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The magic of the stretchies, why??

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  • The magic of the stretchies, why??

    I know neck stretchers are a bit controversial. I have no illusions that it's helping me frame my horse, but it just gives me such a calm ride and I can't figure out why.

    In the stretchies, I go out they're in a loop, pretty much the whole ride and my horse is relaxed straight and adjustable. If he throws his head up, he says oh yeah! and relaxes and goes right back to work.

    Without them he's like a giraffe. He's not naughty, just really distractable and quick and I have to work REALLY hard on the outside to keep him together. With them everything is soft.

    I like to use them when I'm riding alone on the property because they pretty much guarantee me a calm ride. But I can't for the life of me figure out why that would be.

    No flames please. I'm just wondering why the stretchies would cause a personality transformation like that?
    ==================
    Somehow my inner ten year old seems to have stolen my chequebook!

    http://reriderandpony.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    If they're actually loose for most of the ride, I wonder if it's at least partly a psychological thing for you. If, when he's wearing it (them? I don't really know what these things are!), you go out expecting a calm ride, I bet you ride differently than if you go out expecting him to be a giraffe.

    I can be my own worst enemy (and my horses') when it comes to solving problems like this. I get SO convinced they are going to act a certain way, and I ride "defensively." I never give the horse the benefit of the doubt and just ride "normally" (well, not never, that's what I have a coach to yell at me for ).

    Also, if the stretcher actually does come into action when he throws his head up, I'm sure he's smart enough to know when he does and doesn't have it on. Combine that with your (probably very subtle) signals that you're expecting a difficult ride, and voila -- horse magically transforms into a giraffe!

    I hope that doesn't sound to hokey and psycho-analytic-y I just don't think we should ever underestimate how well our horses can read even the subtlest change in our demeanor or the situations we put them in. They spent a long time evolving that ability!

    Comment


    • #3
      I, too, have a neck stretcher for my young horse. I have not ridden with it- I have only lunged with it. My horse is fairly reluctant to move forward (he is very green and still trying to figure out what "go" means) so I chose something that would not put direct pressure on his mouth to cause him to want to slow down or stop (ie side reins). Again, I have only used it during lunging (maybe 5 times total). I have noticed that he rides better after I have used it and he will also lunge in a lower frame too (even when he's not wearing it). My horse is certainly not a giraffe but I wanted him to learn to travel in a long/low position from the beginning. I have had good success with it but don't think I will continue to use it except, on the rare occasion, when my horse might require a reminder.

      The neck stretcher puts pressure on the poll. I believe that the pressure on the poll releases endorphins into the horse's system, which will have a calming, pain controlling effect. Which may explain why you have a more agreeable and focused ride. Just a thought.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        I'm with you on the psychological thing. I took him on the first hack of the spring on Sunday TOTALLY expecting last fall's horse. A bit gifaffe-y to start and then after 10 minutes bum-ba-dee-dah cow-pony.

        I was really relaxed and excited and he never settled. The giraffe never went away. And believe me I never expected him to be angst-y on the trail.

        I take out the stretchies and we have a cow pony after two minutes. I'm not convinced I'm not the problem. It's just weird. I wonder if I could achieve the same affect with a less controversial piece of tack like a martingale.

        I also think there's something to the endorphin theory.
        ==================
        Somehow my inner ten year old seems to have stolen my chequebook!

        http://reriderandpony.blogspot.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          If a horse is high headed/distracted it is the job of the rider to learn how to put the horse to the aids and get it to go into the outside rein, to chew and seek the hand. If the horse is not going forward often just lifting the rein will cause it to seek forward for which it can be rewarded. A connection is made from the seat/leg to the hand, not by putting a rubber tubing connection to the mouth, in short get assistance from a proffi who knows how to train people to school their horses...mho.
          I.D.E.A. yoda

          Comment


          • #6
            I have had similar situation with draw reins.
            He can go around with them loose and he is working nicely into contact with no assistance from the draw reins. He is calm, not at all spooky.
            Take the draw reins off and he becomes mr looky loo.
            Discussed this with my trainer and she felt that I rode him more forward and straighter when the draw reins were there, even though they weren't truly being used. This made a bit of sense as I expected him to behave with them on, so I focused more on other areas. With them off I was more timid as I was expecting the spook or whatever.

            Comment


            • #7
              I really like the neck stretcher for ottbs and greenies. I put the ends through the noseband, rather than the bit. I also only leave it on for no more than a half hour and loose, I use it just as a guidance for them. I find most horses go better and happier when they are going straight, coming from behind using themselves properly so if the neck stretcher is helping him do that/making it clearer that is what you're already telling him, than I can see why he would seem happier.

              Comment


              • #8
                I would think the consistent contact is what's giving you that great relaxed feeling from the horse. You say you're riding on a loop, but the stretcher stays the same the whole ride. It's difficult to keep good, consistent contact yourself but the stretcher does it exactly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would think the consistent contact is what's giving you that great relaxed feeling from the horse. You say you're riding on a loop, but the stretcher stays the same the whole ride. It's difficult to keep good, consistent contact yourself but the stretcher does it exactly.
                  I think this is a big piece of it.

                  My horse did a few months at cowboy camp and he challenged me to ride without reins. My horse was fine, but generally not focused. Now when I pick up my reins and constantly fiddle, horse gets tense and angry. If I take a light contact, consistent and ride off my leg, she is the best. So what works bst in terms of head down, calm is light contact, but not active- like the neck stretcher.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SkipChange View Post
                    I would think the consistent contact is what's giving you that great relaxed feeling from the horse. You say you're riding on a loop, but the stretcher stays the same the whole ride. It's difficult to keep good, consistent contact yourself but the stretcher does it exactly.
                    I have same exact situation as the OP!! I wonder if you are on to something here.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      No, I meant the stretchies are looped and *I* have nice soft contact with half halts in all the right places. He's not fighting with them at all. They are slack. Maybe a quick head up "What's that?" spook moment then he's down and soft.

                      My horse has a really soft mouth so I'm very conscious of being very steady and soft with my contact whether or not stretchies are involved. I'm competent up there either way . Just wondering why he's so different...

                      Is there a less controversial piece of tack that does something similar? I know elevator bits and the like apply poll pressure, but they seem harsher than I'd like to use on a soft mouth horse.

                      I have a standing martingale that I'll likely start using as we're in H/J world. But they seem more for looks than anything else.
                      ==================
                      Somehow my inner ten year old seems to have stolen my chequebook!

                      http://reriderandpony.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've been using a neck stretcher for ages on my horse who likes to pretend that she's a jumper stuck in hunterland I love it because it doesn't fight with her, it just suggests what she should be doing... she's a mare, so she has opinions on things like where to carry her head. If I tried to use my hands and legs to get her to carry her head better, she just tried to get me into a pulling match and canter like a crazy pony around the ring. Neck stretcher got her to relax, and I think it helped her figure out that I wasn't trying to fight with her, I just wanted her to do something different than what she wanted.

                        I know with me, I did anticipate that she would be more tense without the neck stretcher, so my trainer started to take it off partway through my lesson. This helped me realize that it was the same day and same horse, instead starting a ride with anticipation about nervousness.

                        I never really thought of neck stretchers as controversial, I've seen them used quite often. They're more gentle than aids such as draw reins and side reins because of how they're positioned and the elasticity.

                        Since you say you have a horse with a soft/sensitive mouth, I really discourage something like an elevator bit. It's better to use an aid that does not simply rely on using the mouth/bit to transfer leverage.

                        We've now reached a point where I don't need the neck stretcher, we just use a martingale at home for flat and jumping, with the occasional no martingale ride just to help her remember that she's still supposed to carry herself nicely at shows A regular old standing martingale has worked well for me, and my horse/giraffe doesn't seem to mind it.
                        I like mares. They remind me of myself: stubborn know-it-alls who only acknowledge you if you have food.
                        Titania: 50% horse, 50% hippo
                        Unforgetable: torn between jumping and nap time, bad speller

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I use them to hack out in the fields every now and then.

                          I think they're helpful in the sense that they keep the horse focused inward on himself, rather than what's going on everywhere else. It can put them in a spot where they're more easily collected and listening.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Chaila View Post
                            In the stretchies, I go out they're in a loop, pretty much the whole ride and my horse is relaxed straight and adjustable. If he throws his head up, he says oh yeah! and relaxes and goes right back to work.
                            It is "magic" because, when your horse does throw his head up, the stretchies are consistent 100% of the time. They come into play instantly and they release instantly, in direct proportion to what your horse does, every time.

                            If you can be that consistent without them, you will get the same results without them.
                            The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                            Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                            Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                            The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I had such a nice relaxed ride last night I think we're going to start transitioning to a standing martingale tomorrow. He's back in 24x7 turnout and I can literally watch his brain dialing down to normal. Some horses just shouldn't be stalled with part time turnout and he's one of them.

                              Wish me luck!
                              ==================
                              Somehow my inner ten year old seems to have stolen my chequebook!

                              http://reriderandpony.blogspot.com/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                                It is "magic" because, when your horse does throw his head up, the stretchies are consistent 100% of the time. They come into play instantly and they release instantly, in direct proportion to what your horse does, every time.
                                Speaking of neck stretchers, this question has been on my mind for a few weeks. I started working with a 9 yo TB who is still on the green side (for a friend). In a lesson, my trainer rigged it up differently-fastening it to the noseband, down through the bit, and to the girth. Experience proves this is helping him to learn to engage his hind end... any reason this would be preferable over the traditional over-the-poll rigging? Prior to this, he was unfocused, irritable, and tended to over flex in the head and shoulder without engaging behind (OTTB that he is). Also, about what length of time (or what would be the appropriate benchmark for progress) would it be appropriate to use this as a training tool?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I started to read this, thinking you were referring to something else, but now I'm terribly curious...what is a neck stretchie??
                                  Katherine
                                  Proudly owned by 7 horses, 6 dogs, 3 cats and 1 Turkey
                                  www.piattfarms.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Piatt Farms View Post
                                    I started to read this, thinking you were referring to something else, but now I'm terribly curious...what is a neck stretchie??
                                    it's simply an elastic band that threads from the poll, through the bit, and attaches to the girth.

                                    http://www.compassionatehorsetrainin...kStretcher.jpg

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      It's a long piece of elastic that feels like a bungie cord. It has clips at either end. The top goes over the horse's poll and the ends go down through the bit and you clip it between their front legs to the girth.

                                      Here's a picture of one.

                                      http://www.greystokefarm.com/store/f...mages/2244.jpg

                                      You generally use them very loosely so their heads aren't tied down. Some people just put them through the noseband and not the bit.

                                      But they really seem to relax most horses and provide a very nice ride and I'm out to find out why.
                                      ==================
                                      Somehow my inner ten year old seems to have stolen my chequebook!

                                      http://reriderandpony.blogspot.com/

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        http://img.smartpak.com/product/14980_InUse.jpg

                                        It is a bunge cord. Has a little plastic piece you can slide down or up for tightness. I prefer to put it through the noseband then attach between the legs to the girth, than through the bit like the picture.

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