Just started to watch the back-riding video again to refresh my theory...Probably would make sense to get one of those German martingales for my mare – what are they called in the Uk, do you know?
My mare is quite stiff/tense on one side... as far as I’ve worked it out, it probably comes from using her on the same side when driving in the carriage and ploughing, and she just developed more muscles on one side than the other. Can you recommend any exercises I could do with her to help her develop her muscles more symmetrically?
Every horse is laterally asymmetric, so slightly bended to the left or right from head to tail. Withe that a concave side with shorter muscles and a convex with longer muscles. This lateral bend can be a slight one or a bigger one and the difference can also become bigger due to work and training.
The good news is that training can also make the horse more symmetrical. In hand work, lunging and riding can help to stretch and strenghen the muscles on both sides.
In lunging make sure when using side reins, the inside rein is slightly shorter so the horse looks slightly in and curls in a concave shape around you, stretching the musles on the outside. The horse will then step under his body with the inside hindleg, which in his turn will teach the horse to bend the hindlegs and carry weight/ push for speed more equally with both hindlegs. Asymmetry in the hindlegs is another factor in going skew in stead of straight.
With in hand work you can use the standstill exercises: forward down, stelling and bending to left and right. Walk in circles, shoulder fore, shoulder in, haunches in ect.
And in riding you can also train in circles, shoulder fore, shoulder in, haunches in ect.
Train a bit more to the stiffer side to make the horse more symmetric. So when your horse is reluctant to bend to the left, I would suggest to do all exercises left-right-left.
Have fun training, les us know how you're getting on and we are happy to help you along!
Thank's Carola for chiming in. I totally agree, do lots of work on the ground (lunging and in hand) both will help you diagnose and remedy what is going on.
Make sure you try and observe where she seems to resist more. What Carola said about the convex/concave side is really important. Try and figure out which direction is easier and which one is more difficult.
It sometimes also helps to put the lunge line through the bit on the inside and hook it to the girth to help her bend more.
Also consider some sort of body work that include stretches and maybe TTouch that all might help your girl to relax stiff muscles. Also keep in mind that a chiropractic treatment can help to realign them and get them off to an easier start.
When you know that all is good to go start lunging like described in the HBM2 video ( I also loaded a video on properly using a vienna rein onto www.stressfreedressage.com in the home study course that might help you get her to reach more long and low).
Also remember the valenca patterns shoulder in to renver and shoulder out to traver in the circle. That will help supple your girl and stretch her laterally. I'm about to upload the free ebook also onto stressfreedressage.com which covers the patterns in detail.
Hope this helps!
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