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toe-first striking
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Katherine
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 Posted: Tue Sep 24th, 2013 05:20 pm
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Dr. Deb,

Yes, agreed, I have had a look at the MacKenzie book, and it was originally aimed at supporting a "program" and was also based around "behaviours". So, down on two counts. At least by mentioning it now I have perhaps saved others wasting their time and money on it. I don't even like the pictures hugely, and I often keep books just for pictures even if the text isn't great, but maybe not this one.


I have never done any round-pen work before but have seen it done very badly by guys who do arena tours, so have read and re-read the thread here for the deeper meaning.

I took my mare into a small area this afternoon and just stood in the middle,  and my presence alone was enough to send her round as if going by clockwork. It looked like she had been there before which is possible, as I don't know her history. It took me near an hour to untrack her softly and a step at a time on the right rein, and eventually have her come to me, using almost zero aura/bubble force, and I also now understand why she is harder to turn by the birdie to the left when ridden. She does not hook on at all with the left eye. It was an enlightening hour, by no means a conclusion, and I will follow up with all the other exercises discussed in this thread and I am sure will see improvement in time. Personal instruction would I accept be best, and I will need to look into how I could arrange this, perhaps if you return to Vindolanda next year you may be interested in a few days in Scotland!

With thanks,

Katherine

 

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Thu Sep 26th, 2013 07:24 am
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Hello again-- we've done these eye exercised a few more times now and we're making progress. I think I get it a little better now and have figured out where to put myself in relation to her head and quarters to do the exercise more successfully. She'll keep me in her left eye for a few moments now while untracking before overbending or swinging her hind end around. When she has me in her left eye, she has a soft round posture and seems okay but then she sort of gets a little rushy and tight as she tries to get both eyes on me again. I'm still confused however as to why this eye dominance doesn't show up in the semiphore exercise. Thanks again, Juliet

Katherine
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 Posted: Thu Sep 26th, 2013 02:50 pm
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Since my initial experiment two days ago we have had a total change. Yesterday I went into the field to do general feeding and mucking out and so on, and my mare came over immediately, asking to hook on. She also looked as if it was all such a big relief! She did this off the right eye. We did a few manoeuvres untracking and hooking on and her following me around, and I left her at that.

Today I took her into the yard, haltered her, and did a little work off the left eye as per this thread. We also did a few minutes with the flag (both eyes) and she was OK enough to leave and put back to the field.

Later when I went to the field do the general tidy up and feeding, she came over once more and presented herself for hooking on. This mare has been unreliable to catch since I bought her, so it is a big change. She also hinted she could work off the left eye tonight, so we did a few slow step-by-step untracks and she willingly came in to call off the more difficult eye.

Learning horsemanship is like peeling off the layers of an onion to get right to the heart - maybe now I have started at the first layer

Katherine

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Sep 26th, 2013 09:57 pm
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Yes, Katherine: you're finding out how horses REALLY work -- instead of how the Olympic Team and the Pony Club says they work.

Our elderly teacher used to talk about the majority of people who were "surface workers -- just working on the surface." This is the onion thing, as another way of putting it.

And Juliet: very good. I did not reply before because I figured you'd just need a little more time and a few more tries.

It DOES "work" by the way, when you are doing the semaphore thing; you just don't see it. Go very slow with this; you may be coming on a little too strong and that will blow the Birdie right back down into their eyes.

Did you all see the article in Equus Magazine this month -- a nice University study that demonstrated that horses that do not APPEAR to be stressing when tied up to be body-clipped are in fact (by measured physiological markers such as cortisol release and heart rate) stressing just as much as those that give obvious physical signs such as tail-swishing or weaving back and forth on the end of the tie.

This is exactly why Juliet is not seeing that she is in fact having an effect with the semaphore exercise: many horses are rather stoic, and often the stoic ones are the most stressed. They just 'hold it in' -- and then spook or explode when they get enough of a build-up.

Notice also the wisdom of our elderly teacher in showing us that it would be good to learn to groom our horses without tying them up. Remember that a horse is defined psychologically as "the kind of animal that survives by making adjustments". When the horse's ability to "adjust" -- which means move away or move its legs -- is reduced or totally cut off (as it is with cross-ties), its internal stress level will go up the most -- and may become an external expression, as I said, with enough of a build-up of pressure. Remember that it is the HANDLER or GROOMER who brings on the pressure. How sadly amusing that this is then said to be "the horse's resistance" by most people.

So Juliet, the application of this to you is to just take it slow when working from the front. Try alternating a kind of oblique semaphore, where you play with trying to get the horse to untrack with its left hind leg from a position diagaonally out from its shoulder -- not all the way around to the side but not all the way in front either. Loosen her up this way, both sides, a few times, and then show her the flag again directly from the front. The purpose of doing it from the front is to 'wake up' the weaker eye; not to get her to do anything, necessarily. The more directly in front you stand, the more you're addressing the eye and the less you're addressing any hind leg that might untrack. -- Dr. Deb

Sharon Adley
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 Posted: Fri Sep 27th, 2013 03:14 pm
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Dr Deb said:

"Notice also the wisdom of our elderly teacher in showing us that it would be good to learn to groom our horses without tying them up. Remember that a horse is defined psychologically as "the kind of animal that survives by making adjustments". When the horse's ability to "adjust" -- which means move away or move its legs -- is reduced or totally cut off (as it is with cross-ties), its internal stress level will go up the most -- and may become an external expression, as I said, with enough of a build-up of pressure. Remember that it is the HANDLER or GROOMER who brings on the pressure. How sadly amusing that this is then said to be "the horse's resistance" by most people."

On that note, I think I'll go back to grooming the horses loose in their stalls (and tacking them up there too) as I used to do.  See if it helps the mare who was tied in high, tight cross ties for all grooming for years before she came to me.   She has improved with time (I don't cross tie) but still does fidget when grooming and tacking up.

Sharon

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Sep 28th, 2013 12:02 am
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I wouldn't do it in the confines of a stall, Sharon; the animal could swap around and catch you against a wall and get you pinned or kicked. If you do it in a stall, halter her and have the end of the halter-line draped over the crook of your left arm when you're on the horse's left side, and vice-versa.

Better, however, would be to learn to do it out in the arena or in an outdoor pen larger than a stall. You begin, even there, with the halter on; only when it becomes obvious that the horse has no intention of swapping its butt around to face you, or of leaving, and when they have quit fidgeting altogether -- only then do you do it totally loose. The handler must ALWAYS be thinking ahead so that you leave yourself a way out. -- Dr. Deb

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Thu Oct 3rd, 2013 11:46 am
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Hello Dr. Deb, We’ve been working on exercising Macie’s left eye and things are coming along. It’s interesting just to be aware of this eye preference when we’re together--leading or hand grazing or just watching her at liberty. It’s eye-opening (ha) to see how much eye preference affects overall movement and posture. When we do the untracking on line exercise she’ll now keep me in her left eye for longer and with less overall tension. She’s able/willing to look at me with her left eye while untracking and will halt without swinging around to put me in both eyes. She’s still noticeabley less consistant with this to the left as to the right, but I’ve definitely seen progress with the left. When we do the semaphore exercise, it’s kinda hard for me to be sure, but she seems to “watch” with her left a little more than before. It’s all very subtle because overall she seems to simply stand and not really react to either side, but when I watch carefully I think I can see her track the flag with her right eye and right ear and when I switch to the left, I now see her watching in the same way. She doesn’t watch for as long on the left as on the right and sometimes will swing her head to left to see the flag with both eyes. When I stand obliquely in front and to the side, (which I’ve only tried a couple of times) she’ll step away on the right side, but on the left, she first tries to step forward and when I set her up again, she was able to step away to the left once or twice. It’s like it’s harder for her to “understand” on the left side. I’m still doing circles and corners and feel some progress here as well. In our corners, she consistantly drops and twirls her head in both directions. In the circles to the left, she alternates between bracing and softening/flexing. I’m in the dark as to what I’m doing (if anything) to cause this or what I can do (if anything) to make the relaxed/flexy posture more consistant. Oh, also our circles are more and more circular. Thanks for any further advice! --Juliet

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Oct 4th, 2013 01:50 pm
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OK, you're doing fine, so here's a couple more suggestions:

(1) Now that you've begun to be able to see your horse's more subtle responses to "waking up" her left eye, it's time to try a little test. Set the mare up so that she's facing you dead-on, either at the opposite end of the lead rope or at liberty. When she's settled on her feet, call BOTH her eyes at the same time, so that she looks at you out of BOTH of them. At this point, take note: if you stand still but relaxed for, say, a count of twenty....how long does it take before she moves her head off to the left in order to get you more into the right eye? If she'll hold you in BOTH eyes for a count of at least eight, you've achieved a benchmark.

Now if she will hold you in her regard with both eyes for at least a count of eight, then you may try this further test. Have her at liberty and find a moment where you set each other up square-on, but if possible with more distance separating you than you could have with the lead-rope. From this somewhat greater distance, you walk in a relaxed manner (but yet not overly slowly) straight in toward the midline of her head, right square between her eyes. The question is, will she let you come all the way up to her so that you can pet her forehead without turning her head? Will she hold you in the regard of both eyes all the way in? Or, how far away will you be when she turns her head?

These two tests can be tried periodically, and you should see improvement as you continue to work with the flag as you have been.

(2) As to turning under saddle: I have previously told you to look at the outside ear, or keep the outside ear in the scan of your outside eye. You are not to really stare at the ear, but just keep it in your vision, somewhat as you would use a gunsight. Note how different this is from what is commonly taught to people wanting to jump -- they are told (very sensibly) to look around the turn to their next fence. You will eventually actually be able to do this, but not before the mare turns better.

So telling you to look at the outside ear is a coaching trick which prevents you from tilting your head to the inside. Since your head weighs as much, or nearly as much, as your butt, to tilt the head to the inside (or worse, to "zoom" by lowering your inside shoulder and tilting your whole torso in, like as if your arms were the wings of an airplane "zooming" around a curve) will force your horse to put weight on its inside shoulder and inside hind limb, right where you don't want her to. If you tilt in, your upper body is telling the horse to "fall in", even though your inside leg may be telling her to arc her body outward.

Now here is a second "trick" which will cure the other half of the problem that people usually have and that you probably have, too, which is that you are inadvertently blocking the horse from arcing its body outward and from putting enough of its weight on the outside pair of limbs. The inadvertent blocking comes from two things, one, that instructors influenced by German competitive dressage are always yapping that the student "must" hold the outside rein. No, no, no, no, no. You are going to be allowed, and taught properly, how to USE the outside rein WHEN the horse shows us that it is appropriate. In the beginning, with a stiff, green horse, you ride the horse almost 100% by means of the inside rein. So the first part of this is to check to be sure that, through the turn, beginning at least three horse-lengths before each corner, you have ZERO "contact" on the outside rein.

The second source of blocking is more subtle, and it comes from the inner thigh of your outside leg. You are almost certainly carrying more tension or hardness through this bodypart than you should, and your horse is exquisitely sensitive to it. Therefore, let me give you a visualization that will make you aware of it and also take the pressure off your horse.

Let us say that you're planning to pass through a corner on the right hand. That makes your left hip the outside hip. I want you to visualize how your leg on that side articulates with your pelvis. Then I want you to pretend that a giant pair of hands (very gentle hands) have come down from heaven, taken ahold of your outside thigh, and pulled your leg out of the socket so that it is now floating along about one foot straight out to the side. The giant hands have pulled your leg away from the saddle like you would pull out a drawer -- straight out to the side.

Notice that this is a visualization and I have not told you to move or change your leg in its physical manifestation in any way. But next time you go ride, try this visualization the first time you go out intending to "expand the circle" and see what happens. Then do it in the corners, both directions, and let me know how the mare's ability to "flex" seems when you do that vs. if you do not do it. -- Dr. Deb

Sharon Adley
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 Posted: Sat Oct 5th, 2013 09:38 am
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DrDeb wrote: I wouldn't do it in the confines of a stall, Sharon; the animal could swap around and catch you against a wall and get you pinned or kicked. If you do it in a stall, halter her and have the end of the halter-line draped over the crook of your left arm when you're on the horse's left side, and vice-versa.

Better, however, would be to learn to do it out in the arena or in an outdoor pen larger than a stall. You begin, even there, with the halter on; only when it becomes obvious that the horse has no intention of swapping its butt around to face you, or of leaving, and when they have quit fidgeting altogether -- only then do you do it totally loose. The handler must ALWAYS be thinking ahead so that you leave yourself a way out. -- Dr. Deb

The work in a larger area had been done some time ago and was working well, so I went back to tying her or holding the lead in the barn aisle (quite wide aisle, horse can see well to her front, back, and sides without being crowded) but on the lead, she had gone back to fussing.  The stall I am using is a very large foaling stall, plenty of room for me to position myself so that she can't pin me.  The first time I put her in the stall for grooming and tacking up, she moved away twice (compared with moving up and back, shifting her hind left and right several times when tied); at which point I paused and waited for her to take up a position that showed she was relaxed again, approached again, resumed grooming, she stood quietly.  The process took less time than in the aisle and the horse and I were both more relaxed with it.

On the lead, she has objected to being girthed by swinging her head around at the first touch of the girth.  Using a saddle that fits correctly reduced this reaction to 90%; she appears to have learned that the new saddle will not pinch when girthed like the old one did.  But she was still tensing up a bit when I began to girth her.  Loose in the stall, she seemed relaxed throughout the process.  I say process because I start by buckling the girth only snug enough to take the slack out.  Then I do something else, like fetch the bridle.  Then I take up the girth another notch.  Then bridle, then take up slack in the girth.  We go on like this with a gradual girthing process and a final check is made before I mount.  My first horse taught me this method 50 years ago.  Girth him up tight right from the get-go and climb on his back, he was uncomfortable and braced and the rider was in for a rodeo ride.  Take your time getting the girth tight enough to hold the saddle in place for mounting and he was fine.  I am amazed at the tolerant horses that I see girthed up in a rude manner but they don't explode.  Looking at their facial expressions and braced necks, though, I see their more subtle reaction.

Last edited on Sat Oct 5th, 2013 09:41 am by Sharon Adley

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Wed Oct 9th, 2013 07:56 pm
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Hi Dr Deb,
here's my report on our progress since your last post...

Holding eye contact -- she does this really well! I’ve now tried it several times and other than the one time she got distracted by another horse and looked away soon after we started, she happily holds my gaze for a slow count of twenty. During the count, I could see her regard me a little more in one eye and then the other--this was subtle, she didn’t really turn her head. When she finally did turn her head, it was to look away entirely, not to put me in one eye or the other. This exercise was enjoyable to do as it was pleasant to just stand and look at each other. When we did the second eye contact exercise in which I walk toward her, every time I could walk right up to her and pet her forehead without her looking away. Does this tell us more about her eye dominance?

We continue to do the untracking on lead with me trying to stay in her left eye. She's getting better with this. Usually when I ask her to halt after she’s put me in her left eye and untracked around a small circle, she’ll swing around and only halt once when she’s facing me. Is this an eye dominance action or something else? I’ve been noticing it more in general--she generally wants to stand facing me head on. The last couple of times we did the this untracking exercise, I tried to have her stop with only her left eye on me by softly holding the lead so her head doesn’t swing toward me. She’ll do this, but it’s clearly not her preference. Is this something I should be asking for?

The semaphore exercise is so subtle that usually I think she’s just looking at me and not at the flag at all...sometimes I gently shake the flag around and then she’ll flick an ear at it. I’m still working at getting aware enough to see what’s going on...

The standing obliquely in front of her and asking her to untrack is also a work in progress... usually she just walks forward and doesn’t seem to understand what I’m asking. Today I got more definitive and actually took my flag and waved it a little at her hind quarters, but she still didn’t get what I was asking and really would only move her quarters when I went right up to her and touched her. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong, but I don’t know what it is.

Under saddle the separated hip socket visualization is really effective! I imagine I can feel air under the inner thigh of my outside leg and it feels like she bends to fill in that air! Sometimes she drifts out making the circle larger and larger. When this happens should I change something or just let her drift? I’m still working on looking at her outside ear--it’s very tempting to look at her head as I’m always wanting to monitor whether she’s twirling or not. She is more consistantly dropping her head now when circling to either direction and in the corners. Thanks in advance for your thoughts and suggestions. --Juliet

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Oct 10th, 2013 02:47 am
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Juliet --

(1) None of the exercises involving the horse's eyes is, or should be made into being, about eye CONTACT. I have never said this, but it appears to be what you heard. You are not at any time to stare into the horse's eyes. To have the horse "hold you in ITS regard" (which is what I said) means that the horse looks at YOU, while you observe the manner in which it looks at you. Your actions, whatever they are, are to induce the horse to look at you -- you do not, however, look back "particularly" at their eye or eyes. Your gaze should take in a broader focus; you should see the animal's eyes only as part of a broader scan that takes in the whole horse, from the head to the hindquarter. If you don't soften up in this manner, you will eventually teach the horse not to look at you at all, because when you are hard with your eyes, THEIR gaze bounces off.

(2) The object of all eye exercises is to get the horse to where it does not feel a need to deflect its head to one side or the other as it approaches an object or a person, nor either as a person or another animal may approach the horse. If your horse does not "change eyes" or show a strong preference for one eye as you approach, you can quit doing this sort of work for the time being. The fact that you report that "she generally wants to stop facing me head-on" is a good sign that you can move on to something else now.

(3) Along the same lines, the only reason we were working specifically with the left eye was that it was weaker; the horse did not want to hold you in the regard of the left eye. We therefore got out the soft flag, using it like a semaphore, in order to "wake up" that eye, which really means wake up the connection between that eye and the opposite side of the animal's brain, to which that eye is connected. If the animal will hold you in equal regard, as per above, there is no particular reason to insist that she hold you in the scan of the left eye.

(4) The reason she does not move the hindquarters over when you are standing obliquely in front of her is that you are unable to project enough energy to the hindquarters. I could suggest that you get a longer whipstock, but since we are not, again, doing this for the purpose of moving the hindquarters, nor either is this exercise particularly adapted to lightening the horse's response, you can leave it also alone for now. Remember the purpose of doing this one was once again to give you an excuse to be in the left eye and/or to bridge the difficulty for the horse in holding you in the regard of both eyes simultaneously.

(5) Yes, the usual effect of the hip-separation visualization is that suddenly the "brakes" come off when the student is trying to do elementary lateral work. It is intended to make you realize how much your sitting wrong had been inhibiting, or making it difficult or impossible, for your mare to bend; thus, when you use the visualization suddenly she bends a lot more deeply and fluidly, and/or she will expand the circle (drift outward) much more readily. Should you allow her to drift outward? Depends what you had intended to do: there are times when what you want is "just" a circle; there are times when what you want is a CORRECT corner (hopefully you never want an incorrect corner), and a CORRECT corner, you recall, is "a small moment of shoulder-in" and as such implies a certain amount of outward drift while traversing the corner. Still other times, your intention is to perform the expanding-the-circle exercise and then, I would think it would be silly not to permit the mare to expand the circle!

(6) So at this point you have several ridden exercises that you have been practicing for some time, to wit, correct corners, correct circles, and expanding-the-circle. You can now expand that repertory to include drifting from a circle on the left hand to a circle on the right hand; this is explained in one of the articles you got from the Eclectic Horseman series. You will readily be able to modify this so that you alternate riding straightforward, i.e. bend-only serpentines (say, of four loops, length of the arena; center them on the quarter-lines and that way you can go down in four loops, come across the short end, and then come back up in another four loops). Alternate this, as I say, with bend-and-drift serpentines and see if you can get the same number of loops into the same distance even though you are drifting as well as bending.

(7) The six-corner exercise would also be good at this point: ride a 10m circle in each corner -- CORRECTLY, remember -- and then put one in also at E and B, so that you have six circles built into one circuit of the arena. Ride the six, then come across the diagonal and ride the same six going the other way.

I can remember a time, long ago, before I knew many arena exercises, when I wondered "how in the world does anybody fill an hour of time in an arena?" You're beginning to get to the point where you realize that this question either cannot be answered, or else must be answered at the length of an encyclopedia. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Sun Nov 3rd, 2013 04:01 pm
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Hello agin,
We’ve been doing our bending and circling at the walk as you suggested in your last post. I haven’t reported back in awhile because these exercises can be done forever with increasing awareness and refinement, and as a result, there never seemed to be a point when I could say “there, we’ve finished and it’s now time to report back!” So all I can say is that Macie slowly continues to get more bendable, more relaxed along her topline as evidenced by her not holding her head so stiffly and so high and more flexible in her temperment and willingness to respond to me. I feel more equivalency in her corners to the left and to the right. She’s more responsive to my leg with less and less pressure. Of course there’s still much room for improvement; things we’re working on: when we’re on a circle I feel the need to make “adjustments” fairly often to keep us on a somewhat circular track and not either drift out or fall in. I make these adjustments with my seat and legs mostly, but use the inside rein at times too. I find myself wanting to communicate more specifically to parts of her--either her shoulder or her hind end. Is this appropriate or should I be seeking more of a “less is more” approach and if so, how?

In addition to riding our serpentines, corners and circles I’ve been doing a lot of liberty ground work with her: walking and trotting cavaletti and very small cross-rails, sending and drawing, backing over a pole on the ground, backing through a walkway formed by parallel poles, liberty lunging at the trot and canter. Overall I feel like our connection and trust is slowing growing but we’re still a ways away from your recent statement: “You want them to want to be with you more than they want to be anywhere else in the universe.” That sounds nice; my dog and cat feel that way, but I don’t think my horse quite does.

Is it a good time to check back in about toe-first striking? should I post an updated picture of her at the trot? I haven’t been able to detect any difference in her strides by watching.

Thanks as always.
Juliet

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Nov 3rd, 2013 07:58 pm
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Hello, Juliet, and thank you for holding off on asking me until after we had got finished with the October anatomy class. When that's going on, I don't have much time to think of anything else.

Yes, that's just how it is: suppleness takes time to develop and what you report is entirely encouraging. Try to "mix and match" your exercises so that nothing gets boring or like it's becoming a drill; but otherwise, continue.

As to "adjustments": yes, you are simply describing "how to ride". The horse will fairly frequently fall out of balance, and this will manifest as undue pressure, usually either from one of her four quarters or else because she is leaning forward. The proper response is to try to be as early as possible with your reply, which should come in the form of support rather than with any intention of "correction". The horse cannot help but fall out of balance, until the day comes when her balance is more perfect, and I long ago learned that punishing the animal for losing its balance is totally nonproductive. So, if she falls through her outside shoulder, you block that by tightening your fingers on the outside rein while at the same time imagining that the outside rein is not a thin strip of leather but instead a great big sheet of plywood.

If she falls through her inside shoulder, she must by definition be counterflexed. You counter this by saying, "OK sweetheart, you wanted to turn right when I had planned on turning left. So we'll turn right for 180 degrees, and then I will change hind legs, so that instead of untracking with the right hind leg like you want to, we'll switch and untrack with the left hind leg, and that will carry you into a lefthand 180." Then you make this into either a figure eight or a serpentine, which is just a figure-eight that has been split in two lengthwise and flopped open.

The important part here being to understand that turning comes from untracking, and that to change directions means, primarily, to change hind legs. All failures of balance arise from the horse's reluctance or avoidance of using one of its hind hocks, whereas straightness arises from your insistence that she use them equally. But your insistence takes the form of repeated short bouts, in the recognition that having avoided the use of one of her hocks for years, then as a result of that every time she puts weight on the unfavored hock it hurts her a little. The hurt or twinge gets less as she uses the hock more, but it will take many little twinges, as it might in yoga class, for her to not feel any twinge anymore.

As to toe-first striking: no, she'll very likely still be striking about the same as before; it might be a little better, because, as you likely have already guessed, her propensity to strike wrong with the feet is a direct result of the way she uses her back. So she's better than she was, and certainly it would not hurt to take some photos about now, just as a checkup, and I'd like to see them for sure too. However, the big changes in foot strike won't come until collection starts to develop. That is not too far off now.

I'm pleased to hear about your groundwork and liberty work. That adds a lot to the variation within the variety, and keeps everything fun and interesting as well as being another way to increase the horse's attentiveness and suppleness. Since you're going to be doing some of that, this will be a good time to add in backing one step at a time. Do this by hooking one single finger in the halter, under her chin. Using the lightest possible pressure, "aim" the pressure at whichever of her forefeet is parked farthest forward, while at the same time lean your upper body just slightly into the opposite direction: i.e. if it's the right forelimb, then (because you are facing her) you would lean right. This hints to her to unweight that limb, while the "aim" of your intention tells her that's the foot you want her to move. At the very moment when you know that she has understood and has committed to moving the foot -- i.e. before she actually moves it or completes the movement -- you reduce your finger-pressure to zero, although you don't take your finger off the halter.

If she starts to pick up the designated foot but then sets it down again without moving it back, just ask again until she does move it back. Who is responsible for moving it back, in other words, is THE HORSE NOT YOU.

When you've had one step, then pet her on the forehead softly, briefly. Then after this little pause, put your finger back on the halter and aim at the other front foot and get her to step that one back. Then pet again.

In a couple of days, you will be able to aim not at a forefoot but at the more advanced hind foot. Be aware that when working with a hind foot, you sometimes actually have to step the horse forward a little before they can free up the hind foot in order to move it.

I want you to work up to where you can go one-settle completely-two-settle completely-three-settle completely-rest. Do this several times at different times during your session, in different places in the arena.

As soon as this is working on the ground, then go right ahead and do it from under saddle. You've been counting cadence, so that when you halt you ought to know which forefoot is the one farthest ahead, i.e. the one she would find on her own that it would be easiest to move. From the saddle, you feel of her feet through her mouth, and, knowing which forefoot is the correct one, you "aim" at that foot, maintaining the lightest possible but continuous pressure on the rein of the same side until you feel her commit to moving that foot backwards. As before, if she sort of lifts it but then sets it back down, or if she kind of shuffles it but doesn't really take a full step, then you let her settle and just ask again on whichever side comes up easiest. As with groundwork, peck away at it until she will easily back one-settle-two-settle-three-settle.

This is the beginning of the exercises which supple the horse in the up-down plane -- all of your work to this point has been to supple her in the left-right plane. It is not possible to supple a horse in the up-down plane until the animal is already about as far along as yours is in the left-right plane; in short, lateral suppling has to come before longitudinal suppling.

Looking forward to photos -- I think there are quite a few people who have been following this thread who would also like to see; we'll see how the work you have done so far has affected her physical appearance as well as style of movement. -- Dr. Deb

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Mon Nov 4th, 2013 06:57 am
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Hi-- thank you so much for your quick and, as usual, info-packed reply! I'm excited to get started on the new exercises and to continue working on the old ones with a little new insight. In the meantime here are two pictures of Macie that I took this past weekend. The indoor one is pretty fuzzy but you can see her basic form and posture. Let me know if there are other "poses" that you'd like to see.

I'll report back on the exercises soon.
--Juliet


Last edited on Mon Nov 4th, 2013 07:02 am by JulietMacie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Nov 4th, 2013 12:51 pm
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Juliet, would you try posting the photos again -- they don't seem to have uploaded correctly -- I'm getting red "X's". Thanks -- Dr. Deb


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