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samskye347 04-23-2010 01:18 PM

Horse needs help with balance ... what to do?!
 
I need some help with my mare who has been getting stronger lately and we think this is because she is using speed to compensate for her lack of balance.
She is not young ... she has just turned 10 and she was really quite well balanced until a few months ago. I have recently been getting lessons cos i felt my riding getting awful and was not enjoying my pony as much and realised all the faults with my riding. My instructor is literally amazing, but since we've been working on my positional faults to get the pony going better, she seems to have gotton faster and less balanced which is wierd. She finds it hard to carry herself straight around corners so speeds up and turns her head to the outside of the arena, and finds it very hard to canter in a circle without going EXTREMELYYY fast! I dont know why this has come on so quicjly (maybe it hasnt but it seems like it) but saw it really clearly when i lunged her today and noticed how she uses speed to compensate for her lack of balance!

I do not know what i can do to help .. ive been suggested to start lungeing and riding in a bungee to keep her head low and striaght and encourge her to use her back and build right muscles but dont know how effective this'll be. i also wanna keep riding but one of my hands is noticably stronger on the reins than the other (working on this with my instructor) and dont want this to hinder her balance.
\
Any ideas on what to do to help imrove her balance will be much appreciated as im finding it very difficult to ride her lately and want her balance back!! :) thanks guys

kevinshorses 04-23-2010 02:21 PM

Usually when you get a horse that is unbalanced the answer is at the end of the reins. Look at yourself first and make sure that your amazing instructor is not screwing something up. Make sure that your horse is sound and not hurting on one or more legs. Sometimes if a horse is a little sore on either the front or hind feet they won't limp but thier stride will change so make sure there is no unsoundness in the horse. Also it may be a control issue and not a balance issue. start at the walk and the trot ans make sure that you can control the horses speed within each gait. When you add speed small problems get amplified and you have to slow down and fix the problems when they are small to elimanate the problem when you go faster.

Rule of Reason 04-23-2010 02:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by samskye347 (Post 613132)
ive been suggested to start lungeing and riding in a bungee to keep her head low and striaght and encourge her to use her back and build right muscles

I think you're talking about lunging with side reins, and if so I would definitely give it a try. The whole purpose of lunging with side reins is to help horses find their balance without interference from a rider.

Quote:

Originally Posted by samskye347 (Post 613132)

one of my hands is noticably stronger on the reins than the other .

Bingo!

When we start working on our position, it's very easy to overcompensate/overfocus on one thing and throw ourselves out of whack in other ways.

If you're familiar with side reins, a good visual for riding is to imagine your hands as side reins. No matter what your horse does (and it sounds like she's crooked, not surprising, many horses are) twisting here, bulging out there, you keep your hands exactly where they're supposed to be, and of course keep your body straight too. It's not exactly easy, but what is in riding?

samskye347 04-23-2010 03:48 PM

I do think, actually I KNOW that i am a big part of the problem!
I used to have really soft hands and could control her without having a firm hold on the reins, but since shes gotton stronger over winter and my instructor has been telling me to close my hands on the reins (i used to go around with my fingers open just clucthing the reins) i just have become quite strong with my hands which results in a sort-of battle which i hate! And one of my hands IS stronger and i naturally hold higher than the other which no matter how hard i try to correct usually just happens again in any pace faster than walk, so i know i have to have a more even contact on the reins, but how do i learn that on my pony when she just goes faster and i naturally reach for the reins to even the pace?! I do use my body to try and contain the pace but its impossible without some use of the rein, but i honestly dont want to make the situation worse by riding with my uneven hands :(

if there any exercises for me to work on my hands and an even contact i can use when i ride?
And i have been riding in mainly walk and trot since i saw this getting worse, and the whole thing got so much better as i started working on soft hands, but when i introduced small bits of canter everything id improved went out of the window so i dont know what to do!!!

Thank you guys for your input though and any more advice will be great :)

Rule of Reason 04-23-2010 04:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by samskye347 (Post 613270)
I do think, actually I KNOW that i am a big part of the problem!
I used to have really soft hands and could control her without having a firm hold on the reins, but since shes gotton stronger over winter and my instructor has been telling me to close my hands on the reins (i used to go around with my fingers open just clucthing the reins) i just have become quite strong with my hands which results in a sort-of battle which i hate!

I remember this struggle so well myself. Just keep working on it. You're trying to correct a bad habit, which takes much longer than creating a new one.

Quote:

Originally Posted by samskye347 (Post 613270)
I do use my body to try and contain the pace but its impossible without some use of the rein,

No it's not. You need to teach your pony half-halts. Does your instructor talk about them? If so, yes she probably says to use the rein, but you should work on using your body really strongly and using the reins only for the tiniest bit of guidance. With one crazy horse I worked with, I'd just point him at the wall and do my half-halts, and if he didn't respond, pretty soon there was a wall in front of him. Start at the walk and go to the trot only when it's going well at the walk. Experiment with seeing how little rein you can use. It's like a conversation with your horse.

Quote:

Originally Posted by samskye347 (Post 613270)
i have been riding in mainly walk and trot since i saw this getting worse, and the whole thing got so much better as i started working on soft hands, but when i introduced small bits of canter everything id improved went out of the window

Your seat probably isn't as good at the canter. With the extra canter movement, your hands probably aren't as steady. Again, this is normal. Keep working hard on walk and trot, and have only a few steps of canter, then go back to trot BEFORE it starts to fall apart.

Northern 04-23-2010 04:36 PM

contact
 
How much riding do you do on a loose rein, meaning no contact at all? I was just reading about this: every time you unnecessarily ride with contact (standing there yakking, going to arena from barn, trail riding, etc.) you're ruining horse's mouth! The major part of riding should be on a truly loose rein. Giving your horse that 80-90% of the time you're with it, as well as not leading horse with the taut lead/rein, will do wonders for its mouth.

Northern 04-23-2010 04:53 PM

Sorry to double, but my edit functions are covered by a pop-up I can't get rid of: in longeing, I hope she's not on hardpack! She needs well-banked perimeter for her balance & body. Plus, only your pony can teach you! You want to be with your pony, instinctively, not on top of it doing what somebody else says to do, to your intellect. There's lots of free info online that I think'd be helpful, too. Good luck!

Rule of Reason 04-23-2010 06:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Northern (Post 613303)
How much riding do you do on a loose rein, meaning no contact at all? I was just reading about this: every time you unnecessarily ride with contact (standing there yakking, going to arena from barn, trail riding, etc.) you're ruining horse's mouth! The major part of riding should be on a truly loose rein. Giving your horse that 80-90% of the time you're with it, as well as not leading horse with the taut lead/rein, will do wonders for its mouth.

:roll:

Kaioti 04-24-2010 12:42 AM

lol
Posted via Mobile Device

samskye347 04-24-2010 02:58 PM

Thank you Rule of Reason, your answer made me realise that whilst I am making things worse at the minute, there are ways to improve things which is definately a positive thought and which i am definately going to continue with!!!
And yes, my instructor does tell me to use half-halts to slow her down,and to have a contact so there is no slack in the reins, and use half-halts to steady the pace which i understand the concept of and do use them and will just take it slowly until im happy with it walk and then trot before i head to the canter!
And i do know exactly what you mean about how long these faults take to get rid of; considering i feel like this came on overnight!

And to be honest, i do the majoirty of my walk on a long rein, but with my horse, even when i first got her and she was an angel to ride(without me being awful with my hands) she needed you to have a feel on the reins, a contact with her mouth. not so much that she needs your hands to balance with as she was and still is light in the mouth but needs you there for support. Well i personally think anyway and as did my instructor who has ridden her a few times. I know the importance of not being overly harsh on the mouth so as to make it 'dead' but think you have to alter this to each horse?? I know i horse who does not like contact AT ALL with his mouth and will go in a steady, lovely pace and turn, slow and speed up on a loose rein but not all will!


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