Severe bending and stiffness issues. Help me? :/ - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-21-2010, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Severe bending and stiffness issues. Help me? :/

Hey guys, I'm new here. I'm have a huge problem with bending my mare. She's a 14.3hh QH. She's 8 years old [as of april first :)]... and she's pretty much not your ideal dressage prospect build. Anyways.. She had a cornea transplant on her right eye a few years ago, and only has partial vision in it. I say this because I think it may be one of the reasons she's so difficult to bend to the left, because she wants to be able to see everything, and has to counter bend to look at everything with her left eye. ANYWAYS. Haha.

So... when we're going to the left, she is like bending a brick wall. You have to fight her, and dig your inside leg into her. It's just bad. It's like a huge war with her, and it's ALL the time. I don't really know what to do because I can't just let her counter bend. If I allow her to do that, she gets unbalanced, falls on her forehand, throws her shoulder in, and starts getting faster and faster. I'm talking about the canter, by the way. I'll just put it this way. My left shoulder and back muscles HURT when I'm doing riding.



On the other hand... her right side... is AMAZING and wonderful and light, and lifted and collected and forward and soft and supple and just great. I do not have to have a stranglehold on her to keep her bent and keep her hip from going in. I do not have to half halt the whole time to keep her from getting short strided and quick. I just sit back, lift her shoulders up, and she does so. She moves with very deep hock impulsion, doesn't try to throw her hip in, willingly bends and gives to my hands. She even puts her ears up and LOOKS as good as she feels.



It's like a whole different horse. Even her trot to the left is difficult. I feel like it could be any number of problems [like teeth, saddle fit, rider error] but... I've always had this problem. Always. And then... when I get one side going well, the other side goes from being amazing, to being sh*t overnight. I don't get it. I don't know if she's just being a jerk, and is not wanting to give her whole self to me, or if she could possibly have issues, or what.



Anyone else ever had this problem? Can you help me? What are some exercises I can do to supple up that side and encourage her to give me that light, lifted, bendable, soft ride... on BOTH sides.
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-21-2010, 03:28 PM
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Try bending her head while on the ground. Face your horse on the left side, with one hand grab the back of the saddle, and with the other grab the rein. Pull the rein to you until she bends, once she does release. Do it everyday, it won't be perfect at first. Everyday she will be able to bend her neck further and hold it for longer. Make sure you do it on the right side too.


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post #3 of 9 Old 04-21-2010, 04:14 PM
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I've started riding an appendix QH mare and she is also quite stiff to the left, not as extreme as your girl, but still.

Are you taking lessons? I've found that my lessons have been very helpful as my insctructor has owned and trained this horse for many years and knows how she works. During our most recent lesson together, my instructor had us do a spiraling circle in trot. When we were done with the exercise, the mare was so much more willing to bend left through her whole body instead of just tipping her nose in.

Also, never forget your outside rein! That is the key. Sometimes I get so caught up in using my inside aids to encourage a bend, when all I've really done is push the horse to the outside because my outside aids aren't there to help balance her.

"He doth nothing but talk of his horses."
~William Shakespeare
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-21-2010, 06:03 PM
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Let go of your right rein.

Pictures would be very helpful because there are a number of things that could be going wrong. The above is (I find) the most common.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-21-2010, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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The thing is... that horse is INCREDIBLY flexible. But once you get on her, she completely blocks you to the left side.

I used to take lessons with the lady that trains at our barn, but... she's first dressage trainer I had, and the one who I was riding under when Annie and I first started dressage, and that's when the blocking issues started. My ex trainer is a very heaving, interfering rider. She believes that a true rein contact is about 5 to 10 pounds of pressure pulling against your hand on both sides, at all times. In my opinion, that is way too much rein, and makes the horse hang on you. About the time I started riding like that, is when Annie all of a sudden began having these issues. Trainer told me that I need to bute the mare every single time I ride, and that's when I said... no more lessons with you. The mare has no problem bending.. this is obviously a trainer/rider problem... I'll find someone else. Then I ran into my next problem.. there are not dressage training barns around here. She comes from the only one around, and they all train and ride like her... and I was not willing to go back to the same type of schooling. So... I'm at a cross roads.

I know that I need a new saddle. I currently have a bates isabella. The CAIR panel system does NOT work for my mare, and I have to pad up just to get the saddle to sit right and not have pressure points in the back, because the paneling in back is not gusseted enough for her build. My situation is a bit crazy right now because I'll be 18 in two months, and at that point, I plan on moving from the crummy barn I'm at now, and paying for chiro and massage appointments for Annie, as well as saving up for a custom saddle. She is VERY hard to fit. :/

I just love my weird looking little QH. :roll:

I'll put on pictures tomorrow. For now, I need sleep, lol. Long day..
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-22-2010, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White Foot View Post
Try bending her head while on the ground. Face your horse on the left side, with one hand grab the back of the saddle, and with the other grab the rein. Pull the rein to you until she bends, once she does release. Do it everyday, it won't be perfect at first. Everyday she will be able to bend her neck further and hold it for longer. Make sure you do it on the right side too.

Has nothing to do with the head!
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-22-2010, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
Has nothing to do with the head!

Agreed. It has to do with willingness to give to pressure, bodily suppleness, balance, strength, and rider/horse harmony... as well as having enough training to be able to carry out the cue correctly and without problems.

I think my problem is dealing with something along the lines of being built up unevenly as far as her strength goes, a little bit of balance, and definitely a lot of willingness to give.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-23-2010, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ZipItNita View Post
Agreed. It has to do with willingness to give to pressure, bodily suppleness, balance, strength, and rider/horse harmony... as well as having enough training to be able to carry out the cue correctly and without problems.

I think my problem is dealing with something along the lines of being built up unevenly as far as her strength goes, a little bit of balance, and definitely a lot of willingness to give.

Basically your horse is crooked and favoring one side to the point it has stiffened the other.

It manifests itself as an unyielding head/neck but the problem does not lay there. Look to the rear of your horse for the area of concern ( balance/soreness or uneven riding--your position on the horse)
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-23-2010, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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You know? That's very true. I believe that my saddle is making me favor a side as well. I notice that when I canter to the right, I tend to sit up straight, almost to the point to where I'm sitting to the left, and she responds by cantering straight instead of dropping her shoulder, bracing, and speeding. She's much softer, and VERY much more elevated off her shoulder. But on the left, I tend to drop my inside shoulder, and collapse my inside [which I also do when I walk and such]... so I think I may be allowing her to drop her shoulder and brace against me, because I am doing it myself.

I rode bareback last night [out of sheer laziness to tack up, haha] and guess what?! Her LEFT side was great. Right side was alright, but I personally felt better going to the left, and uncomfortable and off balance going to the right, as did she. She it's all kind of confusing me. One miniute, I feel in sync and GREAT on one lead, and then I ride bareback and it's the complete opposite. I also noticed she was less cranky, more willing to bend, and to listen to the outside aids as well, and was also MUCH more sensitive. I also noticed that my hands were insanely quiet and giving... which is never the case. My hands are a bit rough sometimes. :/

So I'm thinking it's the saddle. I can't stand the thing... neither can ex-trainer, who I still work with time to time. Sigh.
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