Your BEST Balance & Self Carriage Exercises
My horse is in training and I know he needs to learn a lot about balance and self carriage. I'd like for him to get to hold his head correctly and all.
To help with this, we do a lot of transitions, circles, serpentines, trotting poles etc. To avoid both me and Shamrock getting bored with training, what other exercises will accomplish this?
If you truly mean you want your horse to have self-carriage, teach him to do it without you holding his head in the reins. If you have contact, you're 'helping'. My favorite is to work a horse on-line in sloppy footing on a circle that makes it difficult to keep his feet unless he's balanced. Yes, they slip and slide until they figure out how to do it. Works like a charm but I don't know anyone else that does it. Got a horse in training right now that was training to jump and ridden constantly in draw reins until he only cantered dis-united. This technique I use had him getting it on the first day and the second day he smoothed it out. Thank goodness it poured rain right after he came in or I would have had to leave a hose in a spot in the arena.
This is something, as has been mentioned in your other posts, that comes with a horse working correctly from behind, and correct seat/legs from the rider.
I find that working on a figure eight is best as it ensures you are using your legs and seat, where as serpentines, unless one loop, are more difficult.
The horse will also require, imo, topline and condition. It doesn't happen over night ;)
I know in our L dressage over here they introduce in to tests canter and trot work where the rider has to 'give' the hands fore so to prove the horse is working in self carriage and not relying on the rider's hands.
Subbing to find out more.
What is imo, topline, and condition? I don't quite understand, unless you mean conditioning him?
Really don't understand why anyone would purposely 'train' their horse in a sloppy, slippy area where the horse could easily fall and do itself - or it's rider! - a nasty injury! That's just 'forcing' the horse to work and sounds pretty cruel to me.
As DuffyDuck says, a nice outline - with the horse working in self-carriage takes a long time to achieve and most definitely doesn't come overnight.
The exercises you're doing will all help to create the 'look' you want, but the transitions need to be done very quickly - ie, just a few paces between each transition - to first get the horse working better from behind. At that point you can then start asking for lateral flexion - ie, leg yielding, half pass, shoulder in, shoulder fore etc. - before you can start asking for vertical flexion and you will only achieve self-carriage when the horse is a) working from behind and b) flexing at the poll.
Doing it the proper way - no matter how long it takes! - is far better than risking your horse falling, twisting it's back, knocking it's pelvis out of place or even pulling a tendon, breaking a leg - or even wrecking it's confidence!
Take your time and have fun! :-)
But thanks! We're definitely having a ball! :)
Proper? Feeding pablum. Horses kept in a bubble and only worked on level surfaces is chemically balanced footing don't learn how to take care of themselves and YOU will have to carry him.
IMO any owner who truly cares for the health and wellbeing of their horses would choose to train them on a flat and level surface whilst ensuring they are kitted out with the appropriate brushing boots, tendon boots or bandages etc. - whatever they feel is necessary at the time to prevent injuries or pulled muscles or tendons. :-)
Yes horses will initially fall onto their forehand. That's life, but a horse carrying a rider is the equivalent of humans balancing a sack of potatoes on their shoulders and personally I doubt anyone would be able to do that without causing themselves an injury unless they were taught the correct method. :shock:
Working a horse in slippery mud is like pushing a non-skater onto an ice rink and expecting them to teach themselves to stand up and skate. No doubt they will - eventually - BUT NOT BEFORE THEY INJURE THEMSELVES! :-x
Not all dressage horses are kept in bubbles. My horses have ten acres where they can roam across a variety of surfaces, including through a stream. They do their training on a sand / rubber surface in a SAFE environment. They carry themselves well and they enjoy hacking - or trail riding as you call it, jumping and dressage. They also do roadwork along our country lanes and we often go to the beach where they can have a good gallop along the sand and swim in the sea and we have forest tracks right on our doorstep. My hanovarian mare is 19 years old now and you would struggle to find a happier and healthier one. :D
Doons and Lauren, I can see where you're both coming from.
As a dressage rider to be, I don't agree with keeping my horse in and wrapped up, and she has to be aware of where her feet are, but I don't want to do leg/tendon damage on unsuitable grounds. Different breeds, different requirements. A Draft is sturdier than a WB, so capable of different things.
And topline as far as I am aware is the muscle along the length of the neck and spine which enables the horse to hold its head and neck in the position and self carriage you require, which means conditioning him with lunge work, flatwork and hill work are the best.
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