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Raising the base of the neck, a spinoff
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Callie
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 Posted: Fri Dec 7th, 2007 02:12 pm
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I don't know if this is entirely appropriate, so if it isn't, my deepest apologies.

I was reading another board, where they were doing a comparison of photographs of different riders.

Here is a link to the thread http://ihdg.proboards91.com/index.cgi?board=talk2&action=display&thread=1196521708&page=1

The first photo is linked here http://cheval.simoun.fr/images/Bercy-20071124/2-Portugais/arles_gallery/html/images22.html

The scond is in line about 4 posts down on the first page.

The next group is reply 55 in page 4

and the last is in reply 122 on page 9

Now the thread itself is filled with persoal likes and dislikes of some of the riders shown, and I don't want to start that here.  What I would be interested in is some discussion on the musculature shown by the horses in realtion to their splenius/complexus use, and the gluteal tounge as discussed in the "rasing the base of the neck thread.

In fact, here is a nice collection of photographs from "THe 4 Schools" performance that was in Paris over Thanksgiving, where all 4 of the riding schools got together to perform, the Cadre Noir, the SRS, the Portugese and the Juarez.  There are lots of pictures there of horses in collection if anyone wants to look at/discuss those as well.
http://cheval.simoun.fr/images/Bercy-20071124/

Again, if this is in bad form, my apologies.

-Callie

mgalipeau
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 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 11:41 pm
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I am not any judge of whether this is appropriate, but I sure do find it interesting.  I have been trying to be able to "feel" and "see" the neck muscles used in collection.  These stallions are in such good condition that their neck muscles bulge.  Now all I have to do is figure out which one is in good collection.

Any thoughts?  And thank you for this post.

Kay

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 05:12 pm
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Hi Kay!

Thanks for responding.  I am going to take a stab at what I think about some of these pictures, based on what I think I learned on the original "Rasing the base of the neck" thread, and perhapse someone will correct me if I am wrong.

In this picture http://cheval.simoun.fr/images/Bercy-20071124/5-Vienne-longues-renes/arles_gallery/html/images11.html

I think what I am seeing bulging in that horse's neck is the Splenius.  I don't think that horse is raising the base of the neck at all because the space between the back of the jaw and the neck is too compressed, ie the horse isn't reaching out to the bit, the bit is being pulled back into the horse.  Then the front leg is pointed backwards, rather than being verticle, and the horse has a tense expression on his face.  I am not able to tell yet about the gluteal tounge in the horse's back, although I will take a stab at in in a few more pics.

In this Picture:
http://cheval.simoun.fr/images/Bercy-20071124/8-saumur-reprise/arles_gallery/html/images13.html

I think this horse is better than the previous horse.  I think this horse is showing better development of the complexus and is reaching out better with his neck and is therefore raising the base of his neck at least somewhat.  I also think his face shows less tension than the previous horse's face,  thouch there is still tension in the body and the tail swishing is probably related to that tension.  Again, I can't say about the gluteal tounge.

In this picture:
http://cheval.simoun.fr/images/Bercy-20071124/9-cabrioles-montees/arles_gallery/html/images15.html

I think I see the splenus, but I'm not sure.  The horse seems on the forehand, pulled in and collapsed in the base of the neck to me, but I can't say with any authority if that is the spelus or the complexus that is showing in that picture.  I can say the front leg is bearing quite a bit more weight than the hind leg in that moment and I think the hind leg isn't comeing under the horse's body particularly well in this step of canter.  His expression is somewhat softer than the first horse's though.

In this picture
http://cheval.simoun.fr/images/Bercy-20071124/11-vienne-carrousel/arles_gallery/html/images18.html

I though this was an interesting picture because the hind foot has clearly touched down before the front foot.  In "dressage" there is a concept called "dap" which I believe stands for "diagnal advanced placement" where someone took some high speed video of winning upper level horses and found they had this in commen, where the hind foot touches down slightly in advance of the front foot.  Personally, I think that is a bunch of hooey, but here it is in this photograph.  What I think is goin gon here is that the horse, while looking somewhat "light" in the hand, has achived this by bracing the topline and "holding" himself back with tension in his muscles, rather than releasing the topline and bending the hindquarters underneath himself.  So in light of that assesment, I am going to call it the splenius in his neck that is showing development.

Scroll down to the group of three pictures
http://ihdg.proboards91.com/index.cgi?board=talk2&action=display&thread=1196521708&page=9

In the one Labled Stahleeker, I think that horse is showing the gluteal tounge overdevelopment discussed in the orgiginal thread.  It seems very exagerated to me, though some of the other horses in some of these pics may show it too.  I also think that horse is braced in the neck and is not raising the base, and is showing the splenius.

In the one labled Stevens, I think that hose actually shows the best muscular development of all the horses I have mentioned, which is somewhat hard to say, having read the thread this picture is from where they compleatly trashed it.  But I feel like the horse is trying to raise his withers, his croup is nicely lowered, the hind legs well bent, and while it is difficult to say because of the light, I think he is showing development of the complexus.  THe biggest thing I see wrong with the picture is the man is too large for that little horse, but the horse seems to have a reasonalbly ok expression on his face.

ANd I can't tell much about the one labled lust because of the low quality.

Well, that was long!  I hope this was interesting.  Please, I'm sure I got lots of this wrong, so have a go at it.  I am trying to hone my eye for this, and I am very interested in what others have to say.

Have a super day!

-Callie

mgalipeau
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 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 06:02 pm
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http://cheval.simoun.fr/images/Bercy-20071124/11-vienne-carrousel/arles_gallery/html/images17.html

If you can pull this one up, see what you think of it.  This horse seems to be not only comfortable, but also on a loose rein.....

Kay

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 07:12 pm
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Kay-

Yes, I think that one shows some promise.  The horse seems to be more relaxed than some of the others, but I think the underside of neck still shows too much of a V rather than a U, and to me it looks like he is ever so slightly counter-flexed at the poll so I don't think he is actually raising his withers, though I think he is closer to it than some of the other horses.  Though I think all of those things add up to the splenius being active here.

Again, don't rely on my specific interpretation, as I am far from an expert on the specific muscles.   I hope someone farther along on this will join us and comment.

-Callie

Ailusia
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 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 07:52 pm
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And could you tell something about this one? ;)
http://www.hauteecole.ru/en/photogallery.php?id=424&gid=28&min=45
I can't judge it more than just say that it looks good to me... but I decided to draw the specific muscles mentioned in the "help for kissing spine" topic and also draw their actions... I hope that someone will then tell me if they are correct :) I realised how good it is to know what I want from specific muscles when teaching my horse on the ground. Really enlinghtening!

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 08:53 pm
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First, can I just say- I want his riding hall!  It looks like riding in a cathedral!  How amazing it must be to have such a space to be in with your horse every day... How I wish I could win the lottery!

LOL- enough about my archetecture envy.

The front leg is behind the verticle,  and the front of the horse's neck is bulging forward, often seen on horses that strain against the bit.  I think this guy trains without a bit though, right?  But maybe it could be developed by hanging on the neck loop as well?  I would rather see this being done in descent of the hand...

Because of the horse's mane I can't see, but I suspect the splenius is in use here.  There is also something I don't like about what the right hind leg isdoing, but I cant quite put my finger on it.  The horse's nostril/muzzle seems to be expressing some tension along with his tail.

I can't tell about his gluteal tounge because I don't know enough.

It is a nice clear picture so it is easy to pick apart.  But there in lies the problem with stills, as what happens a moment later might be very different that this.

I hope one of the experts decides to weigh in here.

-Callie

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 10:29 pm
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Hello Callie and everyone - Please forgive me for not joining in with this thread, there are two reasons for this.  Firstly, my very slow dial-up connection takes forever to download even one photo so I have no hope of looking at multiple images (don't even start me on the subject of broadband for rural Oz!).

More to the point though, is that I do not like to be involved in a public analysis of individual horses as this inevitably infers a judgement of their riders.  This judgement may be for good or bad, but may equally be correct or incorrect, as a single photo is only one frozen moment of time which can make a good rider look bad, or a bad rider look good.  We all have the occasional bad day when we are grateful no-one has seen what we were doing - but we hopefully learn from it, our horses forgive us and we move on.  It would not be fair to be judged on the basis of that one episode.  It's a different matter to have the live horse in front of me - his body tells the whole truthful story.

Also, there are other things to take into account which may confuse the picture.  If we look at a photo of a horse showing a well-defined complexus muscle, how do we know that the rider has had anything to do with this?  The horse may be a stallion who lives within sight of mares and spends half his day posturing to draw their attention - he will show the same muscle development as a horse who is correctly ridden in collection.    'Cross-training' is a popular idea, so we may be looking at a dressage horse who is frequently jumped, his muscle definition coming from the jumping (bascule is similar to collection) not the dressage training.  A horse who is forced to trot endless cavaletti poles will also show some good muscle development even if the rest of his training is appalling.  It is just too hard to say whether this or that horse in a photo is good or bad.  It's a great way to learn what some of the muscles look like from the outside but of little value when taken in isolation from the whole picture of the moving horse. 

The best that can be said for photos in magazines is that they may be indicative of the way most horses use their bodies in that particular sport.  For instance, pick up any commercial dressage glossy mag, and you will see page after page showing horses with all the negative muscle indicators we discussed on the other thread - they can't all be having a bad day, so it's fairly safe to assume that this is how most dressage horses are taught to move, verified when watching the moving versions.

Best wishes - Pauline

 

 

mgalipeau
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 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 10:53 pm
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All of that is very true, Pauline.  However, I am in the infant stage of development here.  My personal goal is to be able to recognize a horse whose musculature shows the correct development, however it was arrived at.  I need to be able to point to one and say "yes :)" or "no :(" and have a clue as to what I'm looking at.

This is a very basic goal, I know, but until I can SEE a collected horse and recognize him, all else is straws in the wind.  Y'all help me out here, please?


Kay



DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Dec 19th, 2007 08:56 am
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You know, folks, this whole thread reminds me of the fact that it is now 30 years since I first published detailed drawings and explanation of what you are discussing here....that was my first opportunity to present anatomy and biomechanics information to the riding public, in the old series called "How Horses Work" that ran from 1976 to 1984 in the now-defunct Arabian Horse Express, out of Coffeyville, Kansas. And you know something, I still occasionally get letters from people who tell me they've saved all the original articles -- which are by now crumbling, because they were issued on newsprint.

You don't have to have been one of those original readers, however, since many of the same drawings appear in my Principles of Conformation Analysis, which is not likely to crumble to dust just yet, we hope. So if you feel, as Kay does, that you're at the infant stage of understanding what true collection looks and feels like, then I would suggest a wee peep at those books. They're not very expensive so I don't mind suggesting it.

I suggest it for another reason also, and that is that I agree with Pauline in preferring not to comment directly on published photos or stuff on the Internet. It's against our Forum rules to do so, anyway....people can submit photos but they need to be of their own horses. Beyond that, what I'm telling you is that Prin. Conf. Anal. is a textbook from which you can learn this particular subject.

You should also read "True Collection" in the Knowledge Base section of this Forum. And of course, in order to read that, you first need to read "Lessons from Woody" in the same section, because they are Parts 1 and 2 that deliver a linked set of concepts.

It is quite true that a correctly collected horse presents a certain appearance. And it is also true that that appearance can only be picked out of a "lineup" of apparently collected horses by the person who has detailed knowledge of what to look for. This does, as you all have noted, involve certain characteristic bodily developments, or we might say, a certain style of physical development. And, as such, it involves the greater or lesser use of quite a number of muscles. But you must not fall into the trap of focusing on one or a few of the muscles, because one of the primary characteristics of the horse who is ridden correctly is the "even" development of all the muscles.

Another fallacy is to think that the muscles "of the topline" need to be "developed". This idea is extensively criticized in the True Collection article; you must NEVER do anything overtly intended to develop the muscles of the horse's back or neck. Rather, the process should be to cause these muscles to stay as much in release as possible, as much of the time as possible. Likewise, in an overall sense, a major goal of training is to have the horse learn to move "in an envelope of release," as I say in the Birdie Book. We need to teach him that he does not have to brace any muscle in order to take a step.

Finally, the other thing I hear all the time and wish I didn't, is that the horse needs to be "sports conditioned" in the same sense as the adrenaline junkies who compulsively attend aerobics classes at the local gym or fitness center. "Sports conditioning" has been one of the great ways over the last thirty years of its ascendency as an idea to cripple horses. It's OK of course to prepare the horse for the competition or activity you intend to use him in; it is useless, foolish, and potentially cruel to put him in a "program" that has "fitness objectives" that need to be met on a schedule. The real way to fit-up horses is by feel, and the real way to assess their progress is also by feel. My senior colleague, friend, and medical editor at Equus Magazine, Matthew Mackay-Smith DVM, a rider since boyhood and onetime member of the U.S.E.T. distance-riding team, has said "do not expect to get useful data from any source other than your horse."

So -- do horses' necks arch when they collect correctly? Yes, but what biomechanical mechanism effects the arching? You don't need to know the names of the muscles; you DO need to understand the picture.

Do horses' necks get wider from side to side when they collect correctly? Yes, but what biomechanical mechanism causes this? You don't need to know the names of the muscles; you DO need to understand the picture.

Do horses' toplines get longer when they collect correctly? Yes, but what is the process by which lengthening of the topline can happen? What are the mechanical analogs? You don't need to know the names of the muscles; you DO need to understand the picture.

Do horses' foreheads get more vertical when they collect correctly? Yes, but which end of the skull should be the one that moves? How is the head supposed to relate to the base of the neck? You don't need to know the names of the muscles; you DO need to understand the picture.

Get the picture? If it's obscure from what I've written here, go read "True Collection", "Conquerors", "Principles of Conformation Analysis", or view "The Anatomy of Bitting". Or sign up for one of our anatomy classes in 2008. In other words: do your homework please, and then come back again with your specific questions. Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Leah
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 Posted: Wed Dec 19th, 2007 12:34 pm
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Having just received the Principles of Conformation vol.1-3 in the mail yesterday (YAY!) and read almost all of volume 1 already (bad weather day here so lots of reading time) I want to add my 2 cents on these books.

Buy them.

Now.

Kay I have been involved in horses for almost 25 years but true understanding of Conformation has always been my weak link. I think I spent most of my horse life buying ones with pretty faces then spend the next several years trying to rehab the physically weaknesses!

Anyway, I am only ahead of you in the amount of time I have spent reading the forum and the readings Dr Deb suggests so jump on that train with me! You won't regret one single moment.

Dr Deb, you have such an amazing way of presenting very complicated information (well to me it is) in such an understandable form.

You are thorough...that word constantly comes upin my mind when I read your works. I will have a question about something when I start a book or read a chapter...then a few pages or chapters later you address my question.

You are very very thorough-that is what to me distinguishes your works from others I have read.

I also just ordered Kinship With All Life based on your suggestion and look forward to reading it next (little hint for you Kay! LOL).

Last edited on Wed Dec 19th, 2007 12:35 pm by Leah

Annie F
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 Posted: Wed Dec 19th, 2007 01:13 pm
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Dr. Deb wrote:  "you must NEVER do anything overtly intended to develop the muscles of the horse's back or neck. Rather, the process should be to cause these muscles to stay as much in release as possible, as much of the time as possible. Likewise, in an overall sense, a major goal of training is to have the horse learn to move "in an envelope of release," as I say in the Birdie Book. We need to teach him that he does not have to brace any muscle in order to take a step."

This photo is me riding my young mare, taken just a few days ago.  She’s been in training with Mike Schaffer for a few months now, and I think this illustrates the release Dr. Deb emphasizes so strongly.  I thank both her and Mike for helping me understand this and for making it possible for my mare and me to experience it—it's the foundation for all she and I will do together in the future, and it’s a wonderful gift.  From here, she can begin to develop balance and strength.

Annie

Last edited on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 01:16 pm by Annie F

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Dec 20th, 2007 06:34 am
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Annie, you need to let go of the reins once the horse releases. The release is indicated at the moment the horse drops its head. When it releases the muscles of the topline, it must drop its head.

You need to let go of the reins each and every time your horse releases.

Do not keep holding on to the reins.

If you are caught still holding on to the reins when your horse's head has come down, or when the face has rotated considerably behind the vertical as it has here, then you are doing too much. One of the great objectives of learning to ride well is to learn how not to do too much. Learn to get what you want to get done by doing less.

You are doing too much. Please let go of the reins.

If you want to delete this photo, you have the option of doing that. It would be great if you could substitute another photo that shows your horse really releasing, with YOU ALSO releasing, instead of your horse releasing and then you continuing to hang on the reins. Unless you RELEASE TO YOUR HORSE'S RELEASE EVERY TIME, you will make your horse dull, Annie, and deadly discourage him. So let's have another try at it, OK?

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Annie F
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 Posted: Thu Dec 20th, 2007 01:15 pm
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Yes, I have many things I must learn to do correctly. For instance, I am just now learning to give back to her without dropping the contact suddenly, which for now (though this will change shortly) throws her off balance. Maybe I tried to do so a moment after this picture was snapped, or perhaps I missed this opportunity to do it. I posted the picture because I thought it showed her own release over her topline, in a stage of riding that many trainers and riders don’t seem to allow their young horses (and which I’ve never before experienced)—and it was the best picture I had to show that. But to avoid confusion about what's right and wrong, I’ll delete it from this thread.

Best,

Annie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Dec 20th, 2007 07:54 pm
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Annie, the reason that it feels to you like your horse pitches forward when you suddenly release your "contact" on the reins is that you do not HAVE contact on the reins. What you have instead is PULL. You are PULLING, and teaching your horse to do the same. When the horse leans or pulls against the reins, and then you suddenly let go of the reins, then of course the horse is going to be pitched forward. When the wise old Navajo chief who heads up the crew that puts rivets in when they are building a skyscraper -- did you know the Navajos make a specialty of this? -- the men work without harnesses, and they may be a hundred stories up. And so every morning before they begin work, they have a prayer meeting. And the last thing the chief tells them before they start walking out there on those beams is "remember never to lean on the wind."

"Pulling" means there is a continual backwards traction on the reins, exerted by the rider against the horse's mouth.

You have to figure out how to have real contact instead of this, because "continuous backward traction on the reins" is not contact.

One suggestion I would offer you is that you totally, utterly, and forever stop looking at photographs of dressage competitors. This will help to get the wrong picture out of your consciousness.

Picture the reins as having arrows in them. The arrows in the reins must always be going to the front.

Picture the reins as being hollow and being filled with a fluid. The fluid in the reins must always be flowing to the front.

I want to establish a new thought and a new habit for you, Annie, and that is this: every single time you feel your horse leaning forward -- whether that's because the animal has braced its neck, or because it is leaning its whole body forward as it was doing in the photo you submitted -- I want you to TURN. Turn the head, turn the neck, turn the whole body into a circle.

And stay in the turn until you feel the horse stop leaning. The reins, which you are merely holding but not pulling back on, will at that moment become draping. They will drape more on the inside, less on the outside. At the moment you feel this -- which is the release that comes from the horse (and it comes because the animal has regained its balance, which the circle helps it to do) -- then at that moment, you release EVEN MORE back to the animal.

In order for you to "release even more", what this means is that you push your hands FORWARD.

Make sure you don't make this more complicated than it is. Just do as you have been told, and you will find that it is simple to do. Difficult as to overcoming a really bad and pernicious habit; but simple as a technique.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

jlreyes
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 Posted: Thu Dec 20th, 2007 08:24 pm
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Annie -

Being able to read your "lesson" has been like auditing a clinic:)

Thanks for posting the picture and sharing your experience.

Jennifer

 

Ailusia
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 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2007 09:09 am
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I did a little homework... I made notes on "kissing spine" topic, and then I tried to draw the most important things that were mentioned there, hoping to understand them this way ;) but I'm not sure if that is correct; I had problem with the iliopsoas group, because I don't have any anatomy book which would be so detailed. So I didn't see the shape of these musles. Here is the picture (isn't it too small? I was afraid that it will be too large...):



Here are my notes (they are quotes of Leah and dr Deb):


3 muscles that are holding up or raising horses back
scalenius muscle/longus colli complex supports the base of the neck
rectus abdominus (when a gelding urinates)
no muscle of the legs is key to collection
muscles dorsal (above) the spine release and relax to allow ventral muscles to contract
iliopsoas is coiling the loins
rectus abdonimus: origin – pubis bone (floor of pelvic girdle). Insertion – all ribs except first 3 and 4 posterior bones of sternum... it allows the upside down U of a round back by squeezing the stermun to pelvic area.
Scalenus: origin – anterior and lateral side of 1st rib. Insertion – transverse processes of C4-C7
Longus colli: origin – cervical vertebrae and insertion – first 5-6 thoratic vertebrae
 Iliopsoas group
iliacus: origin – ventral side of the ilium (triangular wings of pelvic girdle) insertion – tronchater minor of the femur (thigh bone) with a tendon that intersects the psoas minor. It allows the hip to flex, rotates femur out.
Psoas minor – origin – first 4-5 lumbar vertebrae and last 3 thoratic vertebrae. Insertion – ilium. Flexes the pelvis.
Psoas major – origin – lumbar vertebrae and last 2 ribs. Insertion – tronchanter minor of the femur with a tendon that intersect the psoas minor. Allows hips to flex and femur to rotate out.
When the rectus abdominis muscle contracts, it shortens the distance between the sternum (breastbone) and the pubis (the bone lying above the sheath or udder).
When the scalenus/longus colli contract bilaterally, they shorten the distance between the front end of the ribcage and the underside of the vertebrae that are at the front of the ribcage, and the underside of the middle of the neck.
The main topline muscle is longissimus dorsi.

And here are my questions:
Where exactly is the first rib placed?
What happens to the ribcage when it's pulled from both ends, by rectus abdominus and longus colli? Does it extend?
Where is the insertion of iliacus? (I couldn't find what is "tronchanter minor", but I thought that if it rotates femur out, then it must be attached somewhere to the top of it...)

Tell me if the image is too small, I'll put a larger one.


DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Dec 23rd, 2007 07:58 am
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Ailusa, you have some ability as an artist. There is a nice flow to your lines, and the drawing is basically quite accurate.

It's understandable you're having difficulty with the iliopsoas complex, because in fact it is not illustrated very well in any existing equine anatomy textbook that I know of. It is very hard for people to visualize a muscle that they have never seen, and that in fact cannot be seen or even, for the most part, touched in the living animal.

To get an idea of where the iliopsoas muscles are located, imagine you're at the butcher shop. Down from the ceiling of the room hangs an iron hook on the end of a chain, and on the hook is the fresh carcass of a deer that a hunter has just brought in. The deer is hanging up by its hocks, so that the weight of its body pulls the hindlimbs straight up, while gravity pulls the head and forelimbs straight down.

The butcher is going to prepare the deer for the table. He sharpens his knife, and then he goes to the belly of the deer. He puts the knife in just above the rear end of the breastbone, and then he cuts straight up the midline toward the sheath.

He makes a long slit. Then he takes the knife and makes two crosswise slits, extending from the middle of the abdomen out to the sides, so that the cut in the deer's belly now looks like a "+". He cuts around to the sides as far as he can go without hitting bone. This will be pretty far, because the cross-cuts are made behind the ribcage, in the soft part of the belly.

Having done this, he can now easily put his arm into the abdominal cavity. He reaches in and feels for the root of the mesenteries. The mesenteries are the curtain-like sheets that support the intestines internally. All the curtains converge upon a single point that is just behind the deer's diaphragm, in the center of the freespan of its back. As we discuss this, you will not forget to picture that we are on the INSIDE of the abdominal cavity. That means that when the butcher reaches in there, he's feeling up the mesenteric curtains toward their root, which is attached to the UNDERSIDE of a vertebra.

He then slips his knife in there and he cuts the root of the mesentery. This instantly releases the intestines, and they will then fall out into the trash can that he has positioned below the deer's body. To completely remove the intestines, it is then only necessary to feel his way to the front and cut the esophagus where it goes through the diaphrasm, and then to feel his way to the back and cut the rectum away from the inner side of the anus.

Now he has a deer that has no guts in its abdominal cavity. He can, at that point, go ahead and trim out the relatively thin sheet of muscle (the abdominal obliques) that lies between the ribcage and the hips on each side, and he can trim out the rectus abdominus as well.

This will enable him to have a perfectly clear view into the animal's abdominal cavity. Obviously, once again, he is looking at the INSIDE SURFACE of the abdominal cavity. Since he is standing at the belly, he will be looking in and will see the UNDERSIDE of the vertebral chain. He will also see the UNDERSIDE of the big, flat, anterior bones of the pelvis (the ilia).

If he puts his hand in there at this point, about halfway between the diaphragm (which is below, since the animal is hanging by its hocks) and the pelvis he will find the kidneys. They adhere to the underside of the vertebral chain, under the lumbar span. They are held up there by a sac of connective tissue. He'll reach in with his knife then and cut the sac, and remove the kidneys.

Now there is nothing at all between him and the undersurfaces of the vertebrae, except for one thing: the iliopsoas muscles.

When he looks in there he will see that they "root" just behind the diaphragm, very close to where the mesenteries rooted. They are very large muscles -- almost as large as the whole sum of the horse's neck. If he looks at both the left and right iliopsoas, he sees that they form a big triangle. The apex of the triangle is the root. The muscle-complex extends then from the diaphragm back toward the pelvis, getting wider the farther back it goes. He reaches in and feels it, and finds that it is several inches thick. If this had been a full-sized horse rather than a deer, it would be six or seven inches thick. As I've said, that's almost as massive as the horse's neck.

He follows the muscle posteriorly (upward, since the deer is hanging) toward the pelvis, and finds that most of the mass of the muscle inserts upon the UNDERSURFACE of the anterior wings of the pelvis, the ilia. The entire available surface is occupied by the muscle. About halfway through its course, however, the muscle detaches a branch (the psoas major; in a horse, this branch is about three inches thick) that goes not to the undersurface of the pelvis, but to the trochanter minor of the femur. The trochanter minor is a bump or rugosity that is located high up on the medial aspect of the femur.

To get from the abdominal cavity to this insertion, the psoas major must exit the abdominal cavity through the inguinal ring. It crosses the groin, and can be palpated in the living horse by putting your hand very high up in the crease between the sheath/udder and the medial surface of the animal's thigh. In other words, the psoas major is in the "ceiling" of the groin, near the tendon of insertion of the adductor major. The tiny amount of exposure this muscle presents, however, is nothing compared to the true size and massiveness of the iliopsoas complex as a whole, which is the major muscle that empowers coiling of the loins, and thus collection. Its anatomy in the deer, and in other ungulate mammals, is essentially the same as in the horse.

As to your other question:

The first rib defines the thoracic inlet. It is attached to the first thoracic vertebra at its upper end, and to the front end of the sternum at its lower end. In the living horse, the lower end of the scapula and its attendant musculature completely cover it and make the first rib inaccessible to palpation except at the sternal junction.

And finally, you have also asked "what happens when the ribcage is pulled from both ends, by rectus abdominis and longus colli -- does it extend?"

Ailusa, this is a point on which the whole of Europe is confused, as well as most of everywhere else. So I'm going to get you to figure this out yourself, by giving you an absolute rule or law concerning how muscles work:

MUSCLES CAN ONLY CONTRACT.

WHEN A MUSCLE CONTRACTS, IT GETS SHORTER FROM END TO END.

A MUSCLE CANNOT GET LONGER BY ANY EFFORT OF ITS OWN.

There are NO exceptions to this rule, which I have here expressed in three different ways.

So, now I'm asking you: what happens to the ribcage when the rectus abdominis contracts?

What happens to the ribcage when the longus colli contracts?

What happens to the ribcage when the iliopsoas complex contracts?

Only when you get this absolutely clear in your mind will you be able to understand how horses collect, and how they effect beautiful movement.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Tue Jan 1st, 2008 06:07 pm
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I didn't reply before because I had no access to the computer where I can draw, and I wanted to reply in pictures! About the iliopsoas group - I wasn't sure how to draw it better, so I just left it like this. I have seen it in your article about true collection, that it looks more or less similar... so I concentrated on what would happen if these muscles contract. About the ribcage - I thought that they would just pull it to the front or to the back... but I didn't draw it much (I only changed location of the first rib in the first picture).
What happens to the ribcage when the longus colli contracts?I draw as if scalenius and longus colli contracted together, thinking that the other muscles would be relaxed (of course not very possible in a living animal, if not triggered artifficially?). The result looks like this:



I drew the head dropped down because only like this it looked natural for me. Although the neck is still strange, and whole image reminds me the result of using chambon... I guess that this is the reason why people use it (although I'm trying to have the same result while playing with my horse chasing something).
What happens to the ribcage when the iliopsoas complex contracts?Again, I didn't draw any change in the ribcage, because I thought that it would only be pulled a little bit backwards, if it moved at all. But the hindquarters would move more. Now I think that the belly would be lifted when rectus abdominis contracts. And it would contract together with the iliopsoas complex. I forgot about it. So this is my result:

Doesn't look very natural either, but horses do act like this in collection (in piaffe?) so there is hope that it could be correct...

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 Posted: Tue Jan 1st, 2008 08:12 pm
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Ailusia, OK, now you your pictures have come through, and both from those and from your writing I need to correct you on one point: the iliopsoas is not connected to the ribcage. It is connected (1) to the spine and (2) to the pelvis, and the psoas minor is connected to (3) the top of the femur. So, any effects of the iliopsoas upon the ribcage are brought to the ribcage through the movement of the thoracic vertebrae, to which the ribs are attached. What I was asking you is which way does the spine move when the iliopsoas contracts?

As to the scalenus: you have the angle much too steep. The scaleni are connected higher up on the first several ribs. Their main function, and their "normal" function, is to pull the anterior ribs forward, operating them like bellows, when the horse needs to breathe in deeply.

They can and do, however, work in another manner when they assist the longus colli in raising the base of the neck. This is the effect of these two muscles: they are arranged under the declivity of the neck bones like a hammock. When they contract, the hammock shortens and pushes the base of the neck upward. This is how they work to raise THE BASE of the neck.

You are correct in thinking that this is what the chambon does. The chambon is the best-designed piece of "ancillary" training equipment. Other designs, including all the German reins, draw reins, running martingales, standing martingales, "developers" and what-have-you, are all very badly designed and all of them do nothing but hurt the horse's proper development, and sometimes hurt him also in the direct sense of damaging the muscles and joints.

However, you don't need a chambon; no one needs a chambon. What you need instead is to learn how the muscles themselves work, just as you are trying to do, Ailusia; because as you have seen yourself, the muscles that effect correct movement are there -- you don't need an external set of straps to get them to work. What you DO need to do is (1) stop doing stuff with your hands that interferes with these muscles' ability to do what we want them to do, and (2) start doing stuff that makes it more possible or more likely that these muscles will do what we want them to do.

Point (1): The primary or worst and most common thing that people do with their hands that prevents the horse from working right, is that the people hang onto the reins all the time. What this means is (a) they offer the horse a "square feel" and (b) they don't release when the horse has complied by softening. A "square feel" means equal pressure in both hands -- there are very few times on horseback when there should be equal pressure in both hands.

Point (2): The most important thing you can start doing, today, that will make it more possible for all the muscles of collection to work right, is to NOTICE when your horse is starting to brace his neck, and then immediately TURN, making sure that you have more pressure in your inside hand than you do in your outside hand. Indeed, on a less-trained horse, you need to have almost NO pressure in your outside hand.

When you have little or no pressure in your outside hand, is exactly when the horse will be able to offer you contact on the outside. If you are pulling back with the outside hand, you block the horse's ability to give you a forward "flow" of energy there, which is what real contact is.

You're making a good effort to understand all this, Ailusa, and so one last piece of advice I will give you is that you completely STOP looking at any horse magazines, posters, or anything else that features dressage riders. Only when you get completely away from that type of picture will you begin to be able to achieve your dreams of dancing with horses.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Tue Jan 1st, 2008 09:02 pm
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Actually, now I realised that I never draw my own horse... rather something like my imagined "perfect horse"! Especially in the shape of the neck, probably that's why it looked so unnatural for me. My horse always has a strange "hole" in front of her withers, which is I think normal for her age (3,5 years old) and it will fill up in time... or maybe not. I have a strange photo of her, when I asked her to do what she remembered from the exercise that I taught her - shoulder in in circle. I was touching her inside leg with my whip and rewarding her for stepping more under, but I had her head closer to me. When I used only my verbal cue, she did sort of haunches in - I guess that she remembered that it was "something about inside hind leg", but she forgot that her front should be inside, not outside:



anyway, she doesn't look like a "perfect horse" at all! Of course there are better photos of her, too ;-) but here she's trying something, not being restricted by any image in my head. Well, at least she can. I hope that I will not influence her too much when I start riding her, definetely I don't want to use the reins too much.

Ailusia
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 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 09:43 pm
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DrDeb wrote: What I was asking you is which way does the spine move when the iliopsoas contracts?
Would it be something like this?

I didn't look at any pictures, but if the neck was more curled, it would look like when using the Pessoa system... which doesn't really execute collection I believe. But now something is wrong with the proportions... I was trying to draw the ribcage a little bit lifted. I thought that the spine would pull it up, and the muscles would extend it. Well, definetely the graphics on Sustainable Dressage website are better!

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 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 11:37 pm
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Ailusia --

Rules or laws of muscle function:

MUSCLES CANNOT EXTEND. They cannot get longer of their own efforts. To put this the other way: MUSCLES CAN ONLY CONTRACT. If they do anything, they get SHORTER from end to end. WHEN MUSCLES CONTRACT, THEY PULL ON BONES. ALL ACTIONS OR MOVEMENTS OF THE BODY ARE DUE TO PULLS EXERTED BY MUSCLES.

Your thinking, like that of almost all Europeans where it concerns this matter, is backwards. The spine is a chain of bones; it cannot lift anything. The muscles that invest the topline -- like all muscles -- can only contract. When they contract, they move the spine DOWNWARD.

The only muscles that can act to lift or arch the horse's back are located BELOW THE SPINAL CHAIN.

The fact that your thinking is backwards, along with that of most of the riding instructor certification schools, is one of the great reasons why all the riding instructor certification programs, wherever they are taught -- inside or outside of Europe -- teach their students wrong. When riders have wrong ideas, the ultimate effect is that it dictates wrong actions that they are going to take, which hurt horses.

You will continue to be muddled until you get this straight: MUSCLES CAN ONLY CONTRACT. ALL MOVEMENT IS DUE TO MUSCLE CONTRACTION.

I've said this numerous times, and I do sometimes wonder when it is going to penetrate. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 11:40 pm
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Margie -- Please do not post photographs of competition-style dressage horses or riders here. I have said many times that such images convey insidious and globally wrong ideas, even when you think they are "correct" -- they are not correct. You can post links if you like to other sites; it will then be up to people to either take my advice or not as to whether they go to look at them. But I don't want pictures of that type "in peoples' face" here. Thanks for the courtesy. -- Dr. Deb

 

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 Posted: Fri Jan 4th, 2008 12:23 am
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Maybe it would be less confusing to people if we all used the word "lifting" instead of "stretching" to describe what our horses are doing when they are extending their head and neck forward and into the bit.  Most people I know use the word stretching to describe this action and to me it implies muscles becoming elongated (kind of like salt water taffy being made).  Lift sounds more like what the contracted muscles below the top line are actually doing to the bones and the muscles that aren't contracted,  but relaxed. 

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 Posted: Fri Jan 4th, 2008 07:11 am
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Pam, I did not say that muscles cannot BE lengthened. I said that they cannot lengthen of their own accord.

Now, can you and the other students that are participating here figure this out? I hope you can, because it is of the most crucial importance that you do so. What an individual muscle can actually do:

(1) It can contract of its own accord; in other words, by its own effort.

(2) It can BE lengthened, in other words, by the effort of other muscles. The "other" muscle is normally one or more muscles that are on the opposite side of the joint that the muscle in question operates. But they can also be muscles in other body zones, or even muscles that belong to other bodies.

(3) A given muscle can also BE lengthened by external forces, i.e. by momentum, friction, etc. if these conspire in the right way.

So I am asking again: if the topline is "stretched", meaning arched or lifted upward, made convex, then WHERE are the muscles located that cause this arching, lifting, and stretching?

And if there were going to be muscles that oppose and prevent the same arching, lifting, and stretching of the topline -- then according to the laws of muscle function, WHERE would those muscles have to be located?

This is what people have to get absolutely straight, because until and unless you get this absolutely straight, you will not be able to understand even one iota about how horses move. You will continue to be muddled, and that will continue to cause you to guess rather than make accurate assessments of what your horse is doing and what it needs; and you will continue to make wrong and harmful choices as to the things you do with him or the things you ask him to do or the manner in which you ask him to do things. This is why it is crucial.

"Mis-diagnosis is almost certain to lead to mis-treatment." And I mean that in both senses.

Let me know your thoughts please. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Fri Jan 4th, 2008 11:26 am
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Hi

I am unable to buy the conformation books by Dr. Deb as it seems impossible to get any reply from the distributors email here in the UK, so without having a sound knowledge of the names of the muscles involved I will attempt to reveal my lack of depth of understanding of this area, in the hope that this will enable me to learn more about it.

I believe that there is a huge combination of muscles involved in enabling a horse to raise its neck at the base and carry it gently arched - as in collection. I would imagine that to raise the neck at the base, the upper muscles here, above the cervical vertibrae near to the shoulders would need to contract very hard, while at the same time, the underside muscles in this area release.

If the shoulders are also raised, by the haunches carrying more weight, I think this will mean that the base of the neck will seem to raise still higher, and be easier for the horse to raise too, as the starting point for the base of the neck will be higher because of the raised shoulders.

The arching shape of the neck can only be shown properly (I think) if the muscles along the very top of the crest are completely soft. Teh muscles along the absolute underside of theneck must also be soft too, with only a bulge of contracted muscle showing along the upper middle section of the neck. Now I write this I realise that I am not sure how this all happens at all.

The heads weight may perhaps be causing the arch to happen at the top of the neck, proving the muscles controlling the atlas joint are not tight.

This is all a bit of a guess as I really don't know how to express the way that the muscles operate here and I have inadequate knowledge too.  I do know what looks and feels right - and wrong - I think I must be an instictive rider  - but I clearly need educating better in this.


Can you let me know how I may buy Dr. Debs Conformation books 1 - 3  to be sent to the UK please.
 

Jacquie


DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jan 4th, 2008 04:55 pm
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Dear Jacquie: You can always get the books. If Pippa can't help you in the U.K. or isn't responding, write to us directly and we will make the exception for you and sell them to you directly. You can always get the books.

As to your understanding of which muscles work, and how: nearly everything you have stated is absolutely, totally, and fatally backwards. Exactly as with Ailusia.

Please, the both of you, and anybody else who is interested in this: go back and read "True Collection".

RELEASE MUST BE IN EVERY MUSCLE THAT ATTACHES ABOVE THE SPINAL BONES -- these are the muscles "of" the topline. No muscle of the crest or upper half of the neck should contract, let alone "very forcefully".

EFFORT MUST BE IN THE KEY MUSCLES THAT ATTACH BELOW THE SPINAL BONES -- at least in those three "key" muscles that are discussed and clearly pictured in "True Collection".

If the front part of the neck bulges, it is NOT due to contraction of muscles in that area. Contraction of muscles is by no means the only way that a bulging profile can appear in the horse's body. Think again about this, and re-read my writings; I have explained the true reason for this many times before.

The shoulders are NOT to be raised. THE BASE OF THE NECK is what is to be raised. The base of the neck is not the shoulders.

And yes, Jacqui, it is understandable that you and others should be muddled on this, because you also haven't read F. Baucher, or if you have, you have not understood him. Baucher built upon the struggle of the 18th-century European riding masters, realizing that they, too, did not clearly understand what "to raise the base of the neck" means. Gueriniere did not clearly understand it. Pluvinel did not clearly understand it. Newcastle did not clearly understand it. Neither Grisone, nor Astley, nor Gervaise Markham.

The first person in history to clearly understand it was Baucher. And one of several proofs of this is the fact that his "descendants" -- those whom he trained, and those in turn who were trained by that first generation of men -- understood it. And they are still the only school that does understand it; at least, those within that school who do; the rest are muddled.

But I understand it also, and I have written it and illustrated it in a way that is more clear than the resources that Baucher had available to him. And I know more about the anatomy than any person, including Baucher, that has been in Baucher's lineage of instruction, whether in the 19th, 20th, or 21st centuries. This is because I read both the scientific and the equestrian literature. This is what "True Collection" brings together.

Please, therefore, either read my translation of Baucher or someone else's; and study "True Collection" until what it is saying SINKS IN.

Good luck -- Dr. Deb

 

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 Posted: Fri Jan 4th, 2008 09:12 pm
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thanks for the reply

Indeed I have not yet read Baucher. Nor have I read all of your writings, though I have read and re-read some of yours.

As I understand it, for true collection you must first induce the horse to coil the loins, then raise the back - (by using the stomach muscles), then lastly, raise the base of the neck. I am still unclear as to how the base of the neck is actually raised - i.e. which muscles actually enable this.

I was thinking in my previous post that the topline muscles should be in relaxation in my previous post, though may not have expressed that adequately. My confusion is being uncertain as to whether the muscles of the base of the neck are part of the topline.

Jacquie

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 Posted: Fri Jan 4th, 2008 09:16 pm
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Dr. Deb

I am going to phone the UK person, Pippa Lang, who sells your books and failing that succeeding, I will contact you direct if I may. Does she also distrtibute your Baucher translation? I can see I need to get to grips with this!

Jacquie

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 Posted: Sat Jan 5th, 2008 12:48 am
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Dr Deb's translation of Baucher is in the 2004 Inner Horseman.

Last edited on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 08:42 pm by Tasha

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 Posted: Sat Jan 5th, 2008 06:11 pm
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You know, thinking about this, maybe there would be something more I could do to help students who are reading and participating here, to straighten out in their mind how the laws of muscle function operate. So let's have just two very simple examples, and you-all can, if you like, write in a response:

PROTRACTION is the term that describes when a limb swings forward. Let us imagine a model horse whose legs are made of broomsticks, so that there are no joints within the legs. It's just the leg itself that is bolted to the side of the body. Let us say that we are describing a hind leg.

RETRACTION is the term that describes when a limb swings backward.

(1) WHERE are the muscles located that will protract the model limb? Each muscle has two attachments: one to the body (we don't really care what part of the body, i.e. spine or ribcage), and the other to the limb (and again, we don't really care right now how far up or down on the limb). WHERE are the muscles attached that effect protraction?

(2) WHERE are the muscles attached that effect retraction?

Your answers to this will illustrate whether you correctly understand the Law of Muscle Function which states that muscles can only contract, and therefore that all movement in the body is due to muscles pulling on their points of attachment.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Sat Jan 5th, 2008 07:56 pm
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Hi Dr. Deb

OK, thanks for helping me on this I will have a stab at it and say that I think the muscles to protract the leg and swing it forwards must be in front of the leg bone and the muscles to retract the leg and swing it backwards must be behind the leg bone. I dont know where they are attached on the horses body in either of these instances.

Its so odd because I have been a professional sculptor of horses for years, (thought I am not sculpting just now as I need a bit of a break from the vagaries of art) yet my precise knowledge of a horses muscles are clearly rather shallow! I was the sculptor of this painted resin wild mustang stallion, which was comercially commissioned and produced by a fairly well known painted resin sculpture company in UK. I have made a great many sculptures, (not all horses, but mostly) for many commercial companies and for private individuals too, but when I get back to sculpting again I will try to only produce work to be cast in bronze because it is far,far nicer end product! I only mention all of this as my inadequate knowledge of the muscles of the horse is twice as embarrassing for me to admit as it would be if I were not a horse sculptor as well as a horse rider!

Jacquie


Attachment: mustang stallion.jpg (Downloaded 567 times)

Ailusia
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 Posted: Sun Jan 6th, 2008 06:06 pm
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More drawings to discuss :)
Here a dressage horse, ridden without a bridle for the first time. Passage, piaffe and canter:


Here are three other horses. First one of them is ridden, but I didn't draw the rider (he was ridden without a bridle and bareback) and the other two are free lunged:


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 Posted: Sun Jan 6th, 2008 09:29 pm
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I'm with Jacquie on this. The muscles that effect protraction are the leg muscles on the front of the bone and the muscles that effect retraction are behind the bone.

I'm looking at plate 2 of the horse anatomy colouring atlas which has directional terms. Would it be correct to call those muscles in front of the bone the cranial leg muscles or is there a better way to phrase it?

Last edited on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 09:31 pm by Tasha

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 Posted: Mon Jan 7th, 2008 09:56 am
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I'd like to add a couple cents, and hopefully make a step in the right direction (before I go and troll through 'the Anatomy of Bitting dvd where I'm sure I've last seen this explained!).



I'd add protraction of the leg: muscles in front (i.e. neck side) if looking at the longitudinal side of the horse. Muscles behind the leg for retraction.

When looking dead-on, for the left leg: to protract, muscle anchored low down on the chest, lhs. If we're looking at a cross section through the wither area, it would anchor close to the 'point of shoulder' joint.

At the other end of the muscle, anchored higher inside the neck, my guess is on the underside of the spine. So if we cross-sectioned halfway along the neck, the muscle would tuck in and anchor on the underside of a vertebra? (possibly connected along the vertebral chain between the two anchors points to form a triangle from side-on?)



For the spine: to coil the loins, I'm thinking of the muscles under the spine. I'm picturing a muscle that looks somewhat like the 'eye fillet' of the animal, running along in parallel to, underneath of, the spine.

I'm thinking it connects rib cage, (back of diaprhagm) with underside of the pelvis/spine, (I think you mentioned earlier Dr Deb, major anchor to pelvis, starting close to spine intersection, minor attachments to each femur?)  so that when the muscle contracts (shorter from end to end) it will 'pull' the two anchor points closer together, therefore the topline (loins) will be lengthened (coiled).



Then we need connection between 'eye fillet' and base of the neck? Or working in with the abdominals to 'retract' the limb?

(Off for more research to connect the dots.....

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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2008 08:39 am
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Jacquie, sorry it has taken me a couple of days here to get back to you. I am DEEP into the final stages of production on the Poison Plants book and have simply had my nose to the grindstone with that. About time I took a break and responded to your thoughts! And also, Ailusia, to your lovely drawings.

So Jacquie, I did not know you were a sculptor, but let me tell you, there is a sort of informal organization or club I bumped into here a few years ago -- they call themselves "the equine sculpture society" -- and all of the people in that club are in the same line of work as yourself. Many of our readers may not have thought about this, but every one of the toy horses you played with as a kid -- whether they were three inches tall and plastic and came out of a cheap mold, whether they were miniature porcelains, whether they were Breyer models, or perhaps a model horse that came in a box that you put together with glue and painted like a model airplane -- every one of those things began as an original sculpture made by an artist like Jacquie. When they are intended for toy production, such models generally are made in a hard wax that can be either molded or carved and that takes a fine degree of detail. They are then "resin cast", meaning that a mold is made to fit around the original sculpture. The mold is then heated, and the wax runs out. A durable resin-type plastic is then poured into the mold and allowed to cure. When the mold is removed (if all goes as it is supposed to!) the resin cast is an exact replica of the original sculpture. This resin "master" is then used to make further molds, from which the actual production item (the toy you buy in the store) is made. What Jacquie is saying here is that she'd like to move up from having masters cast in resin (which costs about $2 to $5 thousand dollars), to having "limited edition copies" cast in bronze, which, for the same size sculpture, costs three to ten times as much. Bronze casting is only for those who know they'll have gallery showings and, in consequence, buyers equipped to pay the price.

So, Jacquie -- this having been noted -- I think you are absolutely right to be getting serious at this point about learning your muscles. This is especially the case considering the fact that it is generally the artist who is going to be paying for the bronze -- you pay for the bronze, and then you HOPE you'll engage an appreciative public who will buy the resulting limited edition casts or one-of-a-kind originals. As an artist myself, I am of the Bridgman school of anatomical drawing and am really never interested in artwork -- of any style -- that does not, at some level, reflect a firm and correct grasp of the underlying structure of the thing the artist is representing. Not only am I not interested, I will say, in inaccurate, badly-drawn, and fuzzy-headed representations, I am often disappointed or even disgusted by them.

On the other side of the coin, I am thrilled and engaged to the point of fascination by accurate work that, rising above its own technical excellence, still manages to have "life" and "swing". There are two artists in the world that I think do this supremely well, and they are both museum muralists: one is Jay Matthernes, and the other is John Gurche. Both have worked for the Smithsonian Institution and elsewhere, and both are deeply knowledgeable about animal anatomy. I would advise you, Jacquie, to obtain books and articles that feature their work and study them. Both men have had several writeups in National Geographic Magazine, and their work is also featured in numerous books. Try to find the old one authored by Nicholas Hotton III -- it shows the original "mammal murals" by Matthernes.

Of course, I would also advise you to enroll in one of my carcass dissection classes; I'd love to have you come and learn. There is NO better way to learn animal anatomy than by sketching the muscles right from the actual animal's body.

Now, Ailusa, while we're talking about art: you are certainly showing us some beautiful and evocative line-work here. You have a lovely way of rolling the charcoal as you make the line. I expect you must have had some professional instruction somewhere along the line, or perhaps art is your profession.

I know from your private correspondence that you took these images from a videotape of somebody who had a finished dressage horse. They took the bridle off of the horse and rode the horse in an enclosed area without the bridle.

In the very first post you ever placed in this Forum, Ailusa -- I have not forgotten -- you expressed admiration for people who ride without a bridle. And the moment I saw this, I said to myself, well, here is another one that is confused.

The confusion is this: you must not make riding without a bridle a goal. It is not to be a goal. Let me explain this.

I happen to live next to a Protestant church, and have over the past several years become good friends with the minister and his wife. They are honest, helpful, dedicated, and (above all) unobtrusive people. They have their religion but they don't shove it into your face. They never commit what I consider to be the single greatest and most obnoxious sin of so-called "religious" people: that is, they never act friendly to anyone primarily - much less exclusively -- because they want the person to join their church. In other words, they are friendly without ulterior motive. They act friendly because they have the "right stuff" within themselves to simply be friends.

They still, of course, desire to build the attendance at their church. And they desire it because they know that coming together in a group, when everyone present is conscious that there is a Higher Power within themselves and within the room, is good for everyone. So, for these very realized people, "church" is not a physical place; it is an epiphenomenon.

Do you understand this? An "epiphenomenon" means that "....when two or more are gathered together, there will I be also." It means that "the light that lighteneth every man" is in every person who comes to the meeting, but that when all those lights are brought together, the "big light" that they create is bigger than the sum of the small lights. Something greater happens, rather unexpectedly, but very de-LIGHT-fully. 

"The light that lighteneth every man" comes from outside of this world. It comes through peoples' hearts, but it originates from someplace -- a good place -- Outside or Above. This is also where "bridleless riding" comes from. You cannot have safe, enjoyable, and almost-magic bridleless riding without years of prior preparation. You cannot have it on a horse who has any thoughts of escaping or fleeing. You cannot have it on a horse that suddenly gets afraid. You cannot have it on a horse that does not already trust the rider deeply. You cannot have it unless the rider is not only an expert, but deeply familiar with the horse he is riding. The two of them must come together with the "light" shining from within both. Then, and only then, you get the epiphenomenon, the experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Neither can the rider share this experience with anyone, and of course, the horse can't, except perhaps with other horses. The rider can try to babble on about it. The first time it happens, he will undoubtedly be both surprised and humbled by the depth and quality of response from the horse; indeed at the fact that the horse seems suddenly to be able to read the rider's mind, performing changes and turns almost before the rider himself is aware that this had been his intention. When he dismounts, the rider may try to share the "light" that he receives from this with anyone and everyone he meets. He'll babble on about it. This is what it means to "speak in tongues." Nobody can really understand you. It takes a good deal of interpretation, which is why St. Paul says he values the interpreters more greatly than those who are doing the babbling. I expect that means he liked to have a source of information that he could actually understand, even if they were only partial representations or fragmentary reports as of an experience from a world of enchantment. Because, as the man himself said, "....now we see only in part, but then we will see in full, even as we are seen."

But what I was afraid you were doing, Ailusa, and what I am still afraid you are doing, is trying to turn this experience backwards. You are trying to have the bridleless ride without the preparation. In other words, having (I think) been deluded and mis-taught by the well self-advertised horsemanship gurus whom you do not seem to be able to distinguish from the real and true teachers, you are not letting the One do this who always has to be the One to do it. In other words, you are impatient to grasp and hold onto the experience -- as all humans are, most of the time. What I am trying to get you to see here is that this is just like the obnoxious prick who thinks to himself, "I have no real interest in this person as a unique soul. But I want to act friendly to them and invite them to come to my church, so that (a) the minister will be pleased with me (b) my friends will be impressed (c) God will like me better."

You see? You must never make riding without a bridle a goal. It is going to happen when it is time for it to happen -- or not.

Meanwhile, you must just learn how to ride well, which primarily means, you learn how to "read" your horse well enough to know what he needs. Then you commit to giving that to him when he needs it. This is exactly how to be a true and good friend.

So when I look at the drawings you have submitted here, Ailusa, I see a man and a horse who love and trust each other. They are good friends. They understand each other, so that when the man takes the bridle off, it is still a safe ride for him and it is still a good experience for the horse. The horse can express some things better without a bridle than he can with the bridle on. Communication between the rider and horse is a little less precise, and that's the tradeoff in this as in everything else.

Take some time, if you will please, to think deeply about what has been said here. Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

 

Cyrus44
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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2008 10:34 am
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Very thought provoking.

As for the muscles that move the limb forward- I would say the ones that run across the joint,  at the front of the leg, , possibly the brachialis muscle.

The one that takes the leg back could be the lateral digital extensor muscle.

But I really do not know.

 

Jacquie
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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2008 01:16 pm
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Hi Dr Deb

I thought you might be buried in work causing your delay replying! 

I have already cast and sold a great many hot metal bronze sculptures - some as speculative projects and some as private commissions. The last one I did was a private commission of a very huge slab sided Dutch Warm-blood dressage horse. He was his owners absolute pride and joy and I NEVER saw a single scrap of mud on him, or any shaving in his tail whenever I went to work on the sculpture in his yard. he was immaculate and a total gent to too. I am fed up with swindling foundries not paying my royalties and trying to get people to pay for the work on time. the two painted resin companies were very good at paying on time, but the work dried up as the market research showed that horses were 'out' and tractors and farm machinery (?) were 'in'! As I am not a model maker - I sculpt live things not machinery I had no more work to do for them. they trained up a person who used to be a painter for them to sculpt horses - and now they produce a small number of horses which are rather static looking models of horses - not lively looking sculptures of horses any more!  I love those Breyer sculptures too - so intricate and small - mine are usually far bigger and it is easier to do them bigger than smaller for sure. I did a series of little horses all scratching in the field which are quite small, but not a small as a Breyer horse.

Brittains models also made some perfect little horse models as kids toys with the most exquisite accuracy and detail even down to whorls of hair on a tiny model measuring not even 2 inches at the wither! There were jumping ones, trotting ones, cantering ones and standing ones all with removable tack and riders! Incredible.  I had those models as a child and they were probably what inspired me to become a sculptor - well those and an English sculptor I met who was exhibiting her Arab bronzes at Badminton horse trials many years ago. Before sculpting I was a two dimensional artist and I do have a BA (Hons) degree in illustration. I have done literally thousands of portraits - horses, dogs, cats, men, women, children, houses. I got to the stage where I had done portraits of so many black Labradors -  a lovely noble breed, but featureless for a portait artist due to the lack of markings - that if I ever saw a black Labrador again I would have to suppress a scream! (Actually I did one quite recently for my dear brother, who adored his Lab so much I had to do it for him)

This is why I currently (for the last two years) work full time as an bat ecologist. It is very simple - I do the skillful and often difficult bat survey/radio tracking work, write up the reports and then I get paid a suitable amount, which is commensurate with the skill level for what I have done! Such a novelty for me!!!

 
I will get back to art once my life has become more settled - I am divorcing right now -  and have been for the last two years as my ex cannot agree on anything and is a very difficult character (he was like this when we were together, so no surprises).

I have not heard of the artists Jay Matthernes or John Gurche before but I will look up their work, thanks for that. I will also definitely search for the book you mentioned. I am a soft touch for books!! At last I have ordered the conformation series having finally got hold of Pippa! I can't wait to get hold of those books!

I would so love to attend a course with you Dr. Deb, but time and money......... I think I may have to have you kidnapped Dr. Deb, so I can learn from you here, in the UK. I will treat you well and you can be getting up on the pedestal as often as you like...........

Here are some little itchy horses which I made nearly 10 years ago, all about 4 inches to the wither, shown here while still in the white modelling wax which I made them from prior to casting. They were then cast in bronze by the cire perdue or lost wax method (which Dr. Deb described) in their hundreds and all were sold all over the UK. It is possible to have 'art for the masses' (ie not a single figure limited edition) in bronze too!


Jacquie

Attachment: All Eight.JPG (Downloaded 466 times)

Ailusia
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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2008 05:52 pm
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I didn't mean to advertise bridleless riding, but I thought that it could be useful here to discuss horses which had no bridles, so that their heads and necks were not influenced by human's hands at the moment. It's not my goal to ride without a bridle. But it's not my goal to ride with a bridle, either. Right now I only want to understand true collection, and here I'm struggling with "raising the base of the neck". In your article you wrote:
For all sound horses are Grand Prix masters until people climb onto their backs.
And then I found a photo of my filly when she was two years old:



I would say that she knows what True Collection is since a long time, while I keep struggling with it ;-) she wasn't trained at all then, they even had a problem with lunging her.
Fortunately for her, I'm not riding her. I promise that I will use a bridle if I need it. I know that it's easier to "feel" true collection, than to "see" it. Not that I'm riding collected horses very often, but it happened twice in my life and it was so wonderful that I remember it very well. But, as I'm not riding my horse right now, it's harder to "feel" her collection - although it's possible too, and maybe I should concentrate more on feeling it.
By the way, I think that she's raising the base of her neck in this photo. But I'm not sure. And in my drawings - first two of them, passage and piaffe - I think that the horse is doing it, too. In the third drawing, canter, I think that the base of the neck is sagging. It reminds me a neck of a deer. Then, there are three more drawings of bay horses in canter - I thought that the horse in the middle is dropping the base of his neck, and the other two are raising it. But maybe all three are raising?
And, just to add some information about the video - the horse wasn't ridden in an enclosed area. It was a sandy irregular area near to a forest, with some trees and bushes. I was surprised because I thought that dressage riders use only regular maneges. I wouldn't say that it was very wise, but the performance was wonderful indeed. I think that even better than with a bridle. I'm not a judge, but with a bridle the front leg was not so perfectly straight in piaffe and passage (it was a little bit behind vertical) and the poll was not the highest point. But the difference was minimal. And the rider was a woman. Not that it would mean anything. Well, I don't know.
Next time I'll try to draw on some pictures of horses with bridles, they are easier to find anyway. And thank you for compliments! I'm not a professional artist, but my mother is and she's trying to educate me ;-)

miriam
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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2008 08:10 pm
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Have you ever, Jacquie, considered sculpting the horse in that position he gets into when he lifts a leg and then reaches around to bite that leg to scratch an itch? I've always loved that position!

Nice sculptures too!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2008 08:12 pm
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Jacquie, those figurines are just absolutely wonderful. The very kind of thing I most enjoyed when I was a girl, and still enjoy most. And in bronze too, not plastic or even porcelain! Amazing!

Ailusia: OK, you just want to talk about the technical details. In that case, I will tell you that you are missing the main point -- which is a bit surprising in someone with the artistic "eye" that you obviously possess. The main point is the "flow" of the topline, by which I mean the "inner" topline, not the external topline that you can put your hand actually on. It is the shape that the chain of spinal bones assumes within the horse. And every single picture or drawing that you present shows not only totally normal movement, but lovely movement.

Forget about judging, Ailusia. The judgements made by judges, where they look at individual body parts as if they existed in a vacuum -- i.e. for example about the leg being straight or not -- are the wrong way to go. They are misleading and dangerous. They are why showing is mostly bullshit. Not because the people who participate are bad, or even that the judges themselves necessarily are bad, but because the rules force the judges to pick at particulars. This causes them also to miss the main point.

So forget about competitive dressage, OK, Ailusia? And forget about "natural horsemanship" too, because by now you've heard me say several times that there is no such thing -- no kind of horsemanship is "natural". Dressage is not better, reining is not better, western pleasure is not better, racing is not better. Or worse. They are all the same: they are all systems of judgement that relate only peripherally to what horses actually are.

You merely need, as I have already said, to learn how to ride. You need to stop being afraid to use normal tools for riding, such as the bridle and bit and saddle. You need to saddle up, put the bit in, and go ride. Yes, your horse is raising the base of its neck in the photo on the longe line, and yes, once you get on it will be harder for your horse to do this. But by no means impossible. If you want to be a good rider, then your task is to find out how to help your horse raise the base of its neck even while you are on top of his back.

Once you have obtained tack that fits properly, you need to go ahead and use it. Remember I told you that the man in the video had ridden his horse IN A BRIDLE AND BIT FOR YEARS before the moment came when it was right to try riding without this equipment. So Ailusia, again like a lot of people, you are trying to have the "end experience" -- mastery -- before you put in the long hours of preliminary work to thoroughly learn the basics. Mastery consists, Ailusia, as your artist mother will probably tell you, primarily of basics. So, no basics -- no mastery.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Cyrus44
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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2008 11:23 pm
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This is my horse Cyrus-

To me in this photo- I was feeling he is pretty naturally round at this time, of course when I get on- the whole picture changes.





But what are your thoughts?

 

here I lost his straightness on the circle, and he was looking out.

I am still not good at getting and maintaining that  softness Dr deb was showing us when I did her clinic-   but I just keep trying.

His nose often pokes out-



The one thing I have observed with my new saddle- is finally after years he can lower his head- and is happy to do so, which makes me think its certainly better than I had.

 

and this is a very old drawing I found in one of my horse books- it did it in the 70's and never draw  really.

I guess thats what I thought muscles were like- as it was from my imagination as I sat in class-   with my black biro- dreaming of horses.



Somehow all these years later- it reminds me of the horse I have now

 

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 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 12:30 am
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Hi All,

I came across the ESI Website this past week and am very excited to have access to all the information in Dr. Deb's articles and the forum discussions.  I have read the Woody and True Collection articles over and over. Then I go outside to ride and observe my horse and come back in and reread the articles.  The raising the base of the neck is new to me.  When I did a self evaluation based on my interpretation of the articles, I was a little discouraged.  I came to the realization that I have been putting my horse in a frame and really not achieving "true collection" at all.  But am working to improve those areas.  We can not make changes to improve ourselves until we understand the truth of the situation, so I am thankful for the realization.  One of the first changes I am making is to not pull back on two reins at the same time and to ride with a forward feel in the reins.  I am also using the "twirling the head"  to relax the topline and working on transitions.  Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I am planning on purchasing the Conformation Analysis and The Birdie books soon.  I have a few questions.

1.  I notice that my horse drags his front feet when I back him up on the ground or in the saddle,  when I do a turn on the hind quarters he does not drag his front feet.  Sometimes I will prepare him like I am going to do a turn on the hind quarter and then ask him to back instead.  He seems to not drag his feet then.  I am thinking he does not because he shifts more of his weight to his hindquarters.  After reading about raising the base of the neck, I am assuming he is not raising the base of his neck when he backs either.  I am not sure how to offer that to him when he backs because I am putting backward pressure on the reins when I ask for a backup.  Any insight, anybody? 

2.  Where can I find a schedule of Dr. Debs clinics?

Thanks!  

Tracy

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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 05:33 am
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This topic has captured my interest for over a year (ever since I learned what true collection was.) I have a young TB mare who, typical for her breed, is ewe-necked and hammer headed. My goal is to help her overcome the conformation nature gave her, strengthen her ring of muscles and carry herself in a way that will help her be happier and heathier. Unfortunately, I had 2 surgeries last year that kept me from riding for most of the year. My girl is with a trainer who is keeping her from being bored until I can ride again.

The following pictures are a sequence that shows Lily going from "star gazer" to lifting the base of her neck. (Yes, the 3rd pix shows the reins just before they were released and she is behind the verticle. Also, please excuse the leadrope. It would not come off the halter.) The changes in her whole body are amazing.






Notice how much Stephanie is lifted as the back comes up.

One thing I notice, too, is her hind hoof touches the ground before her fore hoof. Is this bad?

Susan

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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 06:52 am
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I thought I'd have a crack at answering "her hind hoof touches the ground before her fore hoof. Is this bad?" since I feel fairly confident that:

The sequence of the landing of the hooves shows weight distribution. If the hind feet spend more time on the ground at trot than the front feet, that implies that more weight is on the hindquarters. What is much more worrying is in the middle photo you've posted: your mare's front foot remains on the ground after her back foot has lifted. This shows her weight to be more on the forequarter, exactly what you don't want in 'true collection'.

Also, I would suggest that the running martingale used on your mare is unneccessary and potentially damaging. I just deleted the paragraph of explanation I wrote since it sounded awkward and I'm sure Dr Deb can explain it better.

gemaholic
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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 07:33 am
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The first few months of her retraining, the running martingale was needed for safety. When frightened or asked to do something she did not want to do, she would throw her head back in your face or just rear. The woman who owned her before "solved" the problem with draw reins. Stephanie has mostly weaned her of the running martingale. Notice how loose they are. They didn't engage at all during this session. (She still needs them on trail.)

Susan

PS I have read Dr. Bennetts theories on tie-downs. I agree with them. DD seems to advocate running martingales when needed.

gemaholic
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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 06:39 pm
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I may have misspoke in my PS. Dr. Bennett does not advocate tie downs. I didn't mean to say that she thought running martingales were OK either. Tie downs that keep constant pressure for the horse to fight against never solve the problem of a high head carriage. Running martingales, adjusted properly (this is key since many are used as draw reins) only give the rider any assistance when the horse puts its head way up.

The above pictures of my mare were taken last June. She had been with the trainer 3 months. Since then, Stephanie only uses the running martingale on trail when ATVs, deer and loose dogs can come out of nowhere (from Lily's perspective) and her brain temporarily reverts to flight mode. Stephanie told me Lily probably doesn't need it now, but just in case... (Lily comes home in May. By then I should be healed and reconditioned enough to keep Lily happy.)

Susan


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