ESI Q and A Forums Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

Exercises for a FLH
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
Bryy
Member


Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Aug 26th, 2016 03:22 am
 Quote  Reply 
I'd like to introduce you to Etoro, an Andalusian gelding somewhere between the ages of 4-6 maybe who may or may not have a clubbed foot, have suffered from poor nutrition and maybe never been socialized. He was backed and trail ridden in a (poor) bit-less bridle.  That's about all the history we have.  If you ride him now in a controlled environment it's very clear he has no steering and only now is learning that leg means forward and not everything must go in his mouth.

He has been on the farm since November of last year, given "groceries" in the form of pelleted hay & copra Cool-Stance, and turned out with a quietly dominant gelding to learn some horse manners.

The goal: Make this gelding as useful of as mount as he is physically possible of being.

The question: Given his current form what sort of final function is realistic?  The training guides are Mike Schaffer's books and videos.  He is learning what the bit and bridle mean, how to soften and bend, how to step under with his inside hind and how to lunge.  He has learned how to back up one step at a time and over-tracks his hind feet by many inches.  Mounted efforts have been limited for caution's sake.

Any additional exercises to address his ridiculously uneven shoulders and pony behind are welcome.  This shape is a vast improvement to how he arrived.









Bonus question: He can very often be seen standing under himself (below) with his hocks nearly touching.  Reading on the forum suggests this is because his hamstrings are very tight.  However, when he is in motion I've never seen a horse more willing to tuck his pelvis under when transitioning to trot, and he over tracks when backing up, it's unlike anything I've seen.

Extra bonus: High res images available if you want them.


Kuhaylan Heify
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 30th, 2015
Location:  
Posts: 70
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Aug 26th, 2016 11:40 am
 Quote  Reply 
Dear Bryy: Well I've seen, owned and ridden worse conformed horses than yours. Yes he does lean with his front end, but not all that much in the picture anyway. You mention that you're using Mikes books and videos. Good move. Buck Brannaman also teaches folks how to calmly supple their horses, as do several of Bucks students. Usually Bucks clinics fill pretty fast and you may have an easier time getting into one of his approved students clinics. I mention Buck because his teaching dovetails very nicely indeed with Mike Schaffers teaching. As dr. Deb shows in the Woody article she has had us get on all fours and practice going crooked and going straight. In the Woody piece she also mentions that often crookedness is the result of assymetrical use of the hind quarters. The lateral engaging step with the hindleg, as Mike has called it, or stepping over behind as some of Bucks students call it, are really nearly indentical. These movements are useful for us students because they help us supple and ultimately straighten our horses bit by bit- we don't have the feel, timing and balance of Buck or Mike
or Dr. Deb. Which is why we are their students. How far your horse can go is really up to you- how willing are you to hang in there? Teaching your horse this body of knowledge is going to teach you a lot. Also I highly recommend searching up Pauline Moores stretches, as they have proven quite useful to me too.
best wishes
Bruce Peek

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3233
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Aug 26th, 2016 12:17 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Bryy -- You have to just love this horse, honestly. He may not yet be a safe ride but my definite feeling is that he'd like to be. In other words, he's lost through having gotten a bad or late start, but he has come into good hands and you are doing everything possible to help him get caught up.

This horse's main problem is in the left forelimb. I would advise you that spending the $$ to have your favorite lameness vet come out and Xray the left forefoot would be money well spent. The reason I say this is the evident tightness/shortening of the flexor apparatus of that limb. My suspicion is that what XRays are going to show is rotation in the positive direction (toe-down) of the coffin bone of that foot.

Xrays will provide an invaluable guide to your farrier, because you have a process here that's going to involve a treatment plan and schedule spanning about two years. In other words, by successive small changes, trim by trim, a skillful farrier will be able to move this horse's hoof and coffin bone configuration back to normal. This will involve the usual business of moving the buttresses back and at the same time trimming the toe as short as possible, so as to facilitate breakover and promote the distribution of pressures that will cause the tubules to reorient properly, and thus the capsule as a whole to "move" back under the ankle. As this occurs, all those lines of tension, and the appearance of "mild" calf-knee will disappear, because AP hoof balance (which is what we're talking about here) is the key to maintaining proper tensions in the anterior vs. the posterior parts of the forelimb reciprocating apparatus.

Of course the forelimb doesn't stop at the elbow, so a further effect will be that the tightness, angularity, and asymmetry you see in the shoulders will also resolve.

However, the shoulders are not only connected downward via the forelimb reciprocating apparatus to the hoofs; they are also connected fore-aft to the whole ribcage, because they lie slap up against the fore part of the ribcage. And the ribcage, of course, "roots" upon the spine. And the spine is the seat of crookedness, or straightness, in both stance and movement.

Hence your work to teach the horse to longe properly is crucial. If you will look in the next issue of "The Eclectic Horseman," you will find therein an article by me that details how to longe correctly and why correct longeing promotes and consolidates the horse in a habit and preference for moving straight rather than crooked.

What got this guy into this problem is that he was born made out of rubber. Some horses are this way, in terms of their muscle physiology. It's particularly characteristic not only of Andies but also TWH's and American Saddlebreds, and some Warmbloods (if they have enough actual old European blood in them, which is to say that they are less than 95% Thoroughbred).

"Rubber" horses track over hugely, and to drive them or line-drive them it is like trying to drive a snake. In fact it might be helpful and an eye-opener to introduce this horse to line-driving, so you can watch him from a position straight behind him as he moves. I assure you, he's going to be all over the place -- his butt does not know and does not much care where his shoulders or head are at any given moment.

Andies and Lusies are famous for being able to turn around in mid-air; they are incredibly flexible through the ribcage. You may view this as an advantage, though, only after the horse has been taught to move straight, which you need to recognize also means to move in balance. And your guy has for years been in the habit of moving totally out of balance both AP and from side to side; he simply does not know that there is even such a thing as not having to fight against his own body in order to locomote.

Thus the importance of teaching him to untrack and to longe properly, and finally to line-drive well: you show him where the sweet spot of centered balance is, and you  know where this is because you can see it. When you go to riding him, of course you can feel it. And every time this guy "sags" (as Tom Dorrance used to put it) somewhere along his length -- a shoulder sags out or in, his haunches sag over to one side -- then you detect that, you show him to put it back in line, you tap him here or there to help him do that, you give him time to get it back together, and then you say, "OK, now we can move again. I don't want to move any other way." This is a particularly valuable lesson that Mike Schaeffer teaches, though he mostly teaches it with respect to AP balance where the horse has been ridden in the common dressagey way, where they push the horse off balance from back to front so that the animal leans against the hand -- which they mistake for "contact". So your guy may do that, but equally he may roll  his neck up in a ball, twist it to one side, try to turn his head upside-down, gap his mouth -- all because his bodyparts are out of alignment. But equally he will come out of alignment from side to side, so just as much as Mike will hold a horse up and say, "nope, you're not going to go forward until you stop leaning on my hand," you must also say (very kindly) to this horse, "we will step forward when you stand up and quit slopping over to one side."

And this is the answer to the question you've asked: it isn't about this or that exercise, and it is never going to be like that with this horse. Rather, it is every step, every minute, requiring you to feel, pay attention, offer support when he sags, and yet do all that so that when he does find balance, you can ride him a few steps FREELY forward and let him feel and express how joyful and comfortable and energizing that is.

The ugly hunter's bump or peak over the croup on this horse comes because he was ridden early and way too much was asked of him. He is somewhat light of bone and slender-legged, and he's not overly broad or stout through the chest either; so what happened to him was that he got nearly beat to death, and I'm telling you it's lucky that his back didn't go down. The hunter's bump will never go away, but you'll find that as the trimming improves the AP balance on the forelimbs, the horse will quit being so sickle-hocked behind and quit standing under himself so much. And as that irons itself out, in the last stage his back will fill out with more properly developed muscle that has the correct "buttery" tonus, and at that point there will be a better balance between his big heavy neck and his undermuscled torso and haunches.

I'd love to see photos of this horse about every six months so as to be able to monitor his progress, because he is going to come out absolutely great and be one of the best horses you ever owned. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Bryy
Member


Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Sep 6th, 2016 12:51 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hello Dr. Deb Et. al.

Below are pictures for the record taken from November 2015 a few days after Etoro arrived at the farm.  He was not worked simply learning to be a horse until August.




Bryy
Member


Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Sep 6th, 2016 06:10 am
 Quote  Reply 
P.S.  Where would you suggest I look for more quality information on long lining.  Logic lends that it should be an extension of the in hand work done already, starting at the side and slowing putting more distance between myself and the horse and changing the angle from safe on the side to behind.  Ignorance and assumptions make fools of us all.

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3233
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Sep 6th, 2016 11:33 am
 Quote  Reply 
Oh, you're doing all right. There is no good book that I can refer you to for long lining; I learned it from teachers "live" and that's how you'll have to learn it, too.

Your assumptions are good ones: start from what the horse is used to in terms of your position, and don't try it at all until and unless the horse will very reliably go forward promptly upon request. The reason for this is that the biggest danger you have in the initial stages of teaching the horse how to do this, is that he will stop and turn about, thus winding the lines around his legs, and that's a wreck of course. So you have to have him so he'll longe forward without thinking of stopping, and if he thinks of turning, you'll have to beat him to the punch and prevent it with the opposite rein.

It also wouldn't hurt in terms of preparation if you had him going so well at longeing that you could longe him on one line, with the line being on the OUTside. You teach the horse this by first longeing him in the normal manner, then you float your position around from being to the inside to being behind him. Use a long stick or a whip with a long lash, very lightly, to touch him on the "new" outside shoulder or neck and thus get him to reverse. The line will then come to you either over the top of his withers, or else around his body above the hock. Stay pretty well behind him rather than trying to be on the "new inside" when he's in the reversed position, so that if he starts to get himself into trouble, you can from a position behind him, by merely extending your arm, pull him back around into the opposite direction so that the line is once again on the inside. Again, you need to remain very alert for the first sign that the horse might try to swap himself around and thus wrap the line around his neck or legs.

When he's good with this, I would proceed to having two reins. The horse needs to have no tendency or desire to kick at you, because for this you need to be quite close up, i.e. within kicking range behind him. So again, when you have two reins, you start from your position being on the inside, then gradually float around to where you're behind him, and from there you reverse him to either direction, using a touch on the inside rein.

When I long-line I never use a surcingle because I don't feel that I need it. There is a tendency for reins run through ordinary "flat" or "floppy" rings to bind up, i.e. there is too much friction between the rein and the ring. And of course this is much much worse if you try to long-line by running the lines through stirrups. If you use either of these, it won't be long I promise you before there is so much pressure on the horse's mouth that he'll go along with his mouth open; and you probably won't even notice the buildup of pressure, because it's way up front and you're in back. A good driver in actual harness has to have very light hands indeed.

Only if you have a surcingle that is from an actual driving harness, that has the rings fixed erect upon terrets or little stems, is this problem of friction sufficiently diminished. Nonetheless I don't even like to use that, because just as if you were riding in a running martingale, having the reins go through rings gets in my way because it prevents me from being able to widen my hands or move them about in any manner and to the distance away from the midline that may seem to be needed.

There are two drawbacks to long-lining without anything to hold the lines between the bit and your hands: one, the lines can sag down and the horse step on them. To fix this, you just remember to hold your hands as high as necessary to keep the outside rein, especially, above the horse's outside hock. This will, by the way, come in handy later when it comes time to teach the horse to half-pass; you can apply pressure to the haunch with the rein. But not now, not in the beginning. The second problem is that your arms will get tired. But then again, so will the rest of you, since unless you long-rein MOSTLY from an inside position, you're going to be doing a lot of walking and/or trotting. That gets pretty aerobic if the footing is heavy, and it's very hard on the knees if it's loose sand.

Nonetheless I consider long lining a very valuable skill and a help to the horse in that stage where you now are, i.e. the horse needs to become more educated and more tame, so that he'll guide properly and understands that the reins and bit are not there to hurt him -- before you mount him.

Meanwhile you will be well advised to continue to untrack him on the short rein/rope halter and lead as often as possible. Work on leg-yielding to expand the diameter of the longeing circle, which is simply a somewhat more subtle form of untracking, and depends upon untracking for its execution. You cannot do this too much, so long as your intentions and attitude are friendly and you don't pressure or rush him. Every time he untracks, he submits emotionally, and this is the essence of horse "breaking". He decides that your body space, your priorities, and your ideas are more important than his; and he gains confidence that if he does as you ask, he'll be well off, comfortable, and safe. -- Dr. Deb

 

Bryy
Member


Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sat Oct 1st, 2016 06:43 am
 Quote  Reply 
It finally came!  Your tease about the EH article on longing had me going to the mailbox every day after work for a month straight!

I'm glad to report Etoro has been longing well, and when his spirits get high he collects himself and floats over the ground.  To the left.  Still working on the right but there are moments where he finds straight and you can see the relief in how it feels with the lengthened, not egg-beater'y strides.  There are decent trot-canter transitions if I 'push' him out to get him under himself by expanding the circle first.  So far I haven't felt comfortable trying to long line him, but having admit it, I will see if I can get the longe on the outside by turning him around tomorrow.

Riding only happens once a week or so if the ground work has gone well.  There were a few lucky days where a docile horse was warming up and I could use them as a birdy rest to draw him around the ring.  Beautiful feeling of straightness and relaxation, lovely balanced turning with correct bend that he could hold himself for a surprising number of strides.  Mostly walk.  Trot is still exciting sometimes but there are moments of balance there as well and I keep it short, a trip around the ring at most, reward good effort with walking and pets.  Now that he's figured out this petting thing he's a big fan.

The trouble is when I try to ride without a magnet to follow.  When heading away from the gate (surprise!) at about B or E he cuts in hard.  I know it's coming, I try to get there early and focus with all my intention on the rail, turn my chest and shoulders some towards it but I always find myself with big movements of my hands to bring him back.  The best luck I've had was to tap him on the inside shoulder to prevent being dragged in.  Leg, so far, does not work.  It's not a gentle movement, we're usually 90 degrees in within 3 meters.  This past weekend Buck was in town and after 4 days listening, perhaps he would tell me to circle, disengage the hind end and go on another step, repeat as required.  "You like to run?  Lucky for you I like to ride!"  This has not been a problem during ground work. 

I strongly suspect it's because he doesn't enjoy being ridden.  When a horse doesn't stand at the mounting block because he knows it's time to mount it's pretty obvious.  So far this has been worked through by going back to directing his back half then front half and making him busy with lots of rewards between good efforts.  After another 10 minutes or so he will stand quietly to be mounted.  There doesn't seem to be any headway however, with either issue.

On a second note: I also ride a 21 year old Andy gelding who has been in competitive Dressage training his whole life.  When I ask him to twirl his head right his ears fall out of level very badly and I get neck bend, very little else.  Usually when I see this in a riding horse it means the reins are held (and I do mean held as in taken a hold of the horse's mouth) with uneven pressure, so I thought to try a light outside rein for support.  This earned me an evasive break at the pole, a braced but bent neck and still no twirl.  This horse has a massive pigeon neck.  I tried in hand flexions such as Mike describes but get only evasions there as well, a tucked chin, high head, massive under neck.  Is there a different angle I can try?  Another approach?  Until then I've been working on a loose rein and only using one at a time when needed.  Due to past injury and plates fusing his short and long pasterns of both front legs, the sooner I can work him correctly off his front end the better.

Having watched Buck on three different horses over four days from a snaffle up through two reins there is a new standard for my own horsemanship.  I am humbled.  'Turn loose' has more meaning now and I understand why it is so hard to put to words.  My standard for "prompt" and "light" have also been radically shifted.  What I thought of as obedient is primarily evasion.

Third note: asking for bend on a circle at walk or trot by sliding your inside leg back, per Buck, works wonderfully to get that lazy inside leg under the belly button.  However.  The canter?  The two beat strike off is outside leg (back) inside leg (forward).  If I want to straighten a horse in the canter that leaves me with moving the shoulders in front of the inside hind, the pesky lazy left leg predominantly.  But that isn't a permanent fix!  It's a band-aid, and I want to do better by my horses.  Back to Buck, there was a massive emphasis on comparing the response of the left side to the right for every single exercise he did himself and what he had the riders do.  One rein stops, turning from the legs, hooking the rein to the inside front foot, backing a circle etc.  Of the many definitions of straightness, if a horse does bend evenly left and right at walk and trot, will he then track straight at the canter?

Thank you, Dr. Deb, for offering such richness.  Sorry for so many questions at once, I try to hold onto to them so I don't pester you or your readers every week.

Bryy
Member


Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Oct 12th, 2016 04:43 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Dr. Deb-

All that noise above?  I'll figure it out.  The vet is coming in a few days and I was hopeful to have some questions for her and possible x-ray requests per your suggestions.  Etoro has started to swell in his left knee after 3 straight days of work: riding, longing, riding (today).  Below are images from tonight.



This knee often has swelling and has been imaged.  Diagnosis was arthritic changes above the joint.


New swelling.  Images of the foot below have not been taken yet but should be a part of this visit.

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3233
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Oct 12th, 2016 06:38 am
 Quote  Reply 
Bryy, XRays are going to really help. Vertical pasterns are never congenital; no horse is born with a pastern as vertical as your most recent photos reveal. So, what the XRays are going to reveal is that he has rotated coffin bones, probably negative-plane (rotation of the coffin bone deranges the alignment of every bone and joint lying above the coffin bone, and per the pasterns, the mal-alignment makes them stand up more vertical than they were meant to be).

Rotation of the coffin bone implies that EITHER you're going to have to get a farrier who will be willing to back the toes up AS MUCH AS he has been backing the heels up; or else use an Ovnicek plate, or some similar plate, that is designed to be seated behind the toe, so that the web of the shoe crosses the sole ahead of the tip of the frog, so as to ensure early enough breakover and thereby stop the vicious cycle caused by breakover that is late RELATIVE TO where the toe of the coffin bone actually is.

My prediction is that you will be well advised to go to the snub-nosed plates. I think the XRays are going to show you that the toe of the coffin bone lies close to where the light-colored ring in the hoof is in the photo directly above this post. That is, you drop a plumb line or drill an imaginary hole directly plumb downward from that light-colored line at the toe, and the drill bit will just nick the toe of the coffin bone. Hence, the rocker-line of the toe of the shoe needs to lie that far back (you can't possibly back the toe up that far, of course; that's the beauty of the snub-toed shoe).

The reason the knees swell is that when the horse is working, he is functionally calf-kneed -- i.e. the late breakover imposed by his hoof capsules not being where his coffin bones are is like he's wearing clown shoes. The breakover is so late that his knees start to bend backwards, i.e. functional calf-knees, every time he takes a trot or canter step. This strains every single structure from the carpal bones down to the coffin bone, the flexor apparatus, the suspensory apparatus, and all the joint capsules. Not good.

Let us know what the XRays tell you, and even post them if you'd care to. Most valuable to see XRays along with the external photographs. -- Dr. Deb

Bryy
Member


Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2016 12:22 am
 Quote  Reply 
Long awaited images below. Work on the pile bow has started to assist in loosening the flexor aparatus. No surprise, he goes 'spider legged'. He is also (unmannered) very pushy once treats come into a training session. Petting and praise don't work as well as brain lubricant goodies, so I don't know if we're speeding up the process by having fewer repetitions with more try (current theory) or slowing it down by being able to only do it once per training session. This is in reference to learning the bow opposed to 'performing' it.

Thank you to Allen Pogue for the wonderful information on his website. Those ball tapper whips are fantastic!

For my own edification I used the radiographs with the hoof markup thread (thank you Adam Till) http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/forum1/406-1.html to determine possible rotation of the coffin bone. I have a hard time with this on external images and now that I have both I can practice which is exciting. For those interested and determined you can use Microsoft PowerPoint to obtain angles through formatting the shape of a line drawn against the bottom of the coffin bone then clicking rotation until it's parallel to the ground line. Etoro measured 4 degrees, 3 is "correct" per my understanding of the above thread.





Last edited on Thu Nov 10th, 2016 12:39 am by Bryy

Bryy
Member


Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Nov 29th, 2016 06:47 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Dr. Deb-

I've gone through the wonderful orthopedics Inner Horseman essays.  There were a number of references to horses that had upright pasterns, they also had rotated coffin bones.  Based on the external images, do I actually see swelling/bulging in Etoro's left front above the hair line? "Derangement of the position of the short pastern." This seems similar to the external images in figure 65 of the second volume: dished toes and run under heels. As well as the heavy roan who knuckles forward, figure 77.  Etoro teds to buck his left knee forward when resting, to take weight off his heels?

My untrained eyes see the x-ray but don't see anything revealing, only a bunch of noise towards the back of the coffin bone where the cartilage is. This latest cycle a pad was put in the left fore to lift the shoulder.


 Current time is 10:29 pm




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez