Chang­ing the frame

Your Horse (UK) - - Your Horse's Training -

Fi­nally, Stephen dis­cusses how rid­ers should be able to fully in­flu­ence where their horse’s head and neck is. “When I’m judg­ing, I see lots of horses go­ing in what I’d call half-way house mode,” he says. “They’re al­most up to the bri­dle but not quite. They’re half an inch be­hind the ver­ti­cal rather than gen­uinely tak­ing the con­tact for­wards into a nat­u­ral po­si­tion. In that frame, a horse won’t be able to ben­e­fit from the use of a real half-halt.” If your horse is be­hind the ver­ti­cal and a lit­tle low at the poll when you make a half-halt, that con­nec­tion doesn’t take the weight mo­men­tar­ily to the hindlegs — all it re­ally does is shorten the neck even more. “When I’m train­ing, I try to make it clear that you ei­ther have the horse stretched — through and loose in a low, long frame — or you have him prop­erly up to the bri­dle, with his poll at the high­est point of his neck and his nose line slightly in front of the ver­ti­cal. The horse is work­ing into a gen­uine con­tact point. Un­til that’s made clear, or if it’s never made clear, there will al­ways be a limit on how well you can train the horse.”

Stretch­ing mat­ters

Stephen ad­vises vary­ing the frame you ask your horse to work in while school­ing. You shouldn’t keep him in the same frame for any length of time. It’s all about elas­tic­ity and sup­pling and not about

keep­ing the mus­cles un­der pres­sure for too long. When you feel you have your horse in front of your leg and in bal­ance, see if you can in­flu­ence where he puts his head and neck. “You’re go­ing to sug­gest that he puts his neck lower and then, as he does, al­low the rein to go a bit longer, but don’t lose con­tact,” says Stephen. “I want him to feel that he’s al­lowed to step for­wards and take that con­tact point for­wards and down. It’s about es­tab­lish­ing that con­nec­tion from your leg to your hand and then, as a re­ward, al­low­ing that con­tact point to be taken for­ward.” Stephen ex­plains that you’ll find this eas­i­est to ride on a cir­cle to start. Be­ware that, at first, your horse may not un­der­stand what you’re ask­ing. Try not to over­re­act and over-ride, just wait, keep rid­ing for­wards and sug­gest with your hand that you want him to fol­low the con­tact point down and out. Stephen stresses that through­out this work you need to check that you’re work­ing from your leg to your hand, be­fore you try to in­flu­ence him with the rein con­tact to en­cour­age him to stretch lower and al­low­ing him to take the con­tact point for­wards.

With thanks to Rus­sell Guire and the team at Cen­taur Biome­chan­ics for their help with this fea­ture. Find out more at cen­tau­r­biome­chan­

“An up­ward tran­si­tion cre­ates and pro­duces en­ergy and for­ward­ness. A down­ward tran­si­tion is about shift­ing weight onto the hindlegs”

If your horse tucks his nose be­hind the ver­ti­cal, ride for­wards from your legs and al­low your hands for­ward, en­cour­ag­ing him to take the con­tact out and down

Hav­ing a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of what all t he a ids m ean w ill h elp your train­ing progress

DE­CEM­BER 2018 Rid­ing one handed helps es­tab­lish a sta­ble and con­sis­tent con­tact WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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