Building a top line - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 05-14-2013, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Freeland, MI
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Building a top line

What are you best exercises for building up a top ling on your horse? Mine usually ignores my hand cues when I ask him to lower his head so a neck stretcher works best, but even then it doesn't work for us on the canter. He has literally no frame at the canter :( help?
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post #2 of 7 Old 05-14-2013, 12:53 PM
Green Broke
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Riding a horse from front to back for a frame is about 90% of the issue. For a horse to travel in a frame he needs to build his abdominal muscles and balance weight to the rear allowing him to lighten his forehand and lift the root of the neck which results in a nice frame.

Take the neck stretcher off him. Period. Go back to basics. Trotting over poles, serpentines, circles where you sprial in and spiral out keeping your eye on the center of the circle. Ride him forward from your LEG. Get him Forward. Sit up straight.

Trot him over cavaletti to build his abdominal muscles. Trot him up long hills on a loose rein (keep him in the trot). The abdominal muscles must be srong enough to contract and allow the back to relax and lengthen and raise. From that comes a built up back.

To get this right you will need to take 6 month.. riding 5-6 days a week.. teaching him forward. Then you will introduce the half halt while driving him forward.. this will be gentle but will only work after he builds those abdominal muscles. And yes, this works western or English riding.
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-14-2013, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Mirandaelainee View Post
Mine usually ignores my hand cues when I ask him to lower his head so a neck stretcher works best, but even then it doesn't work for us on the canter. He has literally no frame at the canter :( help?
There are no such things as "hand cues" for lowering the head. It's all about contact and having a longer rein that the horse chooses to stretch out with, or a shorter rein that the horse is more folded up with.

I wouldn't have a "neck stretcher" on him. That's probably more counter productive than beneficial.

I agree with Elana's post.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-14-2013, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Freeland, MI
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By hand cues I mean squeezing and releasing on one of the reins, asking him to put his head down, and giving him rein when he does so.

He isn't a green horse either. He's fit, he jumps, he HAS the muscle to do it, he just won't at the canter. He will at the walk and trot.
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post #5 of 7 Old 05-14-2013, 05:04 PM
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You train him to have a frame at a canter. If you can't get him to collect at a walk, jog, trot, then you won't get him to collect at a canter. Start at the slow gates, and work up. Most importantly though is allowing him to stretch naturally regularly. You won't be able to keep him in frame. It's a lot like us doing 100 sit ups straight off the couch. You'll have lots of other problems if you push it too fast.
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-14-2013, 07:27 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Very good suggestions Elana!

I would also have him checked for any health issues as well. There may be muscle soreness, weakness or stiffness which is hindering him from collecting better at faster gaits.

I had chiro/acupuncture done on my gelding and it helped pinpoint exactly where the issues are and helped my trainer know exactly the type of stretches/work that would benefit us. It also helped me understand his limitations and know the WHY behind it. Knowing that makes it easier for me to help fix it and hopefully achieve a sounder horse down the road.
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-14-2013, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Freeland, MI
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Sounds good. He had foot problems when I bought him and we were hoping they would be resolved by this summer,the sole of his hoof was very thin and hurting, so we put some shoes on him and gave him some time off and he got better, then once the shoes came off he started getting ouchie sometimes. They are for the most part better, but I'm going to put his shoes back on and see if that helps. I'm going to hopefully get him adjusted in the near future. Most of it is just him not wanting to work
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