rounding thru topline? - Page 2

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rounding thru topline?

This is a discussion on rounding thru topline? within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Weaving between cones on a horse
  • Dressage Today: The Physics of Collection

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    02-15-2012, 06:56 PM
What Kayty said just brought something to mind. I had a dressage clinic a week or so ago; my horse has the basics but he is still very green. The trainer, a local dressage judge, had me trot him up into a working trot, then half halt him down until he was just ready to walk and then trot him up again. It not only helped to rebalance him but it kept him off his forehand. It also got him to understand that when I add that leg pressure he is to respond NOW and not two seconds later. She said that my horse needs to be kept thinking so to do a lot of changes in direction, serpentines or half serpentines, lengthening and collection etc. The more we broke things up the better he did.

She also said the same thing as Kayty indicated..a lot of transitions up and down and changes within the gaits themselves.
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    02-15-2012, 07:03 PM
She is really responsive about moving forward off my leg and pretty good about slowing back down when I ask her too. She may be a little on the forehand but not as dramatically as you make it sound, she's not like running wildly or anything. She has a naturally higher head carriage due to how her neck ties in at her shoulder, and at this point I don't really care if she's above the vertical or not, or where her head is for that matter as long as she's working better through her back. I hope this gives more insight into what is going on and what I am going for! I hope no one thinks that im trying to get her round in the sense of "head setting" or anything... thanks for your advice kayty and tlkng1!! I will try all of those suggestions :)
    02-15-2012, 07:22 PM
I dont' think a horse can really track up well and be hollow at the same time. They can move forward briskly, and maybe that is what you are feeling, but it's unlikely the horse is truly tracking as far under as it can, if the back is hollow, it's just a matter of physics and anatomy.

I was just reading in this month's Dressage today, an article on the physics of collection. And one of the things that helps is to have some bend in the body, such that the ribcage is moved off to one side, which helps the horse to step under itself, which helps it to tuck its' pelvis under; all parts of using the topline more correctly.

It's the use of the abdominal muscles that lifts the back, and when a horse lifts its' hind leg forward and under itself, it necessitates contratcing its' abdominals.
Working over trotting poles or cavaletti, walking uphill, and doing tranisitions all cause contraction of the abdominals and help with topliine development.
    02-15-2012, 07:32 PM
Thanks for your advice! I think I may have made her hollowness sound worse than it is, she's not horribly hollow and totally ugly looking, in fact im sure theres other riders out there who would find her flat work perfectly acceptable, she's definitely not the worst in dressage at horse trials(although definitely not the best either!!), I just want more from her and to be able to have a definite lift in her back if that makes since. As far as tracking up goes, yeah im sure she can track up further but its not like her hind and is totally dragging behind her or anything. I will definitely try to add some light hill work with her and more caveletti. Hopefully soon she will look better :)
    02-15-2012, 07:35 PM
Transitions, millions of them, are your best friend to get a horse using its back. The more well executed transitions you ride, and the more changes of rein you make, the more the horse will push off the hind legs and use its back.
And I mean transitions and changes of rein, even to the point of riding like a 'cowboy'. Long reins, riding just off seat and leg and weaving between cones. You will be surprised, at how the horse will soon become very willing to go forward, and sit on its hind legs to get through the turns.
My coach, who is an accomplished FEI rider, frequently uses this exercise on her 4 year old, who has also just qualified for a national young horse competition. It definitely works!
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    02-15-2012, 07:41 PM
I will definitely try that, thanks! Im sure I can set up some weaving type exercises for her with our jump standards or something ;)
    02-16-2012, 02:57 PM
I like the transitions advice, but I'm going to describe this lesson I had not too long ago, to round out the advice.

I'd asked for help on exactly the same thing, how to get my horse to round. I picked up a trot, and was told to shorten my reins to get a nice contact. My horse, especially at that time, would lift her head. Then I was told to trot "more." So we went faster. "More." So we went even more. "DON'T LENGTHEN THE REINS!" My horse started to pull heavily on them. "MORE!" We went faster. "Don't worry, just get a bigger trot." I gasp, "There yet?" My instructor says: "Almost."

Then suddenly it happened, she came through the back, her whole body seemed to soften, and she was just a nice, soft contact in the reins! It was incredible; still flying around about as fast as we could.

Later (the lesson only lasted about 20 exhausting minutes) I told the instructor that it was awfully hard, to trot around at, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 10! He said she would get stronger, and then it wouldn't be her 10.

This is not a training method I can endure, and neither is the footing good enough where I ride at home. However, when I have problems, it's usually because my horse is not forward enough, so I'll start this "MORE" exercise. I must admit, it has never failed to improve matters.
    02-16-2012, 07:03 PM
Jumper this might help you with some of the more mechanical aspects of your question. ::: Sustainable Dressage - - Welcome to my Site about Sustainable Dressage! :::
    02-16-2012, 07:09 PM
Beling - that there is the proof for you, that getting the hind legs first certainly works.
That method works with some horses, but not so much with others unless you are a 6'6 German bereiter!!
My coach had me doing the same with one of my horses that had issues with his 'go' button, it is essentially the same exercise as the 'cowboy' exercise I described above. Just activating the hind legs, going forward and pushing through the moments that it feels awful. The horse eventually learns that pushing off the hind legs and swinging the back is easier than trying to run around on its front legs. Hence adding the bending exercise to it - it is even harder for them to be on the forehand then, compared to just running them on straight lines.
    02-17-2012, 07:27 PM
Thanks for all your tips! I did a lot of bending exercises today around some cones I found and just down the center line, etc in trot and canter. My mare was awesome, she was so supple and more relaxed and floppy eared then she's ever been! :)
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