Stargazing
 
 

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Stargazing

This is a discussion on Stargazing within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Star gazing horse
  • Horses that stargaze

 
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    02-17-2010, 06:39 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Stargazing

I've probably already asked this question before but I can't remember the solution. Razz is a stargazer, therefore she is hollow when it comes to her back. I also know that there are many ways to get her to bring her nose down, but I also know that some of these are only, as some people put it "band aids." So now I'm going to ask how do I fix her stargazing. I've gotten her to bring her nose down at the walk, but the trot and the canter are horrible. A little help would be nice, so if you have any advice at all, please give it to me.

No insults intended with the band aid comment, I only thought that it was the best term and since it wasn't mine....
     
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    02-17-2010, 09:17 PM
  #2
Trained
First thing I'll say is GOOD ON YOU for wanting to work through the issue without 'bandaids'. Of course, you can always create a quick fix by throwing a market harborough or a martingale on her to pull her head down, and she'll look 'pretty' but in the end, the underlying problem as to why she is hollow will always remain and with her head strapped down, she'll find another way to resist and you'll wind up in an endless circle of strapping the next greatest gadget to her to get all her escape routes into line. You may as well wrap the horse in plastic and put it on wheels if you're going to go down that path :P

A video, or even just some good photo's would be hugely benificial to allow us to help you out with solutions. There could be a variety of reasons that she is star gazing, it would take multitudes of pages to describe each one in detail and give you some solutions to work through.
So for now I'll throw some basic ideas out there for you have have a go with.

First and foremost is the obvious one that everyone will say/. Get her saddle checked out, her teeth, make sure her bit isn't pinching her mouth etc. etc. etc. Just make sure she's got a clean bill of health with perfectly fitting tack. Ill fitting tack or a muscle out of place can create enough tension for her to hollow and stick her head in the air.

Secondly, I don't know how you ride but the most common cause of hollowing and 'star gazing' is that the rider is not asking the horse to go forward and push off it's hind legs into a steady hand.
So look at your position. Are you able to freely move your hands, your legs and your seat individually? You want all of your body to remain under your control, your hands should not move an inch unless you tell them too, your legs should not grip and wobble, you're core muscles/torso should remain upright and quiet, not pushing/pumping, and your head should remain perfectly balanced on your shoulders without 'nodding'.
Can you put your leg on and get a bigger trot without grabbing with your hands? Can you post, or even sit trot without your hands bouncing? If your hands are bouncing in time to the trot, you will be gobbing the horse in the mouth at every stride, so understandably he/she will throw it's head up and hollow to avoid the constant jabbing discomfort in their mouth.

Should you have ANY of these problems, I would highly recommend that you get some lessons on the lunge on a quiet school horse. Take your stirrups and reins away and try to do this a few times a week until you have found your centre of balance and don't feel the need to rely on gripping legs and pulling reins to balance yourself. A horse cannot remain in balance if the rider is not balanced his/herself.

Moving on from your position to how you ride.
Do you ask the hind legs to swing under Razz's body each stride? Does she move immediately away from your leg when you put it on lightly? Can you ride a 20m circle without having to pull her in the shape with the reins? Unless you can do these things I am 99% sure that your horse is not going forward. Her hind hooves need to step into the front hoof print, or get very close to the print depending on the conformational limitations of your horse (again, photo's would be very usefull).

To get forwardness, you first need responsiveness. Go from halt-walk with a light leg aid. If she does not react, flick her with the whip. She may leap forward but do NOT touch her mouth when she leaps. She has gone forward from the aid so you do not want to punish her in the mouth (this is where your position, balance and effectiveness as a rider comes into the equation). Ask again lightly with the leg and expect that she will walk straight off. She should move up a pace or lengthen her stride within a pace from a small squeeze of the leg EVERY time. Downard transitions need to be equally as responsive. Put a light leg on, sit deep and ask her to come back. If she doesn't, sit back and give her a quick 'jab' of the reins. She needs to understand that if she doesn't listen to an initial aid then the result will be discomfort.

Once she reacts positively to you basic stop and go aids, the most important thing is to get her forward and engaged. You have no steering, no control, unless the horse is motoring off their hind legs. Otherwise you are trying to drive a front wheel drive Barina down a muddy windy four wheel driving track ;)

I recommend that you go and have a look in the dressage section/ We have recently had quite a few questions in there regarding engagement and getting a horse 'on the bit'. Go and have a look in any post that has something to do with 'frame' 'on the bit' 'forwardness' etc. There are many great responses that will help greatly with improving your own horse.

I am lazy and just don't want to write the whole concept out for the 10th time ;)
     
    02-18-2010, 01:13 PM
  #3
Green Broke
Feel free to have looks of horror on your faces if I show you some photos. I already know what some factors may be to her stargazing, one would be the saddle. Sadly we don't have a saddle that is made especially for her because of her breeding. The one we use now is currently the one that fits the best. The second one could be that it is impossible to sit her trot. I'm really good at sitting horses trots, english or western, but hers is just extremely....I don't know I can't describe it.
My equitation is not the best in the world, but my RI said that if I can learn to stay relaxed, I could be winning a lot of classes. Saddle seat, my hands are extremely steady, but huntseat is another story, especially at the canter. So my riding must have more to do with her stargazing.
Razz's last rider has told me many times that I need to really get on her curb when I ride, I don't agree with that (note this was the rider that was repeatedly thrown). But when I compare pictures from when she was riding Razz and when I ride Razz, Razz has a headset. My shoulder's do need to be pulled back, I'm working on it.
And no she is not really sensitive to leg pressure, unless I'm asking her to move forward. She won't side pass, but I can do a 20m circle with her.

Former rider riding her.

PhotoReflect - IN THE GAME action photography - Mason County Saddle Club 2008


I see what you mean by needing her to track up just by looking at her legs in both pictures.
     
    02-18-2010, 01:15 PM
  #4
Green Broke
I have to find a picture of me riding her. Please be patient

     
    02-18-2010, 01:21 PM
  #5
Banned
I'm noticing that although her headset is nice in the curb, those reins don't look especially forgiving. She may have been forced down from the pressure of the curb. However, if you feel that you have light enough hands to try a curb, I see no reason to not at least try one for yourself.
     
    02-18-2010, 06:15 PM
  #6
Trained
You definitely need photo's of yourself riding. We can't tell you what's going on by a single professions show photo of her going saddle seat with the previous owner.

PLease please PLEASE get a saddle fitted to her. You cannot possible expect her to cary you and round her back if her saddle is digging into her or slipping around on her back. Try going for a run with sneakers that are 2 sizes too small, or 2 sizes too big!
Getting your saddle fitted to her MUST be your first mission before you attempt to get on her again and expect her to work nicely for you!!!! I tried more than 10 saddles before I found one that remotely fitted my old horse, and then sent it back to the saddler 3 times before I was happy with the fit. Saddles need to be fitted to a horse, not made for the horse, just fitted so that they sit appropriately.


The fact that you can't sit trot her, I would say, is directly related to the fact that she is hollow. It is near impossible to sit trot a horse who is going around bent upside down, it is like sitting on an ironing board on wheels doing down a gravel track haha!
Don't even try to sit trot her, you bouncing around on her back is even more reason for her to hollow to try and escape the discomfort on her spine. Keep it all is riding/positing trot until she has learnt to come under herself and work her back. Once she has built up her back muscles and thus has the strength to carry herself and you, then you can start trying short bursts of sit trot.

Work on your hands, get some lunge lessons without reins a few times. You need to have steady, independant hands before you can expect a horse to lower down onto the bit.

Once you've got your saddle sorted, work on getting her off your leg. Again, you cannot expect her to work over her back if she won't get off your leg in a simple transition. She has to react immediately to every aid. If you're at halt and want her to walk, a light squeeze should be the only aid you need to give her. If she doesn't walk straight on (not sluggishly either, she has to step out actively) then give her a flick with a dressage whip behind your leg.

If her former owner says you need to hang off the curb to ride her, the you've got a 99% chance that she hasn't been taught how to work softly using her back anyway. So your work will be cut out for you! Even if you're not into dressage, I strongly suggest you get a couple of specialist dressage lessons to get things happening for you.
     
    02-18-2010, 10:05 PM
  #7
Green Broke
This is me riding her. Obviously I need to tighten my reins, and widen my hands, and maybe bring my legs back a little.
Oh yeah, her previous owner says that I need to really get on the curb. Like I said before I don't agree with that.
PhotoReflect - IN THE GAME action photography - Mason Count Saddle Club 2009
     
    02-18-2010, 10:08 PM
  #8
Green Broke
What the heck is wrong with that site? Everytime I go to relook at the pictures...a different one comes up.
     
    02-19-2010, 12:58 AM
  #9
Trained
Ok first I'll comment on your position in regards to a dressage position. You are bracing yourself against the movement, with your leg locked forward (your leg is virtually ineffective in this position) and your pelvis pushed backwards.
So you need to get your lower leg back so it is in line with your hip and shoulder. As for your seat, you need to to focus on sitting on the '3 points' so your two seat bone and your pubic bone, so that your backside isn't pushed back almost 'duck' like.
Once you've got those couple of issues resolved, you'll be able to have much greater influence over how the horse travels.

I've explained everything about the hind end above. In the photo she is obviously not going forward and is on the forehand. She is hollow, her hindquarters are higher than her forehand and her hocks are miles out behind her meaning she is having to pull herself along with her front legs rather than carry herself with the hind legs. You want her hind legs to be stepping up to about level with your seat.
It's all about transitions, riding forward, reactions to the aids and lateral exercises.
     
    02-19-2010, 03:53 PM
  #10
Foal
An exercise I use that helps both with head position, softness to the bridle and getting weight from the shoulders back to the hind is to soften your horse through the shoulders.

From the ground you will take the rein about 4" from the bit, ask the horse to move forward, take your hand half way down the neck and then lift while driving the horse forward. You are looking for one step away from you with the shoulder. Release immediately, finish by having the horse follow it's nose at least one step, stop and reward. Stay on one side until your horse is consistent with one step. Then switch sides. This strenuous work for the horse in the beginning. Your horse should get softer with the exercise and you are looking for the horse to move the shoulders without pulling on the rein. You will build on the number of steps your horse takes, and then you can repeat it from the saddle. From the ground you should notice the horse first 'drags' the leg, on your side, over and the withers are tipped down toward you. As the horse progresses the withers will become level and then they will tip down away from you, showing the horse is now lifting the shoulder over.

Be sure while in the saddle you do not touch the neck with the rein, drive the horse up from behind to get the step. Also, do not cross the mane and do not lean forward over the pommel as this weights down the shoulders. Keep the horse forward. Release on one step to start and build. You do not want the horse to bring the head back to far or they will not be able to move the shoulders correctly. DO NOT over work the horse on this exercise. They are building and using muscles not used before. Take it slow, build, and switch sides often. Do not leave the horse drifting out the shoulders from the saddle either, always finish the move by having the horse follow it's nose at least one step.
     

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