Friday, January 13, 2012

Speeding Up The Front-End

One of the biggest things I have been working with on Frosty, since the conversation I had with my farrier a couple of months ago, has been to achieve some quickness in his front-end.

(Photo courtesy of Fantastyk Voyager from when I was at the Ed Wright clinic in New Mexico)

Once Bub started explaining everything about where Frosty was breaking in his loin, things become really clear and I went back to working on getting the big, lazy buckskin to m.o.v.e. those front-feet.

It's a lot of work...for both me and Frosty.

Frosty is made to and naturally inclined to power off of his hind-end...the way we want all of them to. I wasn't doing anything with his head or face to shut him down in the front, he just wasn't lifting or extending his shoulders. Part of it is laziness...part of it is residual from the IR.

Frosty's IR was pretty severe by the time I figured out what was going on and he had apparently been dealing with it for some time. Undoing the damage to his muscles has taken longer to accomplish than I thought it would...but I am kind of stumbling through the weeds here as it is the first time I have knowingly dealt with the problem.

The fact is...Frosty gets a whole lot more sore than anything I have ever dealt with before. In Frosty's case, when he gets sore...he gets stooo-pid!! in really radical, followed by being very dull and then he blows up.

He is getting better about the blowing up thing. He only bucked once last summer. I don't think it's because he is getting 'over' the bucking thing...I think it's because I can read him a lot better and when I feel him start to get tense and resistance...I get off and ground-work the begezzus out of him.

We are getting there though. I spend a lot of time working on just getting extension in the front-end, at the walk. One of the things Bub told me was to get that, I needed to move my feet back and apply either a rolling heel pressure or bump to the sides about where the back cinch lays. Applying a cue in that spot makes the horse lift up his ribcage, use his abdominal muscles and allows the front-end to extend. The best way to get the extension is to alternate-when the left front leg is coming up, roll heel or bump the right side, when the right front leg is coming up, roll heel or bump the left side.

It sounds ridiculously easy...but it's a lot of work. My legs are continually working with every stride and Frosty certainly is not used to using his abs or the full length of his back. When we first started, Frosty could barely hold that position for more than a few strides at a time. So I would have to let him drop, shuffle along 'til he caught his breath and then ask again. The poor horse was breaking a sweat and huffing and puffing and we never got out of a walk.

It's working though...we have graduated to some long-trotting and are actually getting some true extension and his knee is getting flatter. His lope is much more forward as well, but we have a lot of work to do before he really gets true and balanced there.

It's finally starting to show up in his frame as well...

(Yea, we're talking about you, goof-ball.)

He is looking less like a pregnant mare about to foal and more like a mare that just foaled and is starting to pull up. ;-)
Frosty never looks as belly-liscious in photos as what you can see in real life...but if you look at where his belly is bulging in the photo above (the bulge is at the same level as the blue step-stool), you can see that he still has some 'sag'.

The other notable change is that he has once again filled out over his croup and does not look as long-backed as he did before. His pelvis is starting to tip forward again and his shoulder is starting to lay back. He's not discernibly downhill anymore either. Huh!...funny how proper movement and muscling can fix a lot of purported conformation faults. ;-) (Yea, yea...that's my jab at the failing-fugly conformation 'experts'...Sorry, I doubt I will ever stop poking fun at their delusional critiques.)


Shirley said...

Thanks for sharing the mechanics of that exercise.

Crystal said...

Sounds like a lot of work, hope it pays off

Anonymous said...

I think you just explained how to get the lift thing to me in a way that makes sense. Thanks! I've had it explained a couple times, but just couldn't picture it.

fernvalley01 said...

Well done! He looks like he is working hard, but in the end it will be easier for both right?

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

God, I hope so fern, cause I swear it's more of a work-out for me than for him. LOL

He is getting better though. Pretty slow to get warmed up some days. It's hard not to take a rein and swat his butt to get him moving...but that only gets his butt moving and I lose the ground I have gained.

Other days, he moves out pretty good on his own and I only have to ask every few strides to keep him lifted and reaching.

Today, he finally started testing the waters and extending his neck on his own at the long-trot. Yayyyy!

SunnySD said...

I've been hearing something similar regarding Sunny (that I need to get him to lift his back and get off his front end) for his own good. Not because he's sore, but because he's about as heavy on the front end and lazy in the middle as an Arab can get.

I hear you on the work part - that rolling your heel thing is a lot harder than it looks! Frosty looks about as pleased to be that sweaty as Sunny does, but since I'm generally just as sweaty.... no sympathy - lol!

Trainwreck said...

BEC!! I have to say I love your header!! Beautiful! Great lookin pony there! Missed this visiting checking in on good friends! Looking good girl! Lookin good:)

Cut-N-Jump said...

Sometimes you need reinforcements to the leg, be it a whip or blunt spurs giving them a nudge. Of course this lightens the load on your workout, but....

Once they start developing muscles- their whole body will change. I can't wait to see my mare under saddle and I hope she doesn't change too much. Remember, the muscles that are working, are the ones that sweat first.

Danielle Michelle said...

Goodness - I hope this pays off for you! I was surprised to see you in short sleeves....until I saw the caption...I thought NO WAY it's that warm over there already!