Posts Tagged ‘balance’
Posted in Behavior, Check, Forward, Ground Driving, Ground Training, Half Halt, Halter Training, In-Hand Work, Long Lining, Longeing, Riding, Rushing, Training, tagged balance, equine, exercises, ground training, horse, horse pushes into bit, horseback riding, riding, rushing horse, training on May 14, 2011| Leave a Comment »
I’ve just started loping recently and when i do i feel like im gonna fall out of the saddle, and it makes me nervous. And sometimes i find it more difficult to steer my horse. Do you have any tips on this? And also what’s the differences between loping, cantering and galloping?
Your nervousness when loping is a common anxiety with new riders. I’ve answered similar questions on this blog.
To search for topics, just type the subject in the search box (there is one at the top of the page and one in the right hand column) and click on Search.
For example, entering loping, you will find the following articles:
Overcoming the Fear of Loping (another rider, another reply)
Here are the difference in the terms you ask about.
The canter and lope are both a three-beat gait with the following foot fall pattern:
1. initiating hind leg or outside hind
2. the diagonal pair or inside hind and outside foreleg
3. leading foreleg or inside foreleg
4. regrouping of legs or a moment of suspension.
If the initiating hind leg is the left, the diagonal pair will consist of the right hind and the left front, the leading foreleg will be the right front and the horse will be on the right lead. When observing a horse on the right lead from the side, his right legs will reach farther forward than his left legs. The right hind will reach under his belly farther than the left hind; the right front will reach out in front of his body farther than the left front. When turning to the right, normally the horse should be on the right lead.
The canter has an alternating rolling and floating feeling to it. The energy rolls from rear to front, then during a moment of suspension, the horse gathers his legs up underneath himself to get organized for the next set of leg movements. The rider seems to glide for a moment until the initiating hind lands and begins the cycle again.
Canter is the term generally used to describe the gait of an English horse.
Lope is the term associated with a Western horse and is a relaxed version of the canter with less rein contact and a lower overall body carriage.
An extended canter or lope (sometime called a “run”) is a canter/lope with a long, strong stride, head and neck reaching forward. The extended canter/run has maximum ground coverage per stride while retaining the tempo of the ordinary canter/lope.
There should be no increase in the rhythm of the hoofbeats from a canter/lope to an extended canter/run – just an increase in reach. There should not be a shift into the gallop.
The gallop occurs when the horse increases tempo AND length of stride so is maximally extended at full speed. It is a 4 beat gait because the diagonal pair work separately.
The term hand gallop is often called for in the hunter show ring. In many cases what is really desired is an extended canter.
Disunited is when a horse is on one lead in front and another behind. Also called cross-leaded. This is very rough to ride.
Counter-cantering is cantering on the “outside” lead on purpose as a means of developing obedience, strength, balance, and suppleness. If counter-cantering on a circle to the right, the horse would be on the left lead and he would be flexed left.
Posted in Arthritis, Behavior, Exercise, Loping, Riding, Veterinary Care, tagged arthritis, balance, bucking, canter, collection, exercises, horse, horseback riding, riding, senior horse, suppleness on January 10, 2011| 2 Comments »
My daughter has a 19 year old mare that looks really healthy and doesn’t even look 19 but seems to be having some issues. When she tries to canter the horse speeds up but doesn’t want to push into the canter or she will buck. If my daughter gets her into a canter she says it does not feel right at times and she suspects that maybe her arthritis is getting too bad. We didn’t start noticing the arthritis till a few months ago and she is now on joint supplements. My daughter is concerned and doesn’t want to force her into something that is going to hurt her and is wondering if maybe it is just attitude since she is very spunky. Do you have any advice?
Arthritis that shows up as a reluctance to strike off at the canter or lope or canter roughly or buck during the transition usually stems from wear and tear of the hind limb (most notably the stifle and hock) and the loin.
As you suggest, these behaviors can also be a result of a feisty or disobedient horse, but since you already know the mare has arthritis, in this case, you should focus on that.
You don’t say whether the joint supplements are helping – and what kind you are using.
As far as use – be sure the mare is thoroughly warmed up with walking and trotting before asking her to canter. Many horses warm out of their arthritis stiffness after 5-15 minutes of low level work.
Focus also on transition work which is any upward or downward shifting of gears. The more proficient your daughter is at other transitions, the better the canter depart will be.
Finally, be sure the mare is being ridden with enough collection so that she CAN canter rather than rush forward at the trot.
Refer to 101 Arena Exercises to help develop the things I’ve mentioned both in the horse and the rider.
Posted in Check, Forward, Gaits, Half Halt, Riding, tagged balance, check, collection, equilibrium, equine, exercises, half halt, horse, horseback riding, lessons, riding, slow down on September 26, 2010| Leave a Comment »
Help! My nine year old paint mare Tardee has a very long stride especially at the trot, how do I slow her down and develop a jog? She is very quiet and willing and I don’t want to stress her. Thank you. Deb
It is great that you have a quiet and willing horse and even better that you want to keep her that way. There is no reason why your mare won’t stay calm and sweet as you progressively shorter her stride and slow her down a bit. This is a very common goal and a question I’ve answered before on my website Horsekeeping, so I’m going to use those Q&As below here. Let me know if you have more specific questions.
© 2010 Cherry Hill www.horsekeeping.com
My horse is usually really good, but a few days ago he just started being really stubborn. He’ll trot way too fast because I ask him for a jog for western pleasure. And his lope which I finally got down perfect 2 weeks ago has turned into a fast canter. I don’t know what it is from. There has been a lot more flies etc. around that go on him and he hates bugs so do you think that maybe this is causing it? Do you think he might not be able to concentrate because he’s thinking about all the flies on him or something? I’m really confused and I have to go to a show this weekend and if he does this there we for sure won’t place!!! Please give me any suggestions that you have.
Mindy from Indiana
I’m going to ask a lot of things quickly at first here so you can go through a list in your mind and so that other readers with the same problem (it is VERY common!) can try to find a reason for the quickness.
This first one won’t pertain to you because in your question, you say “he” so I am assuming your horse is a gelding. However, for those of you riding mares, be aware that a sudden quickness or irritability during breeding season (April to October) could be caused by the mare coming into heat. Heat periods usually last about 5 days. If you have a fussy mare, try to work through it or give her a day or two off during her worst days.
Now for some questions that will pertain to any horse. Are you using fly spray? Do you check your horse’s chest and the area of the belly just ahead of your horse’s sheath (geldings) or udder (mares) where the skin is very thin and a feast for flies? Flies biting in these places can make a horse very tense while he is being ridden.
Could your horse’s back be sore? A poor fitting saddle, dirty pad or cinch or a weak back can all contribute to a horse moving short and quick rather than long and flowing.
Are you tense? If a rider is tense or nervous (in anticipation of a show, for example) the horse will pick this up right away and start moving quickly. You need to take a deep breath, settle deep into the saddle and relax.
Here’s a technique tip. When you want to slow down or “rate” your horse, that is shorten his stride or slow down his tempo, accomplish it with a series of half halts or “checks” applied at the moment of suspension. During the canter or lope, suspension comes right after the leading foreleg lands and the hind legs are reaching forward under the horse’s belly. At the trot or jog, suspension occurs twice during each stride as each diagonal pair lifts. A half halt or check is a momentary “calling to attention” and just like the name implies, it is about half a halt! You want to reorganize your horse by briefly applying your aids for a halt but releasing them before the horse actually halts.
When applying a series of half halts or checks to rate a horse, be sure you release after each successful reaction. Do not be tempted to hold on to what you gain and think you can slow a horse down by constant pressure on the reins. What you eventually want to do is have your horse learn to hold a gait at a certain tempo “on the honor system” (dressage riders call this self-carriage) – that is, on his own without you holding his speed down via the reins.
© 2010 Cherry Hill www.horsekeeping.com
Please help. I ride western. I am a professional Cowboy trying to become a horseman. I barrel race. I do not show. I purchased your 101 Arena Exercises to help me help my horses to relax, listen, loosen up, help them learn to use themselves and become more responsive I am not familiar with the term half halt and can’t seem to find a helpful definition in the book. My best guess was that it was a transition to a slower gait but in looking at the exercises this does not make sense to me. I know you are awfully busy but I’m feeling a bit desperate. For the sake of Reuben, Foxy, Sister, Miss Mess, and Hooch, Please help.
It is great to hear from you and to hear of your goals. Have you read Exercise 14 “Half Halt or Check” in 101 Arena Exercises? It describes in detail what a Half Halt (or Check as it is called in Western riding) is and how to apply it. But it is such a good question and I’m sure there are some readers out there who don’t have 101 Arena Exercises, that I’m going to print an excerpt from that book below.
Before I get to the excerpt, though, here are some other ways to think of a Half Halt……a pause, a moment in suspended animation, a compacting of form, flexing in every joint. Although half halts are traditionally associated with dressage, they are used in all kinds of riding. Western riders “pick up” on the reins and “check” their horses to “rate” them or get them to slow down or get more rhythmic in their gaits. When a horse “falls on his forehand” he is traveling with bad balance and rhythm, so we try to energize him from the hindquarters forward and elevate his forehand somewhat so he can move in balance. When a horse is not in balance (heavy on the forehand) he first has to pick up his forehand and then turn.The more in balance a horse is, the quicker he can change directions (especially important for a barrel horse) and at a moment’s notice – he doesn’t need a lot of advance notice. Half Halts or checks help to balance and energize a horse.
The following is excerpted from 101 Arena Exercises:
A half halt is a preparatory set of aids that simultaneously drives and checks the horse. In essence you are “capturing” your horse momentarily between the aids. A calling to attention and organizer used before all transitions and during all movements as a means of momentarily re-balancing the horse, elevating the forehand, increasing hindquarter engagement, evening an erratic rhythm, slowing a pace, and reminding the horse not to lean on the bit or rush. A momentary holding (a non-allowing in contrast to a pulling or taking), immediately followed by a yielding (within one stride or a few seconds). This results in a moment of energized suspension with a listening and light horse. Once a horse has learned to respect half halts, they serve as a reminder that encourages self-carriage.
HOW TO APPLY A HALF HALT
The sequence, grossly oversimplified, goes something like this
2. Seat, legs and hands
1. Mental message: “Hello, is anybody home?” OR “Attention!!” OR “Let’s get organized” OR “Let’s halt. No I changed my mind.”
2. An almost simultaneous application of the following aids with an emphasis on the seat and legs and a de-emphasis on the hands:
- Upper body straight or slightly back with elevated sternum.
- Deep, still contact of seat bones on saddle from flexed abdominals and a flattened lower back which brings seat bones forward.
- Both lower legs on horse’s side at the girth or cinch. Light tap with the whip or spurs if necessary, depending on the horse’s level and response.
- A non-allowing of appropriate intensity with both hands. The following is a list in increasing intensity of that non-allowing. Use only as much as necessary.
- close fingers
- squeeze reins
- roll hands inward
- move arm backward from shoulder
- lean upper body back
3. Yield aids without throwing away what you have gained.
When do you apply the half halt? Long enough (a second or two) ahead of the transition or maneuver to allow the horse to respond but not prolonged (through several strides) or it will result in tension.
How strong a half halt should you use? Tinker Bell or Industrial Strength? Occasionally an industrial strength half halt is necessary to be sure it “goes through”. After using a major half-halt, confidently use light ones or half halts will begin to lose their effect for you.
THE ALL-IMPORTANT YIELD:
Often you should give more than you take. The timing of the yield is often more important than the driving and non-allowing.
Did you feel a positive response…even a hint of compliance? If you wait so long that you can feel the full effects of the half halt, it would be way past time to yield. The yield is what encourages self-carriage. No yield leads to stiffness and tension.
Should you use more than one half halt at a time? Sometimes it takes a series, one each stride, to accomplish the necessary re-balancing.
BENEFIT Balance, collection, essential pieces of the riding puzzle.
Your hoof care program affects your horse’s immediate performance as well as his long-term soundness. You might not think you need to pay much attention to your horse’s shoeing as long as your horse is sound and his shoes don’t fall off. The good news is that horses are very adaptable and they can often tolerate poor hoof care for months or even years; the bad news is that by the time signs of lameness appear, irreparable damage might already be done. Shoeing methods used to keep shoes on at all costs often ignore critical shoeing principles and might end up putting your horse out of commission for good.
Is Your Horse Well-Shod?
A Pencil Can Help You Find Out
by Richard Klimesh
© 2010 Richard Klimesh © Copyright Information
Guidelines for judging the quality of a shoeing job can include such details as how neatly the frog is trimmed, the size of the clinches and how far the nail heads protrude from the shoe. Details like these are important to some degree, but usually are not critical to your horse’s soundness. There are a four very important aspects of shoeing, however, that you can readily evaluate: balance, shape, support, and expansion. All you need is a pencil and a safe place to tie your horse on level ground. It’s best to evaluate a shoeing job within the first week or two.
Hoof balance includes many aspects of a horses conformation and movement and has been discussed at length in many books and articles. One type of balance, however, is relatively easy for anyone to quickly assess: it’s called Dorsal-Palmar (DP) balance.
DP balance refers to the alignment of the hoof and the pastern. DP balance can be measured as the hoof angle at the toe. The hoof angle is the relationship between the front (Dorsal surface) of the hoof and the ground (Palmar surface of the hoof). For years, books cited 45 to 50 degrees as a “normal” front hoof angle and 50 to 55 for hind angle. Today, it is generally agreed that in reality these angles are far too low. A more representative range of hoof angles is from 53 to 58 degrees for the fronts and 55 to 60 degrees for the hinds. Keep in mind, however, that every horse has his own “ideal” hoof angle. The hoof angle is considered correct when the hoof and pastern are in alignment, that is, when the front surface of the hoof is parallel to an imaginary line passing through the center of the pastern.
To check the alignment of the hoof and pastern, make sure the horse is standing square on a firm level surface with his cannons perpendicular to the ground. Move 8′ to 10′ from the side of the horse and crouch down to view the feet. Hold a pencil at arm’s length and line it up with the center axis of the pastern. The front of the hoof should be very close to parallel with the centerline of the pastern.
If the hoof angle is too low, the center line, or axis, will be “broken back” where the lines of the hoof and pastern meet. If the hoof angle is too high, the imaginary line will be “broken forward”. Of the two, a broken-back axix is more common, and more harmful.
A low hoof angle usually indicates a Long Toe/Low Heel hoof configuration. LT/LH can cause excess tendon stress, heel soreness, cracks, bowed tendons, contracted heels, navicular syndrome, and under-run heels. (Under-run heels refer to heels that have an angle lower that the toe of the hoof by 5 degrees or more. Under-run heels slope under the hoof and in severe cases can appear to approach the horizontal.) Even when a foot is in perfect balance when shod, the angle almost always gets lower as the weeks go by because the toe grows faster than the heels and the shoe prevents the toe from wearing away. This is one reason to have the feet trimmed and rebalanced on a regular schedule. A barefoot horse actually might have a better chance of maintaining DP balance, especially if allowed to move freely over dry ground so the hooves can wear naturally.
If the hoof can’t be balanced by trimming, the heels can be built up with a hoof repair material, or wedge heel shoes or pads can be used to elevate the heels and align the hoof-pastern axis.
Note from Cherry: While I am away on business, I’ve invited Richard to blog in my stead……watch for the next 3 parts to this article series.
Posted in Conformation, Exercise, Forward, Gaits, Riding, Training, tagged balance, behind the vertical, collection, equilibrium, equine, exercises, high head, hollow back, horse, horseback riding, in front of the vertical, training on September 9, 2010| 4 Comments »
I have a 10 year old quarter horse mare who has never been trained by an “excellent” trainer. She is a perfect horse on the ground and out on the trail. But I have noticed she doesn’t travel behind the vertical. She has her head pretty high up. I have no clue where or how to train her so that she is behind the vertical. I know this is causing her to have a very hollow back. It cant be very comfortable for her. I’m wondering if this is also causing some other problems with her, like bucking when I ask her to canter and rushing in the trot. Will a de gouge or Chambon help her? Please help me figure out how I can fix her. I love her so much and she is an amazing horse to ride. I just don’t want her to be uncomfortable. Taylor
When a horse has a high head and a hollow back, that usually means that the horse’s hindquarters are not “engaged”. By that it is meant that there is not enough propulsion or energy coming from “behind” – the horse is trotting or loping out behind himself rather than up under himself with his hind legs, which causes him to be strung out and hollow backed and high headed.
When a horse is engaged and working energetically behind, he rounds his whole topline which raises his back ! Yeah !
So, you want to start working from the back to the front NOT from the front to the back. You want to work on developing more forward movement from the hindquarters.
You mention “she doesn’t travel behind the vertical” – well that is a good thing ! A horse in balance and working energetically forward will hold its head and neck in a nice balanced position with its nose approximately 10 to 15 degrees IN FRONT of the vertical – that’s a nice place for both you and the horse to have a back and forth communication.
So you want to work on forward, long and low exercises to strengthen her back and abdominal muscles and then slowly gather her up and start to collect her – but this will take months of training. Be patient and work for degrees of improvement. A good reference for you would be 101 Arena Exercises.
Look at the frame of the two horses on the cover of my book below – I looked through hundreds of photos to find these two which exemplify balanced working frames and as you can see, both of the horses carry their heads in front of the vertical.
I’m also going to provide you with some links to more articles on my website that talk about the phases of training and collection for your continued reading enjoyment and reference.
Best of luck,
Where do I begin? How do I judge my horse’s conformation.
Here are some basics.
Develop a specific system for evaluating the horses you are considering. That way, you will have a better means of comparison. Be aware that wildly-colored horses and those with dramatic leg markings can cause visual distortions which could result in inaccurate conclusions. When you examine a horse, be sure it is standing on level ground with weight on all four feet.
Begin by looking at a horse from the near side (the horse’s left side) in profile and assess overall balance by comparing the forehand to the hindquarters. When viewing the horse in profile, pay attention to the curvature and proportions of the topline. Let your eyes travel from poll to tail and down to the gaskin. Then observe the manner in which the limbs attach to the body. Evaluate hip and shoulder angles.
Step to the front of the horse and evaluate the limbs and hooves for straightness and symmetry. Observe the depth and length of the muscles in the forearm and chest. Evaluate the head, eyes, nostrils, ears, and teeth. Be sure the teeth meet evenly with no undershot or overshot jaw.
Making a Visual Assessment of a Horse
Horse for Sale, How to Buy a Horse or Sell the One You Have
by Cherry Hill © 1995 © Copyright Information
Then step to the off side (the horse’s right side) and confirm or modify your evaluation of the balance, topline, and limb angles.
Move to the hindquarter and stand directly behind the tail. Evaluate the straightness and symmetry of the back, croup, point of hip and buttock and the limbs. Let your eyes run slowly from the poll to the tail as this is the best vantage point for evaluating back muscling and (provided the horse is standing square) left-to-right symmetry. You may need to elevate your position if you are evaluating a tall horse. The spring of rib is also best observed from the rear view.
Now make another entire circle around the horse, this time stopping at each quadrant to look diagonally across the center of the horse. From your position at the rear of the horse, step to the left hind and look toward the right front. This angle will often reveal abnormalities in the limbs and hooves that were missed during the side, front, and rear examinations. Proceed to the left front and look back toward the right hind. Move to the right front and look toward the left hind. Complete the revolution at the right hind looking toward the left front.
And finally, step to the near side and take in a view of the whole horse in profile once again.
While you are looking at a horse, it helps if you get an overall sense of the correctness of each of the four functional sections: the head/neck, the forehand, the barrel, and the hindquarters.
Head and neck The vital senses are located in the head so it should be correct and functional. The neck acts as a lever to help regulate the horse’s balance while moving. Therefore it should be long and flexible with a slight convex curve to its topline.
Forehand The front limbs support approximately 65 percent of the horse’s body weight, so must be strong and sound. The majority of lameness is associated with the front limbs.
Barrel The mid-section houses the vital organs, therefore, the horse must be adequate in the heart girth and have good spring to the ribs. The back should be well muscled and strong so the horse can carry the weight of the rider and the saddle.
Hindquarters The rear hand is the source of power and propulsion. The hindquarter muscling should be appropriate for the type, breed, and use. The croup and points of the hip and buttock should be symmetric and the limbs should be straight and sound.