Getting horse to bend - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 11 Old 04-24-2009, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Getting horse to bend

Okay I haven't had lessons in about 10 years about equitation, I need help with my body. I know I do the typical curve back always been my problem.


How can I get Hero to put his head down? I don't mind it now because I ride with a loose rein (ottb)..he is really out of shape, and I am lucky to have a lazy ottb too.

Tonight was our 3rd ride off the lunge, a lot of transitions and just taking it easy. Keeping my legs off him as much as possible.
I didnt care about where my hands should be I did give him some pressure in the mouth, but I do want to start to get serious just wondering where I need to be at with my hands to get him to collect nicely.

BTW I am sooo out of shape as well!! I was tired after trotting just a few loops around the pasture.
Thanks!!
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-24-2009, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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well mostly I need advice on building his topline
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-24-2009, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madisonfriday View Post

How can I get Hero to put his head down?
Based on this thread there is little I can suggest.

Lunging suggestions
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post #4 of 11 Old 04-25-2009, 02:48 AM
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One rein at a time:
Go forward on a very slack rein
Pick up one rein only UPWARD and hold and wait. Don't pull. Wait. Soon as he drops his head, let go.
Pick up the other rein and do the same.
You can "stairstep" his head down and when he drops his head with one rein, then add two reins at once as follows:

Put your legs on him for a go forward and take the slack out of the reins (don't pull) lock your hands on the saddle (it's the easy way to teach a beginner this...because when you let your hands "float" you may tend to pull on the reins. By locking em down on the saddle you tend not to pull and the horse can then get a faster release because when he drops his head and gives to that pressure, he's only pulling against himself. No resistance from you in the way of a tug of war).....soon as he drops his head and "nods" his nose to point south, release (let the reins go totally slack for an exaggerated release).....and repeat repeat repeat.....til you start to take the slack out and he's already dropping his head and giving.

Use leg first and never pick up the reins regardless of what you are asking...without putting leg on him first....leg means "give me energy" drive his hind end forward....then use the reins to direct that energy.

(the underside of his neck looks rather "built up". This tells me he's "naturally" high-headed...and therefore it may take you a number of lessons to get that tension out of that neck enough for him to relax it and keep it relaxed on a constant basis. So, take your time.
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-27-2009, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! He didnt respond much to picking "up" the rein but when I hold my hands on the saddle he seems to get it. Just an akward position for me.

Once he gets to bend where I want him just by putting my hands on the saddle and lock.... how should my hands be when I am riding?
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-27-2009, 04:26 PM
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Are you planning on taking some lessons? A good instructor will be able to help you a lot more than us looking at a couple of pictures. By the way how old is that horse?
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-27-2009, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G and K's Mom View Post
Are you planning on taking some lessons? A good instructor will be able to help you a lot more than us looking at a couple of pictures. By the way how old is that horse?
He is thirteen. I have friend who is going to help me. I got him into a good working trot tonight and he was bending with no tension on the bit it was awesome.
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-27-2009, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madisonfriday View Post
Thanks! He didnt respond much to picking "up" the rein but when I hold my hands on the saddle he seems to get it. Just an akward position for me.
It works if you wait for it. Some horses need more time than others. Just pick up the rein (upward) and hold and wait.
The reason why I say upward stead of toward the saddle is because this is a one rein exercise.

Anyhow, another is the way you did it....but with two reins at the same time. You lock it down on the saddle and hold and wait as you drive the horse forward with your legs. Soon as he drops and gives, release.

Quote:
Once he gets to bend where I want him just by putting my hands on the saddle and lock.... how should my hands be when I am riding?
You don't want to lock and hold the head in position. You have to let the horse make the mistake of bringing his head up again. It's loads of repetitions for the horse to understand "Oh! You want my head HERE." Once he hits "learned" then he'll leave his head there by a mere closing of your fingers to remind him and you release when he does and he'll leave it there.

How fast you are at giving the release of pressure at the right time, will make the difference as to how fast he gets it. You also want to be sure to put legs on him when you pick up the reins to do this...because otherwise, if you don't, you're just pulling on his mouth.

You should eventually be riding with a slack rein and just remind him every now and then to keep his head where you want it. But again, be sure not to hold the head there. Give him a release. That's his reason for keeping his head there. So, there's pressure when he pops his head upward, and there's release when he drops it and gives to the bit.

Also, in the pictures I notice you are leaning forward. Try to sit a bit straighter. Leaning forward allows you to "overuse" the reins and this will make him stiff necked and will give him reason to raise his head. Because it'll make it easy for you to use the reins for balance, stead of your seat.

Last edited by Calamity Jane; 04-27-2009 at 09:58 PM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-28-2009, 10:26 PM
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I had the same problem with my OTTB. She had a horible headset when I first got her. What I did was build up her neck muscle, building up her topline. To do this I would first start by stretching her out. Wile sitting on her at a halt, I would use my right rein and bring her nose to my right foot. Then let my reins loose and do the same to the left side. (If you need a picture of this to help you understand just send me a message)
I would do this before and after each ride.
Note: Your horse will not be able to reach your foot on the first few times. It all depends on how flexible your horse is to begin with. DO NOT force your horses neck, this will only hurt them. Only pull as much as they will give. They will become more flexible over time.
Then, wile riding, your should always make sure your horse is bent to the inside. This will help. To do this, you use your seat, leg and hand aids. You should start off with doing a semi-large circle. Keep your eye at the center. This should shift your hips and sholders in the correct dircetion. Your chest, inside sholder, and hips should be slightly turned into the center of the circle. Pull with your inside rein and push out with your inside leg. This will bend your horse around the circle and thus bending his neck as well. Make sure your horses body is equal with the circle, neither his head or hips should be in or out further than the other end.
Do this in each direction. Start with a larger circle and work on smaller circles as your horse builds up muscle and balence.
With this will come your headset. Eventually. It will take time and should not be rushed! A rushed horse only becomes a confused horse.
Well, This is just the start. If you find my suggestions helpfull feel free to message me. I will be glad to help you more. :)

My Rambling T
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-28-2009, 10:27 PM
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Also, May I ask you what type of bit you are using? It appears to be a standard snaffle but I just want to be sure.

My Rambling T
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