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Flipping crests
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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Jacquie
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
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 Posted: Wed Dec 30th, 2009 09:58 pm
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Hi

This is sort of a silly question, but I noticed today that when one of my horses bends his head downwards to greet small children who come to see him, his crest flips as he looks slowly from side to side. His neck is curved downwards to see them better over his stable door and I know that he is becoming increasingly improved in his ridden softness and so I wonder if this is a valid thing to look for to assess a horses softness before they even leave the stable? Of course the horse would have to be calm and relaxed - and enticed to look down a little bit, then look left to right slowly, but I think it could work - what do you think? Is this common knowledge that I have stumbled upon or is it a new idea?

 

Jacquie

 


janer
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 Posted: Thu Dec 31st, 2009 01:48 am
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Hi Jacquie,
I have been taught to look for this when twirling the head as an indication of correct posture by Tony Uytendaal, and I have found this very useful.  I especially see it when I let my horse chew the bit  down as he lowers his head at a halt and he moves his head side to side as he relaxes.  The crest pops from one side to the other.
Cheers,
Jane

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Dec 31st, 2009 07:28 am
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Dear Jacqui & Jane: Well, somebody has their wires crossed a little bit here. A flipping crest IS a useful sign, but it is NOT a sign of relaxation; in fact, the exact opposite.

Now I want you both to go back to your childhood a little bit. Remember that bow and arrow you made out of a limber stick and a piece of string? Or the low-power bow they gave you to learn archery on at Girl Scout camp one summer?

OK -- now maybe you'd like to go build yourselves another one of those. Go out in the yard and get a limber stick -- it doesn't have to be a very long one, and bring it in the house and cut a notch in each end and string it. Don't put too much tension on the string.

Now, turn the bow so that the string is on top and the stick is below. The string represents the nuchal ligament and the stick represents the horse's chain of neck vertebrae.

Now what we are going to do is not draw the bow but flex it laterally. So take both hands and bend the stick so that it flexes laterally, and observe where the string goes or how it moves. If it pops off the end of the stick, cut a circular notch and tie it on more firmly and/or loosen the tension somewhat.

Next step is we are going to damage the stick by making it limber in one area. I want you to select an area about 1/3 the way down from one end and bend that area back and forth until the stick gets floppy in that spot -- don't break the stick though.

Now I want you to go ahead and flex the stick laterally again, like you did before it was damaged, and see what the "crest" -- the string -- does now.

Here are your questions to answer:

1. What is the sense of the motion of the crest when the neck is in normal condition and the stick is flexed laterally?

2. When the neck was in normal condition, and you flexed it laterally, did the crest move smoothly or was the motion at all jerky?

3. After you broke the horse's neck, how did the motion of the crest differ when you flexed the neck from side to side?

One last little experiment: I want you now to increase the tension on the string. Do this either by untying one end and re-tying it, or else just throw a slipknot into the span of the string.

4. When you increase tension on the string, what does that do to the motion of the crest?

You will see through your own discovery that a crest that "pops" or "snaps" from side to side cannot possibly be a sign of relaxation. It is a sign rather that you have something important to work on, because as long as the crest is still snapping, there is tension that needs to come out of there. So it is good that you observe that the crest is snapping, but the snapping itself is not at all a good thing. -- Dr. Deb

 

Jacquie
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
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 Posted: Thu Dec 31st, 2009 04:59 pm
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Hi DD,

Well the family and the cats were very amused at me making a bow from a stick from the lane outside and a bit of string! the cats helped a lot with the string tying and my partner Geoff is wondering what my outfit will be for new years party tonight! My bow is not great as the lane is dark and the only sticks I could find are a bit notchy, but I had a go!

 

Here are your questions to answer:

1. What is the sense of the motion of the crest when the neck is in normal condition and the stick is flexed laterally?


Answer: The string snaps across


2. When the neck was in normal condition, and you flexed it laterally, did the crest move smoothly or was the motion at all jerky?

Answer: The string moved rapidly across the stick

3. After you broke the horse's neck, how did the motion of the crest differ when you flexed the neck from side to side?

Answer: The string flopped over more softly - but this surely is not the result you were looking for me to find - maybe my bow building/selecting is faulty!

One last little experiment: I want you now to increase the tension on the string. Do this either by untying one end and re-tying it, or else just throw a slipknot into the span of the string.

4. When you increase tension on the string, what does that do to the motion of the crest?


Answer: This was a little unsuccessful due to poor stick quality, (too notchy and string catching on the notches) but it seemed to snap across more quickly. This makes sense to me, so may be right anyway.


I think I have failed to carry out this test adequately to learn what you are trying to teach me DD, and although I can see what you might be driving at - and I must say it does make some sense to me too - I am puzzled now because I have always been told by various good instructors over the years that flipping crests were a very good thing to see and were the sign of a soft neck........ARRRRGGG!!!

The horse I described in the initial instance in this thread was showing this flipping crest while in the stable and not as result of being asked down by bit pressure, but I can appreciate that his learned manner of bending his neck is dictated by the way he is being trained by me and of course I take full responsibility for that.

What is the training problem revealed by a flipping crest then?


Jacquie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Dec 31st, 2009 08:14 pm
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That there is tension in the muscles of the neck.

The crest "flips" worse when tension on the string is higher, and especially when the stick has a "weak" spot when the tension is also high.

What you have been told by "various good instructors" is irrelevant, Jacquie, since 99% of the dressage instructors in this world are mis-educated and mis-trained. Why would you pay attention to what anyone has to say about biomechanics, when they have no training in biomechanics? Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Jacquie
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
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 Posted: Fri Jan 1st, 2010 08:32 am
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OK

I accept what you say DD - and I also totally accept that you know your stuff about bio mechanics - the DVDs you have made certainly prove that beyond doubt! So my horse has tension in his neck muscles and this is proved by his flipping crest. It may or may not be 'broken' too. I must clearly work on this to help him.

I already twirl him and I will obviously have to do this much more!

Thank you for your input to my learning curve!

Happy New Year too

 

Jacquie

CarolineTwoPonies
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 Posted: Sat Jan 2nd, 2010 03:40 am
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Thank you for that explanation and demonstration, very clear and useful.


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