Rounding back - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-26-2012, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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Rounding back

My horse has a nice trot and canter but he's not really round. Sometimes when I'm trotting I can get him to really lift his back but it doesn't stay there. How do I get him to get off the forehand and stretch his neck down and out and keep it there?
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-26-2012, 02:04 PM
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How do you respond when he gets round? Do you reward him? As I understand it (which is not well) the key is to soften and reward them being round without dropping all contact. What are you doing with your legs? They need to be supporting his path while encouraging the desired pace. That way when you soften you don't loose forward motion. I am sure a professional will be along soon. I am interested to hear what they have to say.
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-26-2012, 02:38 PM
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Still waiting for that professional . . . but in the meantime, I agree with Rookie in that you reward him rounding his back. When he understnads that that is where he gets a release, he will be more willing to put out the effort, and it does take more effort, to do this .

I like to imagine that I ask the horse to stretch forward, I open the reins out to the side a little bit , a bit like driving a wheelbarrow, keep my upper body from falling forward , and put some leg on and kind of push him "through" the V that you have formed with the reins to his bit. Think of pushing him though it but "up and over it" as if he were going over a small jump , like low hoop that you put out in front of him and to get over it, he must push from behind.

Doing long land low WILL put more weight on the forehand, but with the horse stretching his neck, lifting it from the base and arching it down and forward, and actively driving from behind, even thought the forelegs take on more weight (due to forward position of head) the arching "drive" will lift he back and string the horse from leg to bit, connecting the hand to the hindquarters, and is still a valuable training activity.
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-26-2012, 09:38 PM
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Long and low, as I have said in many a thread, is a VERY strenuous exercise for a horse that does not have the balance or strength to maintain the activity and carrying power in the hind end, with the head and neck in a low position.
I would actually rather see a horse that is developing its balance and strength, ridden a little deep to encourage stretch of the neck in front of the wither, and a lift of the back, than in a 'false' long and low.
As soon as you dump the horse on the forehand, the exercise is essentially useless. The back wont swing, the movement will get choppy and there will be tension through the body as the horse tries to keep itself upright.

Roundness comes from strength and balance. There are no shortcuts unfortunately! Lots and lots of transitions, suppling work, plus work out of the arena such as hill work and gallop work. This will all help to develop muscle in the right places, and balance to enable to horse to carry itself in a rounder 'frame'.
When the horse is stronger and more balanced, we can demand a little more, asking more increased bend and flexion to soften the jaw and supple the body, while asking the hind legs to come more active, which will develop further roundness over the back.

Patience, hard work, and tactful riding will always be successful.

~Horse & Hound Artistry~.

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post #5 of 7 Old 07-27-2012, 11:18 AM
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Make sure that you're riding on both sides. For example, don't just hang on your inside rein -- make sure you've got contact on your outside rein as well. If you're encouraging a bend with pressure from your inside leg, make sure that your outside leg is there to support and keep the movement going.
You should be trying to encourage roundness, not force it -- wiggle the reins a bit to supple his mouth, and when he responds, always make sure to give! Keep in mind that giving does not mean dropping the contact, but softening it enough so that it's clear that you are rewarding him.
Do these things, in addition to counter-bending him and working on transitions, and you'll start to notice a difference. As previously mentioned, he needs to build up his strength first, so don't expect too much too soon, and always tell him he's a good boy! You would benefit a lot from a few lessons from a trainer, too.
Good luck!
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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When he drops his head and I feel him really pushing with his hindquarters I usually lossen the reins some and let him go for as long as he can then pick them back up when he loses it.
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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He is quite supple and responsive to my cues but my main problem is keeping him in the right frame- I guess it's just a lot of repetition until he builds himself up better- right? Thanks for the tips!
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