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OTTB perfectly comfortable being hollow

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  • #21
    A relatively new to me horse was VERY resistant to even considering dropping his head, even in a chambon which surprised me greatly. Working in hand on lateral movements, encouraging and praising did the trick to get him to TRY giving up the giraffe impersonation. Once he got it, was more apt to give me a chance when I asked. Then getting into the habit of working from behind, and lo, he started putting the pieces together.

    Its a tough thing to ask a horse to completely change how he's been going most of his long life. Takes a lot of patience.
    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


    • #22
      I can offer my experience on that type of horse...poop.

      Horse poop, that is. He would put down his head to smell the poo mail on the trail. I would let him smell any poop any time he saw so much as an apple. We started doing this at the walk and when trotting, if he saw done oncoming poop, he'd start lowering his head in anticipation of a good sniff. We'd trot right up to it, him looking like a bloodhound.

      It took time and patience. But he stopped going like a giraffe, and became a very nice hunter.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the replies everyone, a lot of good info.

        It seems to be draw reins used appropriately to show the horse the "release" or way down is the consensus, along with in hand and hill work.

        Someone mentioned a running martingale.... but is there a technical difference between that and DR's in terms of basic action? Both are capable of creating a ceiling and applying pressure on the bars- whether done well or poorly. I guess one is just controlled by the human, which makes me think DRs are the better tool with an educated rider who WONT pull the head in

        This particular horse has worn a properly adjusted running, that came into action ONLY when the head was extremely high. Such had no effect. Horse kept head high, twisting to evade bar pressure. Ugh. So yeah, immediately took that off.


        • #24
          The running martingale is where youmay need to go when you start jumping. Yes, correctly adjusted, it will put bit pressure on the bars, no matter what he does with his head. It does not "hold the head down". You use the running martingale when you start to jump because you can not use the draw reins any more at this point. You can do some trot poles, ground poles, with the draw reins on (because they are loose most of the time) and doing this will further aide your goal of getting him to drop his head to look at the poles (same principle as the poop sniffing story LOL). But when you start to actually jump, the draw reins are going to get in the way, and must come off. By that time, hopefully you won't need them any more anyway, because some changes will have occurred in his carriage, and he will have made some changes in his physical fitness and musculature. By the time he is competitive, the running martingale often comes off, because you want to be able to use the bit on the corners of the mouth if necessary, and the horse is more educated by then. He's not ready to respond adequately to pressure on his bars yet, to be able to use a running martingale yet, that has to be TAUGHT. He has to find where the release is first. He has to get educated in his mouth. Your hand teaches him, the relationship you build with him teaches him, not the tool you use.


          • #25
            Counter bending on big circles can really help in this situation. I have a horse who sounds like he was similar to yours at first, though maybe not quite so extreme with the highheadedness. Gentle counter flexion, lateral work, and elastic side reins on the longe all helped (and of course lots of bodywork), but the missing piece with him was the bit. I restarted him in a mullen Happy Mouth, with pretty good results, but once we got to the point where I wanted to talk to each side independently, I tried a lot of bits before lucking into the Stubben anatomic loose ring snaffle, which provides tongue relief. First longe session in that, he stretched out and down into the trot beautifully and consistently (which he would only do for a stride or three at a time previously). He also needs a 4.5 or 4.75" bit, instead of the standard 5", even though he's 16.2.

            Since it looks like you've ticked most of the other boxes, I agree with other posters it will take time and education, but I would give some thought to the bit and play around with the options some to see what he likes best. My old mare always had a tendency to resist the bit a little, until we found the Myler low port snaffle (she had an almost-flat palate and a big thick tongue).
            Custom and semi-custom washable wool felt saddle pads!


            • #26
              I have retrained 2 with muzzle above the wither. First western trained so no idea and bucked. I lunged in side reins as you have. Reins too long. Nothing happened the first 4 days. The 5th day an inkling and she started to drop. I didn't have to shorten the side reins. She figured it out herself. They were tightened a couple of holes weeks later.

              The result - a dressagechorsecwith no buck.

              The 2nd a school horse and I HATED her. Head up and not one millisecond of give in the entire ride. By ride 3 I realised it was a case of turn her into what I liked or hate every ride as this was the horse they were now putting me on. SIGH.

              I started with standing beside her and while waiting to be mounted, as the horses are already tacked up for the lesson. I asked her to drop her head and had taught her that Good Girl is a good thing. When she did really well she got a rub on the neck.

              So in halt I asked her. Good Girl and neck rub. In walk she got it. Good girl and rub. That was all for first lesson.

              Next lesson. She now had it in walk. I have her going in walk correctly and gently encourage almost like a half step to go into trot but if tries to raise head walk and uh uh. Stays with head correct and Good Girl and neck rub.

              So really the secret was to say Good Girl.

              The result?

              That was in a group lesson with my instructor's partner. I received a text from my instructor saying that he had seen how Clover was going and would I like to have solo lessons on her in the outdoor arena with him instead.

              WOULD I? All my Christmases came at once I started having individual lessons on her and she became my dressage mount who I LOVED to have a lesson on.

              It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


              • #27
                My mare had the exact same issue, she can even over track at the trot while hollow because she had done it for so long. I decided to go against gadgets because as much as it will get her head down, at the end of the day, she did not understand the aids that helped her relax into a lower frame.Plus she would get a lot of anxiety when she is confused and forced to do something.
                Instead, she has been put into a circle only at walk/trot and working on the inside leg to outside rein contact. Within a week, she understood those aids means she needs to change something and every ride, she is relaxed into the aids. It's been a few weeks and her giraffe-ness is barely present and she is so much more calmer and rhythmic as she learns to use her back muscles at her pace.
                EDIT: This was also due to when I had professional/ experienced riders work on this, she would bend at the poll or go behind the vertical and make herself so uncomfortable. So the priority was her learning to relax to a lower head set.