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coffeeaddict 10-28-2010 12:11 AM

Giraffe neck and scraping the clouds
My mare has a horrible giraffe neck when I'm riding her. At a walk she will relax her neck and round her back, but the minute we pick up the pace her neck flies up and her nose points out and she does an awesome impression of a giraffe.

I'm not asking how to "collect her". To be honest I don't care right now if she is perfectly collected, I just want that head to not be totally in the sky the entire time.

She responds well to my aids, she has good impulsion, everything else is going well except this issue. She naturally carries her head fairly high, so I have a feeling I'm working against nature here when I expect her to lower it, but there has to be some room for improvement because what I have now is just ridiculous.

Does anyone have any exercises to work on that will help her lower that neck a little so it's not always in the clouds?

Snookeys 10-28-2010 04:56 AM

Get her to move off her rump with lots of walk/trot trot/walk transitions and half-halts. She could also be evading the bit. You ultimately want her reaching forward into the bit. Try going into a roundpen and letting your reins loose. Ask her to trot, then let her be. Once you feel her start to pick up speed (faster than her initial trot) do a one rein stop on her, back her a few steps to get the weight on her booty, and take off in the trot again. Keep doing this and she will not only be going slower without tons of contact, she will learn to take off with impulsion from behind (and, without the contact stopping her front end, she will maintain it). This should get her to drop her head to a relaxed position. You eventually work up to doing it with contact on the reins, but starting off with none at all is best. Getting a horse to drop its head will take more than one exercise... you'll have to get her a strong top line. The exercise I suggested is one of many that will build up your horse's muscle. Good luck!

Alwaysbehind 10-28-2010 06:52 AM

Have you had her teeth checked and your saddle fit checked?

coffeeaddict 10-28-2010 10:10 AM

She had her teeth floated not too long ago, and her saddle fits. I think she just doesn't have a clue what I expect of her. She is so used to going around with her neck up in the air that she probably doesn't see any other way.

Snookeys, I'll work on the transitions more. I've done a ton of them from walk to trot and back to walk but I haven't asked her back up every time. Thanks!

Alwaysbehind 10-28-2010 11:52 AM

Do you have conformation shots of her. She might be built in a way that yes, she will carry her head higher.

Other than that, I can not see it as comfy for any horse to move with its head up and its back all inverted.

What is not so long ago when it comes to teeth? And has your saddle been checked by a professional?

netty83 10-28-2010 12:21 PM

Have you tried draw reins. These are a good training tool when trying to teach your horse to carry it's head lower. These should not be used as a solution to the problem but using them for half of a schooling session and then taking them off for the other half should eventually help your horse to learn that carrying his head lower is better. My instructor uses them on her dressage horse while training at home which is encouraging his head to be lower when at competitions.

coffeeaddict 10-28-2010 02:47 PM

I haven't tried draw reins. I'm really hoping to get her carrying herself better without any gadgets, but if all else fails I will look into them.

She had her teeth floated four months ago. I don't have access to a professional saddle fitter, but the tack shop does fitting and they seem to know what their talking about. I trailored her over there and had her fitted before I bought the saddle.

I've also watched every youtube video I can find on saddle fitting and from what I can see hers fits. I'm obviously not a professional at it, but between my obsessive video watching and the people at the tack shop I think we're ok on the saddle.

I've attached some pics. She still needs to gain some weight and I'm not the best photographer, but hopefully this can give you a good idea of her build.

netty83 10-28-2010 03:10 PM

Gorgeous markings!

corinowalk 10-28-2010 03:52 PM

I think AB was on to something. I think her conformation doesn't allow her to keep her head much lower than it is in those pictures. Her neck attaches very high and she does have a very long swan neck. Even if she were to collect and tuck her nose under, she is still going to have a long neck that is going to feel like it is in your face.

You could always try waiting til she relaxes into her gait. She may just be doing the "yea! lets trot lets trot!" nose in the air, stargazing stuff. I would keep her going, let her find her rhythm. If you can pull off a half decent 2 point with a good bit of slack in the reins, after a few times around a ring they usually settle into a 1-2-1-2-1-2 balanced, cadenced rhythm. Give her lots of praise every time she relaxes and stretches down. She may just be getting over excited.

Good luck with her! Keep us posted!

Speed Racer 10-28-2010 03:58 PM


Originally Posted by coffeeaddict (Post 797731)
I haven't tried draw reins. I'm really hoping to get her carrying herself better without any gadgets, but if all else fails I will look into them.

Unless you know what you're doing, draw reins aren't the most effective tool. They can be downright cruel in the wrong hands. Also, too often they're used as a shortcut instead of getting the proper training for the animal.

Looking at her pictures, I'm going to have to agree with AlwaysBehind; her head and neck set isn't going to allow her to drop her head to get the set you want.

Saddlebreds carry their heads and neck high because that's the way they're set on their bodies. Unless you force her into an unnatural position, she won't willingly carry them lower.

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