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Too Much Stretch?

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  • Too Much Stretch?

    I have been riding and training for gosh knows how long and never had this... any suggestions?

    I have a coming 5y/o DWBxApp mare who has recently discovered that streching down and into contact is a lovely thing.

    It does take 10-15 minutes of lateral work and transitions before she starts to really take her own weight but afterwards she LOOVESS to strech down and down.

    I keep the contact and I have recorded it on video, unfortunetly cannot upload at the moment, but you can visually see her back lift, her strides sweep longer and she PUSHES into the contact.
    It feels so lofty and wonderful. But I worry when she gets TOO Low.

    I half halt and use a lifting inside rein but I am afraid she might curl if I use it.

    Why is she doing this? Good, bad?

    FYI -tack, teeth, back, feet all fine as of last month and this has been going on for a couple months.

    TY in advance.

    This is an older photo but is a good example. Though, I feel she gets a bit lower than this at times...

  • #2
    Looks like she maybe curling also a little. I'd take up more contact and push her into it. But if she's curling be careful not to be to strong and have a light feel with a lot of leg. She looks nice. Cute girl. Wish I could have found one of those when I was horse shopping lol.

    Eta. She is probably doing it because it's easier for her. My guy will go all day long in a low and long frame because it's easy. When I bring him up (we are dressage riders) it's harder for him because he is still not muscled enough to hold himself properly so we go in short spurts between stretching out and coming up.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by rabicon View Post
      Looks like she maybe curling also a little. I'd take up more contact and push her into it. But if she's curling be careful not to be to strong and have a light feel with a lot of leg. She looks nice. Cute girl. Wish I could have found one of those when I was horse shopping lol.

      Eta. She is probably doing it because it's easier for her. My guy will go all day long in a low and long frame because it's easy. When I bring him up (we are dressage riders) it's harder for him because he is still not muscled enough to hold himself properly so we go in short spurts between stretching out and coming up.
      The easier part makes A Lot of sense. I swear it feels like she is trying to pull down into the contact sometimes. I struggle with deciding how much half halt is enough versus too much.

      It does help when I push her forward though, now that you mention it that seems to lift her up again.



      • #4
        Leg, leg and more leg if she starts to curl or lay on your hands/stand on her nose.

        Don't be afraid to give her little "nips" on the rein, sort of a short snatch upward-keeps the contact lively instead of "dead". You can do both reins at once or just one rein to avoid having her set up against anything or roll into a ball.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • #5
          I'd let go of her.... drop the contact and push her forward.

          Lots of transitions also.
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


          • #6
            It doesn't look to me like she's actually stretching into contact like you would want to see in a "stretchy circle". When they are doing that, they are following the contact down and out to whatever length of rein you allow, but aren't leaning on the bit. They just have a nice, soft contact. More importantly, you can bring them back up very easily.

            She looks like she's leaning and curling which are evasions. From what I can tell, she also looks like she's not very uphill in build. It's probably a lot easier for her to carry herself like she is.
            Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
            Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


            • #7
              Just for comparison for you this is my guy coming back into work after four months off from an injury. I'm letting him stay low but you can watch him want to think about curling, then you'll see his head come back up and nose out a bit. The reason is I'm half halting and adding a lot more leg. I also pick him up just a little bit, very small difference but if you watch you can see him come up in little more of a frame for a few seconds and I'll let him back out. Is she getting lower than him? If so and she is curling then leg leg seat seat and a good half halt to say "hey, hold yourself up here". I will drop my guy on occasion when he gets heavy but with what he is doing here he is very very light so I don't want to drop him, I want him to stay light so instead I ask for more and take a little more contact. He is out of shape here and he is built built a bit downhill so it's harder for him. This was about his second trot since coming back so not so bad but he just needs a refresher and the muscles back.
              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


              • #8
                Eeew she is atrocious! You should totally get rid of her - I'll take her off your hands if you want....


                • #9
                  Psshhhh that's not low! THIS is low: https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...76230143_n.jpg In my pony's case, this is his "warm-up" frame. He LOVES to stretch. He also needs a super long warm-up, so I generally let him go around like this for the first 10-15 mins of our ride. BUT the difference is, once I pick him up and put my leg on, we get this: https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...18725167_n.jpg

                  In my opinion it's only "too much" stretch when the horse can't then balance back out of the stretch and carry themsleves. I agree with the poster who said it's probably just much easier for your mare to go long & low like that! Try alternating stretching with short periods of going in a more upright, working frame.
                  Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique



                  • #10
                    Little late here but finally got to see the pictures my work gadgets won't pull up. Nice mare. Really.

                    But...she is not stretching in most of these pics, she has dropped behind your leg and that is your biggest problem and leading to the others.

                    Now, her poll is below the withers in several of these, you don't ever want that. Her face is behind the vertical, another thing you never want.

                    Both the low poll and the behind the vertical are serious evasions to accepting the rein aids- many mares are crafty beasts with too much smarts to do anything crass, like buck. They prefer the suck back and drop behind the leg to avoid actually working correctly, something which requires too much effort in their minds. I got one too.

                    I have an idea your mare is very much like mine in that she is not actually built downhill but travels that way. It's fixable but you need to outsmart her, not fight. Vary the contact with half halts, those little snatches I mentioned and L.E.G.. Spurs and a long stick or Dressage whip to tickle her fanny and make her pick up and carry herself so you don't have to twist and turn or reach to use a standard bat or crop so she knows whats coming and cooks up another way to evade. A simple, subtle flick of the wrist brings the end of a dressage whip onto their butts with no warning-they think it's God punishing them. Really, it gets a reaction.

                    Carry your hands a little higher as well, pick her up in front as you drive with leg and, maybe, a smack. I also found that work with transitions, specifically trot-canter-trot, gets rid of alot of this. Kind of rough when you start, particularly that canter- trot down transition, she'll go right on her nose in a heap the first few times because she is disengaged behind. But you'll get there.

                    I used a little gag snaffle on mine a couple of days a week rotating with a Mylar comfort snaffle which gives a bit of lift and a plain old loose ring. Keep it fresh and keep them guessing, not same old same old. Trot alot of caveletti on a loose rein too, make her figure it out and help her to build the balance and strength to engage her rear and carry herself.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                    • #11
                      THIS. This is what my horse does, but he's not heavy on the hands. I posted a query on this about six months ago. I'm no trainer, to say the least, but I've been shortening my reins and making him raise his head when we're working, and them letting him have his head down when we're not.
                      Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



                      • #12
                        Most of these never feel heavy. There is a good reason it's sometimes called "false frame". It looks good in front at first glance but nothing is happening behind. It fools people too, sometimes even judges in big classes without alot of time to really look.

                        But it bites you bad when you jump or try to get good lead changes-they can't skip off the lead behind if they are properly engaged and will always get a good spot or make an iffy one work well because the canter is balanced.

                        I am not insinuating anything here far as OP is concerned but this is exactly what draw reins and the various celebrity endorsed "systems" create with overuse by those who don't really understand how important leg and forward are when using these properly (and they have a place when properly used). The horses get real good at false frame and it's assorted evasions. Especially the ones that by nature and conformation want to travel a little downhill or are built that way with a dash of smart and a pinch of lazy thrown in there.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                        • Original Poster

                          Great advice here, thank you all so much!
                          The evasion theory really hits home for me since she won't buck, is lazy and out smarts me from time to time. Giving me some stretch that I was pushing for without really engaging 100% of the time.

                          I think the change from her 'giraffe stage' came so quickly I forgot to watch and feel for the hind end up until recently when it became evident that we have a lack of hiney in our transitions.

                          I have never used training aids before though I think her head dropping back is due to my lack of leg which I am well aware of now, I really appreciate the insight. Helps ingrain these things into my rides.

                          One thing I do notice lately in my trot-canter transitions, she seems to really rock back, then push into canter.
                          Could this be caused by the lack of engagement?


                          • #14
                            Actually the rocking back trot to canter is good. You want to collect and sit trot for a step or two so they can rock back and roll right into it-this is pretty subtle when you get good at it.

                            I suspect she needs to build a little more strength so you are noticing. Also suspect if you raise your hands, let her lift her poll and encourage the forward she will have somewhere to go besides down and smooth right out for you.
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                            • #15
                              I just had a good lesson on my mare regarding this type of "problem". My mare (Ottb that I bought at the track years ago) loves to travel like yours, the lower, the better in her opinion.
                              My instructor had us warm up long and low and bent, on a circle, and very active in back (ride the hind legs is our motto), then progressively shorten the reins, much shorter than I usually have them, and use lot of legs and tickle with my heel or whip, if needed, while keeping my hands low, to get the poll up, soft contact, and self carriage while still very active in back. It really is a game of light "touches" here and there, and immediate praising when correct.
                              My mare is a pro at "faking", and is not used to this correct frame, so right now we are only getting "moments" of it, but very nice moments, and it's so gratifying! Mare loves to do well, and is discovering a new way of moving and having fun (boy, what a different feeling for me! She has become quite the little powerhouse )
                              Good luck. Your mare is awfully CUTE!
                              Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                              • #16
                                There is a great video of true stretch on the "should h/j horses be round" thread. It might help show you what it really looks like.
                                Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                                Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


                                • #17
                                  She looks lovely!!

                                  I think a lot of people get hung up on having the 'competition frame' on all the time when flatting their horse. Not really a fair expectation when they are still learning... And even the GP dressage horses get warmed up long, low and loose. Even more important for a young horse to have that opportunity so they can build their strength within their limits.

                                  Here is a video I found helpful (and I think it is the one referenced above):

                                  Enjoy her!


                                  • #18
                                    What is this "curling" evasion mentioned above?
                                    Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!