A very crooked horse. One example.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Friday, December 21, 2007 11:04 PM
All horses have some balance issues and crookedness but I'm talking about big ones that even untrained eye can see and a beginner rider can feel. I have already talked about an unbalanced trot and the fact that correct riding can change that. I will tell you now about a particular example of such work. The Arab gelding I'm working with is very crooked. The progress is slow but steady and that gives me hope that in a year this horse will look great.
The way he moves creates a feeling that he is knife-jacked right in front of the shoulders. He carries his neck and head to the right and when he trots he feels like he is rolling from one shoulder to another staying more on the left shoulder and giving an impression he is lame on the right front. He has very tight back muscles on the right side. He is tight in his top line all over and he goes hollow and inverted if not corrected.
Interesting fact: it is impossible for him to stretch his neck down until some of his body's crookedness is corrected. Just relaying on the reins without rearranging his body does not produce any results. Lungeing didn't help him, because he would go crooked, inverted, pulling on side reins. Only when I succeed in changing the way he carries himself he stretch his neck down and make big even steps.
When we are on the right rein we do lots of big circles. I ride these circles with almost counter-bend. This pushes him on the right shoulder. It feels weird, like he is falling over to the right. He resists at the beginning, but when he gives, he makes big even steps and wants to stretch down. I think he feels weird himself when he moves correctly, he is so used to going crooked. I use my right leg behind the girth to stop his haunches to fall in.
When we are on the left rein, I use my left leg a lot to push his ribcage to the right. I ride more on the straight lines. If I go on a circle I make sure he is not falling in, I think of enlarging circle and I use my left leg asking him to move his ribcage over. I ask him to soften on the left rein.
As you can see all that work is to stretch his right side no matter what direction we are going. This riding is more therapeutic than anything else. Until he can stretch his right side consistently and move more or less evenly there is no point on advancing the work.
Happy riding...
 
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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