Stepping Under? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 15 Old 07-26-2011, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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post #12 of 15 Old 07-26-2011, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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My mare generally gets 3 days off every week. Unless we have a show. Then she has 2 days off. I have found she works best that way.

Anyway, i'll take your advice and stay off of her until the saddle gets here. I might work her every other day in the roundpen with side reins.

All thoughts of back pain aside, do y'all have any exercises for helping her (when she gets back into work) step under herself more?
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post #13 of 15 Old 07-27-2011, 12:07 AM
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There are some stretches you could do that helped Cinny a great deal. They are somewhat hard to explain but I'll try. When you pick her hind legs, before putting the leg down support her knee and pull the leg straight back like a farrier does...slowly, gently and no more than she can handle. Hold for a few seconds. Then take her and stretch her forward...again, much like the farrier does and supporting under the knee and hold a few seconds. Do on both sides, and sometimes I repeat. If your horse tollerates you doing things with her tail, tails stretches are good too and help relax the back. You want her to stand as square as you can reasonably (she'll probably square up better during the stretch) and then you gently grab the tail hair just below of the tailbone (never grab the tailbone) and gently pull straight back. This is really awkward for them at first but you want to encourage her to pull against you. Hold for a few seconds and release, then repeat. You want to slowly let your weight pull the tail, no sudden movements. It takes a week or so for them to get used to this one and start learning to pull away. I have to do this one every time I saddle Cinny because he likes to stand like a dork and make me get his saddle crooked...when I stretch between tightenings I can make him straighten and and look that the spine of the saddle is straight along Cin's spine.

If your horse shows any agitation at all to any of the stretches, stop doing it. You could either A not be doing something correctly or B there could be some other issue that a vet or chiro needs to see to. Also your vet or chiro could probably look at how you are stretching and make sure you are doing them right.

Another thing that really really helped Cin was turns on the fore. Do a full 360 each direction a few times before riding and occasionally during your ride. It gets them to open up their hips and warms up/stretches the muscles. I didn't think this one would work when someone told me to do it, but after about 2 weeks I noticed a big difference.

Cinny used to just be straight up and down on his hind end with no forward or lateral movement whatsoever. Now I have plenty of lateral and I had to buy boots for his fronts because now he's going so far forward he is nicking his fronts a touch. My trainer says it's because now that he has the reach, he has to learn to control it ha ha.
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post #14 of 15 Old 07-27-2011, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you! I do usually stretch my mare out. My mare is fairly used to the tail pull lol! I also do some belly lifts that make her arch her back and stretch out her vertebrae. I've never heard of the turn on the forehand to engage the hind end but I'll be sure to try it!

The hind leg stretches sound like a good idea. That might encourage her to reach forward. I stretch her front legs out before I ride and that always seems to allow her to reach more.
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post #15 of 15 Old 07-27-2011, 06:41 AM
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Transitions, when done correctly using a half halt while you squeeze to get the horse to engage the hing end, are really helpful. Also, ground poles are a favorite of mine for encouraging the horse to pick up the hind legs and step underneath themselves. Just start with one and build on it, only adding others when your horse is relaxed and going over it well. You can put them in a line, starting with them a comfortable distance apart for your horse to trot over, and then rolling them out a few inches to encourage her to reach a little each step. I also like to put 2-4 poles on a circle and encourage my horse to bend and stay round as she travels over them. This really helped my mare who is built very straight behind and lacked a lot of muscling in the hindquarters :)
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