Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wanted: Long & Low

I've been reading an interesting book about the anatomy of a horse and how Rollkur and other hyperflexion techniques are antithetical to the desired loose swinging back of a well schooled dressage horse. I've never even been tempted to try such a technique on Brego, mainly because he suffers from going behind strongly and really encouraged front to back riding in his early days. The last thing he needs is more front to back.

I am happy to say he is getting much better from behind, and is learning to elevate and support his weight. However, a huge hole in his training is going Long & Low. According to this book, this exercise is critical to allow his back to loosen while strengthening his neck. If he is asked to elevate too quickly, i.e., before his neck is properly built up, he will use his back to carry my weight and will tighten and over strengthen his back muscles. One side effect of this is non-parallel canon bones as the movement through the back is shuttered by the tense muscles. A brawny horse like Brego needs it more than the average horse, because he will bulk up his back and lose some of that elasticity and "shwung" he currently exhibits. In other words, improper strengthening too soon will make him a worse mover. Not something I want to experience!

I have attempted Long & Low a couple of times in my completely uneducated way. I have been pretty unsuccessful, but I think it's so important, it is the one thing I want to work on at the clinic this weekend. We may not get it completely, but I want to understand how to work on it properly by the time I leave.

The clinic will be at Kinswood Farms and I hope it dries out enough to get some good work in. They also have a xc course, but I will ignore that siren song until I learn what I need to keep Brego loose and happy through his back.

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