Originally Posted by Black Beauty 94 View Post
Oh haha, I thought that is what you meant.
I think your right, he doesn't know what they are for. Hahah :)
How do I know if he is using his back?
You know how a horse has those muscles along his spine that we call the topline? Well when a horse uses their back, you'll feel the spine lift up underneath you.. they become rounder. Visually too.
Let me try to get some pics of me lunging my horse..
That would be using his back. See how his spine (before his hip) is rounded up: http://www.horseforum.com/attachment...s-p1360733.jpg
This is not using his back.. it's dipping down like a banana like you can see here: http://www.horseforum.com/attachment...t-img_0195.jpg
He is hollow, meaning his back isn't relaxed, being on the wrong lead, not balanced so he's using the side reins to lean on, he's rigid and bracing all over.. and you can see from his high head set that he was not really in the zone. It happens. We were working on the canter and that gait held some bad memories for him.
But I took away his crutch (the lungeline, he'd lean on it) and he began to lean on his side reins for balance. Now he's fine.
But that's the different between using their back and not. Avoid the banana shape
You can't force it.. it's something the horse has to do on their own. But you can encourage them by sending their energy forward and keeping quiet on their back, letting them balance and relax.
Here's a good thread I made that will help your horse relax: Stretches (and muscle building) for your horse
It has a reference to another thread (my favourite one) that talks about building topline (those muscles on their side of the spine.)
Hope that helps :)