Monday, 1 February 2010

Reinback Revelations


Didn’t have chance for a hack out today but did get time for a ride in the arena. I started again with the work in hand, then got on and did the concentrated work on the circles again. And AGAIN we got that beautiful right trot with a really nicely activated inside hind and her seeking the contact forward. We again had a lovely slow balanced trot with such BOINGY steps and a lifted back. IT FEELS ACE!
Tried the left rein again and it was better but still lacking that real elastic and ‘lifted’ feel of the right rein. I was again trying to think of ways to activate that left hind – so I tried some reinback! Well this was an eye opener as she was finding it very difficult to remain straight in reinback on this rein with her 1/4s keep drifting to the inside of the school. So does this mean her right leg is pushing more than her left and swinging the HQ’s in? I really had to keep the outside rein to keep her neck straighter and flick her inside hind with the schooling whip to bring her back straight. Very interesting……
But as I started to get the reinback straighter I could feel her become straighter in the walk forwards also. So then I asked for reinback to trot! To really try and get her pushing that inside hind – I let her go straight for a few steps then put her on a small circle making sure she had her neck straighter and was bent more through her body. We did get a few much better steps in the end and I praised her lots and left it at that.

Now after Ive finished riding I always do these little poll flexions as it does seem to prevent a build up of tension in this area and release anything that has built up during the session. Just lately she has been so soft doing this, always a little stickier on the right but barely anything recently. Now imagine my surprise after this session that she wasn’t very mobile at ALL!! Not on either rein! After a few minutes of rocking her head side to side we began to get that ‘flip’ on the left side but really struggled on the right. So in the end I did what I did originally to get this area mobile and that is to bend her to the right on a small circle, put my hand on her poll and make sure she flexed from this point and then ask her to move around me on a small circle while moving her shoulders AWAY from me. This she found hard for a few steps and either wanted to turn her head out to move her shoulders over or keep flexed but step INTO me! But suddenly she got it, and down she went into a relaxed bend nicely chewing on the bit YAY! So then I tried the little flexions again and hey presto a nice flip to each side. I wonder why it had locked her up though?? Maybe cos she is stiffer through this side of the body?
Anyhow, I shall be interested to see how she feels next ride to the right and to the left.


Danni said...

Can't suggest anything as this is way beyond where I am. But if you can't unlock that inside hind with rider aids and targeted schooling, I'd recommend an equine massage therapist. Different strokes for different folks of course but the woman I use has been and is key to our progress.

Oh, perhaps in-hand pole work would be good to show you whether she can engage that hind or not? If it's a question of building up strength then poles are great.

Am curious about those flexions if you have time to describe them ;)

epona said...

thanks Danni :-) I think she will be able to flex the hind but ive just not been addressing it like I have with the right hind because up till now I havent realised shes not really engaging it hahaha!!! DOH!
Polework I think will be excellent as well as gridwork etc - cant wait till the light nights come back :-)

Well the flexions - its something ive experiemnted with in a bid to get Antsje to relax her poll / neck area. Its always been something shes found difficult / been protective over so its kind of built up from various massaging / flexing techniques ive tried! For this particular flexion what I do is stand in front of her head, making sure he neck and body are straight and she is standing square. The i place both hands on the top of her poll, one either side each ear, and kind of just try and turn her head slightly to the left and to the right using my hands to feel the flexion right at the top of the poll rather than her bending her neck. I suppose the human equivalent is where the head meets the neck and you have that little soft spot at the back of the head.
When you can isolate that small movement you can see the crest of the neck / mane flop from one side to the other. When you get a nice free movement it fair 'flips' over and often a stretch down with chewing follows. Does that make any sense?!?!? lol!!!

Danni said...

I love polework but it is a nightmare when daylight is limited!

Thanks for the flexion description, very interesting. I can imagine that's the sort of area Antsje could hold tension. I guess that's a good one for inviting true bend and flexion along the length of the neck :)