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Academic balance versus Baucheriste balance
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Jeannie
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 Posted: Fri Jul 29th, 2011 08:26 pm
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Dr Deb, in the latest Eclectic Horseman, in which you write about the benefits of drum work, there are two pictures of Bettina Drummond cantering in another article. I can't post the photos, although another member who receives the EH might be able to.

 One is titled "Collected canter in Academic balance", the other " Collected canter in Baucheriste balance". Nothing is mentioned in the article about them, so I was wondering what the difference would be.
                                                                    Jeannie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Aug 2nd, 2011 07:07 pm
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Jeannie, I did finally receive my copy of the fall issue of "Eclectic Horseman" -- couldn't reply to your query until I had seen the photos you were referring to. Now that I have seen them, all I can tell you is that you would need to ask Bettina. She often uses a hairsplitting terminology, so I imagine this is something important to her, that she speaks of so that the young girl who writes the articles has overheard it. You note there is no in-depth explanation given for anything in that article. Sometimes Bettina does write her own pieces for EH Magazine, so perhaps we'll have to wait for that.

The one photo that I WOULD call your attention to in the article -- even beyond the picture of the cantering horse "in Baucheriste balance" (whatever that may mean), which is obviously maintaining its balance entirely on its own and, in the process, throwing the rein back to the rider, so that the rein is draping; I say, even beyond this, you should pay attention to the doux passage. Doux passage means 'soft passage', and in my experience, horses just love doing it. I ride my horse most of the time in this gait while schooling -- or aim to. It can only happen when Ollie (or old Painty, who loved it too) is in perfect self-carriage, meaning he is maintaining his balance entirely on his own. The tempo is somewhat below that of an ordinary trot, though perhaps a hair faster than what it would be in a full formal or competition-style passage. Indeed it is what the 'western jog' would be, if we ever saw one in a show that was even halfway correct. The horse lifts all four of his feet well up, deeply flexing all the joints, just as you see Bettina's horse doing in the photo -- so you see there is plenty of energy being put into it -- but there is absolutely no tension. In this gait, the horse has time at any time to rearrange things as he needs to, should you also simultaneously want him to half-pass, or change to collected canter. The 'doux passage' is what pleasure riding is all about, and it is what I am talking about when I tell gaited-horse people that there are indeed forms of trot which are both correct and energetic but just as smooth and pleasant to sit as any four-beat nonsuspended gait. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Wed Aug 3rd, 2011 12:27 am
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Dr. Deb,

My horse does a trot somewhat fitting that description to ride, but I don't think it is quite the same as you mention for the soft passage above.

Usually when I ask for the trot for the first time for the session, he gives me a slow trot that is smooth, comfortable and easy to sit - and swings his back. Having seen the same trot from the ground I know that it does indeed have a small moment of suspension but he is not deeply flexing his joints - so it looks like there is not much elevation there. To my untrained eye and seat it looks and feels like he is doing more of the work with his torso than with his limbs - so that what suspension and elevation are present are being mainly caused by the changing inertia of his torso. The other aspect of it is that he will have his head low, like a long and low position, and cross his jaw so I don't think he is particularly happy about it.

If I have him canter a little, even if just less than 1 circle and go back to the trot - then he gives me a more energetic trot with a more alert and normal head position. This change in attitude/execution of the trot after cantering leads me to think that the slow trot with the head down is an effort to stretch himself out.

Anything you can add to help me understand this better would be gratefully recieved.
 

Sandy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 3rd, 2011 08:19 am
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Sandy, please clarify what you mean by 'cross his jaws'.

It is perfectly OK for the horse, especially if in warmup, to move in such manner that he swings his back, lowers his poll, and lengthens his neck by stretching it down and forward. This would be the ideal in fact.

You should not be concerned if your fairly green horse, or one that is being rehabilitated from former bad riding, is not doing 'doux passage.' This will come with time. Once the horse finds shoulder-in easy and, especially, has started on half-pass and is beginning to be able to execute that fluidly, then it will begin happening all by itself. The half-pass in particular tends to stimulate or provoke horses to passage, so much so that in olden times the two movements were not differentiated -- half-pass (i.e. traversale) head-to-the-wall was called 'passage'.

You should certainly also not worry about how high your horse raises his knees. The expressiveness of the front end varies from horse to horse and greatly from breed to breed.

You should concern yourself somewhat with the hind end. The horse should flex the hind joints, but in a green horse this does not have to be too much, unless you could say he was producing a noticeably stiff or shuffling gait (i.e. like a competition Western Pleasure horse).

I would be very surprised to see a horse grind its teeth, shake its head, swat the tail, lay back the ears, grimace, or in any other manner express discomfort or discontent if indeed he is moving without hurry with a swinging back. So I do need to hear what you mean by 'crossing his jaws.' -- Dr. Deb

 

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 Posted: Wed Aug 3rd, 2011 11:40 am
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Dr. Deb,

By jaw crossing it looks like him lowering his head, opening his mouth and appears to be holding his lower teeth to one side of his upper teeth like this pic (except of course his head would be down):



I think he pulls his tongue back when he does it as well. I described the jaw crossing and when it happens (which includes the first ridden trot of the session as described above) in the Stereotypies thread where you gave me a very comprehensive and helpful answer. Here is how I described it in that thread:

Blue Flame wrote:
. . . Secondly, my horse sometimes seems to be crossing his jaw. At the same time he tends to lower his head somewhat and extend his nose forward and twist his head/neck along its length.

The times when he crosses his jaw:

Never when turned out and left alone or when interacting with other horses.

Sometimes when haltering/bridling. He'll do it initially for 10-15 seconds and then stop on his own. We do not use a bit although he has been bitted in the past and did undergo a period of trouble with a bit that was too thick for him (my terrible mistake) after being untroubled in a thinner (borrowed) sweet iron snaffle. He is almost always ridden on a loose/draping rein since we went bitless.

Sometimes when saddling, again he will do it initially for up to 10-15 seconds then stop on his own. Sometimes when ridden. Usually this will show up when asked to trot a circle, yet again lasting for a little while before he stops doing it. Oh, I just remembered him doing it when asked to trot a circle at liberty as well - sort of in a long and low position.

His teeth are regularly done by a competent equine dentist. The dentist also did physiotherapy (myofacial release) on him and one day, while she was working on his body, I just happened to be down low in front of him and noticed that he was pulling back his tongue when doing the jaw crossing thing. I mentioned this to the dentist/physio who then went to work on the hyoid thing and said something about maybe some scar tissue. A year later, we had a different physical therapist (osteopath) to him and she thought that maybe it was his way of releasing tension. The only other comment from a bystander was that he thought the horse was looking for/asking for a bit.

The impression I get from the horse (intuitively) is that he is complaining - whining really - about having to do something other than eat grass or play with his herdmates or do nothing. By far the most consistent time for him to do it is when asked to trot a circle. It never seems to escalate or affect his subsequent state of mind compared to days when he doesn't jaw cross/retract his tongue.

The Stereotypies thread link . . . http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/view_topic.php?id=757&forum_id=1&jump_to=8996#p8996

As far as the trot itself goes, I don't have a ridden example but here is a little video clip from a couple of years ago of the horse at liberty with my daughter. Here he exhibits the same movement and posture complete with jaw crossing - that I refer to when ridden in the previous post above. CLick on pic to play video:

http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/r102/BlueFlame_bucket/?action=view¤t=CrossJawTrot.mp4

When I say his back swings, I mean it has more lateral movement than the school horses I ride in lessons - I don't know if that might be more because of his conformation or not as he seems to be "close coupled" to me.

I guess my question is whether this movement is harmful in any way, whether it is just getting a good stretch, or if it indicates some other problem.

Sandy

Last edited on Wed Aug 3rd, 2011 11:59 am by Blue Flame

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 3rd, 2011 05:41 pm
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Sandy, the general reply to this will be -- you need to learn to let go of the reins.

Spend a few days practicing making "up" transitions from walk to trot, and from trot to canter, entirely on the buckle -- reins totally loose. Then come back and report what you discover. -- Dr. Deb

Jeannie
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 Posted: Thu Aug 4th, 2011 05:53 pm
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Dr Deb, thank you for your reply. I understand how the horse would have to be in self-carriage and without tension to do the doux passage, and you can see that in the photo.

  I put an inquiry to Eclectic Horseman regarding the different schools of balance, and will let everyone know if I get a response. I'm thinking it must have something to do with the weight transfer of the rider as the horse moves. For example, if you were doing shoulder in, your weight would be slightly shifted to the inside, shortened side in Academic balance, and to the outside, lengthened side in Baucheriste balance. I know I've played around with this myself to feel what the difference would be. Just a theory.
                           Jeannie

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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 12:09 am
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My mare does that too, usually when I am riding in a circle (either direction). Not every day, though. My instructor told me to just let her do it, not to force her back into position. He thinks she's uncomfortable and this odd head stretch makes it feel better. We'll go weeks without a sign of it, then she'll do it three days in a row. I also have had her teeth looked looked at, and she had some sharp points (not positive of the terminology) along the inside of the teeth. She still does it on occasion.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 04:16 am
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Sandy, show us a photo or make a drawing of what this "odd" head and neck stretch actually look like. Only then will we be equipped to discuss it. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 04:40 am
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Dr. Deb,

Yes, I'll try to find or get a picture.

In response to your other suggestion about riding up transitions on the buckle, I only had the opportunity to get 1 very short ride in since. On the buckle, my horse did NOT do the jaw crossing thing. Instead, he trotted a few steps then went straight up into a canter. There was no rushing and he felt balanced. I managed to stay on the buckle and find my seat ok, but then he decided he would try to boss the other horses around at the canter so I had to get effective and take up the rein. Following that, he did give me a nice trot on the buckle but eventually broke into a canter again. We managed to come down to a trot and a stop at a big log without reins and there ended the ride for the day.


Sandy

Last edited on Wed Aug 10th, 2011 04:42 am by Blue Flame

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 05:13 am
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Sandy, you misunderstand: you were effective when you were on the buckle. You become ineffective when you take up the rein.

Use a little bit of common sense, please, and find a place to school your horse where there are no other horses around. No horse can learn much when he has multiple distractions, particularly not from a rider when she herself is also just learning.

Now, I want you to repeat the schooling session, in an appropriate place, once again practicing making "up" transitions on the buckle. If you feel afraid, or if you think your horse is going to take off, then make the place you school him in a round yard or small pen not more than about 60 ft. across -- just big enough that you can, in fact, go from walk to trot or walk to canter.

Notice that I have NOT asked you to ride with no reins at all, or by never touching the reins. I have asked you ONLY to do "up" transitions on the buckle. To stop the horse or slow down, use one rein at a time to begin with, and see whether you can get him stopped with a balance of, say, 80% inside rein to 20% outside rein.

After you've done this, you can report in again and tell us how you got along. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 08:40 am
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Dr. Deb,

Here's a couple of Jawcrossing pics I took this evening. Please excuse the poor quality - best I could do using cellphone and leadrope at the same time. Both at trot to left and right. I actually had to take quite a few shots to get these two as he will do it for a few seconds at a time and then lift up and go more normally for a bit before doing it again.


As you can see in the pics (hopefully), he twists his head/neck the same way whether circling to the left or the right. I noticed also that if I use different headgear with the line attached above the mouth that it makes no difference to this tendency. When ridden, if I allow him to canter first before asking him to trot, then the jawcrossing all but disappears when subsequently asked to trot. When I stretch his front legs backwards, bent at the knee and cannon horizontal, his front left does not seem to have as much range of motion as the front right.

Could this be an expression of crookedness or stiffness to one side? Would that explain why he would rather canter (usually left lead) than trot at the beginning of a ride? Also why he would rather I post the trot so that I am rising with the RF/LH?

In my previous post, I took up a rein to be effective in turning away from the other horses - not to stop or slow my horse (in case I gave the wrong impression). Once I had him pointed away from the other horses, I went back on the buckle.

Will report back after a few more rides on the buckle - away from the other horses of course.


Sandy - short for AlexandER ;-)

Last edited on Wed Aug 10th, 2011 09:09 am by Blue Flame

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 07:14 pm
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Sandy, yes, sorry, I thought you were female.

Now that I have seen the photos, I think we can eliminate the possibility that the horse is shaking its head as an expression of resentment or aggression.

I need to ask: Do your horse's front teeth show (as they do in these photos) most all of the time? In other words, is it as if his lips don't cover his front teeth, or that the lips are parted by the teeth?

And yes, I'm still interested in your report about how the "up" transitions on the buckle go. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 08:57 pm
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Dr. Deb,

My horse's front teeth sometimes show as in the photos and sometimes not much at all - maybe only barely visible beyond the lips, when he has his mouth open. Probably about 50% either way when doing the jaw crossing thing. That said, my observations may just be dependent on which side of the horse I am looking at when it happens.

All other times, his mouth and lips close quite normally.

Sandy 

Last edited on Wed Aug 10th, 2011 09:43 pm by Blue Flame

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 10th, 2011 10:12 pm
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Sandy, all things that you have said considered, I think your problem most likely is that your horse is the proud possessor of a shear mouth. This means you need to have a visit with a VIABLE equine dentist -- someone who can really diagnose, who has the appropriate tools and skills for treatment. This might be a veterinarian who specializes in dentistry or a layman working in the same field.

The 'crossing' jaws indicate a lateral imbalance in the mouth, i.e. a shearmouth condition in which the cheek teeth on the left side are at a different height and angle than those on the right. The protuberant/visible incisor teeth tell the same story of bite imbalance in another form -- your horse is 'long in the tooth' I think, meaning that his incisor teeth have over time experienced less wear than the cheek teeth, and are now exhibiting the accumulated excess length in such a manner that, when he closes his front teeth, his cheek teeth have trouble occluding as they should.

You should have a look at your horse's front bite. Stand in front of him, part the lips, and see what the line of occlusion of the upper/lower arcades is. The line you see should be straight and horizontal. If it looks like a smile, an upside-down smile, a V, an S, slants down to either side, or is crenellated or jagged like the wall of a medieval castle, then you may know for sure that your horse is in desperate need of a dentist.

Do not treat this matter lightly. An out-of-balance mouth can actually get the rider killed, because when you pull the snaffle bit-ring up against the side of the horse's head, or when your pull on the rein pulls the cheekpiece of the bridle snug against the side of his head, you are pressing the flesh of the cheek against sharp teeth inside, and this is what is causing the horse to wring his head to try to get away from that. But if the pain is sudden or sharp, which it could be depending on circumstances, your normally good-mannered riding horse can flip over backwards on you.

Do not figure this is going to be cheap, either. A full-mouth equilibration on a horse that has not had dental prophylaxis on a regular basis can easily run several hundred bucks. But the first thing is to get a qualified person out there, perform a full manual and visual exam under standing anaesthesia, and find out what the situation actually is.

Good luck and let us know what the equine dentist says. -- Dr. Deb


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