Need Exercises for Balance - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 12-28-2011, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Rochester, NY
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• Horses: 3
Need Exercises for Balance


I have an 11 year old reg Paint mare, named TRU PRINCESS that has a wonderful disposition. I got her two years ago and up to that point she had 30 days western and two foals under her belt.

I am a relatively inexperienced rider (riding for just two years) and mainly on Princess, about 5 days a week (taking weekly lessons in hunter/jumper and then, most recently beginner dressage, on Princess. We have been working on straightness, forward movement at the walk, trot and canter. We started jumping over a year ago and we both enjoy going over a variety of 2 ft jumps once a week.

I entered Princess into an Introductory level schooling dressage show last summer. She was well behaved and we did well considering it was the first time. The judges thought that we were matched well, they could see that we had a very tight bond, and that Princess was new to dressage. They pointed out that Princess is not balanced, no flexion, and that she was very much on the forehand.

To help Princess build muscle I have been lunging her with side reins and carefully using draw reins at the walk and trot. We go on trail rides (weather permitting) on hills that help her develop her butt muscles. In addition I would also have her jumping a series of cross rails or trotting over cavalettis. Furthermore, I recently purchased a "balance training system". In the hopes that it would help Princess because after a year of taking all of this advice for training Princess she is still crooked in her body, using the front end, walks like a drunk sailor, and holds herself with a ewe neck!

Does anyone have other advice on exercises that I can use to help her learn to use muscles correctly, move forward in a straight line, and flex at the poll?

How long does it really take to get a horse to move correctly? I worry that her conformation is the limiting factor. :( But, I love my pony and want to continue trying.
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Cadence is offline  
post #2 of 5 Old 12-28-2011, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Missouri
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In the lunging picture, I don't see her working off of the side reins.. she's just kind of lunging herself and they're flying in the wind.

Here is my horse lunging in side reins. Notice how there is slack in the side rein but he chooses to keep his head down and work them.

He's a green horse, so if he can do it yours can do it :)

What helps him most is that he learned how to give on the ground before asked to do so under saddle.
This is from another thread but my words regardless:
The horse starts out "giving" to the bit by releasing the jaw.. which you do to get the bridle on by sticking a finger in the corner of the mouth. Teach the horse to release that jaw. Then, teach her that she needs to release that jaw when there is pressure from the bit.. even a vibration. You do this on the ground also. Then you try it on her back.
My horse gives nicely when I ask by vibrating each rein after slipping on his bridle.. he releases that jaw and lowers his head because it's easier for him to release than to brace. But they have to figure that out first ;)

Once they can release and "give" then you drive them forward from the hind and they'll start to ride with tummies tucked in, spine fluid and relaxed, and their heads low but still connected.

It's a process.. but you'll get there with her :)

My favourite thread for building muscle.. which leads into a more balanced horse:

Good luck
Skyseternalangel is offline  
post #3 of 5 Old 12-28-2011, 06:36 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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Id suggest lots of bending lines, figure eights and throw lots of transitions in there!

Go slow, also hill work is good for balancing and building up muscle. In the Kung get her to go different paces in the trot have a nice relaxed slow trot and then make her really engage her hind end and reach through correctly by making her go forward, nit fast or stressful just forward into the contact. You can do this at the walk to. Lots of transitions too. I'm going to be doing all this over again with my boy bringing him back into work. It will take awhile but it will be so rewarding when you feel her balance out under you! You can do it!!
Klassic Superstar is offline  
post #4 of 5 Old 12-28-2011, 06:38 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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I would not be using draw reins, she will it get there correctly and when you take them away you won't have the same horse.

This takes time and lots of paitaince, stick with it and you will see a difference!
Klassic Superstar is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 12-28-2011, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 140
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Today was Princess' first time using the balance training rig. My friend and trainer asked that I not make it any tighter that what you see in the picture.

I started by asking Princess to give, while she was at a stand still. I can jiggle the reins and she will drop her head. The problem is she holds it for a second and then her head pops back up. I have been working on getting her to hold it there for longer periods. She will hold it lower, like a hunter horse, at a walk but the head pops up when you ask for the trot. It goes into a ewe neck position. I even attached a voice command for dropping her head. It works sometimes.

When I am in the saddle I use the voice command and jiggle the reins. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. She puts her self in the position for a second and then it pops into the ewe neck.

You have great advice that I have seen work on horses around me but, this has not been successful with getting Princess to flex, unfortunately. :(
Cadence is offline  

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