Behind the Vertical? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 14 Old 06-03-2019, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Jul 2018
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It's definitely hard to tell without a full body picture, but It does look like your horse is holding his head in and your hands look like the may be low? So, too much hand and not enough leg/ seat.

To get him working over his back, I suggest thinking "up and out" with your hands. When he ducks his nose in, lift your hands, add leg + driving seat, and let him bring your hands forward. Reward any small improvement. I also suggest doing this in small durations, then allowing him to stretch his head down and out, which builds the trapezius muscle before and behind the wither.

Don't worry about him going above the bit, as It is quite normal for a horse to do that until they have developed the proper muscle to hold their head in the proper position. It can take up to 1 year for them to really develop that muscle. Many people make the mistake of making a horse keep their head down, which results in tension against the bit, rather than a horse that searches for the bit. Getting a horse straight and on your aids is also a big part of getting a proper 'frame'. Most horses will naturally go onto the bit when set up properly and no horse will naturally relax when crooked or unbalanced. If he does go above though, you can lift your hands up higher and send him forward until he connects with the bit again, then bring your hands down and forward with him. When a horse's head goes above the bit and your hands stay at the same level, the bit now acts on the bars of the horse (as you can sort of picture below). Raising the hands allows you to keep the bit action more or less on the corners of the horse's mouth.

Rollkur, is when BTV is taken to an extreme and they are different. In rollkur, A horse's nose will be taken in farther to his chest and held there for an extended period of time. Greener horses or horses lacking muscle will sometimes dip behind the vertical from time to time due to being tired or inexperienced. This puts more weight on their front end and allows them to avoid using their hind end properly.
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Jolly101 is offline  
post #12 of 14 Old 06-03-2019, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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I agree with @Jolly101 . Think of " upward and outward" when you are asking the horse to work into contact on the bit. Never lower your hands in an effort to pull him down. This is something I see all the time and it's one of my pet peeves.

Hold your reins with your thumb on top. Don't curl your wrists inward . Think of holding a tray that is resting on your thumb knuckles. Now , keeping it steady, you "offer" it forward. I don't mean that you move forward much , but rather having that image , of offering or inviting forward, helps you to encourage the horse to bring the bit forward, and you will feel this and follow him just that little bit that tells him to trust you giving hands.
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post #13 of 14 Old 06-03-2019, 03:49 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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"I also donít want to ride him hollow"

A horse can be soft and obedient to the rein aids with his nose forward, and can be so without a bit:

A horse can fight the bit regardless of head position, too. Please notice a horse has 90 degrees of head movement available to him at the poll alone! Every bone behind the poll can be in the same place while the head moves up and down.

Why would a horse move his head up or down?

"The horse has a "visual streak", or an area within the retina, linear in shape, with a high concentration of ganglion cells (up to 6100 cells/mm2 in the visual streak compared to the 150 and 200 cells/mm2 in the peripheral area).[12] Horses have better acuity when the objects they are looking at fall in this region. They therefore will tilt or raise their heads, to help place the objects within the area of the visual streak."

The British Cavalry had a poem calling the horse's neck his "5th leg". A horse fine-tunes his balance using his neck and head motion. Allowing a horse to move his head will not make the horse hollow, nor encourage to be hollow.

If a horse is pulling from the front, then he needs to learn better balance with a rider. It doesn't have anything to do with nose position. You can ask him to switch gears (speed transitions) or ask him to turn, or stop him and start again. I think a horse should learn self-carriage before being asked to perform....guided carriage?

Unless you are an expert, the easiest way to get a horse to use its back properly is to A) get off the back as much as possible and B) present the horse with physical challenges - changes in speed, direction, or rough terrain. Horses will use their backs when it helps them to do so and when we don't punish their backs with our weight.

You might want to read Schooling Your Horse by VS Littauer. Amazon has copies that run under $15 including shipping.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
bsms is offline  
post #14 of 14 Old 06-03-2019, 05:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: north
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To me, my first guess is that your horse is weak and thus he will either be above or below no matter what you do until you get him fit to work over his back. Jumping around does not do this. Long trots, hill work and CORRECT pole work does. I'd take bsms's advice and get you horse out over some country and let him learn to use his back while carrying a rider on his own. Stay out of his face. Use your reins to rate some, but mostly your seat. Drilling in the arena isn't going to make him more inclined to the work. If the arena is your only option I'd set up some well spaced, interesting pole work and again: don't focus on your hands- instead go for rhythm and his head will drop WHEN he is balanced, and WHEN he is strong enough to hold his back up carrying you.

It's worth noting the back of a horse isn't exactly designed to be a simply supported beam-- it's best function is as a suspension system for those massive internal organs. Think of it as a suspension bridge that we want to change to a Roman arch- we are changing it from functioning in tension to compression (us on top). This is why fitness of the back and topline is so important and must be taken so carefully. really the best way to get that fitness is long walks up and down hills. Do a little arena work with a good instructor who understands biomechanics, but also (especially at your skill level) get your horse OUT and let him figure out how to carry his back and frame up on it's own. Did I mention HILL WORK? In case I didnt- GO DO SOME HILL WORK. Seriously spend 1-2 weeks playing on hills, come back to light arena flatwork and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the result. If you arent- go check saddle fit.
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