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blue eyed pony 01-31-2013 09:30 AM

epiphany today
for ages I've thought my horse is just stiff/lazy/distracted/has a sore back when he refuses to work over his back and come into the bridle. He usually starts working nicely after he's been working a while, but takes time to do it.

Today I discovered that in actual fact, I am a bigger part of the "issue" than I thought. He was heavy, flat and strung out, and I realized I was slouching. As soon as I realized this and straightened up, he got lighter and lifted his back. Thinking it HAD to be a coincidence, I slouched again, on purpose. He went heavy, flat and strung out, hollowed, and poked his nose. When I straightened up again, same result, MUCH lighter horse.

It is incredible how much the position of a rider's shoulders influences the horse's way of going! Don't get me wrong my gelding still gets heavy, flat and strung out at times, and still takes time to work down, but if I'm concentrating more on keeping a strong upper body and less on how he's actually working, he works so much better.


Next show I go to, I need to concentrate less on my horse, and more on RIDING my horse.

Muppetgirl 01-31-2013 09:33 AM

It takes two to tango:wink:

blue eyed pony 01-31-2013 10:42 AM

It shocks me how long it took me to realize that Muppetgirl.

I mean he DOES get sore, over his loins, and is incredibly long and can be stiff. AND is lazy. So they're all perfectly valid reasons why HE might be reluctant to work. But it took me until today to really "get" that regardless of what factors are affecting the horse, I should still be able to get and keep him together if I'm riding well enough.

I haven't struggled to keep short-backed horses together, not since I learned how to keep a soft and fluid contact, but the long ones like Monty are harder. And I think I slouch more on him than I do on other horses, too, which would be due to my lack of trust in him. I'll trust my friend's crazy OTTB mare but not my educated schoolmaster... really need to work on my priorities there I think!

DancingArabian 01-31-2013 11:27 AM

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Also remember that be can feel your lack of confidence and trust as well as what direction you're looking in. It totally blew my mind the first time I realized these things and admittedly I sometimes forget.

I'm curious now as to whether you'll see any improvement in his soreness now that you've figured out how to get him working through his back more.

Good for you though! Isn't it awesome to get that AHA/OMG moment?
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blue eyed pony 01-31-2013 12:04 PM

Well and truly! He's half Arab, half TB, so very sensitive to what I'm feeling. Lucky for me he's a low energy horse, so me being a high energy person we balance each other out and usually create a reasonable picture.

Either I've only been able to REALLY feel the horse under me in the past 6 months, or I've only been able to get him working over his back in the past 6 months. Up until the past maybe two weeks I've only gotten flashes of it but today we had several laps solid long and low lifted through the back and driving from behind... we were in fairly heavy sand too so it was even harder for him!

He feels so nice when he's swinging through the back and really working. Still nearly impossible to sit his trot, but he's a nice ride.

Kayty 01-31-2013 04:55 PM

Glad that you have realised it ;) Everyone tries to make excuses about the horse being sore, saddle not fitting so on and so forth, when they can't get their horse going.
9 times out of 10 the horse is perfectly fine and the rider is just not doing their job.
I'd say his back was getting sore because of how he travels under saddle. Once he gets stronger in carrying you rather than hollowing away, you'll be saving a lot of money on chiropractor bills.

Muppetgirl 01-31-2013 04:58 PM

When I'm riding and my horse is doing something I don't want - I immediately look at what I'm doing......and it is usually if not always me:-(

Had everyone laughing at the barn a few days ago when I called out 'one day it's NOT going to be me!!!'.........:-)

Supanova 01-31-2013 05:48 PM

I am happy you have finally realised this. I do wonder how many instructors have told you this in the past but you have disregarded their advice? In any case, it is wonderful now that you are going be a better rider for the sake of your horse.

JustDressageIt 01-31-2013 05:54 PM

Had a similar epiphany a couple of weeks ago - I decided to rider-up and do some serious no stirrup work, and it had totally changed Ronan's way of going as well as his responsiveness. It's amazing how much influence we truly do have. Once I started really truly riding and working hard, he lightened up and started using his back.
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Kayty 01-31-2013 06:46 PM

In some ways its bit depressing when we find out it's us causing the problem - its human nature to NOT want ourselves to be at fault.
But I do find it really satisfying when I have a lesson, change how I'm working at something, and it all falls into place. I can change what I'm doing a lot more easily than changing what the horse is doing, so that's the little piece of relief in knowing it's my own fault ;)

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