The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
It is currently Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:48 pm

All times are UTC+01:00




Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 25 posts ]  Go to page 1 2 Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 12:53 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:05 pm
Posts: 2888
Location: Natal, South Africa
The History.
When I started working with Schatzi (Follow the Flag - the OTTB mare that Michelle (GemTwist) got from the SPCA) the horse was badly NOT straight. She had an uneven and poorly developed top-line that tipped saddles to the left, and little to no muscle-tone anywhere except her lower neck and chest. She had a lot of flab and fat and was “padded” all over. Her ribs were displaced to the right by 5 or 6 inches. She was newly blind in her left eye. We discovered that she has arthritis in both her left- front and right-hind pasterns (sloping part just above hoof.)
:funny: She is not slim and rangy but is quite wide and compact - like a 16hh Holstein rather than a TB.
:ieks: Wherever we went, at whatever gait we were in, in or out of the arena, we moved sideways - curled to the left and moving "through" the right shoulder. I felt as if I was riding shoulder in on the right side of the arena.
:sad: She will do a little arena work and groundwork, but doesn't really get interested or engaged. If there are treats involved she gets overexcited and starts rearing after a few minutes. However she seems to really enjoy being ridden out and exploring the countryside – as long as there is ample opportunity to graze afterwards before going back home.
:cheers: She mostly chooses to move with elevated shoulders all the time, but is not very far under herself yet.
:pray: She gives every impression of enjoying "having a job" and gets grumpy and withdrawn if I don't ride at least 3 times every week.
:clap: She has a very steady temperament and doesn't spook much - in the 2 years I've known her I have seen her spook once. I often drop my reins onto the saddle and do exercises while we go along. The worst she does is drop head and graze if she thinks I’m really not paying attention.
:blonde: Every now and then she used to do weird little half-buck things. I enjoyed them but knew they indicated a problem. I eventually figured out that the saddles were slipping to the left. I am now riding her in a Western that I have shimmed on the left only to prevent that slippage. One day when she is straight and her top-line is equal again I will go back to my lovely English saddle. Or bareback.
Corrective Action Taken.
I did (and am still doing) a lot of walk/trot hill-work trail-rides with her. I ask for a lot of:
i.Shoulder-fore with right bend
ii.Leg-yield left and right across the tracks we ride on so we do a lot of zigzag walk and trot. :rambo:
iii.I hunted out some steep hills to walk down and trot up and set goals to:
:thumleft: to never slip going down as well as keeping the saddle horizontal
:thumleft: trot as slowly as we could up them
:thumleft: trot shoulder-fore while bent left and right up them
:thumleft: trot shoulder-in while bent left and right up them (right is not quite there yet)
iiii.Shoulder-in left and right.
Results To Date.
We are down to around 1 inch rib displacement to the right, and her top-line has improved dramatically. I know we still have a long way to go. She now sometimes spontaneously gives a wonderful balanced canter which is very uphill from the "bent left" shoulder-fore trot :D

By the way, because of her extreme "not straightness" I ask with seat and verbals for all transitions. I have needed my calves for up and half-halts for down every now and then, but mostly she responds nicely to the verbals. I sometimes ride her "loopy reins" like a Western Pleasure horse, and sometimes I ride her with the best contact I am capable of.
The Questions.
In the last 2 weeks, she has suddenly started doing a few things that worry me, and I'm not sure about what might be causing them. I have some theories but I would really like to hear other opinions and ideas.
I do think they are mostly a progression of the problems I have been working on - :twisted: like the next level, or the next layer of the onion, or something along those lines.

1. In trot she has recently started leaning heavily on my right hand every 10 or 15 steps. I think the most likely reason is because the weakness in her right pastern becomes more noticeable as her ribcage straightens. I would love to hear other ideas about why this might be happening, and why now.
a. If I do nothing she will stay like that and go along apparently as happy as can be.
b. If I drop the reins, or put them down slowly, with or without leg/seat aids, she starts doing a horrible twisting "corkscrew" trot for 4 or 5 steps :ieks: and then drops to a walk, halts and gives me the dirtiest look you have ever seen.
c. If I "give" with my right hand, with or without leg/seat aids, she often stumbles on the next step and then nods every time her arthritic feet land until we walk or I take back the weight she gave me on that right rein.
d. If I "give" with my left hand, with or without leg/seat aids, she does a lovely balanced curve or circle right but doesn't lighten on the rein at all.
d. If I ask her to flex right or left (ie. rotate my hand to wrist-up with no other aids) she does a lovely flexion which makes her light on the rein/s, but she leans on that right rein again as soon as I return my hands to normal.
d. If I ask her for shoulder-fore (ie. slightly raise my right hand with right leg on at the girth) she bends a teeny bit right which makes her light on the rein, but she leans on that right rein again as soon as I lower my hand.
e. If I "take" an equal weight with my left hand and give her strong right leg on behind, she seems to even out and go light on both reins again for several steps, so this is what I am currently doing because it gets the result that I think is correct.
f. If I only give her leg support (from either or both legs) she gets faster and faster in the trot.

2. She has suddenly developed an "attitude" and I don't know where it came from or what it might mean. I am trying to be positive and tell myself that it is because she's starting to feel more fit and strong as well as feeling entitled to own herself. I am worried that I am fooling myself and overlooking a problem that she has. I welcome all opinions, advice and suggestions.
a. She is consistently refusing to try to walk downhill in certain places where she used to be willing to go.
b. It feels as if she is sometimes trying to "be the boss" of where we go - sometimes insisting that we DO go another way than what I chose, and other times insisting that we DON'T go the way I chose. These two are different - she will "fight" to head off down a track I don't want to ride on, or she will balk and refuse to enter a track I do want to ride on.
She absolutely advertises what she is about to do, and does it in relatively slow motion so I have never felt or been unsafe or nervous about this.
Well before we reach the intersection in question, she will "claim" the reins by stretching all the way from her tail to her poll to make her neck as long and as far up as it can go in the most amazing ramener you can visualize,in that position lift her nose until her head is a little above horizontal, pin her ears and roll her eye at me, deliberately swing her head left/right/left/right and then swing her head forward and down. This takes about 3 of her steps from start to finish.
As her nose reaches the ground she either
a. steps towards her chosen track
b. emphatically halts. I call this her mule-halt. She gives every impression of sinking her feet into the ground all the way up to her belly and never, ever intending to move again. Ever.
If she is trying to head off in a different direction than what I wanted, and if I take any action that hints at or forces her to go "my way" she immediately uses the mule-halt.
If I put legs on, or tap with heels, or make tongue clicks, or do anything that suggests I would like her to go forward, she goes backwards and claims the reins. If I one-rein her to the left she goes backwards. If I one-rein her to the right she goes forwards until we once again reach the point of "whose choice wins" and she will do another mule-halt.
If I do circles towards and away and "traditional" approach-retreat behaviour we usually get past the disagreement fairly well. If I dismount she will be lead past that place easily, but repeats the balk or tries to rush back there every time I try to remount :ieks: - until we are quite a distance away. This doesn't work for me as walking for more than 10 minutes or so makes my legs weaken and I reach a stage where I can't mount.
If I accept her obvious wish to go "that way" (which feels all nice and warm in my little heart) she becomes more and more difficult to handle under all and any circumstances without me getting forceful and "rough" with her, so the "warm and fuzzy" is short-term and selfish because it erodes her "social boundaries" or "rules and limitations" and creates a longer-term harshness.
I'm conflicted about this.

_________________
Glen Grobler

Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


Top
   
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 5:16 pm 
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:32 am
Posts: 3270
Location: New York
Glen, first one stray thought regarding her need to call the shots about where you're going... might she be in season?

I'm new to this girl horse thing and sometimes when I simply can't understand why Circe feels the need to announce to me that she WANTS TO BE IN CHARGE!! I realize later that there was some hormonal stuff happening... (And amidst my hot flashes and general need to bite people's faces off, I can relate! :rambo: :roll: :funny: )


Then, for what it's worth (which may be absolutely nothing) -- what you're describing in terms of how she's going w/leg and rein reminds me some of working with SD when we were trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again -- I think he'd gotten so used to being held together by legs and bridle (and bit before me), that even though he didn't want it he didn't know how to balance himself without it. I tried to find a way to work with it so it didn't feel like I was sawing on him by really thinking about it like I was holding up a toddler who was learning to balance himself -- if her body is changing as much as it seems to be, she could literally be unsure how to balance and counting on her to hold her together -- even just psychologically...???

xoxoxoxo
L.

_________________
"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi
www.imaginalinstitute.com


Top
   
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 6:38 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:05 pm
Posts: 2888
Location: Natal, South Africa
:funny: When she's in season she does NOT approve of having humans anywhere near her for 3 days except if they're handing out food :funny: She's been doing this new "I'm the boss of us" behavior for about 3 weeks now so I doubt it's related to seasons.

I do think it's an issue of balance that brings on this "lean on Mom's right hand" thing. I'm not sure if the balance problem is caused by a vision issue or a weakness issue.
If it's a vision thing then surely I would have seen or felt it before now?
If it's a weakness then is it in the pastern or the rest of the leg or the pelvis or in the abs or in the buttocks or ...
*sigh* And why is only becoming obvious now? Is it possible for such a "visible" weakness to be obscured by the big ribcage displacement she had?
Is this another layer of the onion or is it something new?

_________________
Glen Grobler



Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


Top
   
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 8:44 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 2:40 pm
Posts: 4733
Location: Belgium
Since how long are you experiencing this?

_________________
www.equusuniversalis.com


Top
   
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 9:02 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
Glen Grobler wrote:
:funny: When she's in season she does NOT approve of having humans anywhere near her for 3 days except if they're handing out food :funny: She's been doing this new "I'm the boss of us" behavior for about 3 weeks now so I doubt it's related to seasons.

I do think it's an issue of balance that brings on this "lean on Mom's right hand" thing. I'm not sure if the balance problem is caused by a vision issue or a weakness issue.
If it's a vision thing then surely I would have seen or felt it before now?

Not necessarily. You live in a part of the world where the onchocerca parasite is rampant - river blindness in humans, Moon Blindness in horses is one of the things this parasite can do (though not always). Have a vet scope her eyes and or draw a sample to give a look-see under a microscope. It's gradual and you might not have noticed it until now.
Glen Grobler wrote:
If it's a weakness then is it in the pastern or the rest of the leg or the pelvis or in the abs or in the buttocks or ...
*sigh* And why is only becoming obvious now? Is it possible for such a "visible" weakness to be obscured by the big ribcage displacement she had?
Is this another layer of the onion or is it something new?


Tough questions. Keep in touch.

_________________
Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


Top
   
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 9:04 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:05 pm
Posts: 2888
Location: Natal, South Africa
She has been doing this the strange trot for 2 or 3 months now, and the attitude started just before the last week after I didn't ride for a week because of rain.

_________________
Glen Grobler



Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


Top
   
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 9:17 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:05 pm
Posts: 2888
Location: Natal, South Africa
Donald, I don't think her vision is deteriorating. I know she has problems with distance because of going blind in her left eye before she was rescued. I normally have to cue her that there is a bump in the ground and she needs to step bigger or that she needs to "sit" because there's a dip. I wonder if straightening her is affecting her visual orientation and therefore her balance. Also, we're just going into winter now and the quality of light has changed quite a lot.

I've never, ever before seen or known a horse that does this weird kind of corkscrew trot - as if her shoulders are twisting one way and her hips are twisting the other way.

_________________
Glen Grobler



Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


Top
   
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:55 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
Can't think what that might be. Do you know of any severe trauma she's suffered, or major disease? I've forgotten her history if you posted it.

I take it she is very out of alignment as she trots forward. Which hip is forward and which shoulder back in this odd gait, and which eye is she blind in?

She may be simply angling to give her good eye, as she speeds up for the trot, a better field of vision forward. Just a thought.

_________________
Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:55 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
I think she is growing in physical comfort, strength and in confidence. Hormonal or not, it does sound teenage - let's test the boundaries. She may be more confident if you are focused and determined and insist on being in-charge off your farm.
Arthritis will have effects on her balance but she is better than she was, regular exercise is helping her stay supple.
Daniel does this to me....because he can. He learned that he is stronger and I am unwilling to grow horns, snort steam or become aggressive. What he does n't know about is my reconsideration of me being responsible for him, deciding I will take control outside our gates, and he can be included in some choices at home but only a few if we go out.
I know I can do this.
A young teg/ewe with her late born lamb was coming out of the barn when Arthur and Dan were coming in, I stood tall, waved them to stop, made them back up and insisted they wait....and they did. Even though they are good and tiny babies wander around their feathered, hairy feet, when they think it's dinner time they forget to look out for other animals in their way.
Still, they do need some boundaries or should I be unable to work and keep them, they will have barbed wire gag bits and cattle prods, so listening to me gets them rewarded.

Glen, does Shatzi only do this when hacking alone with you or is she the same following another horse on a hack?

Love Susie.xx

_________________
Susie xx
http://www.flickr.com/photos/piepony/


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:52 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 5:52 am
Posts: 1852
Location: Taiwan, via NZ
My feeling is that there is something that is causing her serious disorientation, discomfort, difficulty or pain. That corkscrewing trot can't be easy. It may be something new. It may be, as you suggested, knock on effects in other parts of her body from the improvements you are making. It maybe something you've never even considered. My feeling is that it's been coming for a few months, as evidenced by the funny trot, and is now causing her sufficient upset that her behaviour is changing.

I'm so impressed by the careful way you are catalogueing everything. It's so difficult to isolate in horses with multiple problems! And easy to miss the wood for the trees. I'm wondering if she's experienced some kind of back issues now with her new way of going?

What if you treated her the same as you would treat a young horse having any training difficulty for a little while and see how she responds? I mean, just back off to doing the things that she does feel comfortable with and can do well- if her trot is not good, walk etc. See if her attitude improves when she realizes that you won't force her to do things that she's feeling uncomfortable with. Try to keep her up to the improvements you've already made, but don't push her any further for a while and see if her physical symptoms ease any?

It's so difficult to know isn't it, whether it's better for them to push through, or to ease back when you encounter either emotional or physical barriers. I think I'd want to be really sure of myself before I pushed through though, and with her history, it seems quite likely that there are physical things going on for her.

I'm really impressed with how far you've brought her already! :yes:

_________________
Image
I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,
But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:08 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
Sometimes there is nothing for it but to go with the heart.

The relationship will support feedback from the horse and it will allow you, Glen, who is so observant to see what is going on, or feel it it you can't see it.

_________________
Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:18 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 5:52 am
Posts: 1852
Location: Taiwan, via NZ
Glen, just a thought.. have you tried out whether she does this trot in a different saddle?

_________________
Image

I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,

But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:48 am 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 2:40 pm
Posts: 4733
Location: Belgium
Many good advice here, still I wish I could see the trot for myself. That would probably help a lot.
But my main question is, does she do it only under saddle?

The rain season could have made her body more painful (I know it does mine).

But what I do in such situations, as Sue already suggested, and which all old masters advice, is go a step back again. Maybe for a month, just to see if the problems then goes away and you can start building again.
:kiss:

_________________
www.equusuniversalis.com


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:15 pm
Posts: 584
Location: Georgia (USA)
When I first read about the leaning on the rein, the nasty glare , the wonky trot, and the refusing to go downhill that reminded me of Diego big time. :idea: I have to say...

Granted my issues have not been identical or as extreme as yours with Schatzi's - but the are similar enough that it makes me think pain/discomfort big time as a cause. I don't know WHY they'd be just showing up now, but if anything with Diego I've learned the more I fix, the more I find broken :ieks: This is where we are right now. Getting strong in one muscle group shows more problems in other area of his body ( :roll: sigh), and his fitness and over all health changing for the better has led to some pretty STRONG opinions on his part.

The leaning on the rein(s) was an old problem with him, even in our 6 days a week "traditional" training when he was fit. I got fed up last winter of feeling like I have 500lbs of lead in my hands and would "drop" him by releasing the reins. I felt like that really annoyed him though and made him mad. (right now I'm remedying the strength / balance issue by riding with no contact and letting him find his own balance)

His back has been a big subject of discussion for the past 3 months since the chiro started coming out. Once winter hit and the cold affected his joints he got to the point where he REFUSED to walk downhill with me and in even hand it was difficult (I assume you know about doing zig zag lines down a hill for them?). It became more of an issue between us because at the time I didn't know how badly his back problem was affecting his pelvis and ability to tilt it to even walk downhill properly... it hurt for him though and it caused a big rift. Lots of fussing went on about going downhill and he would "claim" the reins just like you described Schatzi doing. In fact he does that anytime he thinks I'm going to hold him back or have him do something he REALLY doesn't want to do (for whatever reason, bad mood, pain, anxiety, better ideas etc.)


So anyways, just my two cents: I'd vote for some sort of discomfort in general throwing her world out of whack. Although I have no idea why now or what it is specifically. :huh:

_________________
Diego's Journal
There's no more looking back - no more grey skies black.


Top
   
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:40 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:05 pm
Posts: 2888
Location: Natal, South Africa
Oooh, lots of lovely responses here. Thanks everyone. :f: :love:

Donald,
I assume she has suffered trauma because she raced (7 starts) and then played Polo and then went as a broodmare which is where she was so severely neglected and starved. What damage I know about is that, at the time she was rescued, she was starving, she had an untreated virus in her left eye, and wide strips of her front hoof walls were missing from untreated abscesses that blew in both front feet.
She was shod and had epoxy hoof walls when she arrived here, and tripped and fell to her knees quite often. We kept her shod but changed her to bar shoes which extended her heels until the epoxy grew out which stopped her falling down. We went barefoot just over a year ago. She hardly ever falls now. I ride her with Cavallho Sport Boots on her front feet, as recommended by my farrier because she was obviously tender on hard ground.

;) She is now straight at the walk most of the time.

When she trots forward on a loose rein with me riding passenger-style, I see and feel that she is bent as if on a circle to her left and we are riding a shallow beginner’s shoulder-in down the right side of the arena.
From the straightening work we’ve done I can touch her behind the girth with my left calf (move her hips) and get her straight, and/or I can raise my outside (right) hand and vibrate the rein (move her shoulder) and she will straighten and I can lower my hand again. This is when she starts to lean hard on my right hand.
She has always landed her right hind well before her left front at the trot – this is probably the arthritis because she tracks “properly” on the other diagonal. If I suddenly drop or slowly release the rein she starts the corkscrew. It feels as if her right hind is collapsing under her and she is going to fall so she catches her weight hard with her left front and then throws it too far and clumsily to the other side.
So we get a hip twist as her right hind lands and it feels as if we are falling and my hips get tossed sideways to the right, then her left front lands and catches that with a jolt which throws my hips forward and then she bounces higher than normal and also turns my hips to the left to manage the step to land on the other diagonal. Does that make any sense? She repeats this pair of “bad steps” 2 or 3 times before dropping to a walk and glaring at me.
She does angle herself for vision from time to time, but ( :funny: with my encouragement) she now often swings her whole body instead of just her head and shoulder, so we do baby half-passes and shoulder-in/out with a straight body when she wants to look around.

Susie
She’s 14 or 15 years old and has birthed at least one foal, so “teenage” doesn’t really fit. She isn’t giving off any kind of “defiant” feeling with this. She has occasionally walloped me when I’ve been on her blind side, and she always looks and acts contrite and embarrassed. She only really gets bossy when she seasons.
She has done this only recently and when hacking alone, in company, in my “arena”, bareback, with a pad on, with each of my 3 saddles on, with different bridles on, in a halter …
She did it once or twice before Freckles went to his "winter camp" and has done it with more emphasis and frequency since.

Sue
If I had to choose between her “being difficult” and her “having a problem” I would also go for it being some sort of problem. I agree that it has developed over the last month or two.
I had not considered a back issue at all. I haven’t noticed a change in her stance at rest or her gait in the paddock, and I monitor those as a way to decide if today is for riding her or not. Hmmm. Very possible. :yes:
Going back a step is no problem and a good idea. The only “new stuff” during the last few months has been me allowing her to extend when she wants to, so that's going to stop for a while again.
:roll: It’s very hard to know if I should just keep on keeping on, or back off a bit, or even change direction. I usually base those decisions on knowing the cause of the unwanted behaviour. *sigh* I have had a few local riders look at us and offer their opinions, but mostly it's been "push her, she's just disobedient" and "bit her, add a chambon and she'll be fine" so I'm not fond of those answers.
I have been very hesitant to push this girl at all because she seems to have that typical TB “fast is most fun” attitude and that could really hurt her before she’s strong enough to carry me properly. I have spent most of my time on her allowing her to “gear up” as she wants but insisting that she stays in a speed range where she is balanced and collected. Thankfully she was “sitting” already when we got her so that has never been a problem. I have no doubt she can get farther under herself, though, and hopefully that will “just happen” as she gets stronger.
Yep, I’ve tried her in all 3 of my saddles, and without a saddle too. Same weird trot thing happens. I also tried different bridles and halters.

Josepha
I wish you could see it also. I haven’t wanted to deliberately make it happen so I can video it in case it hurts her. I’m fairly sure it is painful to her. If this goes on much longer with me staying as confused about it as I am now I will have to make a video of it.
Yes, she only does this under saddle. I can’t do lunging with her – I can’t get successful communication when she can’t see me *sigh* and the same problem comes up with groundwork. She insists on being able to see me at all times.
Yeah. It seems that going back a step and blocking her desire to extend is the way to go.

_________________
Glen Grobler



Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


Top
   
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 25 posts ]  Go to page 1 2 Next

All times are UTC+01:00


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Limited Color scheme created with Colorize It.