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What are some good exercises to encourage horse to round?

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  • What are some good exercises to encourage horse to round?

    Does anyone have any good exercises to encourage a horse to lift its back and round on the flat and over fences?

  • #2
    Gotta start at the beginning, always, with the classical training scale/pyramid. There are no shortcuts. There are tools you can use to help you to get the training and the understanding across to the trainee, what tools you use depend on what problems or resistances that horse may have. Step one is long and low, free forward relaxed motion. So many horses never really GET this, yet are pushed on to further training with this hole remaining. It never gets better unless it is addressed as the hole it is. Getting that relaxation with the forward motion off your leg is paramount. Your leg encouraging the hind end to step under itself, be active. With green horses, it will not be perfect, it may come and go before it is actually there most of the time. No reins involved (other than basic steering). When you get the first step truly in place, then you move on. Then you get the true balance and carriage and performance you are looking for at the later stages. And yes, poles and small X's can be negotiated at the early stages without this being "pushed" past step one. They can be used as a training tool. IMO, it is the over use of reins far too early is the main reason for the first step being so poorly understood by many horses. Good luck!
    www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

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    • #3
      What NancyM said. Here are some great visual aids:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8cOq7YWXys
      War Horse Blog

      Comment


      • #4
        What NancyM said. The longer I ride, the more I think that your everyday riding is as much building muscles and mind in the right places as "training". In other words, not like dogs! It is day in and day out, by habit doing what NancyM said.
        Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

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        • #5
          Joining the chorus of "what NancyM said". There are no exercises that teach a horse to come round - you need the entire training scale.

          I suggest finding yourself a good trainer (good being the operative word) and taking a ton of lessons. This is the only way to learn.
          "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
          -George Morris

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          • #6
            NancyM nailed it and explained it really well! Also want to second what SNL said about lessons, lessons, lessons.
            "A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character." - Tesio

            Comment


            • #7
              As everyone has said, FLATWORK FLATWORK FLATWORK.

              Some specific exercises that I've been working on lately that have greatly improved my horse's roundness and impulsion are shoulder-ins (first at the walk to warm up, then moving into trot an canter as well), leg yields, and most dramatically haunches out on a circle. He HATES the haunches-out stuff because he's still not quite fit enough to sustain it, and I get all sorts of ugly faces and pinned ears when I ask for it, but his trot is like night and day before and after this exercise, and every time he seems a little better about it. (Also note- I do all of these things on VERY light contact to avoid forcing the frame).

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by GoneAway View Post
                What NancyM said. Here are some great visual aids:
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8cOq7YWXys
                Fabulous to the point video

                This is not the only way to do this but it is likely the simplest, most straight forward presentation I've seen!
                Most importantly, what he states about the time required to estabish that foundation & develop the muscling is correct - I recently audited a clinic by a decidedly more famous US trainer who insisted that this time scale could be much shorter ... his local students horses all lack throughness - even the GP horse is almost painful to watch at times BUT most people simply do not perceive - or perhaps comprehend where the shortfall is ...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Loved that video. I hadn't heard of Will Faerber prior to watching it, but I really like that guy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Will Faerber's YouTube channel (Arttoride) has a lot of great videos and instruction. Here's a video he did, expands more on developing the quality of the gait and engaging the back. It's a more advanced discussion and not on a hunter, but still great to watch:
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKb9h8FzAX0
                    War Horse Blog

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I was trying to explain this to someone (non-English rider) the other day and this video sums it up so much better than I could verbally. THANK YOU!!!
                      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by alto View Post
                        Fabulous to the point video

                        This is not the only way to do this but it is likely the simplest, most straight forward presentation I've seen!
                        Most importantly, what he states about the time required to estabish that foundation & develop the muscling is correct - I recently audited a clinic by a decidedly more famous US trainer who insisted that this time scale could be much shorter ... his local students horses all lack throughness - even the GP horse is almost painful to watch at times BUT most people simply do not perceive - or perhaps comprehend where the shortfall is ...
                        Seems like a lack of understanding of the training scale, and that's unfortunate. I'm sure a lot of folks see a horse's face on the vertical and a pretty rounded neck and think "Horse is in a frame and he's so pretty!", but fail to recognize that his back is hollow and there's no throughness or true connection. It makes me wonder how many people are exposed to classical (dressage) training techniques, or go out of their way to educate themselves on those principles. Taking the time to build a real foundation on a horse, and to develop that muscling is so important. Makes me glad to be able to take the time with my own green horse, because we can go around doing stretchy trot until I'm blue in the face if I want, with no real timeline.
                        War Horse Blog

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by GoneAway View Post
                          What NancyM said. Here are some great visual aids:
                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8cOq7YWXys
                          I love this video! A friend of mine shared it on Facebook a while back - it's just awesome and really explains the process so well!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            An exercise that I really like to help a horse to come round, especially if he knows how and is just distracted and tense, is the ribbon exercise. Basically, it's a serpentine with sharper than normal curves rather than just half-circle to half circle. You can put as many loops as you want in the riding space you have. The horse is always on a bend and the bend is changing constantly. It's a nice suppling exercise for any horse.

                            I am thinking of a shape as shown in this blog entry, of ribbon candy:
                            http://thebarrygroup.com/wpea2012/Ne...Symposium.aspx
                            If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                              An exercise that I really like to help a horse to come round, especially if he knows how and is just distracted and tense, is the ribbon exercise. Basically, it's a serpentine with sharper than normal curves rather than just half-circle to half circle. You can put as many loops as you want in the riding space you have. The horse is always on a bend and the bend is changing constantly. It's a nice suppling exercise for any horse.

                              I am thinking of a shape as shown in this blog entry, of ribbon candy:
                              http://thebarrygroup.com/wpea2012/Ne...Symposium.aspx
                              However, if you have a horse who is tense, by definition, you do not have free forward RELAXED motion. Step one is not functional, by definition. Going on to attempt bending etc is not recommended. And yes, this serpentine exercise is lovely, but you MUST have a forward, relaxed horse coming forward off your leg FIRST. IMO.
                              www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Spiral in and spiral out at the trot while keeping a consistent working rhythm will help you get the horse between your aids (or make your aids more effective) and often the roundness comes just from the exercise.
                                DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by NancyM View Post
                                  However, if you have a horse who is tense, by definition, you do not have free forward RELAXED motion. Step one is not functional, by definition. Going on to attempt bending etc is not recommended. And yes, this serpentine exercise is lovely, but you MUST have a forward, relaxed horse coming forward off your leg FIRST. IMO.
                                  I have a naturally tense and quick pony. The ribbon candy exercise and any other variation (cloverleafs, big serpentines, shallow loops, etc) that focuses on maintaining a constant tempo while constantly changing direction really relaxes her. Every warm up involves lots of changes in bend before we can really get down to work with other transitions.

                                  Full disclosure: I'm a dyed-in-the-wool dressage rider who occasionally jumps very tiny x-rails but pretends they're 1.6m.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by NancyM View Post
                                    However, if you have a horse who is tense, by definition, you do not have free forward RELAXED motion. Step one is not functional, by definition. Going on to attempt bending etc is not recommended. And yes, this serpentine exercise is lovely, but you MUST have a forward, relaxed horse coming forward off your leg FIRST. IMO.
                                    That is not my experience. My experience is that the ribbon exercise allows me to allow the horse to go forward and send them forward without having to pull on the mouth. The shape slows them down. The shape softens their minds and their bodies.

                                    Pretty much the worst thing you can do - IME - with a tense horse is to just keep going in a straight line.

                                    The changes of bend and changes of direction get them thinking about the rider and make it easier to apply leg and hand softly and effectively.

                                    As always, Your Mileage May Vary.
                                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                    Comment

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