Head too low :-(
I'm trying to get my horse Sandie to carry her head a little higher...right now, I'm thinking she may have been broke Western because she really always wants to stretch her head long and low like I have seen in Western.
I don't want to pull on her mouth, but I need her to understand that I want her to raise her head up more...I try giving cues like squeezing with my legs and just shortening my reins, but she'll literally pull on the reins with constant pressure if I just shorten them.
What are some tips those of you in the hunter and/or dressage areas have for me to get her to carry her head higher? I'm not expecting immediate results, but just something I could be more consistently working on to eventually train her would be great! :-)
I'd say try little by little holding her head. Don't ask for a lot of bend, but just a little, and if she breaks to the pressure, release and let her relax. Do this repeatedly until she learns to bring her head up. But also keep your legs on her as you tighten your reins. I'm not guaranteeing that this will work, but It's worth a try.
Long and Low is actually good, when you ask for it. It is good because it builds up the Top Line and strengthens your horses back.
I remember when I taught Nelson Long And Low........I was kicking myself for it aftarwards, because he started to do exactly as what Sandie does. He will pull the reins out of my hands by throwing his head down and low - it has become an evasion.
He was doing that during our lessons, and my Coach would catch it. What he told me was, "It is your fault if you catch your horse in his mouth. It is your horses fault if he catches himself in his mouth."
Don't allow her to compromise your position. When she pulls down, hold your position - do not allow her to compromise your position. When she catches herself in the mouth, she will figure out that her attempt at this evasion, will not work because you do not compromise and she is hurting herself.
Your seat must be steadfast. That is why I stress over and over and over that you must ride on all 3 points. Your legs must be solid. Your upper body tall, with elbows at your side and hands secure on the reins - all while being soft and supple - - - tough one isn't it?
Here's a learning experience. While you sit on Sandie's back, as though you would while in movement *This means seat, legs, upper body, hand carraige, collection of reins* Then have your Coach or someone stand infront of Sandie, facing you. Have them grab the reins, one rein in each hand - and pull.
If this pull of the reins, makes you loose your position - you are not solid enough.
It all comes from your core.
You'll figure it out.
Nelson doesn't do it anymore unless I ask :)
Awesome, thanks for the advice!! :-) My trainer told me to get rubber reins so she wouldn't be able to pull them out of my gloved hands anymore lol...I still need to get some!
OOoh. Rubber reins coming in pretty colors. =D Sorry, that was random. lol.
One of my horses (Rupert) has breathing problems and likes to get long and low, but this makes his breathing worse. . I have a couple strategies but they are hard to put in words. :| One trick I learned that really works (at least on Ru & Diesel) is to take one hand and open and close your fingers a few times ("tickle") then pull and release a once or twice on the other rein. Both of them pick their heads right up, but it's just temporary. You have to be able to keep it there after you've got it up- MIE's post is really helpful ;)
One reason Sandie might be carrying her head like this might be because she is off ballance. She might be putting too much weight in her forlegs and not in her hind legs. It takes practice for a horse to learn to get ballanced. One way would be asking her to back up. This usually forces her to ballance her weight. To the rider, it'll feel like the horse just took a huge breath of air and is puffing up her chest, except for she doesn't exhale. Ballanced horses respond a lot better to cues.
one thing to think about is that her head might tie into her neck low, causing her to carry her head low naturally. Many quarter horses have such a level head carriage because that is the way that they are put together. It might be more natural to carry it level than in a higher position.
I realize and completely agree that you should always try to ride in such a way that you do not hit your horse in the mouth. However your girl is using a evasion tactic to get out of carrying her own weight properly. For this particular problem, I would ride squares at the trot. What this does is connect your horse more from behind to where she will be carrying herself more correctly. It is not collection, but it is asking for more effort on the horse's part. Ride a straight line in your normal working trot, however she normally goes. A stride before you get to your first corner, half halt to rebalance her. Turn her with the clear intent of riding inside leg to outside rein. The turn should balance her weight back toward her hind end to the point where the reins will go a little slack. Take up that slack just a little to the point where she no longer has it all her own way. Keep it soft and inviting, but do not give up the slack. If she pulls on the reins in an attempt to yank them out of your hands, hold your ground. Don't pull back, but don't let her slip them either. When she does accept the new length reward by softening the reins. Just move your hands forward a tad, just enough to let her know that's what you wanted. Ride a few more corners until she's consistently going around in the shorter length. Don't ask for too much too soon. It takes muscling for her to carry herself more efficiently. You two have a great bond, so she'll probably respond quickly to your new request.
My horse holds her head down and low where I want it for HUS but she carries her nose out instead of on the vertical. What I do is tighten up very very slightly, and push her into the bit. If you push your horse into the bit and you have yourself set up correctly for her to carry herself the way you want, then all should go well.
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