Building top line ?
I need help with building my boys top line , he was bred and trained a hunter so I'm having a bit of trouble getting him to collect and work from behind. My trainer suggested draw reins which I have used on other horses but not to build top line, do they work for that ? What would work best ? He's good on a longe line so I'm going to start working with him on the line but unsure if I should use any aide while longing?
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Lots and lots of upwards transitions, the rounder the horse is the better, and plenty of hill work. Just getting him on the bit and connected should be your goal, assuming his gaits have good tempo and rhythm. Being on the bit makes them flex and use the top line to support the rider, and it helps improve muscle tone all over.
Hill work!! Lots of stretchy trot too. I would not use draw reins, they are merely there to bring the head down. You need to get the horse working from his hind end. Use cavelletti and gymnastics too.
Out of curiosity, what do you suggest for people who don't have hills? My trainer suggests doing pole work among other things, like transitions and shapes.
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Developing a Full, Round Neck
Here is a great article with an explanation of the hows and whys we develop a topline as riders.
Draw reins will do nothing constructive and I do not believe they belong on 99.5% of horses, or with 99.5% of riders.
Ride correctly and correct muscling will develop.
Since he is a hunter, try to get him going long and low: hold your reins with pressure in both hands, over give with your left hand for 2 seconds then bring your hand back to where it was, then give with the right hand and bring it back... eventually he is going to wonder where the pressure is going in those hands and is going to stretch for it when you give, when his head gets lower, become softer and lengthen them.. also if you are restricted to a ring try doing spirals and counter bend and over bending at the canter, making sure to reward and give rein when he gives in. Draw reins will help your horses bit work(being round), which is whats going to build the TOP of his neck not the TOP LINE the top line is the hind, back and the middle of the neck, over time of doing these exercises or seeing a horse who has a top line, you can visibly see and feel a line of muscle going across their body. :)
http://www.theequestrianstoreni.com/...nelasticlg.jpg <see how the top of the neck is muscular with the drawreins/bit work?
http://www.artofriding.com/images/correct-low.gif <not the best picture but in long and low you can see the whole body working and the middle of the neck bulging
Firstly, building a topline takes TIME and a lot of fitness and consistency. It's important that you have properly fitted tack and a blanced rider so that the horse doesn't hollow out or tense underneath you from pain while riding. Hillwork is great if you have that available. Transitions with a long rein and also in collection are good. It's important for your horse to be able to do both properly. Also a good diet is important for a topline too. If you increase the workout, might need to increase the calories too!
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