Winter Exercise

Harvey and I have been working on a small dance routine. Or were before it got so cold. It is a simple collection of movements put together and repeated in the same order, over and over. Not drilled to the point of boredom and misery. The repetition is so that he will know what is coming next. If he can predict what will be next he should be prepared for it and ready as we finish one move to go on to the next.

Almost the exact opposite of anything we ever want in the show ring.

This isn’t the show ring. I would like him to anticipate a little. Be ready to shift his weight back to his hindquarters and perform the next piece.It hasn’t happened yet, but that is the goal.

Everything about Harvey’s conformation makes this difficult for him.He has a ‘swan’ neck that arches sharply just behind the poll. This allows him to tuck his head and have a prettily arched neck while still being completely hollow through the back. He has a long weak back. His hind legs are atrocious. Almost perfectly straight with weak pasterns that are a symptom of the hypermobility that effects his entire body. Because of these things learning to collect and use his body properly is even more important for him than for most horses with better conformation.

In order to make sure this exercise is building good muscle, instead of allowing him to go around dragging himself with his forequarters there are somethings I need to make sure of.

Front legs should always cross over in front when doing any lateral movements! Forward motion is the key to any good movement. If the feet cross behind you do not have it. This counts for the ‘twirl’, moving forequarters, and side passing.

When we do Spanish walk the hind legs need to keep moving! Sometimes they will want to move the front legs forward while the hind legs stay put becoming stretched out behind. We can fix this by clicking as the hind legs come forward and keeping moving before and after we ask for Spanish walk.

For a horse that is ride-able, unlike Harvey, doing some simple exercises like this can help keep them in shape for when the weather is more suitable to riding again. He, we, have a lot more work to do on our little routine before we have it down. It takes a while for the muscles to build up and be fully able to do these things well. Patience is always important.

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