Encouraging A Pony To Stretch Down?
I've got a nearly 4 year old very green welshy who parades around with her head way up in the air. So far we've only been able to get her to stretch down by dropping the reins to her withers and lightly placing hands on her withers too, which obviously means no steering! Are there any techniques to encourage her to stretch down and relax?
You can see how bolt upright her head is in this photo, and it's always like this:
Lots of vertical flexing and softening with the bit.
Work in circles and have her bend her nose and body to the inside.
It's got nothing to do with anything in front of her shoulders. Forget about that thing in front and teach her to bend through her body. She's traveling dead straight in that picture. That's 100% leverage for her and none for you.
Teach her to leg yeild, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, tons of circles and serpentines, anything that creates bend through the body. Be sure to let go of her face, soften your elbows and be sure to follow her motion with your hands. Don't throw away to contact, but offer her more inviting contact that she wants to stretch into instead of brace against.
Okay thank you. Definitely all things to start working at. At the moment we're just trying to get her to move off the leg as she is very much still in baby stage mentally and very very green. The young rider on her in the photo was very nervous! That was her first ride on my girl. It's my little sister. I've seen a tonne on youtube about getting them to relax and stretch down to round off their back but that's the bit I'm not quite understanding how to do fully. With the things you mentioned, will it come naturally through training of engaging her body in motion?
Yes, get the forward first but be sure not to restrict her up front. Ride around on the loosest rein you are comfortable with. Throw in lots of big circles and changes of direction. Let the natural shape of circles help her keep her balance. Once you can get her foward consistently, throw in frequent changes of gait too. Since she's young, be very consistent with your aids so she knows what you want of her, and reward every correct response. Just remember, it's got nothing to do with the head. The head and neck reaching forward is an afteraffect of a horse working properly through it's back.
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