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UPDATE - Horse with over developed under neck - Experiences?

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  • UPDATE - Horse with over developed under neck - Experiences?

    I have a rather young/green horse that, due to conformation mainly (as he hasn't had much riding), has over developed his under neck. The main suggestion I've received is lots of side rein work. While I can see that the side rein work I'm doing is helping (I usually try to do it around 3x's/week), I just can't imagine having that be the ONLY type of work he gets.

    Looking for advice on the subject, I took him to a clinic recently and was told that he needs to be in side reins daily. I'm just afraid that work that intense would make him sour?? (and with my work schedule daily is pretty much impossible).

    When I trail ride him (which I usually LOVE for youngsters), he is very "looky" and wants to always have his head up, looking around. I'm having a hard time getting him to focus on me, and go "long and low." So I'm just afraid that experience is just helping the "under neck" issue.

    So does anyone have any other suggestions/experiences?
    Last edited by Sudi's Girl; Dec. 5, 2008, 12:46 PM.

  • #2
    Oh my, the huge underneck muscle on my guy was the bane of my exsistance for the first year I had him...

    We did do alot of work in SLIDING side reins (not just plain side reins, he had a tendancy to evade them... head goes up, side reins don't work so well anymore...). But only 3 times a week MAX for my guy.

    Under saddle, lots of figure eights, serpentines, circling to keep him occupied, because if he wasn't busy, that head and neck would go right up to look at whatever... Lots of slight bending to the inside (slight shoulder fore), very rarely could I let him go completely "straight" ahead.

    With my guy, I found the "giraffe on crack" impression was usually because he was trying to evade my hand, so I would also raise my hands to keep a straight line from my hand to his mouth. He soon realized that having his head up wasn't going to help him avoid anything...

    Also, he got a massage at least once a month (sometimes twice a month) to help him release those underside muscles, to get him to use the proper muscles. I felt that this was really important, especially while he was developing proper muscling.

    Hope that helps. It took us a year, and were still not completely there yet! Be patient.
    View my photographs at www.horsephotoguy.zenfolio.com

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks! It's encouraging to know it drives other people nuts too! He takes my COMPLETE attention when I'm working him since he's such a flake I get teased that he's very ADD.

      Just out of curiosity though, how did you work the massages?? Did you do them yourself or have someone give them?

      Comment


      • #4
        I had a certified equine massage therapist do his massages. He LOVES them!

        And, yes, I joke that General is my ADHD child!
        View my photographs at www.horsephotoguy.zenfolio.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Sudi, you can also have a vet or MT do a single session on his neck and then ask to be shown how so you can keep up on it.
          I recently bought a horse with an "upside down" neck. Poor little fella...he also has a ewe neck (dip in front of his withers) and a slight roach in his back. He's...ummm....not a candidate for being conformation's poster boy. We'll work on his neck and making it nicer looking...and I agree with keeping sidereins 3x per week. No need to rush reshaping his neck, it only risks turning him sour and it doesn't really speed things up all that much anyways.
          Here's a lovely photo of my new boy's neck in action:
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!
          ...Belefonte

          Comment


          • #6
            My boy was like that when I got him - and he has the cresty stallion neck from being gelded at 7. He's also blind in one eye so his neck was out of alignment from being tipped to the right all the time. It took tons of patience work with him to get him to hold his head straight first, then to start dropping it and carrying himself properly. He's the kind of horse that didn't respond well to tools such as side reins (we use them now though) so it was a lot of under saddle work, just asking asking asking for him to drop his head and rewarding every try. The very first thing I did was massage work (both by me and a therapist) to get him to release tension in his neck. Then we started with a driving seat and the reins held out to the sides (not pulled) - kind of like making a big triangle with the bit as the point - just to nag on his mouth, with an instant release and following hands when he would drop his head. That progressed to a slight see-saw half halts on both reins, and now it's inside rein only, inside leg to ask for a bend. Once he would accept the side reins without freaking that has really helped him learn to carry himself properly as well.

            At first he couldn't maintain the low head long because it was so hard on his muscles, but over time he's developed the proper muscles and now can. It takes a lot of patience and work to redevelop those neck muscles!

            The first picture here is Pi about 2 months into his training:
            http://flickr.com/photos/35468150159@N01/

            and the last one on the page is last winter (Nov 2007), where you can see that his neck muscles have completely changed and he's much more relaxed. The two spring ones are about halfway in between, May of 2007.
            If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
            ~ Maya Angelou

            Comment


            • #7
              Yup, Vienna Reins (Dover Saddlery) and Lauffer Reins (sliding side reins) are your friends. Both encourage the horse into that long & low position that helps develop the right muscles.

              Another trick that might help -- via Conrad Schumacher at one of his clinics -- use ONE draw rein from the girth, between the horse's legs, through the cavesson to your hand. Works like a draw rein to remind the horse to keep his head low, but without impacting the horse's mouth & forwardness the way a draw rein can.

              Comment


              • #8
                We use the one draw rein thing to help with horses that have trouble with balance, as a steadying rein. Never really thought of it as a way to remind them to keep their head down
                If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                ~ Maya Angelou

                Comment


                • #9
                  Also, do lots of circles and other bending (even on trail rides) to help bring the neck down without other gadgets. I had success with this technique on one star-gazing youngster - I just never let her go forward without at least some bend.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sliding side reins are very good for this. We also had great results with free-lunging. This encourages the horse to lift the back and come over the topline without the riders weight and helps build the trapezeous (sp?) muscle from the back to the poll.

                    Under saddle lots of figure eights and change of direction, few straight long lines of work.
                    Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                    "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks for all the great advice! I'll have to definitely get with my trainer on the sliding reins. Anyone have any that they particularly like?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        One has to be very careful when using sliding side reins, because if the horse is too lowered the underneck will carry the neck (in the name of stretching the topline). Lunge him before riding. Make sure the horse will work into a connection (bended lines/LY/etc), and then get the horse to (repeatedly) go fdo (opening the throatlatch, arch out and down). IF you ride 2x a day an underneck will mostly disappear within about 3 months).
                        I.D.E.A. yoda

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                          One has to be very careful when using sliding side reins, because if the horse is too lowered the underneck will carry the neck (in the name of stretching the topline). Lunge him before riding. Make sure the horse will work into a connection (bended lines/LY/etc), and then get the horse to (repeatedly) go fdo (opening the throatlatch, arch out and down). IF you ride 2x a day an underneck will mostly disappear within about 3 months).
                          I didn't have much luck with the sliding reins with my guy who had a similar issue. Don't know whether I didn't have them short enough or what, but on my trainer's advice we switched to regular side reins and had better luck using those and pushing him consistently forward.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Also, just being patient and doing a lot of correct work has rather amazing tranformative properties. I rode a TB gelding for a few years who was naturally over developed on the underside and ewe necked to boot.

                            About a year later with lots of suppling work, forward down and out while maintaining activity behind, transitions within gaits...he developed a lovely topline and was almost unrecognizable. His sewing machine trot turned into something quite nice. The experience really taught me how much you can improve an uninspired trot.

                            I was in a clinic where the clinician praised his forward down and out and then qualified it by saying.."but he is built to do that so it comes naturally to him..." I though thuh? can I show you the old ewe neck pictures!

                            So be patient and have faith

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I would second the patience part. If the horse is young then once you bring him into consistent work it will help reduce the neck. My guy had an overdeveloped underneck and now that I ride him 5-6 days a week he's building up a correct top line.

                              Its important to obviously make sure you're riding him through as I've found with my guy that he will try and 'cheat' and use the underneck muscles (when he was green). Like others have said, alot of FDO too.

                              I haven't used any gadgets for him just plain ol' dressage and its made a huge difference. Even when you're out on the trails just encourage him to go FDO a little rather then letting him left his head up too high.

                              ETA: It hasn't affected his ability to do dressage hence I haven't worried too much about it
                              I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Nothing new to add to these very good suggestions. My horse, too, had an overdeveloped under neck. It has taken quite a long time to get to where we are now, using most of what is above. I would emphasize patience and massage-it takes awhile to soften up those constricted muscles so the others can beef up. I'm leary of a lot of side rein work unless it is frequent short sessions. I think in my horse's case the problem was partially caused by restrictive tack in his past. Anything restrictive now just makes him mad and unwilling.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I'd minimize the side reins, sliding or otherwise, and go this route. Ride him correctly and slowly build up the right muscles. Make sure you give periods of rest because it will be hard for him to work correctly.

                                  Work over ground poles can also encourage a horse to reach down and out, use his back and push from behind.

                                  My first horse (Bogie) had a severely overdeveloped underneck when I bought him. It took about 9 months, but with the right work, his neck/topline completely transformed.

                                  Originally posted by Mozart View Post
                                  Also, just being patient and doing a lot of correct work has rather amazing tranformative properties. I rode a TB gelding for a few years who was naturally over developed on the underside and ewe necked to boot.

                                  About a year later with lots of suppling work, forward down and out while maintaining activity behind, transitions within gaits...he developed a lovely topline and was almost unrecognizable. His sewing machine trot turned into something quite nice. The experience really taught me how much you can improve an uninspired trot.

                                  I was in a clinic where the clinician praised his forward down and out and then qualified it by saying.."but he is built to do that so it comes naturally to him..." I though thuh? can I show you the old ewe neck pictures!

                                  So be patient and have faith
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    We recently bought a young horse who does the same thing - head is waaay up when he looks at stuff while grazing, and when he's being ridden. Only near the end of the ride, when he's tired and given up gazing at every moving thing, does he let his head and neck drop a little.

                                    I've been trying to figure out why...today, hacking in the low sun, I *think* it's because he's got attractively droopy long eyelashes, so, in order not to have to peer through them, he lifts his head up and looks out underneath them!

                                    Bit like people with bifocal glasses, adjusting their head angle so as to see over the top of the lenses...

                                    As for an answer, I agree with those that say consistent steady work on circles, etc, that encourages him to reach lower for the bit, will help eventually.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Ohhhh this thread gives me hope! I love my seven year-old mare but she, alas, is not the prettiest-necked horse you've ever seen. When I got her back from the trainer I left her with when I was studying abroad in early 2007, I found she had been essentially abused and starved... here's a picture of her neck a month of so after getting her back: http://photos.l3.facebook.com/photos...89857_8407.jpg She was 5 going on 6 and a mental trainwreck. Rearing, gnashing at the bit, quivering under the gentlest of touches... it was horrible.

                                      Bleugh!! It's been a year and a half of hard work (and believe me, getting over that mental anguish... and the learned rearing and giraffe-ing and ducking behind the bridle), and now she is showing 1st level with decent success. She still is built awkwardly, and she still spends her unridden time looking into the heavens which I will never be able to undo, but this is a blurry picture taken today of her neck now: http://photos-f.ak.facebook.com/phot...56069_3611.jpg

                                      Ewe-necked, with some muscle on top. Hooray muscle! It's certainly nowhere near perfect and never will be but compared to the first picture, it's something!
                                      Last edited by Ritazza; Oct. 23, 2008, 10:12 PM. Reason: adding details
                                      Eventing-A-Gogo: Adventures of a Barefoot Event Horse and her Human
                                      The Reeling: An Unexpected Mareventure

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Sudi's Girl View Post
                                        I have a rather young/green horse that, due to conformation mainly (as he hasn't had much riding), has over developed his under neck. The main suggestion I've received is lots of side rein work. While I can see that the side rein work I'm doing is helping (I usually try to do it around 3x's/week), I just can't imagine having that be the ONLY type of work he gets.

                                        Looking for advice on the subject, I took him to a clinic recently and was told that he needs to be in side reins daily. I'm just afraid that work that intense would make him sour?? (and with my work schedule daily is pretty much impossible).

                                        When I trail ride him (which I usually LOVE for youngsters), he is very "looky" and wants to always have his head up, looking around. I'm having a hard time getting him to focus on me, and go "long and low." So I'm just afraid that experience is just helping the "under neck" issue.

                                        So does anyone have any other suggestions/experiences?

                                        are you riding english sounds like its not the horse problem but rider error as to heavy in the hands and handset so horse hollows up and is above the bit and not on the bit

                                        read all links by me from here and read all by posters as its all relevent
                                        http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=172112

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