Monday, November 7, 2011

It's All About The Lift

I suppose introductions are in order...my 'farrier' is not a farrier by trade. At least he does not advertise as such, so the only way to get into him is through a referral (which came by way of the vet I consulted with on Turk's foot last year). He was gracious enough to take on my other horses. What he actually is by trade is a reining horse trainer....(link)Poplin Performance Horses. So to answer your questions...he does do lessons and clinics. He's actually in Italy as we speak doing clinics and judging shows. When he gets back, I'm going to start lessons with him. He had already agreed to take me on as a client next spring because I am hoping to get Shooter and Beretta into the show ring and between Bub and his wife, Becky...they coach a well-rounded spectrum of classes. Not are they only highly accomplished trainers/coaches...they are just super nice people to be around.

Bub says the problem I have with Moon is that I have let him start traveling in the exact manner I knew he was pre-disposed to travel in due to his conformational tendency...he wants to drag his hock behind him and dump on the front-end....creating a broken topline. He would prefer not to break in the loin at all. I need to get Moon gathered up again and engaged both front and back.

The problem with Frosty is due to his conformation...he really uses his back-end and doesn't think he needs to use his front-end. Breaking in the loin is very easy for him so that is ALL he does to control his speed or stop.

MY problem is, is that I confused breaking in the loin with getting lift on the front end and that is not the case at all. Compare these two horses...


Both show the ultimate form of lift...which is the root to collection.


Ah-HAH!!!

I had always heard that a collected horse was like an accordian...when you squeeze the horse together...they become collected. Somewhere along the line, I failed to really grasp that for it to be correct, the horse has to lift up in the front-end. I always knew there was something missing...if I had a horse like Moon who is not a naturally good stopper, I worked on getting them light in the front (lift)...but when it came to having horses that are natural stoppers, like Frosty, Spooks, Rip...and many of the other horses we have...I always struggled to get them to have the same round feeling Moon does when he stops properly. The 'natural' stoppers I have always felt flat.

Bub says that is because I was letting them break too far back (in the LS joint) and not asking for the lift from the entire latissimous dorsi...which is what reining horse people have to do to get a horse to slide the way they do. That lift actually comes from about 5-6 inches forward of the LS joint.

I always wondered how they got those horses withers to stay so high in a slide. It isn't just breaking in the loin and making them drop their head...their withers really are raised up, just like the dressage horse above. THAT is what allows them to keep running along on their front feet, which keeps the momentum going and lengthens the slide. The lowered head also encourages the momentum. The back end simply comes up under them and stops moving. There is NOT a huge break in the loin to begin with, it increases as the horse moves through the slide. The slider shoes removes traction and Whhhheeeeeee!...they slide.

That one little missing link in my knowledge and I kind of feel like one of the great mysteries of the world has been solved.

Bub gave me ONE exercise to work on while he is in Italy. I was directed to turn Moon out and not touch him for at least 10 days. Bub wants all of the soreness and crabby attitude gone before we begin again. When Bub gave me this one exercise, I felt a little bit of a let-down...just one? (sigh...patience is not a virtue that I got whacked very hard with) But Bub says first I need to get Frosty freed up a bit and start stretching his ribcage, latissimous dorsi and discourage him from breaking so hard in the loin. Soft, transitional stops only.

I guess I got two exercises because besides working on that specific exercise, I need to work on getting Frosty to really extend at the long-trot. That means getting him to drop his head and really drive forward. No more of this half-assed, head-up looking around bull-crap I've been doing with him. He's gonna have to start working...this is the frame we are going for...
Hahaha-I picked a big-butted horse QH because there is no way Frosty is ever going to look like those Appendix things that have taken over the HUS classes.

As for the exercise Bub gave me...this is all it is...(link)Haunches In. Wiki's explanation and the foot-fall tracks to the side seemed to best describe what Bub told me to work on. He said, most importantly...do not ask for anything more than for the inside hind foot (the one closest to the fence) to reach up and track exactly in line with the outside front foot (the one away from the fence). If you aren't sure, have someone watch you to make sure you are not over-doing it.

I hope that wasn't a disappointment after all that he told me beforehand. It hardly seems like that would do much, but Bub swears it is one of the most beneficial exercises he uses to begin to teach a horse to use his abdominal muscles and start to build the entire latissimous dorsi, as well as keep his more finished horses strong. I do start lessons in a week or so, so there will be more to come.

9 comments:

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Whoops-My Haunches In link didn't work...I fixed it and it's working now.

in2paints said...

Lilly and I could use some ab workouts ourselves... she moves off leg really well, but I never could get the hang of asking her for the haunches in movement. Maybe I can learn from you!

Your farrier/trainer sound amazing. I look forward to hearing about your lessons.

Mikey said...

Very cool and very interesting. Great farrier too!

Cut-N-Jump said...

I had to go back and read a few posts to find out what the cliffhanger was. Good thing I was off at the clinic and learning myself. I may have gone nuts otherwise wondering what was going on all this time.

Sounds like things should be sorting themselves out some and going a bit more smoothly from here on out. Glad to hear it.

Shirley said...

It always amazes me how being sore affects so much in what a horse does, and how difficult it is to pinpoint the problem, and to know how to remedy it- there is so much to learn! The haunches in and haunches out exercises are commonly used by reining horse trainers; Beamer's trainer had him sidepass bent into the direction of the sidepass as a more advanced movement than the starter method of arcing away from the direction. Bet your Bub will get you doing that at some point. YOu are going to learn so much at these lessons! Wish I was taking them too! Guess I'll have to make do with reading about them.

Pinzgauer said...

I have a question, as I'm just learning to ride in a saddle with a horn, some things tend to confuse me until they are explained (so please don't think I'm being snitty!).

Anyway, why do you want the horse to lengthen the top line when you extend at the trot? Is it simply for this particular issue, or is that the "normal" western version of an extended trot?

I'm probably not phrasing that very well, but I was taught that extension comes from the shoulder/hip, not the neck, hence allowing the horse to reach out in order to increase its length of stride would create bad habits in the long run, and kind of be anything BUT collected. We asked our horses to reach out and down to stretch though.

Now, I've seen many western riders do this, and I've always been too scared to ask for fear of sounding offensive (because there's nothing I hate more then snobby dressage queens who think what they learned is THE right way)

Leah Fry said...

Oh my. I'd better be very careful here, or I just might learn something!!

fernvalley01 said...

Not a let down , though apparently patience is also not my longsuit! Sounds like he wants to build the skill set slowly for Frosty and Moon, slow and steady right?

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

LOL Pinzgauer...I was drawing a blank and had to go look at a video of the extended trot in dressage and to answer your question...the western version of the extended trot is much different. Even the english version of the western stock horse is much different.

I think what we western people consider to be an 'extended' or long trot would be somewhere between a dressage working trot and extended trot and of course, with the neck stretched forward in a relaxed manner.

I don't mess with my horse's 'headset' too much unless I have a horse like Moon who really likes to lead with his nose. In Frosty's case, he doesn't really seem to want to move forward on his front-end at all. He strides deep behind, but it's not carrying through, so I'm hoping if I can get him to start dropping his head (almost like how you guys ask for the reach down to stretch through) that I can get some of that impulsion to reach his shoulders and free him up. (Gahhh...does that make any sense at all?)