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ShireLight

Flex At The Poll...or Just Drop His Head!

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Hey, when I bought my horse he was a Western trail horse for many years and then I switched him over to English. He is better with having contact on the reins all the time now. But, he always walks trots and canters, everything, with this long neck sticking up and out. I dont know the cue to get him to drop his head, and he doesnt know how to do it in the first place. I tried sawing the reins back and forth a little one time and he did drop his head, but is there anything I can do that will help him learn it? Like is there a word or something I can use while doing it so he associates the sawing?

I just need help because he looks so weird when hes walking around with his long neck and he doesnt know flexing!

Thanks for any help if you can!

Monica

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Well, oviously this horse was never taught colle ction or how to move in frame. Doesn't matter if you are riding english or western, the concepts are the same

Many people who just trail ride, like my husband, see no need for a horse to learn either collection or how to give to a bit beyond going down the trail where you want to go on a loose rein

DONT SEE SAW!! I know some people use this method, but it is not what I would consider good training.

Collection starts at the back, and correct head carriage is just is a small part of the total picture. If you just use hands, esp aggressively like see sawing, you will get a horse to flex, but he is on his forehand and will also get behind the verticle and heavy on the bit

Instead, you drive with your legs and hold the engergy generated with your hands. Drive until the horse softens and then release rein pressure. The horse has to know that when he carries his head where you want, he will be rewarded by release. Always ride with more leg than hands, and get the timing for release correct. A horse has to know the place where if he carries his head and face, he will be rewarded with release, otherwise he only has a reason to resist and will seek release on his own by getting behind the verticle or other methods.

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This is not something there is just a magic "cue" for- it comes with lots of time, consistent correct riding, and the horse's physical development.

Looking at the picture, your horse does not have the strongest topline in the world. He needs to develop the muscles over his butt, back, and the top of his neck. As he is now, it would be very difficult for him to flex at the poll or go "round." Your job as the rider is not to "cue" him to drop his head, but work on developing good quality gaits. Think about adding impulsion at the walk, trot, and canter. You need to encourage him to move forward in a real forward way, using his hind legs powerfully, and stepping under himself. You can use trot poles to encourage him to lift his hind legs underneath him and tighten his belly (this is also important in developing a horse, it's what allows him to lift his back, and only when you have a lifted back, can you get a true round "frame"). When you have forward, and he's using his back end well, you can add some lateral flexing into it- bending and counterbending at all three gaits (it's important you ride this correctly, not just pulling the reins). From there, if all the pieces are in place, if you are holding a good soft contact and riding well, the horse will usually start to give through the jaw and poll and move into a "frame"

This is not an easy thing to do. Probably the best way for you to get a real understanding of what's involved is through some lessons with a good English instructor, preferably dressage (even if you don't plan on competing in dressage, it's a good basis for any horse).

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Yes, its definitely true that he was never taught to ride in a frame! He was a Western trail horse for years for a ton of different people and then I plunge him into English riding!

So, this definitely sounds like something I need to do with a trainer, and I am not really taking lessons right now because of money, but once we make the move to Ky, I am hoping to pick up regular lessons eventually. So, thanks for at least explaining it that a lot of work goes into it and its not just a cue! Thanks so much. This is something I need to wait for training with although I think I can work on impulsion at the walk, I think I get what that means as far as me just squeezing him into a faster walk and yet maintaining contact on his mouth right? So, there is some collection? I know its hard to explain this kind of stuff without actually being in person and without a trainer, but if thats what collection at the walk is, I think I can handle at least that gait.

Thanks so much for helping though and more will come when I get into regular lessons down the road!

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I think without a trainer the best thing for you to work is getting him to work off your legs well.

When you add leg, he should respond accordingly. A little leg, a little more pace. A lot of leg, a lot more pace/gait change.

At the walk you want a good, forward pace with the horse's shoulders free and swinging from the shoulder. He should be marching right along, not dragging his toes, but not "power" walking either.

At the trot you also want freeness in the shoulder and a good pace. Posting should not be difficult for you, as his motion should be doing most of the work. At the same time you should not feel as though he'll break into a canter at any moment.

At the canter he should be moving along as well, in control, but not feeling as though you're going to stall out at any moment.

In addition you can do some work with getting him to move sideways off your legs as well. Try walking on a loose rein on the quarter line (or about 12 ft off the rail or fenceline - I can't see pictures at work so I don't know what your riding setup is like) and adding inside leg to move him back over to the rail. Then outside to move him back off the rail.

You're correct that it is difficult to teach collection and moving in a frame via the internet, if not impossible. A horse who moves willingly off the leg though will make it much easier for your eventual trainer to get him moving correctly.

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Hey thanks so much for a little more clarification and guidleines! He is pretty good at moving off the leg to the sides like getting on or off the rail, I just have a hard time knowing if I really AM making him walk in a frame at the walk. I think I am sometimes when I see his head drop a little and he is moving forward from my legs and I have the reins at good contact. So, I THINK that is the frame, but of course Im not really sure yet. So, I can do it at the walk I think, but I dont know anything beyond that for the trot or canter. Thanks for suggesting leg work though, its always a good thing to practice!

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You can teach him a head down cue. Like someone said, head position is not collection, but it is easier for the horse to find his frame if his head isn't in giraffe position.

This is how I do it.

At the standstill, you gather your reins and put medium light pressure. (Snaffle bit) WAIT for the hrose to find the right answer, which is head down, and release.

Most horses try up, sideways, backwards, all sorts of moves befroe they try down, you just have to be patient, keep the pressure the smae even though it is tempting top pull harder, and wait for that head to drop even a fraction of an inch. Whne it does, throw those reins on his neck for a fas t and full release.

I practice this move about 30 to 60 times a session, until the horse automatically softens when you pick up the reins. It takes time and persistence. Then and only then do we practice it at a walk, then a trot, and finally a canter.

Then you can start to really drive the horse forward and under himself, with him remaining soft to your hands.

The bare bones beginning of collection. It takes time, and the horse must develop his brain and muscles before it will all come together. Best of luck!

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A lot of good advice has been given.

It's important to remember that in collection, you have to start from the back and work to the front. There should be impulsion from the hind end first. Head carriage needs to come last, especially because all too often people are just yanking away at the horse, trying to make him "look nice" and put him into a frame.

I'm glad you stopped See-Sawing on the reins.

That is one of the most artifical and painful aids a rider can give.

It only hurts the horse and puts him in a Fake "Frame". He'll end up Behind the Vertical anyways.

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Alot of wonderful advice has been given to you..Especially about see sawing and using your legs...This may seem a little out of question but yet it isnt..Do you KNOW that your saddle fits correctly..and you cant always go by dry spots.. running your fingers down his spine to see if there is flinching will tell you if he is a little sore. ONE of the main reasons for upside down neck or an off headset is a pinching saddle...I know he may have never been taught collection but first you need to make sure that there isnt more to the story then just that..My father is a leathersmith that is where I learned most of this..and lots of readinglol.. If you could post pictures of you riding that would be wonderful..there are alot of signs that a horse gives that tells that they are uncomfortable and they are sometimes unrecognizable to an untrained eye...Like I said everyone has given you wonderful and amazing advice take it use it then check his back and make sure that saddle fit isnt playing a part. The only reason why I brought this out is I didnt really see any one mention it...the last thing you want is for him to have a good headset with a sore back..only saying that because some horses will ignore the pain and do what you ask..I have one..he tryed hiding his pain..Dad saw hidden signs..a couple massage sessions and a diffrent saddle that fits has made him all better and really has just made him focus so much more on his work..

I hope all of you see where I am coming from

.:A.u.D.r.A:.

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I swear by bungees....creation of god as far as I'm concerned lol! Not that gadgets are a quick fix or anything like that but bungees work wonders, I love them. Be good to use if you lunge him to get him used to lowering his poll and giving to the bit without being influenced by a rider as well straight away =]

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