help with my flat...ugh!

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help with my flat...ugh!

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        04-08-2012, 10:06 AM
    help with my flat...ugh!

    So I've been working my horse long and low for part of my ride to get her to stretch out and use her back better since about mid/late Feb I think. She has been getting better at reaching for the bit and really stretching herself, at first she wouldnt do it at all. I can really feel her reach out with her shoulder and stretch out, I've even done a little long and low canter with her, but majority in trot.
    Problem is, now that I've gotten her to do that sometimes when I try to pick her back up she wants to keep her head low and go behind the bit and instead of flexing at the poll she flexes in her neck. Is there any way to correct that?? She is a little naturally down hill built so its been a challenge to sort of ride her up and get the weight off her front end.i wish I had a video, I am trying to get my boyfriend to take one but he doesnt want to come ride with me so it may take awhile to convince him!
    As some background: I have an ottb mare who I do eventing/jumpers with. We do a lot of circles, serpentines, weaving, etc to work on bending which we are getting better at, we are mostly working on flat right now but hopefully will start jumping again soon! ;)
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        04-08-2012, 10:07 AM
    Oh something I forgot, I've never had trouble with her going behind the bit before, mostly she has wanted to go above the bit which I would much prefer!
        04-08-2012, 12:20 PM
    Riding around with your reins flapping in the wind and plodding around on the forehand weaving around the arena does not qualify as "long and low".
    Riding a correct long and low, beyond a stretch for the neck and a pat as a break, is very difficult and should rarely be the composition of an entire ride. You have now taught the mare to plod along doing nothing, with no drive from behind and when you go to pick her up, of course she will evade it!! She's spend the last month doing extremely little in the realm of "work".

    You should always have a contact on the reins, if she is not warmed up enough to stretch to the degree you want then your reins do actually need to be short enough that you have at least 2 lbs of contact in each of them. As she warms up, you can let them longer but you always must be holding a contact. Then ride in walk trot and canter, and transitions between, forward and she needs to drive from the haunches. Your half halts serve to balance her onto her haunches while remaining forward and you use your fingers and wrists to maintain a supple contact while she is driving up from behind and making the contact stronger. Then you have to ride to your line, don't allow her to go where she wants, she needs to be exactly between your aids and not drifting through either leg on the turns. Again, maintaining forward.

    By you driving her forward, holding a contact, half halting and suppling that contact while keeping her between all your aids, then and only then will she be able to create a "bridge" over her back and being to carry herself in self carriage. When you go to pick up the reins from this correct long and low, absolutely nothing changes in your aids, only that your reins are shorter and you may need to drive more forward. Long and low also needs to be done in trot AND canter with transitions, transitions, transitions and more transitions to really help the horse to "unlock" and swing and come over the back.

    Good luck!!
        04-08-2012, 01:06 PM
    Thanks for your advice, but I have been keeping contact with her, I don't just let all the rein out and ride her around til her head goes down. I usually trot her a lap or two just on a loose rein and then pick up contact and start her in regular work at trot/canter. Once she's warmed up I let her stretch in trot for a circle or 2 keeping contact just letting out the reins inch by inch as she stretches and I add inside leg to encourage her inside hind to step forward with each stride. If she looses it or after I have done a little work like that I either start her back with a shorter rein (if she looses it) or I slowly shortern her back up like I let her out. Problem is after that she sometimes goes behind the bit and such.
    Im not sure im doing it 100% right but I would hardly say she's plodding around and my reins are flapping in the wind. I certainly don't do it for my entire ride either, as I said before I do it for part of my ride. I know it must be doing something bc her topline has improved a lot. Its probably not as good as it could be but she's also still a little underweight (it can take her forever to gain).
    Thanks for your tips.
        04-08-2012, 01:33 PM
    I just watched a video on another thread about this sort of issue and it said that if the horse hollows when you ask them to come back up it can be from them not being ready to and that they need more time stretching out. So perhaps that's the issue?
    I don't know. I guess either way I can't expect to make my mare go better right away in the first place, I do tend to expect a lot from her and I know she is doing her best.
        04-08-2012, 04:28 PM
    I ride a mostly-TB who went through a phase of wanting to go too low. I finally had a much-needed lesson and discovered I was encouraging this, by letting her take the reins. In other words, what started out as a reward (releasing the rein when she stretched---in her case it took a long time for her to trust and take hold of the bit)--became the norm. I think I was riding the way you described.

    It was time to advance! So I had to hold the reins, not give in, and drive her onward for more energy. Speed was fine! It was pretty hard at first, but by concentrating on getting her to respond energetically to my "whisper leg" instead of thinking about how she was going, keeping a more stable hold on the reins, and letting her figure out the most comfortable way of carrying herself, a lot of problems solved themselves.

    She is better balanced now, lifts her shoulders on her own, and you know, she seems brighter and merrier when we get a lot of energy going!

    I'm not saying you should ride with a rigid hand; except that, well, there are times when a rigid hand helps!
        04-08-2012, 04:49 PM
    Maybe I do need to be more strict with my hand and convey to her this is the length I want your neck, no more of where you want to put it for now. Sometimes I think im still surprised how much more supple and flexible she has become in the last 6-9months.
    Thanks for your advice!
        04-09-2012, 04:00 PM
    She went so bad today!! Just not relaxed and very stiff and resistant. She's been so nice and flexible and willing lately. She's so sensitive and smart im sure im ticking her off in some way, I think we need to go back to the basics for a few days. She's got the forward off my leg but not much else, I think at this point were both getting frustrated with each other. Perhaps a hack is in order.
    Sorry this is rambling haha
        04-09-2012, 05:08 PM
    Do you have a trainer you can take a lesson or two with?
        04-09-2012, 05:13 PM
    No, not yet. I just moved so I've been calling around to find one but havent secured a lesson yet. Its hard this time of year bc we don't have an indoor or anything. :(

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