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saraequestrian 05-08-2009 04:26 PM

inside hind leg.
This one is towards the more... "advanced" I guess you could say... dressage people.
Excuse me if this is a little confusing, I have a hard time explaining things :P
So currently what Chloe and I are working on* is getting a correct bend through the ribs, around my legs and having her step under herself with her inside hind leg. She is having a pretty hard time with this. She is so stiff and unsupple on my left aids and so responsive on my right. So naturally, it is really difficult for her to bend around my left leg. In the canter transition to the left, she sometimes kind of has to hop into it because her inside hind isn't under herself enough.
Basically, what I'm asking is, what kind of exercises can I do with her (ground work and while riding) to make her poll more flexible to the left? What can I do to help her flexibility/strength in her hind (again, groundwork and while riding) to help her step under herself?

*on and off... she's a typical tb so some rides we have to do more basic things like keeping control of her shoulders and having her straight from poll to tail, getting her supple and forward etc.

MyBoyPuck 05-10-2009 06:32 PM

I also have a TB who tends to be stiff to one side. Here's a few things I've done to help him bend around my inside leg better.

1. Shallow serpentines at the walk, just enough to create flexion to unlock his poll and jaw. These are to be done from seat alone. Just weight your inside seatbone and put it slightly forward and your horse should bend in that direction. Use reins only as a reinforcement if necessary. As soon as you see his inside eye or feel him soften, time to go the other way.

2. This one's more from the western world but works GREAT! It's kind of like leg yielding in circles. Drop your outside aids completely. Using you inside rein, ask him to bring his head to your hip. At the same time, use your inside leg to keep "forward" motion. Basically the forward will result in going in circles since you're directing his head toward your hip. It's a slow give and take exercise. As soon as you get any result, reward him by letting him move forward and straight and then do the same thing on the other rein. Once he gets what you're asking for, you can ask for more bend of his neck. With each new attempt, you should feel him soften a bit more.

3. Assuming #2 worked, try leg yeilding in a stair step pattern. 5 steps leg yeild, 5 forward, 5 yeild the other way, etc. Make sure you have a slight flexion to the opposite of where you're heading.

4. Best way I know of to strenghten that inside leg is to do shoulder fore or shoulder in. My TB can only do a few steps at a time in his weak direction, but we're getting there.

5. If any of the above have produced softness, try some basic patterns, large circles, serpentines, anything that keeps him in a natural bend. Even on a straight line, you want a little flexion to the inside. Without bend, he'll be stiff as a board no matter what you do. Make sure your inside leg has soft, inviting contact or he won't want to bend around it anyway. good luck.

Spyder 05-10-2009 08:28 PM

MyboyPuck is giving you good answers but I would like to ask a few questions.

Was this TB raced? Did you ever have his hind end checked for physical problems? How long have you had this horse and has this been an ongoing problem for how long??????

koomy56 05-10-2009 08:42 PM

It is possible that she doesn't have an awareness to her hind end. That is not an uncommon problem. To teach her awareness of that inside leg you can try putting her on a circle on a lead rope, and tapping that inside hind in the moment it is about to leave the ground. Like you're tapping it forwards. You want to see that the tap furthers her step. You can tap it each time, louder if you need to to encourage her to trot from the tap on her hind leg. It causes her to be aware of that hind leg, but also the tapping teaches her to reach.
You can do a billion walk trot transitions, asking for trot by tapping that inside leg forward. Once she trots, allow her to trot and allow her to come to the walk by herself. Then tap to trot again. You will start to see that she becomes more round and more of a whole package.
Just a try. :)

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