Engaging Hindquarters help

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Engaging Hindquarters help

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  • How to engage the horses hind quaters in canter
  • Teaching a horse to engage hindquarters on ground

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    07-10-2011, 05:18 PM
Unhappy Engaging Hindquarters help

My horse is a 16.3 QH and I would like to see him drive from his hindquarters more. I was told by a trainer his backend dosen't have enough muscles which snowballs into the effect that he can't have a nice classic HUS collected headset. Any help, tips, or exercises would be great! Thanks!
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    07-10-2011, 06:19 PM
Transitions have always really helped my horses slow down, round up their backs and get their butts under them.
    07-10-2011, 06:47 PM
Super Moderator
There are lots of ways to build a hind muscles. One is like above poster said; transitions. Doing hillwork, especially at a walk. Backing up and even backing up hills. Going over cavaletti or ground poles.

Do you ever do anything like gaming? Sudden and rapid acceleration really builds the hind end . Like cowponies do.
    07-10-2011, 08:03 PM
Thanks! I will try this all, and no my horse is too lazy haha!
    07-11-2011, 07:18 AM
There are 6 things that affect collection which is what you are along towards when you talk of hind quarter engagement I presume.(ignoring conformation)

1) Balance
2) Flexion
3) Connection (rather than disconnection)
4) Perception (the horse has to be allowed to feel what collection is so it selects that option normally)
5) Musculature
6) The Rider

Balance and flexion are commonly skipped over, or at least it's forced (for example by riding circles you develop flexion will be one answer which is actual not the best way) Forced flexion will not lead to natural flexibility and balance. It always results in stiffness somewhere else.

Of all of these the rider is the biggest hindrance. All too often we look at the horse as failing when it's commonly the rider. They are unbalanced, unfit, stiff, incorrect position, braced etc etc etc

Perception is probably totally ignored in general. Few horses I see are helped to understand what we are trying to achieve. Instead they are pushed and pulled into a shape in the hope that they will eventually hold it from choice. If the horse gets to feel real collection, engagement and its power then it can understand what we want and why it is good. Then it is much more likely work with us.

The biggest issue as always however is the rider. Few of us (myself included) have the symmetry, core strength, stability, flexibility and neutral posture to really work with the horse and not against him. Yet how many of us actually take time to do our own core exercises and stretches to improve our performance before we get on a horse?
    07-11-2011, 08:02 AM
First of all, he has to have an impulsion to ride from behind and come on bit. That's what I started to work with mine with my new (that time) trainer: straightness and impulsion (heck, we lacked everything! ). Ask him to move forward with your leg/seat, if he doesn't - touch him with the stick. Then catch it on front (so he wouldn't go fast, but would go round). It takes sometime to build muscles, but correct riding WILL build them.

You can also introduce ground poles and cavaletties (on low position) into your work - those help quite a lot. As well as up-hill trotting.
    07-11-2011, 09:40 AM
Pole work and hills are great for musculature, but try it from the ground first. It's much easier to lift when the back and stomach muscles don't have your weight, and saddle bars to fight against.

Also walking is more effective than trotting. Trotting such a horse will throw them onto the forehand. This is why many horses would rather trot than walk up a hill, it takes less effort for them.

If you set two poles at the correct distance, I'd guess around 3.5 feet for your horse, and raised only about 4-6 inches, then at a walk the horse will actually stretch forward with the hind to clear two at a time. This strengthens the muscles whilst improving flexion and maintains straightness which is the problem with people solely using circular exercises.
    07-11-2011, 09:44 AM
Super Moderator
I find that backing up until he is on his hind end and then immediately asking for the canter, from the back you can get yourself started out in the correct position and from the rear.

Also to go from a turn on the haunches or a roll-back directly into the canter is very helpful as well....
    07-11-2011, 09:52 AM
Originally Posted by farmpony84    
I find that backing up until he is on his hind end and then immediately asking for the canter, from the back you can get yourself started out in the correct position and from the rear.

Also to go from a turn on the haunches or a roll-back directly into the canter is very helpful as well....

Though those are useful exercises, this horse lacks the musculature we are told. I would therefore be concerned by the risk of injury to the hocks, even splints and certainly stiffness.

To use an athletic analogy - Make sure you can sprint before you try the hurdles.
    07-11-2011, 10:00 AM
Thanks everyone! I am riding today and will try some of these things!

back end, collected, exercise, head-set, hindquarters

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