Frame? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-05-2019, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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I've heard people religiously preach about having the horse in a "frame" to better support the weight of a rider, or the horse will become sore, stiff, hollow, swayback, lame, have kissing spine, blah, blah, blah....

I was a little curious about backyard, endurance, beginner, trail, ranch, and/or work riders. People who are new to horse riding or are just casually riding probably aren't going to have their horse in a frame.People who ride their horse for hours a day, hours at a time probably aren't going to have their horse in a frame the entire time, even though it is long, hard work. How do their horses fare? Sorry if that is a noob question.

What are your opinions about training, having, and keeping a horse in a frame?
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-06-2019, 12:09 AM
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I was never trained to put a horse 'in a frame', but maybe what I was taught is similar; getting the horse to ' come onto the bit'

It's taught as a part of building the horse's connection to the rider, versatility in speed and direction changes, and to make for an easier ride for the HUMAN. But, even dressage riders do not keep their horses 'in a frame' for long periods of time. It's hard work for the horse, so, it's nice if you can get that, but yo don't want the horse travelling that way all the time.

I don't think it has much to do with sway back or anything like that. If the horse runs really hard on the forehand, then a rider might help the horse have healther legs (less stress on them) if she can help teach the horse to not 'fall forward ' hard and run strung out.

But, most working horses, that go all day on the trail or on the ranch, are left to move in a way that is easiest for them, and it isn't in a frame.
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-06-2019, 12:44 AM
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No frame needed. Horses do just fine without one. These horses had covered over 50 miles in the previous 2 days, climbing up 4000' in the process, and were then ridden all over the mountains ahead during the next month. No problems.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-06-2019, 04:23 AM
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I despise the term "frame". It's not about where the head is at all (except in show horses/dressage but even then it should be as a symptom of correct training, not the goal of the training). It's about whether or not the horse is using its back correctly. A hollow inverted horse will go sore. A horse that is travelling level will be ok. A round horse that is using itself to its full capabilities is going to have the most efficient gait, and be the most capable of handling whatever the world throws at it (physically speaking).

But again, roundness has very little to do with headset. A horse can be round with its head low and its nose in front of the vertical, or with its head high and its nose on the vertical.

Behind the vertical is never round.
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-06-2019, 11:59 AM
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If we're being honest, having beginners and novices ride a horse is one of the worst things you can do. It does effect a horse's soundness when they go their whole lives with the heads in the air, or the rider leaning to one ride, or the million other things beginners do that compromise the balance and carrying ability of a horse. If every horse had a pro ride, they'd be much sounder.

Realistically? If beginners never rode there would be no horse industry. People need to learn, so ideally the trainer would take steps to reduce the wear and tear on their lesson horses, like ensuring the horse is well schooled in correct carriage and isn't ridden in damaging ways too often.

They often aren't ridden enough to really make a detrimental effect, too. If the horse spends 2-3h a week in a less than ideal position, it's not going to cripple them. They spend the rest of their time in a natural balance. That's how working horses do it, they are allowed to travel in a natural balance.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-07-2019, 10:12 AM
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I may be wrong here, but the people who are concerned with having a horse coiled, as it were, with a lightened forehand, rear end engaged, are people who need or desire rapid elegant balanced responses and exact gaits in a contained area. Dressage, Vaquero riding, that sort of thing. There are lots of activities where that isn't going to be desirable. Horses covering ground over uneven terrain, such as trail horses (walking), endurance horses (trotting), cross country/hunting horses (galloping), are not going to be traveling in a 'frame', because they need to have complete freedom of their forehand to do their job. It would be very tiring if not unsafe otherwise. An extreme version would be cutting horses, who need you to point out the calf and then stay out of their way as best you can.

To me, this kind of collection is either an exercise in an arena, or a temporary connection one would make to negotiate a tricky part of a trail, or a gate, etc.

It is only too human to imagine that what you and the people around you are focusing on is the way everyone should do it. Dressage people think it's all about the frame, jumping people are entirely concerned with whether and how a horse goes over obstacles at speed. And so forth.
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post #7 of 8 Old 04-07-2019, 12:55 PM
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Left to themselves, horses will naturally adopt a 'self carriage' frame that's best suited to carry the weight of the rider
When you see horses going along (ridden) with hollow backs and inverted necks its mostly always going to be related to something negative the rider or a past rider has done to them. Poor hands on the bit or the nose will do it every time.
Don't confuse 'frame' and 'self carriage' with collection.
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Just winging it is not a plan
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post #8 of 8 Old 04-07-2019, 04:51 PM
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I was watching a DVD the other day, I forgot the title but it was Todd Bergen discussing performance horses, reined cow horses to be specific.
I found it interesting he used the term "frame" differently than most which I really liked. It didn't have to do with forcing a headset or collection. He used it quite literally, he thinks of frame as a box around the horse as you are riding him but not the neck and head and not in a side profile as a lot of pictures show.
He illustrated as when you're riding the horse and you are sitting in a cardboard box. If you were loping a circle to the left and his shoulder bulging to the outside he would be pushing on the front outside of the frame/box, fix it, leave him alone. The horse is pushing through your hands, he's pushing on the front of the frame. And by fixing those body parts as the push out then leave the horse alone to relax in the frame the head relaxes and comes down. He demonstrated it on a couple of horses and after fixing a couple of things horses relaxed and loped around quiet and pretty. And they learn to be responsible for themselves.

This seems pretty oversimplified and basic training which it is as he was demonstrating on his younger horses loping circles but it was neat to see it wasn't forced or the horses weren't held in a position or frame.
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Last edited by COWCHICK77; 04-07-2019 at 04:56 PM.
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