Stretchy and Forward
So its been a while since I last posted up here and I wanted to share some of me and Laddys progress with the community because im so proud of him and how far we've have come recently. So recently me and Laddy have been concentrating on stretchy through his back and then forward lots of forward. We have gotten a great energetic walk and trot while stretching and hes getting some extension in the trot and walk which is amazing :-). The more I'm working with him the less and less he's trying the trade off between slow and stretchy and running and hollow which is awesome....now when I ask for forward and stretchy he gives me happy focused energy with lots of stretch......so the long and the short im so proud of Laddy. I have some pics of me and him working the other day which aren't the best and I don't have any of him at the trot; However, I do have some of him at the canter (were just starting with getting the stretch at the canter so sorry if it looks bad)
So comment what you think :-)
Stretching is very good, and required for all horses. But you still need to make sure he works from behind.
He is stretching, but he needs to stretch IN TO the contact, rather than just let his head be low.
A lot of transition work will help this, and sit up taller in your saddle; you still need to keep yourself balanced so your horse can be balanced. You sit nice and tall, but try and keep your shoulders back. Also, legs further back too. you need them on his trunk to be able to engage his hind.
Think about your transitions.. make them clean and really ask for him to come from behind. Once his hind end starts working, his back will loosen, and his head and neck will come down later.
Try and avoid washing line reins. I am not saying you need them short and pull him down, but you still need a contact to the reins for him to be able to search and accept the bit.
There is stretching into the hand and then going forward/down/out as the horse 'chews the reins from the hand', and then there is going flat and onto the forehand. FDO is a TEST done after the horse first accepts the bit (up/open/steady flexion) and then is 'on the bit' some light longitudinal flexion which comes from lateral flexibility (ie circles/half circles/etc).
The pix show a horse with a flat neck which has gone onto the forehand. We should perhaps talk about the seat as well (which should be aligned ear/shoulder/hip/back of heel). However, there is a nice straight line from elbow to horse's mouth, and generally correct (vertical) upper arm. The prob with the pix however is that they show the second and third footfalls which can be rather unflattering. Try to get the uphill (on one hindleg footfall).
Was just going to say, there is stretching, and then there is dumping onto the forehand.
It takes a lot of strength from the horse through the back to stretch down and forward while maintaining an uphill balance. To expect the horse (and for that matter, the rider) to be able to maintain such a high level of balance while reaching the neck further away from the center of gravity is unrealistic for most horses and riders beginning in dressage.
would be about the amount of "stretch" I would want from a horse just learning about contact. Forward, in front of the bit and reaching over the back into the riders hands encouraging that "pull" and reach from the horse. I would not have the reins any longer until the horse is consistently in balance. Yes, still ask for the forward downward, but let the arm come forward to facilitate the stretch, instead of dumping the horse on the forehand. One needs to develop a connection before they can test it with a forward/downward stretch.
Ok just going to clear some things up with this because the pic as I stated before is at an imopurtune moment in the walking one (my eq is bad and he is reaching out not down) but the reason we are working him on a long reign at the walk is that a horse can 'fake' a stretch through the back in the gray area between a connection and a loose floppy reign. If a horse is on the buckle stretching Down (I know the picture is misleading like I said the pics aren't the best) he has to work through his back for that.
Also I emphasize the fact that at the canter ive just been playing around with getting a little stretch going from working frame and when he has been looking for the stretch letting him slowly have a slight one. I also emphasize I haven't asked him to go forward or anything at the canter with that so yes the canter pics probably do look like he's dumping on the forehand but I do emphasize that ive only done a little work on that mainly working with him on walk and trot. At the walk we are going from walking on a frame to walking on a loose reign with energy. At the trot a round working frame to a stretchy energetic trot (not a completely loose reign because im still connected with him and you obviously cant do that when they are on the buckle)
Walking on a loose rein actively, is a warm up of movement. But 'chewing the reins from the hand"/Fdo is something one does as a TEST of correct working posture, it is done for a few strides/a circle or two at most. Then back to work. The entire topline must carry the horse out to the bit, the horse must remain arced out with active hind legs, carrying not just pushing.
Depending upon where you are coming from, this could mark some progress, or not. I mean, if this horse was formerly very tense, short strided, head up, above the bit, or curled up behind the bit, then what you are showing would be some pleasant progress. Once he is more forward and more relaxed, you can add more contact and more impulsion from behind.
I would also not compare an arab to a warmblood. You will not likely ever see the same uphill pushing look in an arab as you'd see , like that photo. The arab has a flatter croup, by conformation, that means that he tends to have his back legs out behind him a bit more, and a bit harder to get that big reach underneath.
I like the look on your horse, and think you have a lot of potential. your leg is further out in front of you than is optimal, and you can encourage more step under from him by putting yourself a bit more into the middle of the saddle seat, making sure your seat bones point straight down, that you do not put pressue back into the cantle, and maybe roll your pelvis forward a bit. it creates a bit more space under your butt for him to push up into.
And yes he did have a tendency to stretch when he wanted to and at other times to hollow and run/increase tempo. He is a classic arab on some things and an arab reject on other things so I can tell personally that he feels more relaxed through his body and more mentally focused when ive been working him lately.
I don't know how much this has to do with anything but its impressive to see how he has gone from 'pulling' himself to now I can feel him start to push himself with his hind end. Like I said previously thanks a lot for your input. :-)
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