How to tell if the horse is working from behind (back to front) - Page 2

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How to tell if the horse is working from behind (back to front)

This is a discussion on How to tell if the horse is working from behind (back to front) within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • How to tell if horses neck is out
  • Unbalanced neck muscles horse

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    01-03-2011, 08:02 PM
He does have a stubby thick neck, and yes his back is quite ridiculous. He's a mustang/appaloosa mix which is just a recipe for a weird baby. At this point I am happy to be riding him at all, he also has wonky hips and was out of work for a while, he was actually a retired pasture potato until last year. He still can't canter under saddle without being hopelessly unbalanced (we are working on it). The year before last my instructor told me to take him to a sale and get meat money for him, which is why I am currently without an instructor.

I'm not hoping to compete or anything with him, I just want him to work mostly correctly so that his muscles don't develop wrong, you know.

So basically get the power first before I try and engage it, okay I can work on that.
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    01-03-2011, 08:19 PM
Valentina, I have never heard of looking for the bulge in the neck - that method would lead me to believe that most riders would focus on the neck ("must make that bulge!") rather than feeling for the lightness and roundness.
Phoenix, it's hard to describe, but there are lots of threads on the subject - I suggest looking around the Dressage section for some very interesting and informative discussion. It is really helpful having an instructor to help you connect the feel to the movements. It really does feel like you have the horse's energy in front of your leg, contained by your seat and back, and rerouted back into the horse with your hand.
    01-03-2011, 08:39 PM
Originally Posted by Valentina    
If the horse is working from behind and round you will visually see a bulge in the middle of it's neck.

JDI-----Surprised that you were unaware of this really only visible aid.

Judges will look for the crease that it produces and want to see that crease fluid. The bulge produced above the crease is created by the horse fully accepting the bit.

While many mistake the outline of a horse "on the bit" as working from the rear that is not always correct and the best way a rider can tell (other than the bulge) is to create a small "U" turn and see if the horse falls either in or out of the path. Rarely will a horse truly working correctly deviate from the turn and the rider will feel like they are being carried around the turn and not trying to follow or motivate the horse beyond the simplest and lightest of aids.

Here in this picture you can see the bulge and the crease Valentina is talking about.

    01-03-2011, 09:38 PM
Great picture Spyder!

This is from the Sustainable Dressage Website:

"A nicely filled out topline of the neck is always desirable. When it swells with muscles, it shows the horse's correct training to be able to arch the neck (and the back) into collection. Unfortunately, it can bulge in a wrong way, too, which is only too ofthen observed in the competition arena.

Overbending the joint between the 2nd and 3rd vertebra also produces bulging muscles, but these come from the kink in the vertebral column, not from arching.

The correct "bulge" goes all the way from the shoulderblade to the poll, and is smooth like a loaf of bread. This is evidence of a spinal column suspended from the strong topline muscles, just like it should be. What it shouldnt look like, is a bulge only at each side at the top of the neck, usually with a sharp shadow underneath it.

This is a sure sign that the horse is bending excessively at the joint between the 2nd and 3rd vertebrae. This break in the spinal column produces a bulge, because the muscles that are supposed to span the upper line from the withers to the top vertebrae are no longer above the vertebral column. They have their insertion on the poll (the occipital bone) and/or the atlas and axis. As this part is now lower than the top (the upper edge of the axis) they move to the side of the neck instead of being able to span across the topline. Quite remarkable."



Here is the website:

::: Sustainable Dressage - Collection & Its Evasions - True Collection - What It Is and How to Achieve It :::
    01-03-2011, 09:46 PM
Nope, learned to feel, not to judge by the neck. If people don't know the correct "bulge" to look for, I fear that they might start looking at the neck, concentrating on the neck, and not concentrate on feel. Or, as MIE pointed out, look for the wrong bulge. Good to know about the visual aid, though, I've learned something new today.
    01-04-2011, 07:22 AM
Folks, you are right about "bulge" being a great visual aid, but only if you know what to look for/how to archive it correctly. If you are the beginner (I'm saying "in general" here) there is a good possibility, that that "bulge" will be the result of tucking the nose in ("to get nice headset"). So I'm still saying "get a good trainer".

Phoenix, my qh has long back and short neck (similar looking to yours). It IS possible to bring it all up , just more challenging.
    01-04-2011, 03:37 PM
This may have nothing to do with anything, but when you go up a hill, you can feel your horse working from behind.
    01-04-2011, 03:59 PM
...true, but I've had horses fly up a hill with their head jacked up straight in the air and didn't feel much engagement - not to say I'm an expert on the subject my any means. But, yes you're right. When my horse walks or trots up a hill I can usually feel her "motor" revving.
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