pushing through her right shoulder
My mare is pushing through with her right shoulder, even when going in a straight line she is pushing that shoulder out and making a strange shape. It's almost like she is leading with that shoulder. How can i help correct this? I am currently working on lateral flexion with her on the ground and trying to get her bending nicely. Should i be trying to do this from the saddle also? She has mainly been a driving mare and I think this issue maybe stems from being in the shafts and having to push the shoulder through to turn the cart. I am going to see my trainer with this issue but are there any exercises or movements with rein or leg that I can do to help keep that shoulder in. (I should perhaps say that i'm just bringing my mare back into work and she has not been ridden for probably 2-3 years, 15 months of that period i definitely know she hasn't been ridden but the rest is a good guess).
sounds like it's definitely a matter of being stiff to one side more than the other. To be honest, I dont' have any specific advice about suppling, other than what you already know. Just to say that it takes time to open the muscles that are closed (the left side). I will be interested to hear what more experienced persons have to say.
thanks tiny. It's really frustrating and she is starting to come round nice and light in these lateral flexions compared to when I first started them when she needed alot of support and couldn't keep her feet still enough to bend her neck even slightly round.
It's sounds like you are approaching it the right way. Suppling through ground exercises is better than from her back. If a horse cannot do it on the ground correctly then ridden will never be better.
After years conforming to certain stresses and demands it will take time. Bones can even remodel. Little and often is always the best way, and never force any flexion or stretch, always let the horse find it, just as if I was asking you to touch your toes. I wouldn't press down on your back I would just keep asking you to go as far as you can without hurting yourself.
Always remember it will start with the TMJ, work through the neck and then the ribcage, through to the hind ultimately. Also remember to work on straightness exercises too , and always work both sides the same even if you are concerned with just one side.
Some useful exercises include poles. Place some poles in a fan shape, so at one end they are all touching and at the other they are apart if that makes sense? Then lead the horse and ask her to walk around that curve over the poles. You can even make it harder by raising one end of the poles, and even alternating them.
Another great exercise is to stack lots of poles across each other like Kerplunk (British people will know Kerplunk). Always make sure one end of a pole is on the grounds they are stable. Then ask the horse to find her way across. This means she has to choose her own steps. It encourages, trust, concentration, balance and strengthens tendons and ligaments that get neglected.
Another one is to make a labyrinth of poles, imagine an S shaped passage to start with. Leading the horse through makes them bend around the corners, but also gives them a focus and allows you to release any pressure on their heads so they can flex naturally. As they also have a reason to bend it provides more interest and purpose for them and settles them a lot.
Hope this helps.
yes that makes sense thank you. i will try pole work. I haven't done any kind of pole work before but I will give that a try. Should i start by placing the poles so that they fan on the left hand side with it being her right shoulder and what should i do to encourage her to keep that shoulder in and bend more while going over the poles?
In terms of encouraging her to bend, don't at first. Simply walk a curve yourself and let her find her way. I know we want to see flexibility, to encourage it physically, but the fastest and most effective change is when it happens naturally. If you've ever suffered something like a back problem, you will know that when you just can't, you really can't! So let her find her way. It's as much about re-programming her body and brain as to how it can move as it is physical conditioning.
Let me tell you about an experience of a horse with severe bracing. His shoulders were like iron. The most incredible body worker I know is truly gifted. She will never make any money because she cares too much to be commercial, but her name is Fiona Varions if anyone in the UK is interested. She has worked for years with the British Paralypic team, Riverdance, Oxford Boat crew etc etc. Anyway she said to me, this horse has to avoid going downhills while you recondition his mind to teach it that it can move forward without bracing.
The problem was his livery yard was at the top of a hill. If you left the yard it was hills either side, and even the track down to the field was a hill. So how the heck could I avoid hills. Think laterally she taught me. The answer? I had to zig-zag that horse across the track up and down the hills, so that they weren't hills. Even go down the hill backwards! But it worked.
Incidentally are you confident that the hoof angles are all correct? 95% of all lameness issues are actually hoof related. Not saying it's the sole reason but everything adds up to make a difference.
Ooh coming back to leading, just a thought have you heard of 'drawing the bow' (any of Linda Tellington work perhaps)
I haven't heard of Fiona or Linda but I will reasearch them thank you. Really interesting and useful exercisies for me to try. I have got some poles on order as we speak and I will keep going with the lateral flexions.
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