The Art of Natural Dressage

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 Post subject: Question: turning left
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:18 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Estonia, Tallinn
Hey - I have a slight issue I can't just seem to understand how to solve...

Ronja refuses to turn left while ridden (we only walk, no trot for now). She bends and turns very well to both sides when not ridden and bends also very well to left while ridden...bends, but does not turn. I mean..she does, but she is very reluctant to do so and I don't want to push her - i mean...why should I, I just want to know why and how to solve it. Today I gave her a whole body check for sores and stiffnesses and aches and such, but I found nothing and she seemed okay. It has happened twice now. I don't use a saddle, so it can't be the saddle, either. So what might it be? My own body, somehow...not even? Or maybe it's just her balance that is not perfect yet and she feels more confident while turning right? Any ideas? :roll:

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:58 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
I have/had the same issue with Morgan turning right.
Can she step under correctly (ie cross her inside back leg under her belly infront of the outside back leg) with ease on the ground?
Morgan can do this but is much more supple going to the left than the right. He tends to not bend correctly through his whole body and seems to have his rib cage or nose pushing out in the opposite direction. Just like you and I are right or left handed, horses are too!!!
When I ask under saddle he has to think about how to move with me in that direction and is not able to do it with the ease he does when he turns left. It is nowhere near as fluid.
So he tends to resist turning right unless I insist and then he is braced. :blush:

So you might find your answer on the ground?

With Morgan I went back to asking him to bend softly first whist standing from just a lift of the rein. Even this made him brace, so I used my hand stretched out for him to turn and target and then put the rein aid back into an open rein. I added a brush with my leg by his girth (and he prefers to bend around my leg rather than have my hand ask). So I ask with body/leg and then follow with lifting rein.

This worked for us and I am sure you can figure out what might work for you. I do think the key lies though in the left/right and more conditioning and doing/practicing on the tough side definitely helps :D

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Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:30 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Estonia, Tallinn
She steps under quite well and everything seems to be quite equal on the ground. I have checked several times and she has nothing against turning left on ground-work. Sharp turns, smooth turns - she does everything, with ease. And also in trot and gallop... But ridden? No.
There is another thing (come to think about it)...she doesn't want me to mount from the left side either...but she is totally fine with me mounting from the right... it hasn't always been like that...
I'm just thinking that when there is a mental issue or physical issue (rather than simple "right-hand favourism") it might be a better idea to solve it differently....

Maybe it would be a good idea to film everything? Could have a ...more clear vision on when and how she reacts and what am I doing...cause I am still wondering that it might be me doing something differently.

Balancing excercises are never bad though, :yes:

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:21 am 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 11:57 am
Posts: 1983
Location: provincie Utrecht
hmmm filming is always good.
What you can do also for yourself (as you already asked yourself)
Take a big ball, a physio ball or horseplayball or (we called it) a skippybal will work too.
Sit on it and go left, right, forwards and backwards and feel what your body does.
Find a balance, when you feel comfortable, and balanced because it can be a bit difficult.

The more you put your feet together the more you have to work to find your balance. When you practise a lot it will become quite easy.

Take your hands and put them under you, under your seatbones.
Then try the same go left right and so on. Then you will feel which bone push the most on your hand.
Even when you sit straight, you feel as straight, it can be that one seatbone is more downwards then the other.

When you sit straight and move only your head you will feel a difference in your balance.
This is what the horse feel too, when you are riding. Each movement of our body is given through, and we not always notist that because we are used to it. For us it is normal but not for the horse.

Each time you change someting the horse have to rebalance himself. That takes time to figure our what he have to do.
After a while he knows when the human does this...i have to do so...and the balance is very quick restored.
But when you do it at the side where the horse is less stronger it will take more time.
You can help him to take time to find the right balance, so he feels o.k to do it. And dont think "o dear i will fall down"


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:24 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
It might also be helpful to put someone else (shock horror...lol) in the saddle and have them ask for left turn or have them sit very quiet and you ask from the ground to turn left.
That way you should be able to see if it is a saddle issue (maybe uncomfortable on the one side/shoulder/back/restriction....etc) or if it is a balance with rider thing?
I would tack the horse up (tight girth like you are about to get on) and see if she still has an issue moving left.....on the ground......????
When you mount do you use a block (or put full weight in the stirrup?)? That too should give you a clue?

Inge has given you some great advice for improving your balance off the horse, so you can work on that anyway. :D

Just remember when you turn a horse the movement starts from the back end, so they need to figure out where those feet need to be in order to be able to turn without shuffling around at the back end. So if you have a horse that always loads on one back leg regardless they are not going to be able to turn on the opposite direction.....I had a mare that had damaged patella in both back legs but more so on one side. She could not load the one leg at all at a canter on a circle and take the correct leg to stay balanced and not feel like she was falling over. I could not fix this and the only time she would choose to take the damaged leg to lead was in a straight line where the weight bearing on that leg was a lot less.

I think it's great you are trying to rule out stuff before insisting.....keep digging.....you will figure it out I am sure :applause:

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 11:57 am
Posts: 1983
Location: provincie Utrecht
psst..morgan... she wrote that she doesn't ride with a saddle ;) :friends:

Quote:
I don't use a saddle, so it can't be the saddle, either.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:50 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
You are right...she did.... :blush:

sorry....just trying to help ;)

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:19 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:19 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Estonia, Tallinn
Thank you for your help - i feel such a great support! (:

I will do the excercises with my own body and try to watch her more carefully. Thank you, this is very useful! (Even if the problem is not hidden in there..it is STILL very useful:D)

And by the way..tho I don't use saddle while I ride (yet), I do use treeless Freeform saddle, just sometimes, for a walk or free running..(without a rider) so she is used to a saddle and she doesn't mind saddle and she doesn't react at all to tightening the girth and her movement is very fluid an flowing under saddle.

It might be all together: me having a body that is not balanced and she, being young, finding it hard to keep balance on turning left while I am on her.

Anyways.... :f: for all the advice..if I figure it out and solve it (may take time....) I will post the outcomes here. (:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:01 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3690
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
I think the tipoff to what might be happening is your comment that she is young.

If you are right handed brush your teeth with your left hand. Notice how clumsy you are and how poorly your muscles respond to your requests.

As I think you know already horses are right or left dominant just as we are.

Most horses are tight and have foreshortened muscles and tendons on the left, long and loose and poorly toned muscles on the right.

Young horses do not deliberately exercise to balance both sides. Neither body or brain would know how to or that one needed to do this. We are the ones that make them turn and work in directions they are not accustomed to.

Thus it is up to us to do the right exercises.

You are right to assume you may not be straight. Inge mentions how to check this.

It pays to have someone who knows what good riding is to watch you from both directly in front and directly from the rear both walking on the ground yourself, and sitting on the horse still, walking, trotting, and cantering.

You both, you and your horse, may need straightening exercises. That means mirroring yourself, doing with your non-dominant side what you would do with your dominant side.

I suspect, given your horse dislikes you mounting from the left, that it is a dominance side issue. She can't handle your weight as you draw her over to the left.

Check your horse for lateral development.

Have someone square her up for you and look at her sides from directly in front and directly behind noticing which side is more convex, which less so. Most horses will show a barrel that is more pronounced on the right and more flat on the left - the horse's left.

I do hope you'll keep us posted as to what you find and what you have chosen to do.

just to be clear: I am not a supporter of bareback riding. Many horses can tolerate it, a few hardly effected by it, but time and again I've found horses usually do not have the thickness of fat and muscle on the back where we sit to deal with the very sharp seat bones (our Ischia) poking them in the back.

The back too is right or left developed, and I suspect if you sat square one side might support the point of the ischia, while the other less developed side might not and thus have pain. In fact most horses would have less muscle and fat on the left from the spine, and more to the right.

These things seem little when we look at the behaviors ... bit I have seen remarkable changes in horse behavior when they were exercised to build lateral balanced development.

Horse that kicked when cantered to the left, for instance, did so for years, suddenly stop when given a conditioning program to build side to side balance. Horses that appear lame but no injury can be found but corrected when given the same exercises.

Good luck,

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