Getting my mare to sit back on her hind!
   

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Getting my mare to sit back on her hind!

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  • What to do when a horse is heavy on the forehand
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    12-06-2010, 07:52 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Question Getting my mare to sit back on her hind!

My mare is still learning collection (REAL collection, from the hind, not the fake pull-your-head-to-your-chest crap) Anyway, at the trot she's great, I sit deep and squeeze with my legs and she'll collect for me. The canter is still another story! I know with time, we'll get there, and I have a fabulous trainer who's helping us out too! But my mare gets VERY on the forehand about 2 strides out at the canter, or worse yet will just fall into a canter and proceed to try to drag me around the arena. This in turn pulls my shoulders forward and then it just all goes to crap. I know I need to really focus on sitting up/shoulders back, to help balance her better I need to get balanced better too.

But any other suggestions? Here's an extreme clip of what I'm referring to (extreme only because I was really concentrating more on the jump than anything else I was doing, so my back was stiff, I was leaning to the inside, and I think she kinda did a flying change there -- which I was excited about since she doesn't do them EVER because we're so heavy on the forehand, although it was pointed out to me on another thread that she really changed almost accidentally and only in the front ), but basically it shows how heavy in the front we can be at our worst.

So I've been working on lots and lots of transitions and lateral work to supple her...anyone else know of any little training "tricks" they practice to help get their horse to "sit down" on their end and drive from their rear?

     
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    12-06-2010, 08:10 PM
  #2
Trained
By transitions I assume you mean transitions between gaits. Have you tried transitions within the gaits? Think of each gait as a pendulum scale. Each one can be collected/extended or sped up or slowed down without breaking the gait. I'm having the same issue with my horse's canter. We're finally cooking with gas on the trot, but the canter gets flat fast. What we're doing is, before it has time to go to crap, I bring him almost back to a trot, but then ask for more canter. It's much harder to do than in trot. If the horse is feeling at all lazy, they'll just bail out and trot. I guess basically what I'm doing is applying a massive half halt to re-balance it, but then I haven't had the $$ to take a lesson in about 6 months so who the heck knows!! That's all I've got.

Oh yeah, what about cantering her over low 6" cavaletti's set 8' to 9' apart so she has to use herself to get through them? She can't plow through on her forehand there without crashing. A little drastic, but it might get the point across.
     
    12-06-2010, 08:17 PM
  #3
Green Broke
Both great ideas! :) And actually I do exactly what you do at the trot when she starts to get flat, and she half halts nicely and collects back up, rounds her back, etc. But man is the canter different LOL...as in terrible! ;) You can ask and release all you want with her but she's so off balance that she just hangs and then yes if you try to half halt she kind of transitions down into the super fast knock your socks off trot!! I think you're onto something there though...

I've also been having her collect, then pick up the canter from a walk or a halt, which forces her to sit back and kind of "bounce" into a canter...it will be awesome for about 2 strides, then falls apart lol...so I've been asking for 2 strides, then asking her to slow to a walk before it can all fall apart.

I'm hoping that eventually the number of strides will go up before falling apart, have you tried anything similar?
     
    12-06-2010, 08:27 PM
  #4
Started
Something we do to sort of "reset" and get a horse that's heavy on the forehand lifted onto their hind end again is to ask the horse to back up. It's important to know what you're doing though; you need to be able to feel the horse when it finally sort of drops its hindquarters as it's backing. Once the horse has rounded their hind end under them a bit more, you would ask for a trot or canter depart from the halt. You repeat the exercise as needed... I don't know if that makes much sense. It's hard to explain briefly and accurately over the forums.
     
    12-06-2010, 08:53 PM
  #5
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoofprints in the Sand    
Both great ideas! :) And actually I do exactly what you do at the trot when she starts to get flat, and she half halts nicely and collects back up, rounds her back, etc. But man is the canter different LOL...as in terrible! ;) You can ask and release all you want with her but she's so off balance that she just hangs and then yes if you try to half halt she kind of transitions down into the super fast knock your socks off trot!! I think you're onto something there though...

I've also been having her collect, then pick up the canter from a walk or a halt, which forces her to sit back and kind of "bounce" into a canter...it will be awesome for about 2 strides, then falls apart lol...so I've been asking for 2 strides, then asking her to slow to a walk before it can all fall apart.

I'm hoping that eventually the number of strides will go up before falling apart, have you tried anything similar?
The only thing with bringing then down to walk is the smart ones quickly figure out that they only have to put in a few good strides before they'll be let off the hook. Your number of good strides won't increase if she figures that out.

I think I might have a good visual for improving her canter, that is if you're a visual learner. I've been trying to get Puck to use his hind end better over fences. What we're doing is putting up a small oxer and cantering right up to the base so he has to sit down to get over it. The visual is, forget about the front legs and canter the rear legs. Not sure if that makes sense, but just picture closing your legs to drive just her hind legs under her body. I think it subconsciously gets you to sit taller since you're thinking about the back end and thereby allows it to come under since you're no longer over the shoulders.
     
    12-06-2010, 09:18 PM
  #6
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyBoyPuck    
The only thing with bringing then down to walk is the smart ones quickly figure out that they only have to put in a few good strides before they'll be let off the hook. Your number of good strides won't increase if she figures that out.
They aren't being let off the hook if you keep them working... you're actually foiling their attempt to let the canter devolve into something of less quality. As long as you take them down to the walk/halt, gather them up again and send them directly into another good quality canter, they'll learn that only a "good" canter is acceptable and if it is not given, they'll just have to keep repeating.

If you look at it another way, the horse is having to come down to a halt/walk, get collected again, and make another depart... so it ought to motivate her to want to keep it together a little longer rather than to have to be brought down to a walk/halt, gathered, and sent off again.
     
    12-06-2010, 10:19 PM
  #7
Foal
If you know how to longe a horse, you could start there. Just use a longeing cavesson and line, no bridle, saddle, or side reins. Here she can build up the strength and musculature to move correctly for when she needs to with a rider. I also agree with MyBoyPuck... riding over a cavalletti requires the horse to reach and lift with her legs.

What do you mean by "bouncing" into the canter to for her to sit back? When asking for a canter from the walk, it shouldn't be difficult for either of you. If you have an energetic and eager horse, you'll need nothing more than indicate its time to canter. Using the same aids to canter at the walk, you should allow your mare to canter. Getting a canter should be a matter of putting her in a position from which simply stepping into the canter is easy and comfortable. What does "bouncing" off do? Is that a strengthening aid? How do you ask for it? I'm trying to get my boy to move up to the canter from the walk better.
     
    12-06-2010, 11:55 PM
  #8
Started
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that by "bouncing" Hoofprints merely means the sensation of achieving a neat and collected canter departure... so rather than to plunge forward into a heavy gait, she's sort of lifting off. It's not a certain manner of cuing or anything, but the product of good prep before asking for canter.

My instructor and I call it a "helicopter takeoff"... it's just that sensation of lifting off effortlessly into canter in good balance with the hind end under them.
     
    12-07-2010, 12:20 AM
  #9
Trained
My internet is being mean so I can't watch the video. However, I think some insight can still be provided.

We don't "work" on collection, first of all. Collection is the sum of all parts, what happens when all the puzzle pieces are in their correct place, when the picture is complete, etc.. So obviously something is not in the right place in the canter here.

The first thing which I tend to accuse is the line. The line can be excused in the walk and trot on most horses and they will go along fine, but because the canter is an asymmetrical gait, the line is of great importance. We must always ride on our line, not the horse's line. We ride the forehand as a whole on this line, and the hind legs follow. When the horse is in balance and rhythm, maintaining our line is easy. When they are not - it is hard. This is the first thing that you should begin to chip away at - riding perfect figures perfectly in all three gaits.
After we expect order laterally, we can begin to expect it longitudinally as well. This is the most basic step on the training scale - rhythm. The horse must be metronomic - your first stride must dictate the rhythm of all the strides of the gait. To fix this in any gait with a horse that speeds up - naturally we must slow it down. (And conversely with a horse who slows down - we must speed them up). With some horses this is not an easy feat either because of their temperaments or their conformation. The most basic correction to slow them down is obviously to simply come down a gait, re organize and try again. If that doesn't work (in your case the trot is still fast) we would go down another gait (so to walk) reorganize and then trot and try the transition again. Rinse and repeat.
But remember, perfect practice makes perfect. The line must remain in order to keep the lateral balance and support the longitudinal balance. Your position must also not change in between gaits. No leaning forward, back or side to side. Simply an application of the leg and seat aids. The hands do not move either.

As you are able to control the rhythm through transitions, and the horse becomes relaxed and accept the contact in a round frame, we can begin to delve a bit deeper. This is where transitions in the gait (here we'll call them balancing half halts, or just HH) become important. Now it is important for the horse to begin to get a basic understanding of what the HH means. When the horse begins to lose balance and rhythm, apply a HH to re balance the gait. If this fails - educate by doing a transition down a gait and trying again (as was done before). This serves to correct the horse. As this is repeated then he will begin to learn what a HH is and how to respond to your aids in a positive way.

Good luck!
     
    12-07-2010, 12:53 AM
  #10
Weanling
For getting my mare to use herself better I got her to slowly canter up hills, they can't do that comfortably just pulling along with their front legs :)
     

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