never going to be super flexible. Movements like half-pass were always difficult. You will need to use tons of inside leg... so be prepared.

      Also, the book Riding Logic is a great read for those new to dressage.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thank you! Thats a place to start Anyone else?
        -SW-
        Precious Few- 1998 OTTB

        Comment


        • #5
          Basic lateral work will improve his lateral suppleness. And some degree of lateral suppleness and improved straightness are required before longitudinal suppleness (ability to lengthen and compress the body) can be improved.

          Turn on the forehand and leg yield build the foundation for more the sophisticated lateral work such as shoulder in, haunches in, and half pass.
          Do you have a dressage instructor that can help you with basic lateral work?

          Lots of half halts and transitions will, if done correctly, improve the horse's longitudinal suppleness.

          I'm working on an article on lateral and longitudinal suppleness right now, that will soon be up on my website:



          http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com
          Facebook page
          http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Standing flexions first from the ground, then undersaddle. Doing them moving is even harder because the horse has to really be off your inside leg to keep the shoulders moving forward instead of turning in. Clinton Anderson teaches similar flexions, although is more extreme and he starts on the ground in a halter. Just remember, flexions are a only a piece of the puzzle and more attention should be paid to what is going on behind the saddle than in front of it.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks all! There are quite a few dressage trainers in the area. Kate Moore is doing saturday lessons at an indoor nearby. My plan is to get over there hopefully soon (saving the $$ up). I also have a friend helping me out from time to time (she rode through intermediate eventing). I am trying to get as much from every resource out there, including fellow COTHers
              -SW-
              Precious Few- 1998 OTTB

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by SWpreciousfew View Post
                I am just starting to get into Eventing and our big obstacle is going to be our Dressage. I am reading as much as I can and was up at the PA horse Expo over the weekend where I saw Jane Savoie do a clinic on unlocking your horses body. She had everyone do a +1 to +7 exercise to help get the horses suppled up (neck and head from to 1 to 7 inches from neutral). We tried this over the weekend and had a VERY hard time with it.

                I know that my boy is VERY stiff through his body and was wondering what exercises everyone uses to help supple your horses?

                We are at the beginning so bare that in mind. He has done all sorts of things in our time together (he is 13 and I have had him going on 7 years, we have done everything from 3' hunters, pace events (high rail) and hunter trials to running barrels in a fun show lol) but we are just now starting to really focus on bettering both his responsiveness and my ability and accuracy in asking for the correct things. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
                Your best bet is to take some lessons with a *good* dressage trainer AND take some lessons on a schoolmaster for yourself. Travel for this if need be. Video tape it if you can and watch them over and over. Watching yourself will help you. Dressage isn't easy and it requires stuff very different from what your horse already does. you really can't learn it from watching a Grand Prix rider on a well-trained horse.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Physiotherapy for your equine. Or massage. It could be your horse simply CAN'T be supple as he is physically too locked up.

                  or learn how to feel for tense/tight muscles yourself.

                  Saddle fit and dental issues are other potential physical reasons a horse may be less supple than they should be.
                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    He is current on his teeth and we just went through the whole saddle search in the fall (once again). So I know that I at least have those things taken care of I am definitely going to start lessons for myself and for him in the next few weeks
                    -SW-
                    Precious Few- 1998 OTTB

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Make sure your horse is forward and light in your hand. I always ride with a whip because my pet peeve is a horse who uses my hands for balance. You should be light with your hands as well. I do bending and flexing exercises and a lot of circles and changes in direction, as well as flat serpentines. If your horse has a tight back, incorporate canter in your warm up fairly early, and ride him deep and forward. My friends and clients always comment on how supple my horses are, and this is how I ride them. Of course, each horse is different so the ride always varies depending on the specific need of the horse. You have to figure out exactly where your horse is lacking suppleness as well--is it in the neck, if so where in the neck--by the shoulder, near the poll, in the middle, or over his topline...
                      Last edited by Callaway; Mar. 2, 2011, 06:41 PM.
                      Kim
                      'Like' my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Calla...946873?sk=wall

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I second what Callaway said about cantering during the warm-up... many horses seem to loosen at the canter best. Another thought: if your horse has never been ridden "on the bit" consistently it may have a difficult time balancing itself. I have found with horses like this that working them in Vienna reins on the longe line several times a week for a month or so can be very helpful. If you do this, however, the reins must be set so that the horse can poke his nose a little above the vertical.

                        This will not fix problems with bending, or with your riding, but it will help strengthen your horse and encourage it to work in a balanced, forward and soft manner.

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