Horse hanging heavily in the rein?
A few months ago I noticed my horse hangs really heavily on my left rein when I take up contact. I'm not sure what I did that caused this habit, but I've been trying to fix it for a few months and I haven't really gotten anywhere. If anyone could provide any exercises I could try to help him I would love the feedback!
I work him on the ground for part of a warm up every day, I yield his quarters and forehand and try and loosen him up. He is much better on his left side on the ground than under saddle. Once I have him under saddle I do a lot of flexing and suppling on both sides, as well as lateral work. I do not think it's a question of him being stiff because of all these exercises that I do, so maybe it's something he needs to build muscle towards or maybe just a habit. He is also in a hackamore due to a mouth injury from a previous owner.
Thanks for any advice! :-)
hanging heavy on the rein on one side is most very likely to be due to stiffness in his body. You may have him "yield" from one side to the other, but if he moves his hind or fore over while holding that stiffness in his body, then nothing is really changed. Kind of like a man with a stiff neck can turn and look side to side by turning his whole upper body; the movement gets done, but the stiffness never gets "broken up".
a lot of times stiffness in the poll is due to stiffness in the pelvis/back. If you can get some softness in the poll, it helps but you need to eventually get the horse to loosen up his hind area.
Just pulling his head to one side, then the other will not do this, especially if he rotates his neck (just BEHIND the first two neck vertebrae , that make up the "poll") to lift his chin up to one side and put's a "twist" in his neck as he reaches around to each side in the "flexions".
It is his poll that you need to loosen up, and the two joints that are right behind the skull and make up the poll; the Atlas and the Axis. These joints can ONLY move the skull up and down (like a "nodding" motion) or side to side , like how the horse will tuck his jowls into the side of his neck and turn his skull to one side just enough for you to see his eye on that side, from the saddle. HIs long head must stay vertical; not twisted so the chin comes up toward the rider.
These motions will loosen up the poll, and loosening the poll will help to loosen the hind end .
consider working toward these motions when you do a disengagement, not just pulling the hrose's mouth around to your knee, with his head all twisted to the side.
Are you sitting heavier on one side than the other?
I would think maybe more on right, but could be wrong.
Do you have pictures of you mounted from front and back?
Could also be that you are heavier on the one rein too?
With a sensitive horse, it doesn't take much to make them seem more one sided.
And what about teeth? Could there be something in there that is swollen, which could cause pain in upper parts of face and this is in response to that?
Tiny is spot on.
So many people try winging the horses head side to side to 'loosen it up' but it does absolutely nothing other than giving you a grouchy horse.
To loosen the horse, there needs to be forward motion.
This is where shoulder in is a BRILLIANT exercise. Start with shoulder fore on a 20m circle, hold the position until you feel the horse give through its poll, neck and back, then straighten and ride forward.
My own horse hangs on the right rein, due to a weaker left hind. As such he tries to load up his right shoulder rather than weight the left hind. Shoulder in left and travers right has been my best friend with him to strengthen and elastice that hind leg. He now tracks straight the majority of the time and only needs quick reminders to use that hind leg more effectively.
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