An exercise regimen

This teenaged bay Arabian gelding is in rehabilitation. Watch his progress as he goes through eye surgery, gains weight and returns to his original beauty!

Postby RockinCircleC on Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:40 pm

Juliane wrote:Liz - I appreciate your point of view, and am sure there are a million different ways to train a horse a 'fix' their respective issues. However, as I'm sure you can respect, I have too many horses and not enough time. I'm lucky if I can work with Buddy once a week - so if side reins or any other leverage device is a method that will work, I'm more than happy to give it a shot (so long as it's not abusive).

You may have noticed when I rode Buddy that night at the arena that he tends to toss his head in such a way that the reins go up over his head, causing me to lose control. Even at a walk.

I need to do whatever I can to get him at least 'safe' enough to adopt out as soon as possible, because the reality is that, again, I have too many horses and not enough time. I would be more than happy to let you have him and give your training methods a shot! In fact, you'd be doing me a huge favor!

Oh yes, I know exactly what you are up against. I have a known head-tosser here that has given me many a fat lip (not Buena)! And it does always come down to time, I agree! If I could, I would happily take him to put some time on him, but right now it's just not possible. I am LUCKY if I can get one day in a week on my horse(s) as it is. And that TOTALLY SUCKS. Just keep trying to do right by him and find the best placement you can for him. It WILL all work out, however it ends up happening. I just wanted to make sure that I was the lone dissenter in the gimmick department. <vbeg>
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Postby schwung on Tue Apr 10, 2007 10:18 pm

Just to back Liz up a bit...I am not a "gimmick" person myself either. But, properly adjusted, LOOSE side reins to me are not a gimmick, they are basic tack essentials. For dressage, it is not about head carriage - it is about developing the muscles over the back and topline to allow the horse to carry the rider with a lifted, not hollow back, with energy that comes from the thrust and carry motion of the hind legs, over the back and neck, and finally, eventually, into the rider's hands. So, the side reins are used not to develop head carriage (which is not collection by the way - true collection in the dressage sense of the term comes from the horse shifting more of his weight onto his hind legs and has nothing at all to do with head carriage), but to build the muscles needed to allow the horse to comfortably, and ON HIS OWN, stretch down and into the bridle.

Tie-downs, neck stretchers, chambons, draw reins, martingales - all fall into the family of gimmicks to me. But properly adjusted side reins can be a valuable training aid - for a dressage horse.

Of course, I totally realize that you are not trying to make Buddy into a dressage horse. You are trying to avoid getting smacked in the nose by his flying head. In which case, a running martingale might be worth a try - adjusted so that he will only hit it if his head goes very high.
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Postby RockinCircleC on Tue Apr 10, 2007 10:27 pm

Jaime, I will defer to your more broadened experience in this matter. It has just been my personal experience that anything that did not directly involved the rider's hands releasing for the horse's try is a shortcut and not necessarily a good one. I personally wouldn't use such equipment, but I won't crucify anyone that does. I would just strongly encourage other methods. ;) There is not right or wrong way as long as the horse agrees with what you are trying to help him learn. (Did that make sense?)
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Postby Juliane on Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:03 pm

I am also personally against most gimmicks. The surgical tube training fork is the only 'gimmick' that I find is an excellent training tool. Although, ask me again in 5-10 years and I may say differently. I have many pictures of me on my gelding, Whisky, from 10 years ago where he had a cable tie down keeping his head 'set', and scars to prove it on his nose. I look back and want to strangle myself, but at the time, I didn't know how to train him to keep his head down. I didn't understand that he would learn by the 'release of pressure'. I thought the tie down was an excellent training tool and couldn't ride without it. :oops:

With most horses, I wouldn't have a problem training 'gimmick free' - but with Buddy - he has some serious issues with his mouth, head and avoiding any pressure at all. I honestly feels that he needs to have this fixed on the ground before much (successful) riding can be done. Just tonight, as I was worming everyone, Buddy about pulled my arm from it's socket 3 times. That's just the way he is. I can get video of him just standing in the pasture, tossing his head. And it's not a typical head toss - it's a 360 degree revolution - he looks like an owl. Try riding that! :P

In this case - I need a quick fix. I need a shortcut. Or Buddy needs a trainer that can work with him daily and not use 'gimmicks'.
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Postby LorsaDoon on Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:21 am

Was Buddy as much of a head tosser before he had his eye removed? Could his artificiall eye be bothering him? If he is tossing his head around for no apparent reason, maybe there is another reason for that behavior.

The only horses that I have who do a neck twist and toss are my two stallions. They will do that walking in the field when coming to the barn and are feeling like showing off. I know you have wondered before if he might not have been gelded right. Is there anyway to have his hormone level checked?
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Postby ponygril68 on Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:53 am

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Postby seahorse on Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:41 am

I too do not use side reins to develop a "head set" I use them to build a top line and encourage balance before a horse carries a rider. I truly have slack in them - with most horses just the added weight on the bit is enough to encourage them to round down. I agree with all that everyone has said as far as "gimmicks" but after viewing Buddy's behavior the other day and having an arabian at home that "checks out" mentally, I think they are an appropriate tool.
If Paris is having one of "her days" I longe her in side reins, again with slack in them, until she begins to listen and use her back and hind end. Depending on her mood this may take a while or just a few minutes. I also have many days with her when I can just mount up and ride. I have a sneaking suspicion that Buddy is the same way- hormones and all. I have the luxury of regumate to help Paris be able to concentrate.
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Postby cat_67 on Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:24 am

Well, I grew up in polo, where standing martingles are required equipment, so I don't see a problem with them at all. However, with a horse with is hot and the type to panic and have a fit, I am a big fan of things that restrain, but give, for training purposes. And if you do use a standing martingale, you have to be sure it's not too tight. Even for polo, we adjust them so that you can touch the point between the horse's cheekbones and neck with them.

Just in the same way that a horse who does not tie will often tie with a bungee cord, a horse who throws his head can benefit from the surgical tubing fork because it has give. It has give just like a good rider's hands, but the rider's hands can't be between the front legs where the pressure needs to be coming from. And it does keep your reins from being flipped up over the head which is important!

I can't remember what you are riding Buddy in. Have you tried the bitless bridle on him to see if he doesn't flip his head in that? I mean, obviously I'd try it in the round pen first for safety's sake, but it could be a good way to isolate if this is mouth pain related or just a bad habit caused by past abuse and riders with crappy hands.
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Postby Hope on Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:40 pm

When I first got my arabian gelding (Hootie) he did this head tossing thing too.. about scared me to death. He was rode very rough, and by a person with hard hands. I witnessed it with my own eyes. He has since learned that I am NOT going to be rough with my hands, and has learned to accept the bit, and trust me. I am sure it will be along time for Buddy, as he's clearly been put thru the ringer. Poor boy.
Someone asked if you had tried a bitless bridle? Might be what he needs. Bosal or hackamore might be worth trying. Is the picture on the front page, of you sitting on Buddy with a hackamore?
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Postby Altanera on Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:30 pm

I agree side reins down near the girth. Also I do not agree with gimmicks, but if it is for the safety of the rider than I am for it. Maybe even draw reins that will catch him if he goes to high. Just trying to think of something different than a martingale(tiedown) since he had a bad experince with them. Draw reins while riding can be used so they just go into effect when nessary. In the 15 year I have ridden. I have ridden in draw reins a totally of maybe 10 times max and it was never to create headset. I plan on riding Nala in draw reins for a month or so when I get her going again cause they will help me if she rears and allow me to flex her laterally and spin her before she goes up. I am to scared to use a standing on her yet as I bet she would flip over with one on.

Here are some pics:

These have a side rein that goes at the girth and then above.

This is a standing martingale:

It the peice over the neck that run to girth and noseband.
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