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What exercises do you use to supple your horses?

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  • What exercises do you use to supple your horses?

    I'm looking for some new exercises to use with my event horses. We do lots of stretches at halt and walk now. I'm hopefully moving the big lad up a level this year and I'd like to add some more exercises to my toolbox. How do you feel about carrot stretches?

    Thanks!
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  • #2
    the traditional dressage exercises will do a good job.

    bended lines, circles, serpentines, etc. LYs, Turn oh the forehand, Turn on the haunches, SI, HI, etc. jut don't forget to allow the horse to bend ie dont have a death grip on the o/s rein !

    Comment


    • #3
      I attempted carrot stretches with my new pony, not in hopes of "oh yeah, he'll be supple and reaching for the bit in no time," but as an "it can't hurt" sort of thing.

      Unfortunately, he's too smart and after doing two days of one stretch before and after a ride, he would start stretching/bowing every time I was brushing or just in the general area of his front legs. We're still getting over his "I was spoiled rotten before, why don't you give me cookies every minute, too?" stage so this would include mouth and front leg action. I stopped the carrot stretches pretty quickly

      Now I just have him give to the bit a couple times left and right before and after a ride (from the saddle) so he touches my toes, relax the head and when warming up we do circles spiraling in and out, starting from 20m. Lots of serpentines, 10m circles, figure-eights, hour-glass figures, etc. to keep his little mind busy and supple.

      For an upper-level horse [i.e. not us] I would think working on shoulder and haunches-in would be beneficial along with leg yields and some of the other more common dressage exercises.

      Comment


      • #4
        Carrot stretches are wonderful after a workout. I do that with my mare before I turn her out. I learned it from my h/j trainer back in college.

        I start with getting her to turn her head allll the way around to her flank (she doesn't touch her flank, her head on on her side) both sides.

        Then I make her stretch foward as far as she can go.

        Then make her put her head between her front legs. Then again but lifting her head until she is looking a like a dressage horse on the bit.

        She's extremely flexable now and it's a nie treat after a great workout plus her muslces are all warmed up and worked so it's much easier for her to stretch.
        "Common sense is so rare nowadays, it should be classified as a super power."-Craig Bear Laubscher

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        • #5
          stretches are fine, but they arent going to make a horse "supple" in the dressage sense ... that comes from riding the horse correctly using the correct exercises etc.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mbm View Post
            stretches are fine, but they arent going to make a horse "supple" in the dressage sense ... that comes from riding the horse correctly using the correct exercises etc.
            This is what I was going to say. I do carrot stretches after almost every ride and they are great but I don't believe that they help supple up my horse.
            Always pay equal, if not more, attention to your own self carriage, than that of your horse.

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            • #7
              Sorry, but if you are talking about the "play time" stretches...they are fun, they are useful. but....

              Now if we're talkin' bout starting our warm up long and low, procedin' to rising trot serpentines, correctly done and then on to S/I, H/I, and renvers, we're talkin' supplin'. then you can throw in a few lenghtenings and shortenings, and you shoud be riding a supple noodle.
              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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              • #8
                On the carrot stretch side, Hilary Clayton's booklet and video, ACTIVATE YOUR HORSE'S CORE, are excellent. She suggests that these exercises DO help supple and strengthen areas that are used when riding.

                The vets at CSU also told me to use to use her carrot stretches to maintain flexibility in the neck and lessen the impact of arthritic changes.

                I personally don't like using a carrot as "bait." So I got an old broom handle with a blue top. (You could use colored tape too, this is for visibility contrast.) Then I used the clicker to train my horse to touch the blue and keep his nose on it.

                Now I use it as a target, stand beside him and have him stretch between his knees, along the side toward hock in several angles, forward and down. Works great, is safer than using the carrot as lure, and he just adores it.

                He never used to run to the stall door when I arrived at the barn. Now he whickers for me as soon as he sees me, and we don't do the stretches till after work, so it's actually changed our relationship for the better. He got treats before, but now he knows WHY. This seems to make a real difference to him.

                All that said, I agree with the posters that suppleness under saddle, as it's defined in a dressage sense, will not be achieved just by carrot stretches. But I don't think they will hurt either.
                Ring the bells that still can ring
                Forget your perfect offering
                There is a crack in everything
                That's how the light gets in.

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                • #9
                  Never do carrot stretches in such a way that your horse twists at the poll. You really dontmwant them twisting that way.
                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                  ---
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks folks. I already do long and low work with this horse. Just wondering if there's something I'm missing.

                    I actually tried the carrot stretches the other night. He tried, but I don't think he gets it. EqTrainer- thanks. I'll make sure I keep him straight.


                    Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                    Sorry, but if you are talking about the "play time" stretches...they are fun, they are useful. but....

                    Now if we're talkin' bout starting our warm up long and low, procedin' to rising trot serpentines, correctly done and then on to S/I, H/I, and renvers, we're talkin' supplin'. then you can throw in a few lenghtenings and shortenings, and you shoud be riding a supple noodle.
                    I'm lacking coffee today- what are S/I and H/I?

                    (Probably something really obvious, but like I said, I'm short on coffee today. )
                    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      haunches in & shoulder in
                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                        haunches in & shoulder in
                        Thanks! Knew it would be something obvious!
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                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When I remember to do carrot stretches and leg stretches before riding, I always have a better ride. I do TOF, TOH, transitions, serpentines, serpentines with halts on centerline, spiral in/out, etc. Paddy gets a little enthusiastic about leg yields so we don't do a lot of those because then he will just want to leg yield all the time! I really like using cavaletti and will do all sorts of exercises with them.
                          My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

                          "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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                          • #14
                            I'm working on an exercise now - it can be done at the walk and the trot, hopefully I can explain it:

                            Lets say you are tracking right:
                            Shoulder in right, 5-6 strides. change bend so you are riding like a haunches out. 5-6 strides.
                            Move horse's shoulder left to rail and do a S-I left 5-6 strides. Change bend so you are riding haunches in 5-6 strides.
                            It was hard at first, but getting easier. The trick is also to maintain a good rhythm, not letting the horse back off.

                            Also at the canter we are working on canter-walk, but alternating leads thus requiring a change of bend. So: Right lead canter 6-7 strides, walk and change bend in a few strides, left lead canter, then walk, back to right lead etc.
                            We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oh, I just remember Charles de Kunffy's ribbon exercise. Can be done in walk and trot.

                              Basically, you do a shoulder-in, starting on the long side, and just keep going around the corner (still in shoulder in, so it becomes more like a very wide turn on the forehand with inside bend), do the short side and corner the same, then remaining in SI, go across the diagonal.

                              When you come to the rail you will be in shoulder-out, maintain SO as you go around the corner--this time you are kinda doing a wide turn on the haunches. Continue short side in SO, do the next corner and then start across the diagonal.

                              Basically you are doing a shoulder-in with the same bend (you don't change the bend at any point) in a big figure 8 using the rail and the diagonals.

                              (If you want to play with half-pass, you can move the haunches over as you near the rail when you come across the first diagonal in shoulder-in. You will then be counter-flexed and more parallel to the rail as you come to the rail and corner, so you don't want to go too deep if you are going to continue the exercise. Alternatively you can just straighten from there and take a normal bend at the corner. Sorry if this seems complicated but it's more clear when you are doing it.)
                              Ring the bells that still can ring
                              Forget your perfect offering
                              There is a crack in everything
                              That's how the light gets in.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thanks! I get bored riding the same things all the time. These sound great.
                                Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by 2tempe View Post
                                  I'm working on an exercise now - it can be done at the walk and the trot, hopefully I can explain it:

                                  Lets say you are tracking right:
                                  Shoulder in right, 5-6 strides. change bend so you are riding like a haunches out. 5-6 strides.
                                  Move horse's shoulder left to rail and do a S-I left 5-6 strides. Change bend so you are riding haunches in 5-6 strides.
                                  It was hard at first, but getting easier. The trick is also to maintain a good rhythm, not letting the horse back off.

                                  Also at the canter we are working on canter-walk, but alternating leads thus requiring a change of bend. So: Right lead canter 6-7 strides, walk and change bend in a few strides, left lead canter, then walk, back to right lead etc.
                                  A lot of this works best if riding the quarter line, because you can then easily move from S/I to travers, and then renvers, and then(if your arena is long enough back to S/I. It gets quicker as you work it.

                                  Mirrors, if there, are most helpful.
                                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                                  Comment

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