Interesting problem

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Interesting problem

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        12-01-2009, 04:27 PM
    Interesting problem

    So, today I went out with the intention to ride, and Ice still felt a little jittery, which I would attribute to the fact that it was cold overnight and he hasn't been worked in a week. So I decided to get off and lunge him a little bit, and I discovered that he is EXTREMELY stiff on his right side. When I want him to move out, I tell him to move his front end first--basically side pass. Lunging him to the left, he does this well, and he understands what I want.

    To the right however, he understands what I seem to want from him, but just can't do it. Even in close range when I stick him in the shoulder with my finger, He first backs up and then moves in the direction I want like he's walking away rather than moving away. He actually has better lateral flexion to the right than to the left, which makes it odd that he can't move away from me with his front.

    So, how do I either teach him to side pass to the left, or how do I teach him to engage his front end on his right side?
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        12-01-2009, 05:18 PM
    I'd have the vet check him first to determine the cause of his reluctance to bend. If the vet can find no physical reason, I would begin working on flexing exercises with him, on the ground and in the saddle, getting him more supple and moving freer in both directions. It will take you some time to get him moving better, but it will come, be patient.
        12-01-2009, 06:55 PM
    He bends fine......I've had a chiro out previously who diagnosed him with problems in his neck, not his back or any of the other joints that I would think would be the problem here. His lateral flexion is fine in both directions.....this is only from the ground, not in the saddle, since the problem is when I am lunging him.

    We look like the letter "T" he faces horizontal and I am vertical. When I ask him to step away from the whip (I point it at his shoulder) When we are lunging to the left he steps away fine. When we are lunging to the right, he backs up far enough so as not to be rude and then turns away like he would if I were asking him to change directions. Even if I am jabbing him directly in the shoulder with my finger he moves his butt away from me, not his entire body.
        12-01-2009, 07:09 PM
    Problems in the neck can translate to the rest of the body and cause what you are describing. Maybe he's out again? I'd have the chiro back out. Is this a new problem?

    Are you familiar with Karen Rohlf's groundwork exercises to get a horse to find their "sweet spot" where they are absolutely balanced to where they stretch their toplines?
        12-01-2009, 07:12 PM
    Nope, I can't say that I am.

    No, his reluctance to step away to the right is not a new problem. Granted though, this was the first time I've lunged him in maybe three months? His last chiro visit was just about 6 weeks ago.
        12-01-2009, 09:23 PM
    It's possible he's just stiff, I'd do a lot of stretches before and after work. You could even try to massage his muscles before and after work to see if that helps things.

    Karen's ground exercises are fantastic! The main one is where you walk next to your horse (on a circle) and gently push certain parts of your horse's body (neck, shoulder, ribs, hip especially) until you can "feel" the horse relax around you and eventually start to stretch down. When you feel tension, hold the pressure until the horse relaxes that muscle....the point of this is to get the horse to hold himself in perfect alignment so that he feels balanced enough to stretch his topline. Say your horse has a problem walking with his hip to the get the message across, you might have to push his hip PAST the point of alignment so that he goes through it twice....once when you push, and once on his way back to being crooked. I absolutely LOVE this exercise, it's really helped my horse learn how to move and use his body properly. Let me know if that's confusing! Lol.
        12-01-2009, 10:59 PM
    Hmm, I should definitely try that to strengthen his topline.....but I am unsure of how this will help him move away from me? I don't want him "bending around" either the end of my lunge whip or my hand when I signal him to move out, I want him to actually move out, lol
        12-02-2009, 12:10 PM
    Hmm maybe I misunderstood the visual to a degree lol......are you familiar with the Parelli Driving Game? Using a technique like that might help you get him out and away from you.
        12-02-2009, 01:05 PM
    I found some youtube videos to better explain myself, lol the first video is of him and what he does CURRENTLY (thats actually him, so it makes sense, lol):

    See how he backs up? That is what he does when I apply direct pressure to his right shoulder.

    This is what I WANT him to do.....he already naturally crosses his feet under himself to step away to the left, but does not do it to the right. You have to get to about 0:10 in the video to see a sidepass to the left, but I want him to do that, since he already does it on the right.

    He knows how to move away, like in the Driving Game, but that's actually something that I don't want him to do (just moving a section of his body, I mean). When I signal him to move away, I want his whole body to move away from mine, not just the front or the back.

        12-02-2009, 04:04 PM
    Ok, gotcha, the video of Ice is very helpful! Lol. This is just a suggestion, it's worked for me so that's why I'm suggesting it. First, when you do lunge him, can you let him have more rope? He's pretty tight on it and if you give his head more freedom he might relax more. For sending him off, are you familiar with how to do the Send in the Circling Game? The problem he is having is that he isn't yielding his front end....if the front end leaves, the rest of the body follows. If this were a horse I was working with, I'd first make sure he can yield his front end, hind end, and sideways using the Driving Game technique (since it's a prerequisite for the Circling Game) and then use the Send technique in the Circling Game. A big key is to aim your energy more at his shoulder/base of the neck rather than his butt.....but if he doesn't know how to yield from implied pressure (driving game) than it's going to be harder for you to fix it. Once he knows the basics of that, to suit the way you want him to go you can always drive him sideways then ask him to go...hard to explain but I like to play around with how many ways I can send my horse...keeps things interesting.

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