now I have a question, and not to be thread jacking but it seems like asking the dressage riders will be a good idea...my horse is gaited, how will I get her to travel in long and low when her natural gait is to foxtrot with her head up? I can only do long and low in a walk but I really want to improve on her back muscling so she can gait more effectively. I don't want to trot her because I still want to do more work with her sticking in her foxtrot, but in order for me to advance her from her foxtrot to her canter I need to do some muscling because she crossfires like you would not BELIEVE, so any other ideas for what I can do?
Unfortunately I have zero experience with gaited horses, so I do not want to give you advice and have it turn out ruining her gait.
Perhaps ask your question in the Gaited Breeds section of the forum, or try in the English Riding/Horse Riding section as you will get a wider range of responses there. I am just a little leery of telling you to ride her forward, soften the jaw etc if that type of work is not suited to gaiting.
Kayty, I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. Could you explain a bit more please?
When working correctly, the horse should stretch his whole neck, starting from the wither. The muscles right in front of the wither need to be reaching forward towards the poll.
What we see very often however, is a neck that is ridden short and upright, not stretching evenly from wither to poll, which results in a 'dip' of the neck just in front of the wither.
The same thing occurs when a horse travels with a hollow back - you will see a dip behind the saddle over the horse's loins.
What happens when you ride for extended periods without allowing the neck to come out from the wither, is the top half of the neck, closer to the head, will bulk up, but the base of the neck will remain quite narrow. This is a tell tale sign of a horse that is ridden backwards from the hand rather than pushed into the bridle.
My own horse used to just love sucking back at the base of the neck and 'faking' a frame. It took me a good few months from when I first purchased him, to develop him in such a way that he wanted to stretch from the wither to poll, rather than sucking back. Now he is building up that muscle at the base of his neck, and starting to develop that 'triangle' of muscles that is desirable in a correctly ridden horse. When he gets tense, he wants to revert to that drawn back, tight frame but those moments are getting less and less.