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Horse Will Not Bend- Any Advice?


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#11 Graustarkian

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 07:43 PM

Once you eliminate any tack and health issues, what I see the majority of time is crooked riders making it difficult for the horse to carry the rider straight. IOW, the rider causes the crookedness from their own crookedness. This is more often the case with lighter breeds, like Arabians. Most riders are really too big for Arabians. Therefore the issues of the riders crookedness has a proportionately larger effect on the horses crookedness than a smaller rider on a larger horse. It's simple physics. Luckily, Arabians can carry more weight than other breeds of the same "size" however, in order to stay out of the way of your horses movement, you have a larger responsibility to work on your position in order to make it easier for your horse.

Or get a bigger horse. ;)

If you can learn to truly ride dressage on an Arabian, you can ride, truly ride, dressage on anything!

Cheers!
Chris


Chris (and everyone else) is spot on! I have been through all of the above over the course of nearly two years (took THAT long because, like lots of others unemployment/financial ruin put a damper on luxuries)! LOL My mare started her serious training for dressage at five/six years old and when she started resisting, we visited the tooth fairy and found wolf teeth. She improved, muscled up and her saddle didn't fit. Had reflocked and fitted. STILL didn't fit. Searched for wide saddle, found used Duett and bought it. Every girth I tried rubbed her raw. FINALLY found affordable contoured dressage girth and her bit/bridle began chafing! GAH! She takes a pony headstall, horse noseband, cob browband and must have a bit with small rings because her face widens SO quickly, they'll rub her face (bit guards don't work).

Every time we achieved more self carriage, the change in how she carried herself caused a tack-fit problem! HANG IN THERE! It will get better (: Most helpful is when I do a lot of flexions at the walk, emphasizing that I want my mare to fill the outside of her body into my outside leg as she bends around my inside leg. That way, I can give her some slack on the inside rein and she is rewarded for the bend. As you advance, you can work on shoulder in to straight and back to shoulder in up the long side. Jane Savoie has a great vid on Youtube you might want to watch.
Kelly Brown

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#12 krowchukdressage

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 06:26 AM

Well that is neat to hear about being able to ride other breeds. I think it'd be hard to switch to something else as we all get used to the lightness of Arabs.


Imagine riding an 18hand powerhouse that is as light or lighter, as responsive or more responsive than an Arabian.

That's a rush, and it is all possible with correct training!

Cheers!
Chris

#13 Jetstream

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 06:40 PM

Wow, thanks for all the great advice everyone!

I already had the chiropractor check him in November, and his saddle fit was checked too... but to be honest I hadn't even thought of the dentist! And it would make sense that he may have a problem there, because I switched bits from an eggbutt to a plain loose ring a few weeks ago to try something new, and in this new bit he wouldn't react AT ALL to contact... it was literally like he couldn't feel anything at all. And Jett isn't a "bad" horse; i.e. he's not the type to do things just to test me/because he can. I will definitely call up the dentist tomorrow!

Also, I know part of the problem is my own; there is no way that I, being nearly 5'10, can ride my little 15.1 (on a good day) arab with perfect balance. The problem is I just love him too much to trade in for a bigger horse. I also have some problems with my right knee due to a childhood skiing accident, and as a result have struggled to "equal" out my riding in a way to compensate for that. On other horses I seem to have figured it out, just not on my own...

Thanks again! I will update when I have news!

#14 Mariah

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 05:09 AM

I am 5'9" and mine is only 15 to 15.1, I understand! That is why at this point I have become REALLY bad about talking to myself when I ride- I am always telling myself to watch all these different body parts!!
Comandr-N-Chief +// , My love, my teacher

#15 maryjo

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:05 AM

Well that is neat to hear about being able to ride other breeds. I think it'd be hard to switch to something else as we all get used to the lightness of Arabs.


Not Arabians are light.

Not all 'other breeds' are heavy.

One of the 'heaviest' to the aids I have ever encountered was a 14 1 Arabian mare (had been with a saddle seat trainer).

One of the 'lightest' to the aids was an 18 hand Dutch warmblood.

Just depends on how they have been ridden.
MaryJo

#16 krowchukdressage

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:53 PM

Well put MJ.

Speaking of saddle fit, I don't consider myself an expert in saddle fit but I have worked with numerous saddle fitters around the world and have developed somewhat of a working knowledge. It never fails to amaze me to find "custom" saddles that do not fit well. As an example, I taught a 3 day clinic awhile back with 10 riders/horses. 8 saddles did not even come close to fitting, in my opinion. 7 of those were recent professionally fitted and 3 were so called custom built to fit. The two that fit the best were off the shelf.

Not a good story!

#17 Mel Adjusted

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 04:01 AM

I've run into that too, Chris. I wonder why?

#18 Dawn JL

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 06:16 AM

Lots of reasons:

Not all saddle fitters are of the same skill level.

Many fitters are affiliated with a specific brand that they sell which may not be the best suited for that horse.

Many riders purchase saddles based on the cache of the brand rather than on the saddle's suitability for them and their horse.

The saddle that fit at one stage of the horse's athletic development may not fit well at a later stage. (Also what "fits" when the horse is standing in the cross ties needs to be assessed with the horse being ridden to accomodate the horse's back in movement under a rider!)

Many "custom" saddles are customized to the rider's preferences (color, leather) and seat/leg measurements with just the basic tree width considered for the horse without factoring in the panel shape and other aspects of fitting the whole saddle to the horse!
Dawn Jones-Low
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#19 ironpaw

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 12:46 PM

Jetstream,
Have you tried to do it from the ground instead?
Horses have a weak side -concave- and a strong side (convexed). Usually the first one is the left, meaning easier to bend to the left. The latter is the right side, they seemed not able to do it. There are horses that are very stiff and won't bend at all even when very young. Horses are naturally unbalanced. When they do not bend to one side it also affects their balance even more. Being out of balance to a horse is scary. Usually the reason they do not bend is because they are shorter/stiff on the left side. Gymnastizing is the only way to overcome this. Asking a horse to be as supple on one side as the other is like asking a right handed person to write as well with the left one. While this isn't possible at first, it is with slow, tranquil practice where every effort is rewarded. Horses are silent, they only depend on their body language to communicate and it is very subtle.
You could try to see if he bends to the right from the ground.
I could suggest a link that cold give general idea. The basic principle is that you invite the horse to bend and let him do the bending. You only make suggestions or invitations. First stationary, then at walk and so on. When in movement, ideally, the head should not be bellow the withers keeping the horizontal line and the head should be vertical when he bends.
If he offers just a little, then be happy with it. You could offer a food reward if he isn't all that convinced to do it. Sometimes they are afraid to do it and unless you offer some good reason for it. Play with a lot a tact and feeling, timing when to ask and when to release.

If you are interested in knowing more, the link bellow is a good start.

http://academic-art-of-riding.com/ This is a free e-book that explains the principles. There are many videos of this person on youtube that could help you in your bending adventure.

marisela gould

#20 Marilee

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 04:13 PM

Great advice, eliminating any dental or tack issues. When I started taking my Appy gelding to dressage lessons after being used for barrels before I got him, I learned that he had a strong side and a weaker side, and I had over time learned to compensate for that, developing myself into a strong side and a weaker side, which was not good either. So did a lot of riding with longer neck and more forward impulsion, and lots of walking too. Then in lessons, really trying to undo previous strong and weak sides on both of us, my mentor had me ride with 2 dressage whips, (no spurs) and then I would tap the side that needed reinforcement (cuz my leg was not so strong on one side to aid him). Over time, these techniques really worked. Used an eggbutt snaffle with cavesson, no draw reins or martingales, or tie downs. Just me learning to be a better rider, and my horse learning more symmetry from each side, and how to listen to me with less, not more. From how your horse was previously started (with short cuts to draw in the head), before the body and neck were strengthened and developed over time, you should allow time and correct retraining of his mind and body, and he should be able to strengthen that weaker side, without messing up the stronger side, and letting him develop some self-carriage, not dependant on the aids to attain it. The bit (headset) should be the last thing you want, letting the neck go out and the upper muscles along the topline develop. He might be ewe necked or have one side of his neck more developed than the other over time from bracing himself against poor bitting and training. We used the same techniques on other horses we had too, but those did not have to be corrected from previous mess-ups of inequality (sides strong and weak). Lots of horses I see in the ring now are over bitted and behind the vertical, which is wrong, and indicates poor and too rapid training and heavy unyielding hands.....

PS--we did lunging too, but this has to be done carefully, with long reins and not overbitting, as you might overdevelop the strong side and even reduce the weaker side. You want to look for balance between the sides, and a forward and relaxed movement, with less tension, to break through the horse's resistance on the strong side, to supple that side up.