Intermediate Eventer. Hates dressage! Naturally high head carria

ropa

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25 June 2010
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I have an intermediate Eventer who is new to me. She is double clear 9/10 times but her weakest element is dressage. In fact she hates it and has behavioural problems after leaving the arena. She also has a naturally head high head carriage. I suspect she has been held firmly together with a strong contact and probably why she hates dressage. I would like her to enjoy dressage and I have taken her back to basics and spent a lot of time on the ground so that I can supple her and get her in a long loose frame. It is working slowly but surely. Early days though and she is not established in this frame. She has no back or physical issues to know of as been thoroughly checked. Suspect just style of holding her together has mean she has been ridden quite hollow. She still needs to substantially increase her top line and have more self carriage. I have already built a bit up through what we have been doing. We have been working very classically with her, lunging with no gadgets and doing in hand lateral work. Now back on board and she is reaching for contact and much looser and longer. Just wondering how wpeveryone else would address this and hoping to hear some success stories!

How would you train her?? Time is not of the essence and willing to spend a year getting it right before cracking back on with eventing!
 

Mike007

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Whilst you say that the physical issues have been checked , I would suggest that you have a serious think about teeth. There is a lot more to it than just rasping. If the horse has an abnormal tooth growth patern , it can manifest itself in all sorts of problems . An undershot jaw or molars that are not in a level platform (cant think of how else to describe it). Can result in pain at the poll when the horse is asked to come into an outline . Especialy if a flash noseband is used.I struggled for three years until a friend explained . I sent my horse to a really good EDT who showed me the problem then fixed it.It hasnt been a miracle cure , there is a lot of habit and conditioning to undo. But I can see the results . He is far more comfortable and there are promising hints of suppleness now. Everyone involved with him has noticed the difference even though we are all the biggest bunch of sceptics you could find.
 

Ferdinase514

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Aside from the potential physical issues, in terms if retraining her to be more supple it sounds as though you are doing good things. Working her longer and deeper to stretch over the back muscles and the leg yielding across the diagonal, first in walk and the trot. Good luck. :)
 

Queenbee

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Horses with naturally high head carriage can benefit greatly from regular massages to loosen all the muscles in the neck as riding with a constantly high carriage can cause tension which then makes lowering their head uncomfortable

My mare, two before shots, one competing and one hunting
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After her first massage, you can see a huge difference in her head carriage, infact in the one photo she is trying to touch her toes with her nose, but it illustrates the difference very well!

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cundlegreen

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Another thing to suggest is a comfort headpiece. I hadn't realised, until I put my hand under the noseband headpiece, how much it can cut into the poll, especially if done up tight. All of mine compete in them now, just so I know they are comfortable. Agree also about the massage, and also acupressure. Good kuck, at least you are trying to fix without gadgets!
 

ropa

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Good thinking one and all. Has regular osteopath. Already more supple from carrot stretches too. Have put her in mikleham so only one point or pressure. Don't do the noseband up either so not irritating. Guessing will take a good year to build the topline in order to work in self carriage!
 

anna22

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As above sounds like you're doing all the right things! It does just take time, my gelding is the same. He still doesn't have the best top line but he is getting there. I wouldn't totally rule out the use of certain gadgets in a sensible way. My boy responds very well to some loosely attached elastic side reins, they only come into play when his head carriage goes very high, and when loose and low they don't have any effect.
I'm not a fan of gadgets at all, but sometimes they can help.
 

ropa

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I was thinking of using very loose leather side reins as apparently they give a quick correction on mouth if head goes too far up whereas elastic ones apparently can be a bit irritating when they give and ping back? To be honest I think i would rather work her topline for longer without them through lunging in correct frame with vocal correction and get her topline stronger that way and so she comes to it herself - if that is possible!
 

anna22

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I was thinking of using very loose leather side reins as apparently they give a quick correction on mouth if head goes too far up whereas elastic ones apparently can be a bit irritating when they give and ping back?

They're webbing with an elastic insert to stop them being restrictive... if that makes sense. I couldn't use ones without any 'give' on my boy, he's a bit too sensitive. At first he would lunge without anything, with his head in the clouds, it took the loose side reins to encourage him into a longer, more relaxed frame, now he'll lunge like that without them. Horses for courses! What works for one won't necessarily work for another so see what your mare is happiest with, anything that makes her tense will only exacerbate her back problem. Good luck :) keep us posted.
 

ropa

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Thanks that is really useful. I can get trot on the lunge without head going up most of the time if i warn her of the aak for trot and then alowly ask her into it. If i tush her she throws her head up. Tempted to keep going with the vocal aids to see if i can get her to be consistent in the head carriage... She is already a much calmer horse which is probably half the battle!
 
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