How to tell if the horse is working from behind (back to front) - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 18 Old 01-02-2011, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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How to tell if the horse is working from behind (back to front)

This might be a completely stupid question but I was wondering how I can tell if my horse is working correctly from back to front. Is there some way, without having someone on the ground watching, that I can tell by feel if my horse is working correctly instead of just working in a false outline?

I feel stupid saying this but when I ride the only thing I can see is my horses head, and I know that just looking at his head and neck is slightly counter productive as a good head/neck set doesn't really indicate working from behind, but I don't have an indoor with mirrors so I can only see his head.

For instance today when I rode I was asking for more from Phoenix, more of anything really (he's so lazy and ploddy most of the time) and when he actually offered a bit more speed I asked him to slow down with a half halt and he slowed down and sort of nodded his head down and felt more bouncy. I was doing rising trot so I couldn't tell whether his back was coming up into my seat (i wish I was better at sitting trot so I could feel more). He stayed like this for a few strides and then went a little flat again, like someone had deflated him.

Also while i'm asking questions. How can I get my horse to be a bit more energetic? Normally I don't mind his laziness but sometimes it just takes way too much effort from me to get anything out of him.
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-02-2011, 11:33 PM
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It's not a stupid question at all! In fact I was asking it myself for quite a while, because my horse was on forehand all the time (and being a beginner I couldn't really see/feel the difference)...

But, yes, you can really tell when horse rounds and works from behind. You'll feel the back different and movement is different. If you are not very experienced you may want someone on ground to tell you several times, so you could catch those moments for yourself. Then you'll know for sure what to look/feel for.

Actually my trainer once showed me the roundness from the ground (while I was on horse). After a good warm-up she put the hands under my qh's belly and pushed her up. I could feel the difference VERY well!
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post #3 of 18 Old 01-03-2011, 12:05 AM
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That is such a good question and I am surprised that the big level dressage riders have not jumped on it yet. Ladies?

As for me, low level rider that I am, I have felt that elusive feeling. So hard to describe. I think when my horse starts working from behind I feel a kind of surge, and the shoulders start to feel kind of "steadier". It becomes easier to post , easier to keep your hands steady, even the footfalls become quieter. I am trying to visualize that feeling right now, in my chair at night.
I think that feeling of steadiness in the shouler and neck/mouth is something I can remember clearly. Of course, one also feels the back come up. I was just trying to think of anything else to add.
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post #4 of 18 Old 01-03-2011, 12:18 AM
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A good trainer will help you learn how to feel roundness. There are quite a few threads (particularly in the Dressage section) that speak on the subject :)


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post #5 of 18 Old 01-03-2011, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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I'll take a better look in the dressage section, I glanced but didn't have a lot of time yesterday so i'll definitely take a closer look and see what I can find.

I thought i'd need someone to point it out from the ground so I can get a better feel as it happens. I guess my next step is to find an instructor that can come out to my barn, I don't have access to a trailer.

I'll try and feel if my horse gets any steadier and until I find an instructor i'll keep riding, maybe I can get one of my barn buddies to tickle my horses belly and see if he lfts his back while i'm on him.

Thanks :)
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post #6 of 18 Old 01-03-2011, 11:01 AM
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I'm sorry that I can be of no help here. I sort of "feel" if the horse is using his hind-end, but I don't know how to explain it...

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post #7 of 18 Old 01-03-2011, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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that's okay, it sort of looks like i'm going to have to get an instructor who can help me from th ground so I can 'feel' it for myself and know what to look for. :)
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post #8 of 18 Old 01-03-2011, 05:58 PM
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If the horse is working from behind and round you will visually see a bulge in the middle of it's neck. When you're taking a lesson ask trainer to help you get horse working from behind then without tilting your head down look down with your eyees ONLY and see if you see any bulging". The more often you get horse working this way the more horse will develop the correct muscles and you'll be able to notice the bulge easier.

Another method I've used in the past was if horse was walking and I quietly asked for a canter transition - if she walked or trotted then she was "behind the leg", if she went right into a canter without alot of kicking/pushing/prodding from me then she was in front of the leg. If I had to use a lot of energy to get a timely transition then she was not "working from behind".

It is NOT a stupid question. People say feel the back come up but that can be very difficult on some horses, especially those that love to go hollow.

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post #9 of 18 Old 01-03-2011, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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I'll try to look for a bulge in his neck, and hopefully when I get an instructor I will have help in working out if i'm getting it right! My horse does have quite a chunky neck for his size, he's mostly just a neck and a large ass at this point, but i'll give it a go.

He's lost a lot of back muscle while losing weight and does like to be hollow and honestly I don't know what it feels like when a horses back comes up, but i'll definitely try and feel it if it all comes together. I've been reading some of the other threads and have got some good pointer from them which should help.

I do a lot of work at liberty with him as he seems to use his body better when i'm not interfering and as you can see he does have a fat neck.
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post #10 of 18 Old 01-03-2011, 07:50 PM
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Phoenix,

Your horse has a rather long back and short neck. I will be harder for him to tuck his pelvis under and it's harder for you get him to give to the bit. Not nice to hear that, I guess. But he is really a nice looking horse, and I bet if you really got him going, his hind end has power.
Some people liken the feel of having a horse working from back to front as when you are in a speed boat and you gun the motor and the front end lifts as the propeller really dig into the water.
To get the same feeling from a horse, you have to have a horse that will drive forward vigorously using his hind legs to push (so accelerating) but you have to put a boundary to that forward energy , like a "wall" so that the forward push has the effect of making the front end lighten as the rear end digs in to push.
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