Horse Needs Help Balancing
 
 

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Horse Needs Help Balancing

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  • Teaching an unbalanced horse hill work introducing cross country

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    09-13-2013, 10:28 PM
  #1
Foal
Horse Needs Help Balancing

The paint mare I have been riding recently is extremely unbalanced. Until about 6 or 7 months ago she had been a pasture horse and to my knowledge was only green broke (at least that's how she acted when she was dropped off at the barn I ride at). I have been riding her since April or May trying to put some good quality miles on her as she was so unbalanced she could not complete the turn on the short side of the arena at the canter before she ran into the fence. Anyway, I helped her through that, but now I've kind of hit a stand still in her training.

To get her balanced enough to complete an entire lap of the arena I spent a lot of time doing walk-halt-walk, trot-walk-trot, and canter-trot-canter transitions to help her shift some weight off her forehand. The problem I am running into now is that she is still so heavy on the forehand that once she gets moving she starts snowballing faster and faster and is very hard to slow down. She is currently being ridden in a wonder bit on the bottom ring and I feel like I have to physically lift her off the forehand with my hands for her to slow down/stop. It's not that she isn't responding to the bit because it's clear she is when you ask her to back up because it's almost like he panics when you start to pick up the reins to ask her to back (maybe too much gag action? Maybe she can't quite organize her hind end to back?). I have tried riding her on the middle ring of her bit but then she just sticks her nose in the air and goes even more on the forehand.

I'm not really sure where to go with her from here. Are transitions the right thing to keep doing? I feel like I'm holding her back too much, but if I give her any rein she loses all control. She is very responsive to my leg (if your feet touch her sides she rockets forward) and will move off my leg. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
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    09-13-2013, 10:37 PM
  #2
Trained
Have you had her checked out by a chiropractor by chance? If may be a wise thing to do.

My mare will start to crossfire and will feel extremely unbalanced cantering when she needs an adjustment.
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    09-13-2013, 10:42 PM
  #3
Yearling
How old is the horse? In my opinion a wonder bit is to much bit for a green horse, have you tried just a simple d-ring snaffle? Any way to help her find her feet and balance I would go back to ground work and lunge her over ground poles at different heights she will have to get off her front end to get over them. I would also work on a lot of flexing side to side she has a stiff body and flexing will help her soften. Sticking her nose out to avoid the bit is a sign of stiffness, stop her with one rein so she cannot avoid the bit. You need to teach her to be responsible for her own feet let her walk on a loose rein if she trots sit down deep lift one rein flex. When she will stay at a walk on a loose rein then ask for a trot on a loose rein if she gets going at a fast trot let her until she slows down if she breaks gait sit down one rein stop, flex her. When she gets good at the trot on a loose rein ask her to lope let her lope on a loose rein until she slows down on her own if she gets to fast for your comfort sit down one rein stop, and flex ask again for the lope. She needs to learn how to balance a rider and herself if you micromanage her feet she will never learn how to do it. The key to good vertical flexion is lateral flexion. Work on getting her soft through her entire body head and neck, front end, rib cage, hind end and the balance problem will fix itself.
     
    09-13-2013, 10:49 PM
  #4
Foal
She had a little bit of soreness in her back several months ago, but the vet has given her the all clear. It would be hard for me to get a chiropractor to check her even if I thought it was an issue because she is currently leased to the camp I work at and, I won't go into detail, but basically the boss at the camp is not a horse person and would only pay for emergency vet care. She doesn't crossfire. Her canter (and trot for that matter, her walk on some days) just feels rushed from the get go and if I give her any release in the reins she just gets more and more rushed.
     
    09-13-2013, 10:56 PM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by gssw5    
How old is the horse? In my opinion a wonder bit is to much bit for a green horse, have you tried just a simple d-ring snaffle? Any way to help her find her feet and balance I would go back to ground work and lunge her over ground poles at different heights she will have to get off her front end to get over them. I would also work on a lot of flexing side to side she has a stiff body and flexing will help her soften. Sticking her nose out to avoid the bit is a sign of stiffness, stop her with one rein so she cannot avoid the bit. You need to teach her to be responsible for her own feet let her walk on a loose rein if she trots sit down deep lift one rein flex. When she will stay at a walk on a loose rein then ask for a trot on a loose rein if she gets going at a fast trot let her until she slows down if she breaks gait sit down one rein stop, flex her. When she gets good at the trot on a loose rein ask her to lope let her lope on a loose rein until she slows down on her own if she gets to fast for your comfort sit down one rein stop, and flex ask again for the lope. She needs to learn how to balance a rider and herself if you micromanage her feet she will never learn how to do it. The key to good vertical flexion is lateral flexion. Work on getting her soft through her entire body head and neck, front end, rib cage, hind end and the balance problem will fix itself.
She is 5 years old
I totally agree with you that a wonder bit is too much for her. She was ridden in a D-ring before the wonder and was very hard in the mouth. It was her owner's decision to put her in the wonder bit so there's not a whole lot I can do about it but move her reins up to different levels. I will definitely work on flexing her. The only issue I have with the ground poles idea is that where I ride we have all of two pvc pipes so there's not a whole lot I can do with those.

I think a part of my problem is that I don't really know what her natural trot/canter gait is because it's been a while since I've ridden a horse her size that was balanced and I'm not sure if I will notice when she is going too fast. I think right now I may be shortening her stride too much, but I'm not sure. So I'm not really sure if I would know exactly when to use the one rein stop.
     
    09-13-2013, 11:13 PM
  #6
Foal
For horses like this you want to work on leg yielding as much as possible. Leg yielding will begin to strengthen the back legs. The back leg that crosses must best more weight. This will also help catching her before she speeds up. Leg yielding is great on downward transitions so that the horse doesn't hallow out the back and fall smack dab on her forehand. If you leg yield her over, she will learn to carry herself, track up more with her hind legs. You can leg yield from quarter line to rail. You can leg yield on a 20 meter circle. Turn on the forehand is leg yielding.

It sounds like you can get her to sit back but it's hard to keep her there. Do lots of hill work. Get her stronger. Sometimes when they aren't strong, they throw themselves around a ring because it's simply easier.

It sounds to me the majority of your issue is that she is not strong. It takes some longer than others. Your transitions was a great way to start. Now transition down with leg yields.
     
    09-13-2013, 11:18 PM
  #7
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by lchad    
For horses like this you want to work on leg yielding as much as possible. Leg yielding will begin to strengthen the back legs. The back leg that crosses must best more weight. This will also help catching her before she speeds up. Leg yielding is great on downward transitions so that the horse doesn't hallow out the back and fall smack dab on her forehand. If you leg yield her over, she will learn to carry herself, track up more with her hind legs. You can leg yield from quarter line to rail. You can leg yield on a 20 meter circle. Turn on the forehand is leg yielding.

It sounds like you can get her to sit back but it's hard to keep her there. Do lots of hill work. Get her stronger. Sometimes when they aren't strong, they throw themselves around a ring because it's simply easier.

It sounds to me the majority of your issue is that she is not strong. It takes some longer than others. Your transitions was a great way to start. Now transition down with leg yields.
What do you mean by downward transitions with leg yields? Which way should I be yielding and at what point during the transtion?

"You can leg yield from quarter line to rail" ummm...what?
     
    09-13-2013, 11:34 PM
  #8
Trained
If you have open space, take her out on the trails and just hack for a few weeks. She sounds like she needs some muscle and the uneven terrain is fantastic for that. It will also keep her mind fresh since doing a lot of ring work with a 5 year old can often backfire into a ring sour horse. Trot as much as possible, since trot is the gait necessary for improving balance. Once you start to feel her pushing herself up hills from behind and coming straight down hills instead of zig zagging, then she's ready for some more intensive ring work.
tinyliny likes this.
     
    09-13-2013, 11:47 PM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyBoyPuck    
If you have open space, take her out on the trails and just hack for a few weeks. She sounds like she needs some muscle and the uneven terrain is fantastic for that. It will also keep her mind fresh since doing a lot of ring work with a 5 year old can often backfire into a ring sour horse. Trot as much as possible, since trot is the gait necessary for improving balance. Once you start to feel her pushing herself up hills from behind and coming straight down hills instead of zig zagging, then she's ready for some more intensive ring work.
Thanks for the suggestion. We do have plenty of hilly trail where I ride. I'll see if I can take her out there more. To be honest I'm getting pretty sick of ring work myself. If I'm trotting her on the trail should I let her find her own pace or try help her keep it even?
     
    09-13-2013, 11:51 PM
  #10
Trained
Make sure she's got her feet sorted out at the walk first and that she's feeling confident on the uneven terrain. Try not to help her out too much. The point is for her to learn to carry herself. At first, just pick spots on flat areas to trot. As she gains confidence and relaxes, start to introduce smaller inclines and build up from there. Always walk down hill. If you try to trot downhill on an unbalanced horse, she will fall on her forehand quickly and might even lose confidence. Use the tops of hills to come to a nice balanced downward transition to a walk. Have fun!
ridetolive4862 likes this.
     

Tags
balance issues, forehand, green broke, riding advice

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