How to engage the hind end? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 10-22-2010, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Question How to engage the hind end?

My TB mare is VERY go-ey, and we've been working on slowing her gaits down a lot. I've also been working on her headset, and she's doing great in embracing these things, but looking at pictures from last week I can tell she's not engaging her hind end. What can I do to help her with this? Some pics from Oct. 14th (ignore the's the only way I can get my mom to take pics LOL)

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post #2 of 7 Old 10-22-2010, 07:27 PM
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Well the dress is very non helpful for a critique not to mention it could spook the horse and doesn't provide the necessary grip or action in the saddle. This leads to an ineffective seat and a greater possibility of mishaps- tell your mother if she cares at all for you and your safety that you will only ride in proper riding attire.

Anyways as far as engagement goes - you are a long way (in training) away from being able to really think about increasing engagement in the horse. If you are having trouble with speed, you have not yet conquered even the first step in the training scale, rhythm. The horse should first and foremost be able to go in a balanced way, with a metronomic rhythm. The tempo should be adjustable, as should the lateral flexion and the horse should be relaxed (this is the second step - relaxation or suppleness). The horse should the become accepting of the bridle and stretch to the bit, creating contact without a backwards pull from the rider (this is the third step, contact). These three steps go very much hand in had and all together develop our impulsion or schwung which is related to engagement, "head set" and the over all balance of the horse beginning to shift to the hind quarters. Think of it as the feeling of a "bridge" of energy connecting the horse from his hind legs to the contact through his topline. The training scale continues on to include Straightness and Collection, which are not very relevant to developing engagement as they both require it.

Finally, cheekpieces are like $5. If your tack is ill fitted - don't expect anything from the horse. The bit is resting much too far down in the mouth - so the horse must hold it up, meaning it cannot relax the mouth and jowel and softly chew the bit. I am also not a fan of the baucher bit, a loose ring, dee ring or full cheek are preferable.

Otherwise your leg and posture appear to be good - good luck!
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post #3 of 7 Old 10-22-2010, 07:32 PM
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The horse's head is down, but that's about it. You can tell she's fighting and then evading the contact; and she's broken at the 3rd vertebrae in some photos. You're relying much too much on the reins to do that for you, rather than getting the horse properly rounded. Anebel's post is pretty spot-on for everything.
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post #4 of 7 Old 10-22-2010, 08:28 PM
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there a lot of posts already on this one of mine even.
You have to stop focussing on the front, you ride your horse from back to front, push forward with your legs to get the horse moving, but holding constant pressure with your hands.
I am no expert but I have been learning on here and it just looks like your horse is fighting you, maybe relax your hands a bit, push forward with your feet and then he should come into contact, not you forcing him.
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post #5 of 7 Old 10-22-2010, 10:00 PM
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You will want to get softer with your hands and encourage the horse to reach more outward and downward, keeping the face on or in front of the vertical. You know how a horse looks like when it is excited or curious about something and it "arches" it's neck in a nice line with no "break" in the line of the arch and it reaches forward to kind of look at or sniff something? That is the kind of position of the neck you would like to have, but not because it is excited but rather because you are encourageing forward motion and "presenting" the bit (kind of like "here it is, now you've got it, now follow it down just a tad"). This encourages relaxation and will go with the rythm that Anabel is talking about.
If she starts to rush too much, then ask her onto a circle to slow her down.

With regard to your tack, the Baucher bit can look wierd in the mouth, especially when it causes the cheek peices to bulge outward. The idea that it applies poll pressure is highly doubtful. I also prefer a loose ring , french link type snaffle. KK Ultra is really a good bit.
The nose band is too low. It is interfering with the bit. ANd, the throat latch could be looser to avoid any constriction when the horse bends. It's there only to keep the bridle from being pulled off accidently.
She is really a lovely horse.
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post #6 of 7 Old 10-26-2010, 11:01 AM
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It hard when a horse wants to go running off NOT to grab the reins and use them to get the horse "together", but as you found out that has caused the horse to be behing the leg.

Pic #
1 - Mouth open evading bit action - rider should: slightly give about 1/2 inch more rein, anchor elbows to waist and use legs to encourage horse to come forward and engage back. Best fixed at the trot since rider can slow their posting to the rythmn they want. At first horse will try to speed up - "you did use legs mom didn't you?" but if the rider persists in posting to the speed/rythmn they want the horse will slow their rythmn (eventually) in response but since rider is not allowing horse to get behind the legs (i.e. squeezing forward as necessary) horse will end up taking larger steps rather than speeding up.
2 - Horse still behind the leg and not through. You can visually tell when a horse is correclt through because when they arch their neck and step underneath themselves it causes a "bulge" in the middle of their neck. No bulge? Horse is faking you out with a headset (not using their back so rider needs to put legs behind girth and drive horse into reins).
3 - This is the nicest picture. Horse is starting to use their back - stepping up and through. Notice you have a slightly longer rein length here. Dressage work is capable of being done on a longer rein - IF done correctly.
4, 5 - Horse again behind leg
6 - Notice you do NOT have a nice square halt (LH is out behind the horse). Work on getting that by using your legs - that's the first step in getting and keeping the horse in front of the leg.

Dressage is for Trainers!
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post #7 of 7 Old 10-26-2010, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your critique. The bit is the bit Molly's trainer told me to use, I agree I need to make an extra hole in the cheekpieces though.

I agree we have a long way to go....She needs to be accepting of the bit and being in a big field isn't the best way to teach her to listen to my posting to match her tempo to it! I have some pictures of us riding in the arena on my other computer; I'll post them when the Internet gets fixed at my mom's.

I try to slow my posting with her and make it quieter, but when she wants to go she gets very headstrong and pulls on my hands so I end up leaning forward to get her head under control, leading to her fighting the bit even more. Her off-track trainer is an ex-steeplechainer, and I tracked her down after I bought Molly because I bought her when she was a wreck. She rushed into the canter, would NOT trotor canter slowly to save her life, so I found her original trainer from a YouTube video (I googled her registered name and found it). We sent Molly down to Jenni, the trainer, so she could retrain her. Molly was an amazingly responsive horse before she got in the wrong hands of someone who absolutely ruined her; Jenni couldn't believe what a different horse she was. She retrained her for 2 months, me driving down to take a lesson on Molly from her every two weeks, and this is the best she's been since she was ruined. Here's a video from before she was messed with; when Jenni had her originally:
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