Touch an object with the back
Equestrian trainer and loading expert Cornelia Weidnauer knows many horses who don’t want to step on the slope with their hind legs. “It’s often in the back,” she explains. “They often lack whole-body sensation. They only consciously control their front legs because they don’t know exactly where their back legs are.” Therefore, targeted exercises can not only improve awareness of your horse’s body, but can also be a milestone in load training. Two examples:
buy full article
How to train the back of your horse
You will receive the full article (4 pages) as a PDF file
Have the horse touch something on the ground with its back hoof, such as a balance board or pad. Show the thing to the horse and ask if he can put his front hoof on it. You can raise a hoof and stand on the element. Instead, touch the hoof to the crop so that the horse lifts it up and points it toward the object with gentle pressure on the crop. Once your horse understands the exercise and responds when you point your finger or clip on the object in front of its hooves, you can train its hind hooves to do the same.
Instead of showing your horse how to touch the thing, you can let him get creative. The task might be “Go to the thing and find out what you’re supposed to do.” The trainer has experienced that horses come up with new ideas for movement on their own and enjoy them a lot.
More difficult: touch the fence post with the back. Use the ‘approach and take back’ principle in equine training. With the end of the lead rope, circle the back ends. Wait for the horse to move slightly toward the fence post. Reward this step by allowing the horse to move away from the post. Once you feel your horse’s tension, give it more room to retreat. However, if you find that she is still nervous, give her an easier task. Then ask him if he can touch the post with his shoulder. In the interaction between approach and retreat, you will be able to encourage your horse to connect with the post.
Over hill and valley for extra stability
On grass, sand, gravel, forest floor, ascents and slopes: Carolina Kardel recommends off-road riding on as many different surfaces as possible. Skip small obstacles like branches instead of going around them. The more stimuli you give a horse, the more efficiently he can move – and the more purposefully he can adjust his hind legs.
Effective coiling technology
When moving on the ground or under the saddle, the strapping of the body around the hind legs has great effects: the horse feels its hind limbs and begins to lock up more. A study conducted by British scientists showed that the ligaments of the body have a fixing effect because they significantly reduce the rotational movements of the spine.
However, this training should not be overestimated, especially in the beginning, as it is very tiring for the horse. Get used to it slowly. First walk the horse with a bar for a few turns and then move it slightly on the lunge line. Later you can also use the belt effect around the rear ends under the saddle. Important: Never work with a body strap for more than ten minutes at first! However, you can practice with it a few times a week, in moderation and build up gradually.
Creative pole training
Poles are a great helper for the most active hind limbs. Equine physical therapist Carolina Cardell recommends creatively changing crotch bars:
If the distances are greater, the horse should take longer steps and bring its hind legs below the center of gravity. If you follow a smaller distance then, the horse must adjust its muscle tension and movement accordingly. Among other things, this improves the horse’s cognition and coordination and thus ensures a better feel for the body.
Zigzag columns or other arrangements enhance certainty. Ladder with rails, where the first bar is on the floor, the second a little higher and the third a little higher, appeals to the hind legs well.
on shaky ground
Horses that have difficulty riding a trailer or that only venture down the slope of a trailer with their front legs may have trouble balancing. Practice on an unstable surface, such as a large, soft floor rug or an old mattress. These stimuli draw the horse’s sense of balance and self-awareness and help him be able to balance himself better in other situations as well. When your horse passes through it relaxing and allowing itself to stop on the carpet, ask it to let go of its hooves.
Supreme discipline: swing! First secure it with mats underneath so that it only wobbles to a minimum. The next step: gradually reduce the stability. Doesn’t your horse want to tread on his hind feet yet? Then move on to one of the other exercises.
New stimuli massage
Although it is easy to persuade horses to stand on an unfamiliar surface with their front legs, they often find it difficult to put their hind legs on them as well. To introduce your horse to its hind legs:
Using two brushes of the root brush, brush the stem from bottom to top and top to bottom. Alternatively, you can wipe the leg by hand. Carolina Cardell explains that these tactile stimuli draw attention to the hind legs and make your horse more aware of them.
Even if horses find it difficult to assess their own body limits, tactile stimuli, such as a massage brush, vibrating massager, or hedgehog ball, can help. Start with the parts of the body where the horse does not react to defense and work your way carefully to the “red zones”.
If that works, you can “sneak” into the spur: Is your horse afraid to walk under the curtain? Then you can gradually simulate the curtain’s unpleasant attraction to your horse with a cloth or curtain and rub the horse with it.
As a coach, Cornelia Weidenauer combines dressage and gymnastics work on the floor and under the saddle. www.Ware-Halte.de
Karolina Kardel is a PFERGO Equine Occupational Therapist and Physical Riding Instructor. www.360gradpferd.de