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Building up a topline

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  • #21
    One thing that has helped a great deal with my high-headed, hollow backed gelding was using this: http://www.equiami.com/lungeing-aid.php It is a continuous loop, rather than fixed, so he couldn't avoid it like side reins, but it made him want to stretch down and use that back!

    That, and lots of patience, hacking out, hills (when available!, they're rare in coastal TX), trot poles etc.
    View my photographs at www.horsephotoguy.zenfolio.com

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    • #22
      I may not have caught it, but hopefully, your side reins have an elastic section to them? I agree about them being useful to get a "frame" which will help her round up her back, but building her back up first is much more important.

      Selenium test is a blood test. Yes, have that done. The proper ratio of minerals and vitamins will make the best use of proteins. A high protein ration balancer will only require 1 or maybe 2 pounds a day. It will have the protein and minerals/ vitamins in correct balance. Rex Ewing, Beyond the Hay Days, Revised is good; Dr. Eleanor Kellon has at least 2 books out; and there is another one, I'm drawing a blank on, that many here have recommended. Lewis I think is the author.

      Spirals in and out are useful to build the muscling along each side of her spine. Be sure to do the exercises equally on both sides; however, if you find her sticky on one side, then do more on that side.

      Start a 60 meter circle and walk it down in the spiral, walk back out. rinse and repeat both directions. when you both understand the exercise, move to a trot. You want her entire body bent in a curve. This will also help in your leg cues as you will position your leg in different places along her side to get her bend, while she learns the exercise. Be patient.

      Turns on the forehand; turns on the haunches. These all require back and lengthwise muscling development along with the shoulder and hind end muscling.

      Cavaletti. If you don't have anything to raise the logs up, get imaginative. Super large laundry detergent jugs can sometimes be filled with sand or water and laid on their sides. For "logs" ... I have used the large cardboard tubes from carpet stores. They will cut them down for you if you ask pretty please (and hand over a box of brownies or bag of donuts). Then apply several coats of primer. Don't leave them in the rain and they will last for a few years.

      TRANSITIONS. From walk to trot and back to walk . .. do 1/4 of the arena at each gait. Be sure to push her into your hands as you ask for the downward transition. This will build her hind end.

      Carrot stretches, hind end scrunchies, belly lifts.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        Originally posted by gabz View Post
        I may not have caught it, but hopefully, your side reins have an elastic section to them? I agree about them being useful to get a "frame" which will help her round up her back, but building her back up first is much more important.

        Selenium test is a blood test. Yes, have that done. The proper ratio of minerals and vitamins will make the best use of proteins. A high protein ration balancer will only require 1 or maybe 2 pounds a day. It will have the protein and minerals/ vitamins in correct balance. Rex Ewing, Beyond the Hay Days, Revised is good; Dr. Eleanor Kellon has at least 2 books out; and there is another one, I'm drawing a blank on, that many here have recommended. Lewis I think is the author.

        Spirals in and out are useful to build the muscling along each side of her spine. Be sure to do the exercises equally on both sides; however, if you find her sticky on one side, then do more on that side.

        Start a 60 meter circle and walk it down in the spiral, walk back out. rinse and repeat both directions. when you both understand the exercise, move to a trot. You want her entire body bent in a curve. This will also help in your leg cues as you will position your leg in different places along her side to get her bend, while she learns the exercise. Be patient.

        Turns on the forehand; turns on the haunches. These all require back and lengthwise muscling development along with the shoulder and hind end muscling.

        Cavaletti. If you don't have anything to raise the logs up, get imaginative. Super large laundry detergent jugs can sometimes be filled with sand or water and laid on their sides. For "logs" ... I have used the large cardboard tubes from carpet stores. They will cut them down for you if you ask pretty please (and hand over a box of brownies or bag of donuts). Then apply several coats of primer. Don't leave them in the rain and they will last for a few years.

        TRANSITIONS. From walk to trot and back to walk . .. do 1/4 of the arena at each gait. Be sure to push her into your hands as you ask for the downward transition. This will build her hind end.

        Carrot stretches, hind end scrunchies, belly lifts.
        -Yup, side reins are stretchy.

        -Spirals...yes, patience. Right now I'm getting 2 or 3 leg yield-ish steps. I like to start with turns on the forehand, which helps them learn leg yields. So as of my last ride, she just started moving away from my leg a little bit. I like how those exercises teach her to start rounding up without her actually knowing I'm asking for it. So spirals are a ways in the future, but we're getting there.

        -Transitions. We're doing a ton. The response to each request is getting quicker and quicker. We're also doing lots of circles and bendy things. She's really pretty flexible. I haven't found a 'bad side' yet, which is very surprising to me. The vet doing the PPE even commented he was amazed at how much range of motion she had.

        -Can you tell me about hind end scrunchies? I know about the other two you suggested.

        Thanks for the nutrition books. She's got to go in and have her teeth floated soon, so I'll see about a selenium test then.

        Comment


        • #24
          KBR website

          Here's the main site, you might want to index...
          http://www.kbrhorse.net/

          and the butt scrunchies are here, under horseback health care ...
          http://www.kbrhorse.net/hea/spine01.html

          Whoops, they call them "situps"...

          Comment


          • #25
            Someplace you said you only use the lunge for 10 minutes max as she doesn't need to blow off steam...

            Using the lunge line or round penning, is not about blowing off steam for many horsepeople. I use it as a warm up AND, to get the horse listening to me. It gives me a chance to watch the horse move without requiring it to be in any specific shape or form. after 5 minutes of that, then the horse goes into work, with or without tack, for 20 minutes or more. I'm not talking about a 2 or under horse, but a mature horse. Lunging at the trot, over ground poles or cavaletti, if that's where the horse is at in training. Teaching the horse transitions up and down between trot and walk. I use a flat web lunge line with no chain. I bridle the horse with a snaffle and run the web through the near bit ring, up over the head to the far bit ring. I used to keep one English bridle without reins, just for that.

            I should be more humble, but when I got my horse at 10+ years old, he had NO prior knowledge of lunging. He would go in a box shape and about drag me down when he hit the "corners". Over the years he's become quite cooperative. No lunge line needed for up/down transitions - walk, trot, canter. He stops on the rail when I say so. I do have to turn him by 'hand' so to speak when he's not on a lunge line. LOL... Of course, he's one of those pokey QHs that would never place in a WP or HUS class since he's too "animated" at the trot. He's smooth though.

            Comment


            • #26
              Try to avoid the stretching exercises until the muscles have been warmed up a bit. Stretching is good, but not on 'cold' muscles...

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #27
                I agree about working on the lunge instead of blowing off steam. Right now I'm keeping things short, teaching her a little bit of this, getting on, teaching a little bit of that, etc. What she's learning now is so kindergarten-y, so I'm keeping things simple. After we have more solid basics, I'll up the "work" part.



                Interesting about the stretching after warming up stuff. I know a lot of people do stretching first, as in tack up, stretch, then get on...


                I'm going to check out the stretching website now.

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by Seven-up View Post
                  Interesting about the stretching after warming up stuff. I know a lot of people do stretching first, as in tack up, stretch, then get on...
                  There's a difference between some light stretching before, such as gently pulling the front legs to make sure there are no kinks under the girth, or doing a "fly bite" chiropractic move to stretch through any possible issues.

                  But REAL stretching, to increase flexibility, really should be done on warm, loose muscles
                  ______________________________
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    JB- that makes sense.



                    Ok, ration balancer question.

                    According to what I'm reading, you just feed a little bit, so a 50 lb. bag lasts a long time. So does it go bad? Get moldy?

                    Haven't decided if I'd be giving it to all 3 horses or just my mare. I'm going to the feed store tomorrow so I'll see what they have, and then come back and see what y'all think about what's available.


                    Thanks.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      I guess it depends on how you use side reins. Most of the 'more classical' and many 'competitive' dressage types use them. If you use them to crank in the horse.. then yes you are creating a false frame. If you are using them to be the 'outside hand' and are working the horse from behind, the horse will stretch to the contact and round up. If the side reins are 'holding' the horse there.. that is baad news.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                        I didn't understand that one! :-(
                        Like a chambone, sort of.

                        But with a greenie that does not have the muscle built up to support self carriage, it can do more harm then good. I also don't care for the low set side reins, that is not where your hand will be to support her when you get on plus the loopy loose adjustment teaches her nothing. Fine to get them used to something but they ought to get that in a few sessions.

                        That is just my experience. I hesitate to even say this but, if you are going to do something like this, use draw reins with a seperate set of reins so you can control their action as opposed to any kind of tying the head anywhere to anything with a cord, bungee or sidereins. That pressure must NOT be constant or you get them dumped, backed off and can even get them sore. They have to have a place to go forward to, most of the time people use these and take that place away.

                        The best way, of course, is time and a consistent program allowing her to master her body with not so much help from the gimmicks and alot of hours of forward and learning the leg aids. I just used the lunge in tack with side reins once or twice a week for 20 minutes and rode them...maybe draw reins once in awhile but always with the goal to get rid of them as quickly as possible and only AFTER the colt was coming off the leg easily and freely forward. And they were more to deal with a few coltish issues and NOT to teach carriage or "headset".
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Findeight is correct in the thought its kinda like a chambon. BUT you do have your regular reins.
                          Also SU it is not like a neck stretcher, which I actually like, but not for this horse.

                          How this helps is when the horse goes forward and up the rein acts like a block to the up part, without the action to make the horses head go down and back.
                          Your hands have to be soft and understanding when to give and when to block her forward motion which should capture the momentum.

                          Transistions and serpentines are great way to help get what you are looking for. I probably am not describing this worth a poop. But I thought I would try.

                          I think once you feel it, you know. anyway hope you let us know how its going.
                          http://community.webshots.com/user/summitspringsfarm

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Findeight- BTW explain the more harm than good part, because the way I see it, this allows for the horse to give when he can and rest when he needs to, without giving him something to lean on. The whole idea is to build the top line.
                            http://community.webshots.com/user/summitspringsfarm

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              One word. Evasion.

                              Use it/them/anything often enough and they will figure a way to avoid the action of whatever you are using. That's why hand and leg are always the best way, they can be as dynamic as the motion of the horse itself...and they can change as the horse does and block the evasions.

                              Even something as basic as a bit often needs to be swapped to keep them fresh and listening. Not to mention honest.

                              Just spent alot more time trying to fix problems in older horses created by too many gadgets then I ever did just breaking a youngster and getting them W-T-C.

                              Mind you, I did lunge in side reins (still do with an older horse once in awhile). Occasionally used draw reins for specific reasons on specific horses....and only for very short while with a youngster. Nothing wrong with any of them as an AID for training, not a substitute for it.

                              See so many routinely living in this stuff. Too many glossy ads touting them as the be all end all cure all. Seen horses that lack the conformation and conditioning to "frame" forced to wear them by an owner/trainer blind to the obvious unsuitability and inability of the horse to do as they wish.

                              Finally, if I ever catch whoever put my mare of the last 8 years in draw reins for brattiness, I shall put them in a neck stretcher. The draw reins did contain the brat but...she is built level tending to travel a bit downhill by nature. It took me THREE YEARS to get her head out from between her ankles. The only places she was given to go were down or straight up, thank you very much. Still a brat too.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Seven-up View Post
                                I agree about working on the lunge instead of blowing off steam. Right now I'm keeping things short, teaching her a little bit of this, getting on, teaching a little bit of that, etc. What she's learning now is so kindergarten-y, so I'm keeping things simple. After we have more solid basics, I'll up the "work" part.

                                Interesting about the stretching after warming up stuff. I know a lot of people do stretching first, as in tack up, stretch, then get on...

                                I'm going to check out the stretching website now.
                                You may be thinking of stretching as it pertains to people. The limbering might be a better term in that regard. If you want to stretch neck and back muscles, I agree with warming the horse up beforehand. Very good point.

                                While you don't want to bore the horse to death, remember that repetition will build muscle memory and avoid confusion. I understand what you mean about keeping things simple, but perhaps less variety and more cycles of repetition will be beneficial.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Seven-up View Post
                                  JB- that makes sense.
                                  Ok, ration balancer question.

                                  According to what I'm reading, you just feed a little bit, so a 50 lb. bag lasts a long time. So does it go bad? Get moldy?

                                  Haven't decided if I'd be giving it to all 3 horses or just my mare. I'm going to the feed store tomorrow so I'll see what they have, and then come back and see what y'all think about what's available.

                                  Thanks.
                                  Any feed will mold if it is not correctly stored. Studies have shown that the plastic Rubbermaid trash containers are the best for storing feeds. Metal trash cans can sweat and won't "breathe" -

                                  My bad as I use one for my goat's pellets since they are available in smaller sizes. I've not had trouble - knock on wood - but I have an insulated room in my garage where I keep feed AND, I don't worry about the goat pellets as much as I do horse pellets.

                                  I can put 150 pounds of something like Strategy in a the large Rubbermaid trash can.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #37
                                    I agree that using draw reins/side reins/whatever too much causes problems. I will also use draw reins every once in a while if they need a reminder, but I don't like relying on them as a regular thing. I always try to ride off the regular reins, and just use the draw reins as a backup...I hate seeing tight draw reins.

                                    ---

                                    I understand the difference between a light 'loosen up' kind of stretching and a 'workout' kind of stretching.

                                    ---

                                    My feed store doesn't carry ration balancers. So now I need to find another feed store that has them or find somewhere to get it.

                                    I have to use metal cans for storage since critters will chew right through rubber. But I usually buy feed once a week, so it doesn't have time to go bad.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Yea, I guess everything we do can be done wrong.

                                      But I had superb ride on my 8 yr old Belgium WB yesterday and we used draw reins on the flat, did lots of long and low, aided by the draws to tempt him to stretch out and down, it was a beautiful thing.

                                      Then took them off and jumped a few verticals then a few oxers and he was soooo relaxed and felt great.

                                      But again we don't use draws reins very often, I can probably count on one hand how many times since we bought him. However I could not count how many times we do long and low stretching, since we do that at the end /beginning of most all our rides.

                                      Findeight- another thing, you would hopefully never find any horse I have ridden behind the verticle, or consistantly evading the bit, I just don't ride like that.
                                      I like a soft, following, understanding hand. I believe the learning is in the release. self carriage.
                                      I have mare who is difficult at best and she knows I will let go of the reins and gently ask her to go foward before I put her behind my leg. Not that I'm always successful in my attemps! Its a process, we just keep at it!
                                      http://community.webshots.com/user/summitspringsfarm

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        My favorite way to build a topline is long-lining!

                                        The horse is worked from back to front without carrying weight.

                                        You can do unlimited direction changes, school figures and straight lines.

                                        You can start long and low and built up into a frame as the horse progresses- your hands are more sensitive the any device (we all hope ours are).

                                        Certainly, long-lining is a skill that must be learned by the handler, but it is so valuable is getting young horses trained, resting horses fit, can be used during layups when handwalking is begun and is great exercise for the handler too!
                                        Karma and Drifter girl
                                        http://www.horsescanhelp.com
                                        http://www.mydriftersjourney.blogspot.com

                                        Comment

                                        • Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          I just have to gush...


                                          I just finished the most amazing ride. We had a total lightbulb moment. It was completely by accident, but who cares? (For those who don't know, I've had Rosie for about 3 weeks, and have been riding her for maybe 2 weeks or so.)


                                          I haven't ridden for 3 days. It was cold and cold makes me lazy. Anyway, we were puttering around in the round pen, bending and such, when my other 2 horses ran over to the far side of the pasture. Rosie jigged a little bit, like, "I want to go there too!" Then she did her little teeth chatter thing she does when she gets nervous. So I let her watch for a bit, then I pushed her on with my leg and gave her a little bit of contact, just in case she decided to scoot again. She chomped, she rooted a little bit, but I just kept asking for that swingy walk and maintained my contact. Well, all of the sudden, when I pushed with my leg, she brought her nose in, her back raised up about an inch, the chomping stopped, she relaxed, and she stepped even farther underneath herself than she normally does. I thought, 'well, that's funny' and tried it again. Squeeze with my legs, support her with my hands, and the head drops. Bam! Just like that. It was like flipping on a switch. You could tell she just totally got it. Even after I stopped asking her, and let her trot around on a loose rein to relax, she was searching for that contact. Wow!

                                          It was far from perfect, but for the first time we've ever done that, it was amaaaaaaazing! The bee-yotch is smart. I'm starting to wonder if she might be smarter than me!

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