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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:15 am 
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How long ago was it I posted here about right and left sided horses and included some pics of Dakota the Morgan gelding as examples? Coming on to three years I think.

Some research reports are very valuable and I take them seriously, while others make me chuckle.

We all know, for instance, that the horse can read our state of anxiety if we have one. Especially while on his back, but we did not know for sure how. Good clues were found by some research that indeed they can likely feel and hear out heartbeat and respiration, and feel muscle tension. Good and interesting research even if it only verifies what we already sufficiently know.

How about research on laterality that does not "disturb the horse's movements," by using pedometers? Really, they did that in Australia.

Even if you never thought about laterality before and become faced with it because your horse is moving badly, say having trouble take one lead or the other at canter, you know that with a bit of observation YOU are going to know what leg he favors and how to look for it.

The static view of the horse is clue one: his barrel will protrude more on the side that he uses less, and be in on the side he uses more. The "more use," side has more heavily used muscles and tendons and thus tends to contract that side.

A dynamic view of the trotting or cantering horse, sometimes even a walking horse will show that he is counter curved, that is in reverse body curve to the curve of the track he is on.

Especially at the canter this counter curve will show his hind quarters ranging outward, along with his head, even sometimes his shoulders. He will also drop his shoulder and be at a very steep slant with his body to maintain the movement and not fall down.

This horse takes the left canter lead usually much more easily than the right lead.

It would be more sensible to refer to the dominant diagonal (using the foreleg as the name) of the horse rather than the handedness. The majority of horses tend to be left diagonal dominant. Ones that are more extremely dominant to the left also tend to more often blow out on the right lead and disconnect, being on one lead in front and the other behind.

Some can do a flying change from left to right, but not right to left.

Some few horses are less dominant diagonaled and have less trouble with leads, turns on forehand and hind quarters than others.

You can also tell of course by the tracks the horse leaves. Left diagonaled horses will leave their left hind hoof print more often just to the left of the left foreleg hoofprint.

The researches used horses at liberty and just hanging out in their paddock to determine this dominance. I have to wonder what they were thinking. My bet is that they could have chased them in circles (say on a lunge line) an equal number of times in each direction with pedometers on each foreleg and gotten a much more interesting and likely more accurate picture of horse handedness.

The information would be, I think, just information I've pointed out that an observant horse handler can learn to see in a few minutes, far more useful for trainers conditioning horses.

http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=16777

Donald

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:42 am 
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Thank you very much Donald.

It's something I work with for couple of years now, since I figured Ruphina her leftlead canter is well was... not there.
She could easily do a right lead canter on the left lead though.
Or do front left lead and hind right lead.

I knew she was crooked, but by then I figured that a big part of it all is in what leg they prefer and that the bend has a lot to do with the feet.
If the feet don't fit, the bend won't either.
So it really did influence my training.

I work alot on strengthening the left hindleg, and 'destrengthen' (that's probably not a word :blush: ) the left front foot.
In her case her left front foot is 'too strong' and the right front foot to weak, in the back it's the other way around.
Since working on that regularly, her canter has become better (now she can do a left lead canter on the right side she's so proud of her left lead :roll: )
But also her bendingability (ability to bend is probably a better term) on the left has grown, she can right now move her left hindleg under her mass better.

But I always heard from everyone that it was the muscles in the back I should be training and the only focus was on that. It is good to read an article about the importance of dominant feet. (yeah! I didn't make it all up in my head ;) ) And that it is in fact a diagonal pair.

Many people are writing about crookedness, but not everything is equally useful when it comes to informing others rightfully.

(does this make any sense?)

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:56 pm 
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KDS wrote:
Thank you very much Donald.

It's something I work with for couple of years now, since I figured Ruphina her leftlead canter is well was... not there.
She could easily do a right lead canter on the left lead though.
Or do front left lead and hind right lead.

Do you mean a right lead canter on the left CIRCLE?
KDS wrote:

I knew she was crooked, but by then I figured that a big part of it all is in what leg they prefer and that the bend has a lot to do with the feet.
If the feet don't fit, the bend won't either.
So it really did influence my training.

Yes, the bend is the indicator, I believe, far more than the tendency to favor the use of one foreleg over the other. In truth I think we should be looking at the whole body condition for the horse and stop focusing so much on a single part to "correct," what we think of as a 'problem.'

I have a difficult time with some students getting them to understand what you obviously understand quite well. They want to think too much in terms of a single problem, find the smallest element of the problem and attempt to fix it, ignoring that the horse doesn't come in packages of his parts like a delivery from the butcher.

He is a whole being and each part effects the whole horse. Building one part with little thought to the remainder of the horse leads to imbalance in other directions (Rollkur is a perfect example of this principle).

KDS wrote:

I work alot on strengthening the left hindleg, and 'destrengthen' (that's probably not a word :blush: ) the left front foot.

Strengthening consists of conditioning the muscle group and it's tendon attachments and the joints rotation of any that are part of the group to be able to stretch more and contract more through an arc of movement. Even power lifters (in weight lifting competition) have to deal with this issue, though it appears to be all short movements. It's not. The fuller range of use of the muscle groups gives the strength.

I may only have to move my hand through a lifting arc of 10 inches and I can build a great deal of power up even if I only exercise over the ten inch span - yet I will have far more power in that ten inch span if I exercise through a 16 in span of movement. And heaven help me if I find that for some reason I need to move 14 inches ... as we so often have to adjust our span of movement with power to lift in real life situations.

The horse, of course, has to do this all the time with many body parts.
KDS wrote:

In her case her left front foot is 'too strong' and the right front foot to weak, in the back it's the other way around.

Diagonal laterality. The only gait that escapes this diagonal emphasis in all other gaits is the Pace, where the right for and right rear move together in a stride, then the left pair together. Your focus on this diagonal sequence and movement is key to development of both sides of the horse.
KDS wrote:

Since working on that regularly, her canter has become better (now she can do a left lead canter on the right side she's so proud of her left lead :roll: )
But also her bendingability (ability to bend is probably a better term) on the left has grown, she can right now move her left hindleg under her mass better.

Ah...so satisfying. Your horse, by the way, is typical of most. Most are foreshortened on the left to one degree or another, and flaccid and overstretched on the right. Thus they can left canter lead more easily than right lead canter.

And you have identified one of the most important elements in exercise of both sides - in your horse, the left to lengthen the arc of movement for strength, and the right to shorten and tighten the arc for strength. It is that ability to bring the hind leg well up under the horse.

There is a discussion and description of a very neat little exercise in hand as the beginning point for doing this very thing. Condensed it is this: Trot the horse in hand building impulsion, bring the horse to a halt, and before the impulsion can die away move the hindquarters one step away from the side you are on.

The object is for the horse to be able to cross over in front of the far hind leg with the near one. That of course requires they bring that nearest leg forward to cross over.

Doesn't seem like much but I think it's a key exercise both front and rear in fact. It causes the hip and the shoulder joints to open and close far more widely than if the horse crosses over behind the far leg in a lateral movement. It leads to more agility, and agility is that ability to move surely with power without interfering with the full arc of movement.

KDS wrote:

But I always heard from everyone that it was the muscles in the back I should be training and the only focus was on that. It is good to read an article about the importance of dominant feet. (yeah! I didn't make it all up in my head ;) ) And that it is in fact a diagonal pair.

I get the very clear message that you did not go with what "everyone," said but rather with your own analysis and likely your heart as well. No, you didn't just make it up. You thought.

Thinking is a rare thing, too rare.
KDS wrote:

Many people are writing about crookedness, but not everything is equally useful when it comes to informing others rightfully.

(does this make any sense?)


Yes, there is a great deal of misinformation out there. And often very painful to the horse when applied.

There is an exercise I like to do to keep and to further development of the horse's ability to curve their body to stay straight on the track (meaning their body, nose to tail, stays bent to the curve of the track). I don't do it in the beginning as it's pretty strenuous. It's the spiral, either on the lungeline or mounted.

Often the last step before I move the horse outward again consists of one step over in front with the inside leg still, and the outside leg stepping in front and across the inside leg.

The further out on the spiral the horse happens to do it the more agility and bend they are capable of. And of course you see it in all lateral movement of the horse that is properly conditioned.

I suggest being careful to not overdo the spiral track though. Keep it easy for the horse. Build gradually. It is a trot exercise, though it can be somewhat useful at the walk.

Donald

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:43 pm 
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That does sound like some good exercises, both (the trot to halt and then moving the hindquarters one step away) is a hard really hard one I suppose but one that we can work on with Ruphina.

The spiralling, I believe it is still a bit to hard for her.

She can do a lot now, but the hardest part is making this new way of bending her 'natural way'.
You can make her bending to any side will riding, but that does mean you are really working and telling her what bodypart needs to do what.
Then I go longreining, which means... she's on her own.
Lonely walking in front doing the exercises. It's easier because she doesn't have to carry my weight, but it is harder because I have to stand aside and can't correct her with my own bodyweight.
But on a lungeline, we are still working on having her in a proper bend on the left circle... Spiralling sounds like a great exercise, but it will have to wait for us to get there.

I was in fact just reading an article about crookedness...

they mentioned several parts of crookedness. and steps to be working on the crookedness a very short summary (sorry for the poor translation)

1.the bending (right or left bending, tight on one side, loose on the other side when it comes to muscles)
2. forward downward movement, when you stretcch the tight muscle it will also let go of the neck muscle and that will make the head (and neck) move forward and downward (which will make the back move a bit upward))
3. because of the proper bend, the horse can move his inside hip further under his body mass and lengthening the strides.
4. bending the inside hind leg, by using shoulder in and out you can further train the inside hind leg for stepping further under
5. bending the outside hind leg, by using travers you can further train the outside hind leg for stepping further under
6. bending both hind legs, in piaffe and pirouette exercises you ask the hindlegs to both bend under the horse and collect itself.

What I like is that they show that even in the piaffe, considered one of the higher exercises you are training your horse to straightening him/herself.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:54 pm 
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KDS wrote:
That does sound like some good exercises, both (the trot to halt and then moving the hindquarters one step away) is a hard really hard one I suppose but one that we can work on with Ruphina.

The spiralling, I believe it is still a bit to hard for her.

Yes, the spiral isn't something to use much until the horse is already pretty well conditioned to both sides. The "step under," though, while a bit hard at first, once the horse grasps it it's not difficult to ask for and get. I think maybe the slight stretch and extension to and beyond the midline of the horse's body might feel good. I know it can develop into energizing. It certainly did with Dakota.
KDS wrote:
She can do a lot now, but the hardest part is making this new way of bending her 'natural way'.
You can make her bending to any side will riding, but that does mean you are really working and telling her what bodypart needs to do what.

No matter how long you practice doing things with your non-dominant hand, say brushing your teeth (try it, it's crazy feeling) it may never really seem or even appear natural. That takes many more hours and possibly even years to occur.
KDS wrote:
Then I go longreining, which means... she's on her own.
Lonely walking in front doing the exercises. It's easier because she doesn't have to carry my weight, but it is harder because I have to stand aside and can't correct her with my own bodyweight.
But on a lungeline, we are still working on having her in a proper bend on the left circle... Spiralling sounds like a great exercise, but it will have to wait for us to get there.

It's much safer to do on the longline or even long reining. No weight to carry and she can make her own adjustments as she is ready. Part of asking rather than demanding comes by doing a good deal of our work, as you do, from the ground.
KDS wrote:

I was in fact just reading an article about crookedness...

they mentioned several parts of crookedness. and steps to be working on the crookedness a very short summary (sorry for the poor translation)

1.the bending (right or left bending, tight on one side, loose on the other side when it comes to muscles)
2. forward downward movement, when you stretcch the tight muscle it will also let go of the neck muscle and that will make the head (and neck) move forward and downward (which will make the back move a bit upward))
3. because of the proper bend, the horse can move his inside hip further under his body mass and lengthening the strides.
4. bending the inside hind leg, by using shoulder in and out you can further train the inside hind leg for stepping further under
5. bending the outside hind leg, by using travers you can further train the outside hind leg for stepping further under
6. bending both hind legs, in piaffe and pirouette exercises you ask the hindlegs to both bend under the horse and collect itself.

I'll have to think about travers doing that.


I'm somewhat, rightly or wrongly, a fan of half halts to develop both sides of the horse evenly in the haunches. I think one has to become very aware of timing and where each hip is when asking the horse for the half halt, and alternate one to the next.
KDS wrote:
What I like is that they show that even in the piaffe, considered one of the higher exercises you are training your horse to straightening him/herself.


The old masters I believe had that one down. I do see people attempting the piaffe with the horse bent. They do it but it bothers me to look at.

Donald

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:25 am 

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Donald,
I don't know where I got these links from (it might even have been from another thread here! :D ), but I thought they could go here:
I have posted one link but there are a series of short clips explaining asymmetry.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dehftjkfquo&feature=channel

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:52 am 
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I believe that is the same person I got the above steps of straighthening your horse from :)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:52 pm 
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!!! - I am SO happy to log on and find this discussion has a thread of it's own. I was starting to get ideas about putting Donalds information in a thread seeing as how it's so fascinating to me and I have never before had this explained to me in a way that's understandable. :D I feel my lack of understanding on the subject has been a big problem with Diego over the years, as he has always had a problem picking up his left lead.

Donald Redux wrote:
They want to think too much in terms of a single problem, find the smallest element of the problem and attempt to fix it, ignoring that the horse doesn't come in packages of his parts like a delivery from the butcher.

And that was exactly how I learned to see horses and movement. One "thing to fix". And boy did we spend money on specialists and vets and treatments to fix "one thing". :blush: When it was probably more than we realized. It's just recently that I've started to understand how connected everything is. There's so much misinformation out there and sometimes just NO information.

We had always assumed Diego had pain, and he probably did. The issue became muddled when we had a specialist check his stifles and we treated them for the ligament that was over stretching and "catching" his joint while I rode. We always assumed though that his 'one sidedness" came mainly from that pain and especially his reluctance to pick up a left lead canter. On the contrairy he may have just been desperately trying to tell me he was incredibly weak & clumsy at it because it wasn't his 'good" side. Hmmm...
I am so looking forward to finally being able to correct some of the muscle imbalances, now.



Donald Redux wrote:
Trot the horse in hand building impulsion, bring the horse to a halt, and before the impulsion can die away move the hindquarters one step away from the side you are on.

The object is for the horse to be able to cross over in front of the far hind leg with the near one. That of course requires they bring that nearest leg forward to cross over.

Definately want to try this next time I see him. Although a trot with impulsion in this heat is unlikely we can try.. ;) I have attempted the spiral on the lunge but am sure I'm doing it wrong, plus there's that tiny problem of not being able to 'move him away" right now. I know it's much harder while riding but it seems to be my only option to be able to tell where his body is positioned in relation to where he's travelling.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:52 pm 

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You can start really slowly in a walk or even at a halt just asking with a soft cue on his flank to move that inside leg across to the outside, thereby stepping and placing it under his belly. Horses that find this hard will swing the entire hindquarter over instead of just placing the inside hind. If it is very difficult for the horse then you can only really ask for a little more towards the center. You will see one side is easy and the other is not. Both sides need to do it (remember you are stretching and contracting and the easy side is probably over stretching). It can take many months until the horse is able to place that inside foot correctly, so don't expect huge strides (excuse the pun) on day one. Once they understand this concept you can then ask for movement out of the circle by asking for the inside leg to step over and under the body. This stepping under is strengthening abdominal muscles the horse needs to be able to engage his legs under him.
http://www.artofnaturaldressage.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=327&sid=a99bd650578ab9ac3dee3afa525eb9d9

Although the games are numbered, they don't have to be played in that order! Maybe this thread will help you too with understanding why and what you are doing. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:52 pm 
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;) I had, and to some extent still have, huge problems asking Freckles to move away from me. He seems to resent it. It seems to hurt his confidence/ego/pride whatever.

To solve his handedness I asked him to walk around me while I turned in place, so I was "spinning" and he was doing voltes. All done at liberty so he wouldn't strain himself - and he slowly started placing his inside hind leg better without me having to constantly try and show him what I wanted. I did a circle in each direction in-between every other training task I was trying to work on. It became our "what do we do now?" behaviour.

:D He wanted to be in my pocket so I did the work "his" way. One benefit was that I could step towards him and "bump" him behind the shoulder with my whole body and he would do one step of a shoulder-in type movement. This gradually developed into a communication for him to bend around and move away from any object that bumped him there as long as my body posture was also correct - which is what I now use to move him out on a circle.

All together it took about 3 weeks for him to get noticeably more flexible, and around a year for the size and shape of his muscles to equalize when comparing left and right.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:54 pm 
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Glen, was it you who had those wonderful pictures of the horse being clearly unequal when it came to muscle and one picture of the horse where you saw the improvement?

Hmm, I don't know. I know someone had it... And I know it was a very light horse... and I think it was you, but it might as easily be someone completely else; maybe not even on this forum.

I liked the pictures because of the clearity, somehow I understood what it was all about :)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:49 pm 

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A couple more TheHorse.Com articles:-

http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.asp ... 826&src=RA

http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=16808

Amazing how many researchers and teachers are going back to lateral work and the necessity of bilateral training, and with more updated evidence being gathered to support what Donald, Josepha and many of you already know . xx

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:59 am 
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Thank you very much :)
Yet another article to be put on the pile of 'I should read this'... And I almost just finished pile number one, already starting to make a new pile :D

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:45 pm 
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:D Yes, those were Freckles ...

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:46 pm 
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In light of all the 'work on both sides" thing - I'm very glad I've taken to tacking and mounting from both sides regularly. Now I just need to do everything else :funny: . I recently filmed a short session of working on Ramener and noticed how crooked D is when I'm working on the left side. I did this on the right one day and he had a much harder time mugging me because it was hard for him to bend that way, he also seemed to be trying to rethink what he was supposed to do...the brain transfer I guess. He caught on very quickly though. His right side was also definately harder for him to do or understand leg lifts, interestingly enough. I definately look forward to the challenge of working from boths sides, I'vr also noticed a huge difference in leading - D is very resistant to walking next to me when I'm on the right. He would rather walk behind or cross over to the left. Often times if I won't let him he slows to a halt or a horrid dragging walk. Hmmm.... :huh: Funny how all the pieces of the puzzle start showing themselves to me now. Now I just have to start linking them & putting them together...

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