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Lameness
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Sonoma
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 Posted: Thu Jan 5th, 2012 12:25 am
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Cheddar, Thank you so very much! I appreciate the words of encouragement. I always vowed to do right by my horses, although sometimes what I thought was right didnt really turn out to be... One can always grow in knowledge, and if I can enlighten my self a bit more the better for my horses - I hope :)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jan 5th, 2012 12:54 am
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Yeah, lucky you, Sonoma. Beautiful horses, both. Typical conformation for Iberian horses and their various crossbreds. Paddle like windmills, does no harm at all.

So why do I say you're lucky, Sonoma? What is it about pigeon-toes that could possibly be "good" or even very desirable? Specifically, what does pigeon-toes imply about the way the horse carries/uses its UPPER limb, i.e. the humerus?

If you don't have the answer to this, you'll have to go back to my old "Principles of Conformation Analysis" to get it....we haven't gotten around to this aspect of forelimb analysis in the new series in Equus yet. But it's in the old three-volume set. Problem with that is, it's now out of print, so if you don't own it, you might have to find it used or beg & borrow.

As to head twirling, that's much easier. Get that subscription to Eclectic Horseman that I told you about, and it is explained in detail in the very first installment of the "How Horses Work" series.

Not that this will be sufficient, mind you, in and of itself to teach you how to use your hands, Sonoma; but it'll be a good start and you'll have a clearer picture from that than many another horseman who CAN use his hands right but doesn't really know specifically what it is that he's doing correctly.

I want you to really look at this photo you've posted, please, and answer me this: WHY are you prying down and back -- with the whole weight of both of your arms, and probably more -- on those reins? If you answer, 'oops, that was just careless of me' -- well, then that's bad enough. But I think it's much more likely that the scenario is more like this: you have cathected an image or "internal icon" of what you think a "dressage horse" is supposed to look like. You have cathected that curved neck and that tight tuck and that vertical face. To 'cathect' is a technical term from psychiatry that means you 'fall in love with' some object or 'project life into or invest a thing with life'. Children, for example, commonly cathect ballons and teddy bears; that's why they cry when the balloon escapes or the teddy bear goes in the washer: they think it's died, and they react with pain and grief, exactly as teenagers do when their steady boyfriend dumps them or as grown women do when their middle-aged husbands leave them.

So, Sonoma, what I'm saying is -- you have fallen in love with an image. Unfortunately, that's all you know about it -- the most superficial things that are visible on the surface. You cannot tell good work from bad, and you cannot tell constraint from true collection. The horse you are riding in the photo is being pulled together by you; the horse that the gentleman is riding has 'air on the bit', i.e. is carrying itself entirely falsely and is extremely dangerous, having learned this way of going, for anyone to ride.

Now I will help you start to be able to tell the difference. Go get any photo showing Nuno Oliveira riding a horse in piaffe, passage, or some other exercise that requires collection. What is the difference between:

(1) The shape of Nuno's arms and your arms? (His arms have a BEND AT THE ELBOW AT ALL TIMES -- never a straight arm).

(2) The position of Nuno's hands and your hands? (His hands are carried AT THE LEVEL OF HIS NAVEL at almost all times -- the only exceptions to this being when the horse raises its head, and then Nuno would RAISE his hands. Your hands, Sonoma, are in the position of all wannabee ignoramus dressage riders who secretly believe that they can get their horse to lower its head and/or collect by EXERTING CONTINUOUS DOWNWARD AND BACKWARD TRACTION upon the reins. Ugh!!)

(3) The shape of Nuno's reins and your reins? (His reins are draping, which is a world away from the 'slack' reins or 'reins full of air' exhibited by the horse the gentleman is riding. Your reins are taut, which is exactly the same thing as slack, in other words, wrongheaded, damaging, and useless).

So you go check these differences and your homework now is to verify that what I am telling you here is accurate and true.

Sonoma, you've said that Buck Brannaman is one of your heroes. OK. Buck's a friend of mine, too, and here's one thing I've heard him say: "That collection stuff, that's just fine and you'll be needing that some day. But in the beginning, you only ask the horse to make that effort once in a while and even then only for very short periods of time." But Sonoma, what do YOU do? Why, you ride that way ALL the time -- even when you ought to be on the buckle -- as for when you've stopped to rest and talk with a friend who is going to take a casual snapshot. This is what the mental obsession or cathexis causes you to do: you almost cannot bear to just let the horse move as it would, making no effort at all to shape its neck or place its head in any position.

THINK Sonoma, what this might mean to your horse and how that is directly impacting what you call a problem "with the mare" who is having difficulty cantering. I don't think the mare has any problem except a people problem.

Ray Hunt used to sign every copy of his book "THINK". The title is THINK Harmony with Horses. THINK. And do your homework, please, and then report back to us with what you think! -- Dr. Deb

Sonoma
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 Posted: Thu Jan 5th, 2012 02:39 am
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Dear Dr. Deb, this a very enlightning conversation... Oh I so appreciate it! I have so much to learn that first I have to cure a migrane which occured from information overload ( I hope :) I am however utterly confused by a couple of statements: To quote:

....(3) The shape of Nuno's reins and your reins? (His reins are draping, which is a world away from the 'slack' reins or 'reins full of air' exhibited by the horse the gentleman is riding. Your reins are taut, which is exactly the same thing as slack, in other words, wrongheaded, damaging, and useless)....

What would be then ideal,slack is wrong, taut is as well wrong. At the buckle when not working, I understand, but what is "drape?"

Also Doctor Deb, you refered that my geldings loose rein and position in possibly dangerous. I am not sure why. Is it that he is false "in frame" that he seemes forced to carry himself in such way? Not sure I understand...

I am now in search for your books, and I have much homework on my hands, literally... I am happy to work on "feel" lighter contact, better position of myself.

I am so happy to hear that pigeon toes are not such a horrid thing as my vet had me believing. My mares knees however, are they a reason to worry, they are slighty "crooked" Thank You!

kcooper
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 Posted: Thu Jan 5th, 2012 04:51 am
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Hi Sonoma, on page 7 of this thread, that I just came accross, Dr Deb talks about draping reins vs reins with slack in them. There are some great pictures for comparison to go along with the posts too.

http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/forum1/554.html

Last edited on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 05:00 am by kcooper

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jan 5th, 2012 06:36 am
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Sonoma, yes, your mare has some offset in her knees, especially the right foreleg from what the picture seems to show. You don't seem too familiar with conformation variations and their meaning....you might be able to find my 3-volume "Principles of Conformation Analysis" in Oz or Kiwiland, wherever you are writing from. But if not, then there are other books that certainly do talk about these things too, and you should get at least one of them so as to familiarize yourself better with the subject. Ben Green's conformation book is pretty accessible. The Pony Club Handbook also has information about it, as does the Camp Horsemanship manual. Most breed clubs and associations publish some kind of conformation literature too. You need this just to get the basic terms under your belt. Once you learn those, I will change your head about it too, but we can defer that until your head actually has some information in it.

Yes, of course you don't get the part about why "slack" and "taut" are exactly the same thing in that both are utterly wrong, damaging, and useless. And the reason you don't get it is because you are PREPARED to think of "draping" as some kind of middle ground. So what I am doing to you then becomes exactly like a Zen koan, because I am sitting here on my pillow with my legs crossed, telling you that draping is not only not slack and not taut, it is also no kind of middle ground whatsoever. Draping is not halfway between slack and taut. What then could it possibly be????

The very fact that you ask the question confirms what I said in a previous post, that you have no blinkin' idea what collection is. You only know what you see on the surface, just the outline of the horse's head and neck.

Here is a fact, Sonoma. At the barn where I ride currently I have Oliver, my gelding that is half Mustang and half American Saddlebred. And before that I was at another barn with my Painty Horse, who was half Quarter Horse and half American Saddlebred. Now exactly as with Iberian-breds, Saddlebred horses find it very easy to raise and arch their neck and there is no question that both of my horses could and did do that. You can see many pictures of me and Painty (he left this mortal coil in 2005, and I still miss him) posted throughout the Institute website at http://www.equinestudies.org. I would particularly call your attention to a photo of us taken at a Ray Hunt clinic years ago, that is incorporated into the .pdf that you can download entitled "True Collection". As to photos of me and Ollie, I've used a number of them in the "Eclectic Horseman" series which I have already recommended to you.

What I want you to notice is that in every one of those photos, whether of me and Ollie or me and Painty, the reins are draping.

The reason that the reins are draping is that the horse is collected.

You notice the ORDER in which these statements are made: "the reins are draping because the horse is collected" NOT "the horse is collected because of something Dr. Deb is doing with the reins."

That all is background; now here is the fact I want to share with you. Both of those barns were/are public boarding facilities. Often a dozen people would watch my rides every time I was/am on horseback, on either horse. Now there are a lot of sourpusses and ignoramuses that hang around barns, as you also may have found out, who are always ready to criticize but who really know nothing about what they pretend to be judging down on. And it was not rare at the old place, and it is not rare at the current barn either, for me to watch somebody stand there watching me and then I overhear them say sniffily to their girlfriend, "well! All that Dr. Deb ever does is walk!" -- implying that my horse could not possibly be collected if doing something as simple as walking.

I have mentioned before, however, that I have a friend at the current barn -- a very good horsewoman who is one of the owners and the barn's official trainer. She is fifteen years younger than me but has very good knowledge and feel, and has had the benefit of fine instruction and lots of good horses as she grew up. So, when the time came a couple of years ago for me to travel down to Oz for six weeks, I asked her if she would like to ride Ollie in my absence. She said 'yes' with pleasure, and we had a little session a few days before I left so that she could get the feel of him while I was there to guide her, because of course I'm the one who knows where all the buttons are on my own horse. Now here is the fact I keep mentioning, Sonoma: when this woman mounted Ollie, after seating herself she asked him to depart at a walk. As soon as he moved, I saw her sort of sit up more. Before Ollie had taken fifteen steps, she turned around in the saddle to face me with a very surprised look on her face. "Oh my!" she said. "He knows!"

So here is the fact, Sonoma: there is not one moment, not so much as one heartbeat, when I am on my horse's back when he is NOT collected. Ollie, and old Painty too, are collected at a halt, at a walk, at a trot, at a canter, backing up, doing lateral work, opening a gate, on a trail ride -- all the time, so long as I am there. And they are collected whether I drop the reins on their neck or whether I carry them in the normal manner in my hands as we proceed along doing whatever it is we are doing.

Now, it is the task of every aspiring horsewoman to find out what it is that THE HORSE is doing that makes him be, or not be, collected. WHAT IS IT that he "knows"???? I assure you, Buck Brannaman's horses know the same thing. And indeed, we both learned that, or were brought far along in our understanding of it, by our teacher Ray Hunt. And you can watch Ray Hunt's horses on videotape and if you know WHAT IT IS that the horse knows, then even by watching Ray's horses at a walk, you know that they knew it.

So at some point you will go download and read the .pdf's entitled "Lessons from Woody" and "True Collection" and "The Ring of Muscles", and that explains the anatomy, the biomechanics, and gives the definition and many examples; and that is good but it is not enough. You will have to somehow find out yourself what it means, Sonoma, and that means specifically that you find out somehow what a correctly collected horse FEELS LIKE. This was what my friend who rode Ollie was mainly responding to (although she also is quite good at reading the horse's mental attitude and intentions, which certainly also come into it to make the whole picture).

And do go look at the threads which Kim has helpfully looked up: yes, we have talked about Pigeon Toes and also Collection in this Forum many times before.

And as to the horse that the gentleman is riding in the photo, yes, I would say that horse is so dangerous to ride that I would not feel good about getting on it. The reason is that there is "air in the reins", which is an expression that means that there is no meaningful connection (the animal has learned how to avoid, or how to disallow) meaningful connection between its mouth/the rider's hands and its hind legs. You have NO CONTROL WHATSOEVER of such a horse, and if I were you, Sonoma, I'd be right after asking more about how to establish that connection before getting on it even one more time. The horse you are riding in the photo is prying on the bit -- what you would probably call "greener" or "less finished" but what I would call "less ruined already". -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 


Sonoma
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 Posted: Thu Jan 5th, 2012 05:33 pm
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Dr. Deb, can you please tell what is the conformational fault of being offset at the knees like my mare? I guess what I want to know... Is her longetivity really in question because of that? Was this vet that told me that (due to her being so crooked in front the vet didnt think she will have a sound life) RIGHT? The mare is still unsound after all the injections the only join that wasnt injected was the mid hock joint. So she is still off exactly as she was in the begining (September/October 2011). Since she is unsound I dont see how I can ride her to improve her properly carring a rider.

When you say collection, I assume you mean the horse freely and naturally balancing to carry the riders weight without hollowing the back, and without artificial neck or head set. Am I understanding that statement? Or that is not what you mean Dr. Deb by collection.

Please excuse me for such lenghty conversation, but please understand that coming from "my world" it's like learning a new language. And so my education begins for the "umptieth" time. And I am grateful I found you Dr. Deb, I just deeply regret that I hadnt sooner.

What is it that "the horse knows"?

You are absolutely right about my gelding. Its like you have known him so well. In his defense, he is a very willing and sweet animal. It is not his fault that he was taught to avoid the bit, and not properly carry weight. I never saw it as dangerous, just as needing to have him properly re-conditioned. While I was pregnanant I had a shareboarder for him who did mini-eventing. A young girl that has taken lessons on him 1-2 weekly for about 2 years since he was 4. Since he was and is my horse I am the only one responsible for his well being and all that what he has done. I was auditing a clinic that the girl took my gelding to, it was with a top dressage rider ( I believe he will participating in major dressage event, I hear that he is of olimpic caliber), and even with my minimal knowledge I was saddned to see him pushing my gelding behind the vertical, to which he/ the dressage phenomena, actually made a point that "behind the vertical" and "behind the bit" is not the same thing and both have a resonable point of existance in training. I left confused, and upset that what I was against HE enforced, and since his authority was overwhelming the young shareboarder continued with his training advice. And hence my gelding is needing to be restarted.

And since we talk a bit about collection, that is something the horse has to propery conditioned for, it doesnt naturally know how to carry additional wieght, so when starting a totally green animal, they cannot know how to balance that additional weight. Dr. Deb, when your horse is always collected under you, how did that occur? It must have been a process, not occurence that just always existed? I am so perplexed...

Last edited on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 05:52 pm by Sonoma

Sonoma
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 Posted: Thu Jan 5th, 2012 05:38 pm
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Thank you kcooper! Great Info indeed... :)

Last edited on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 05:39 pm by Sonoma

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jan 5th, 2012 06:06 pm
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Sonoma, YOU allowed the so-called "Olympic caliber rider" to abuse YOUR horse. So don't be trying to bullshit me that you allowed it because of his "overwhelming authority." You not only allowed it at the time, but you CONTINUED to allow it by permitting your shareboarder to take lessons with this animal abuser. Whenever and wherever the horse owner sees abuse, she is ABSOLUTELY OBLIGATED to step in, take whatever action is necessary, and STOP IT.

And Sonoma, I've already told you where you can find out about offset knees. You could even try Wikipedia. Let us now see that, for all your gushing gratefulness, you are willing to at least take the responsibility to go look something simple up.

As to the soundness of either of your horses -- it will always be in question so long as you continue to permit, or even request, that joints be injected. No joint on any horse should EVER be injected. Period. The only reason the horse ever "needed" to have joints injected is because you, Sonoma, do not understand how to cause a horse to carry itself straight when it moves. You do not understand the very first things, and yet you are willing to push and push and push -- you and your long whip in the photo! -- in order to get your horse to LOOK ON THE SURFACE LIKE that icon that you've cathected. You and ten thousand other immature girls around the world!

It may indeed be possible to recover even the less sound of your two horses. The offset knees were never the problem, or the cause of any problem. The problem is YOU.

I certainly would not ride the gelding. He needs to be re-started. If I were working with him myself, I would ignore it should he begin to limp, according to the following criteria:

(1) Begin work in the normal manner, at a walk. Observe whether horse is limping or not at a walk. If he is limping at a walk, then go to (3). If he is not limping at a walk, go to (2).

(2) Complete warmup and introductory exercise at a walk, and proceed to trot. If the horse continues as sound as he had been at a walk, go to (4). If the horse feels worse/begins to limp at a trot, go to (3).

(3) Experiment with changing footing. If the horse be unsound at a walk on packed dirt, try to find some turf. If he be unsound upon sand, try to find packed shavings. If he be unsound upon turf or packed shavings, then go to (5). If he be sound upon these footings, then go to (1).

(4) Execute multiple changes from walk to trot, and from trot to walk, paying attention at all times to whether the horse limps, as well as to his state of fore-aft balance, i.e. is he leaning against the reins. If he does well, go to (6). If he leans and/or limps, return to (1).

(5) Dismount and work the horse in hand, asking specifically for untracking and one-step-at-a-time backing. Observe exactly when limping occurs. Re-assess after a half-hour of alternating these exercises with line driving. Is the horse less lame? If so go to (1). If not, then he is too lame to work at all and can then be returned to his stall or paddock.

(6) Change from trot to canter, and just lope along on the first selected lead. After one round of the arena, change to walk and then pick up the opposite lead. Is the horse more or less sound on one lead than the other? If he is no worse at the canter than he had been at the walk or trot, then make several changes trot/canter/trot and assess. Work to get these transitions as soft as possible. If this goes well, then go to (7).

(7) Return to walk. Leg-yield by drifting out some lazy circles left and right. Is the horse worse when performing lateral work? If so which direction is he worse in?

This, Sonoma, is a description in the form of a flowchart. It is also very largely a description of how to school a horse, though much is left out. The main purpose here is to drive home the point to you that, when you get on any horse that you know has soundness issues, you must be paying attention TO THE HORSE at all times, no matter what you think your objectives in exercising him for that day are. You are listening to the horse, who will tell you where it hurts or if it hurts. The second point I'm driving home here is that just because the horse is lame is no reason not to ride him. You ride him so long as the lameness he initially presents gets no worse through this type of "pay-attention" workout. If it does get worse, you keep dropping back to walk and/or work in hand, but if even then he's three-legged lame, then you put him up and wait for a better day.

My Oliver has had chronic laminitis which still sometimes manifests as hoof abscesses, which make him very lame indeed because they just hurt like unholy hell. He also has ringbone, worse in the left fore, which is there all the time. He gets medication for the latter, special diet for the former, and expert trimming and shoeing which addresses both. He also gets ridden as often as I can get out there, averaging not less than 3 days per week through the year even counting that I'm gone sometimes for weeks on end. RIDE THE DAMN HORSE. It is good for him UNLESS by riding him you are indeed making him worse.

Much better to ride him and thereby lubricate those joints than to inject them. There is no practitioner on earth, and no technique whatsoever, by which any joint can be injected and not do more damage to the joint than the so-called problem for which it is proposed to inject the joint. Joint injections should be reserved ONLY for retired broodmares whose only athletic demand is to get to the next feed bucket and to lie down to give birth. Nonetheless joint injections are a big moneymaker for many vets who do not read the "follow up" literature. I am not saying your vet is practicing in any manner unethically; he is telling you the best he knows. But the best he knows is not what the literature actually says. I feel sorry for him, too, because he has to work with you, Sonoma -- when the owner knows so very little, and especially when she so much lacks spine that she won't even step in to stop abuse of her own horse that she sees occurring in front of her eyes, then the vet has found a squirming little victim and it was probably just really, really too tempting to go ahead and take full advantage of you. -- Dr. Deb

Sonoma
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 Posted: Fri Jan 6th, 2012 02:01 pm
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Yes. Dr. Deb. In todays horse world we are presented with much false knowledge, so how does one know if that is proper information or not? I believe all horse lovers want to do right by their horses none want to do harm. It only comes from misinformation, or lack of correct information.
In my case, if you have a olimpic caliber rider, obviously that person presented some succes it's hard not to question ones knowledge when compared to someone like that. But on the bright side, I am so happy I found your site Dr. Deb. I am so very thankful because now I have a new, healthier perspective on riding. And I hope that one day I can work with you even if just for one day. I appreciate your refreshing honesty and your brilliance!

ilam
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 Posted: Fri Jan 6th, 2012 09:11 pm
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How does one measure success, though? In our culture it is all about competing and winning, which is a very narrow focus in life. I have often observed that in order to have that kind of "success", one has to be willing to do things that can be ethically quite questionable (I learned that in the dog sport, since I used to have those ambitions when I was younger). You have to ask yourself, what does it REALLY take to get there and how do you feel about it? Is it fair to the animal? When you are in sports that involve something other than you it brings with it a whole other dimension of responsibility.


Isabel

Sonoma
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 Posted: Sat Jan 7th, 2012 02:39 am
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I think success in todays world is living a simple life, yet appreciate the delicate beauty that we experience every day. The more elaborate things are, the more artificial existance they lead. JMHO

Last edited on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 02:40 am by Sonoma

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jan 7th, 2012 05:39 am
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Sonoma, we will find out whether your are "successful" from your horse.

Now, what is your plan for the crook-legged horse with the head-set, now that you know that you are the one and only cause of all his problems, now that you know that he is damn near totally ruined, and now that you know that rehabilitating him will mean beginning again completely from the beginning, and will require the skill of a master and the patience of an angel?

What, then, is your plan for him, Sonoma? I want you to really feel the full weight and sting of this. -- Dr. Deb

Sonoma
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 Posted: Sat Jan 7th, 2012 01:45 pm
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For both my horses it is back to square one. Which I dont mind at all actually. Nuno Oliviera's riding is the ultimate what I will aim for. Soft hands, and legs and seat and core for direction. Lots of walking and stretching of the muscles, asking them to lift their backs and carry the rider. Thats the start :)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jan 7th, 2012 06:48 pm
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What you have just described is not a plan, Sonoma; it is another icon -- a dream.

How hard it is to break people of living entirely in their heads -- to break them of fantasizing instead of taking definite action!

What I want to know is: what do you think you are going to have to do about the fact that it will take an expert (which you, admittedly, are not) to re-start your gelding? What is the first SPECIFIC ACTION you plan to take? -- Dr. Deb

Sonoma
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 Posted: Mon Jan 9th, 2012 11:52 pm
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Well Dr. Deb. The Plan of action is to take it step by step. Lots of streching on the ground then with a rider on his back. Ask that he carries the weight balanced and proportionate. Start at a walk. Very light contact, draping reins-not pulling and not slack. Quiet giving hands. Work with trastitions with in the walk, slow, medium and faster walk. Work on proper halts. Work up to trasitions within the trot, and then trasitions with the trot. Halt trot halt, back etc. More advanced asking him to round his back. What else can I do?


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