HELP w/horse who over flexes at the pole - The Horse Forum

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  • 3 Post By ~*~anebel~*~
  • 2 Post By Kayty
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-04-2013, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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HELP w/horse who over flexes at the pole

Bit of info: I have a rescued 12 year-old green arabX mare -- been retraining her with dressage for the past year I have owned her.

My mare is excelling very well in her training -- we have almost established a good trot -- I feel her using her back, propelling me up. I am now working on the sitting trot for a few strides then I go back to the rising and she keeps the same tempo. It's good, however, whoever owned her previously cranked her neck down and she has a very bad habit of over flexing/tucking her chin into her chest like I am asking her to hyperflex!

I am just now asking for more contact but once she gives it to me and she maintains it for a while I give the rein back (maintaining some contact) but I ask her stretch down through her neck as a break.

When I take up the contact she stays balanced, however, she will begin to tuck her head in even if I am not pulling the rein--I'll give her some slack in the rein and she doesn't release.

How do I correct this?
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post #2 of 6 Old 03-04-2013, 08:27 PM
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Ride more from your back. Sit in, chest up, stomach forward and press your arms forward. She is falling behind you - you need to ride up to the contact with your body.
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-04-2013, 08:49 PM
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As Anebel said, riding up to the contact with your body will be very useful. Try to think of riding your hips to your hands, and your hands to the horse's ears. Forward, forward, forward.

Shoulder in will also be helpful, as it will encourage the horse to accept that contact with correct bend.
In some horses, they have had it so drilled into their heads to drop behind the vertical, shorten their neck and avoid all contact, that it comes to the point that riding them around like a pony club horse, above the bridle, just going forward and gradually taking a stronger contact and building on the roundness.

These horses are very hard to 'fix', which is why you see it preached so often 'Ride the hind legs forward, not the bit backwards'. People raise their hackles if they get told that their see-sawing, false 'head set' is horrible and a very bad idea, but it's a piece of information that will make life much easier for them in the long run.
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-04-2013, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayty View Post
In some horses, they have had it so drilled into their heads to drop behind the vertical, shorten their neck and avoid all contact, that it comes to the point that riding them around like a pony club horse, above the bridle, just going forward and gradually taking a stronger contact and building on the roundness.

These horses are very hard to 'fix', which is why you see it preached so often 'Ride the hind legs forward, not the bit backwards'. People raise their hackles if they get told that their see-sawing, false 'head set' is horrible and a very bad idea, but it's a piece of information that will make life much easier for them in the long run.
This is exactly what I'm doing with my gelding right now. He's an arab who was previously on the WP circuit. Now that I'm realizing how much dressage can help him, we've started trying to overcome old habits so that we can get into it. All we have done lately is relaxed neck, nose poking out and all different transitions up and down. Sometimes he'll let me take contact for a few strides and sometimes he'll bunch back up or stiffen his neck and I have to go to square one.

It is difficult to overcome, but Kayty I'm glad to hear that this is your advice, because this is what I've been doing...

ETA, on Elana's advice I started riding him in a sidepull when I first brought him home to reduce that fear or avoidance of the bit, and it worked wonders. I still go to the sidepull every now and then if he's being too tense/tuck-y.

Last edited by existentialpony; 03-04-2013 at 09:00 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-04-2013, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ View Post
Ride more from your back. Sit in, chest up, stomach forward and press your arms forward. She is falling behind you - you need to ride up to the contact with your body.
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This is what I TRY (so very hard) to do. My right side is stronger than my left, hence she drops her shoulder on the left lead and over flexes more than on the right.

Are there any exercises FOR ME that would help me maintain strength through my own back?

I am willing to try anything lol
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-04-2013, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by existentialpony View Post
This is exactly what I'm doing with my gelding right now. He's an arab who was previously on the WP circuit. Now that I'm realizing how much dressage can help him, we've started trying to overcome old habits so that we can get into it. All we have done lately is relaxed neck, nose poking out and all different transitions up and down. Sometimes he'll let me take contact for a few strides and sometimes he'll bunch back up or stiffen his neck and I have to go to square one.

It is difficult to overcome, but Kayty I'm glad to hear that this is your advice, because this is what I've been doing...
YES! Dressage is amazing! It's like yoga for horses!

My mare had no top-line and practically a dip in her back when I first got her. Now the dip is completely gone!
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