How to prevent hyperflexion? - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-25-2015, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
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How to prevent hyperflexion?

Hi, I have a 16h Warmblood mare who has a lot of trouble relaxing her neck. She is constantly behind the vertical and if you try to get her to stop, she just throws her head around. She's homebred, sweet natured, only ever had a snaffle or hackamore. We wanted to train her for showjumping, as that's our discipline. However it's pretty difficult to jump when your horse is hyperflexing over the jump. And if she doesn't, she rushes and charges at the jump.

Unfortunately I don't have a photo. Sorry.

Anyone had experience with this? Or know how to prevent it?
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-25-2015, 06:46 AM
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How are you trying to get your horse to stop over-flexing?

Over-flexing and rushing jumps are both signs of tension. For the time being, I would forget everything else and simply help this horse understand that she can relax even when she has a rider on her back. Begin at the walk. Let her go at her own pace while you simply balance on her back and move with her. Talk quietly to her or even sing softly to reassure her that there is nothing to be worried about. If you need to cue for a turn or stop, do so as smoothly and softly as possible.

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post #3 of 8 Old 10-25-2015, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, that's what I've been trying to do. Problem is, my father is rushing for a sale. So he rides her and not only is he asking her to jump, he's very unbalanced. I mean he can stay in the saddle just fine, but he has very little balance going over jumps and even just working on the flat. That could be causing tension.

I haven't found her over flexing with me too much because I'm not trying to do much. I am afraid she's gonna buck so I just sit calmly while she does her stuff around the arena. But I have no control. So if I ask her to go up a pace she will either move too forward, start prepping for a buck, or if I have contact on the reins she will overflex.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-25-2015, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alir View Post
Thanks, that's what I've been trying to do. Problem is, my father is rushing for a sale. So he rides her and not only is he asking her to jump, he's very unbalanced. I mean he can stay in the saddle just fine, but he has very little balance going over jumps and even just working on the flat. That could be causing tension.

I haven't found her over flexing with me too much because I'm not trying to do much. I am afraid she's gonna buck so I just sit calmly while she does her stuff around the arena. But I have no control. So if I ask her to go up a pace she will either move too forward, start prepping for a buck, or if I have contact on the reins she will overflex.
It can be difficult -- though not always impossible -- to help a horse learn to relax while being ridden when others are riding the horse without this goal in mind. The fact that your father is rushing for a sale probably conveys itself to the horse in the form of tension which would cause corresponding tension in the horse.

When you are riding this horse at a walk, try to feel whether the horse's muscles are tense or relaxed. Work to get that relaxed feeling before even considering a trot. Breath deeply, talk softly, hum, or even sing softly to give the horse assurance that everything is all right. Think of calming an anxious child.

Try to establish just enough contact with the reins so you can feel a different with the bit if you slightly flex your fingers. Try to keep this contact constant as your hands follow the movements of your horse's head.

Be sure your body is moving with your horse. At the walk, you should feel your seat bones moving in small circles -- down, forward, up, down, forward, up -- about 180 degrees off from one another. When you think you feel your horse's muscles have become relaxed, test this by stopping all movement in your body. If your horse has truly relaxed and become accustomed to your body moving with hers, she should stop when she feels you stop. If she doesn't, begin moving with her again working at relaxation before you try again.

Once you have established such relaxation at the walk, you may try whispering for a trot. This may just be a slight flex and release of your calf muscles or simply a soft verbal "trot".

I recently worked with two young girls who were having trouble getting a quiet trot from their horses. The horses appeared to take off quickly and the girls began pulling on the reins. I told them both to put their hands on their horses' necks and keep them there when they asked for a trot. Both horses began a much more relaxed trot.

I hope these thoughts provide you something to work with.

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post #5 of 8 Old 10-25-2015, 11:14 AM
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With this horse it sounds like the horse is being rushed through its training without being taught the basics it needs to do what it is being asked. The horse might do what is asked but isn't ready which to me explains the hyperflexion and rushing. To me it sounds like there is a lot of pressure and balance/rhythm problems and maybe a misunderstanding about contact. A lot of horses go behind the verticle when learning because they lack the strength, coordination and balance to carry themselves. Proper balance takes a lot of time to develop, with my youngster I used to have to remind him every 4 steps not to duck behind the contact and I still have to remind him sometimes. I was able to correct it by doing laterals and constantly pushing him to the bridle. For example too light in the bridle leg yield, shoulder in or haunches in use my leg to push him into the connection, half halt, organize hj. and give both reins, return to normal, push him out and move into laterals or halt with my legs on to push him out and get his haunches underneath him if he didn't understand. It took a lot of time and patience. Lots of core half halts and setting him back and helping him organize his body. I did a lot of transitions, serpentines, 10m tear drop loops, etc always focussing on his balance and keeping the same rhythm. Not faster, not slower. Rhythm, balance and connection are all absolutely necessary in any horses training and that they understand how to half halt. Teaching the half halt comes from transitions of walk-trot, walk-trot-walk, trot- nearly walk. When they nearly walk and sit a little more is when you have round your half halt.

Personally I would focus on the flat and work over polls. Id focus on keeping the same rhythm throughout a ride and teach the horse to listen to the rider. A half halt is a reminder to listen and I wouldnt do a ton with the hand other than to supple and to supple it is just in the hands and fingers, like massaging a sponge. I'd do lots of exercises and really emphasize the same-consistent rhythm, which may sound basic but most horses cant do that much. I would not throw away the reins or have loops, keep a connection but dont pull back. Just be there. Improving the flat is what is going to improve ridability and performance over fences and imo make a horse more marketable.
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-25-2015, 12:58 PM
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I would try to find a bit (or bitless) that she's comfortable to actually lean on a bit - the Happy Mouth shaped Mullen mouth worked great for a horse I bought that would do this.
A lot of horses get behind the bit to avoid pressure/contact
The other possibility is that she's been worked in some training aid to get a 'fixed' headset rather than worked correctly to ride from behind into the hand to achieve true collection
Have you tried lunging her in tack with no side reins so she can start to learn self balance without a rider?
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-25-2015, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
I would try to find a bit (or bitless) that she's comfortable to actually lean on a bit - the Happy Mouth shaped Mullen mouth worked great for a horse I bought that would do this.
A lot of horses get behind the bit to avoid pressure/contact
The other possibility is that she's been worked in some training aid to get a 'fixed' headset rather than worked correctly to ride from behind into the hand to achieve true collection
Have you tried lunging her in tack with no side reins so she can start to learn self balance without a rider?
She has definitely not been worked in training aids. But maybe once or twice draw reins just to keep her head straight. The riders were professional dressage riders from Germany.

I actually lunged her with tack before her rides on the weekend. Had her going nice and supple. Even had her go over a few 110cm jumps. She went real nice.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-25-2015, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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Someone suggested it was her way of getting over the bit?

TXHorseman I'm going to try your method thanks!
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