How to Bend a Brick Part II (with an actual post this time)

OK, WordPress…let’s try this again, shall we? Not sure what went wrong the first time.

I’m posting to ask for some advice re my five yo Walker mare, who needs to be taught that her torso is not an oak plank.

She knows how to yield on front and back, but when she gets nervous, she tends to want to hold her midsection really rigid.

Part of this may be due to her heavy-boned Walker construction, but Dove doesn’t really “think in curves” anyway. Once she gets an idea in her head, she can get kind of stuck.

She’s always been a bit gangly and awkward. At five, I think she’s mostly grown into herself–but she’s a big mare (probably close to 16 hands) and I have some work to do.

Chunky, hairy, and loveable.

Dove happens to have a semi-famous dad, Chief Chautauqua, who sired the fellow below.  Quite the comparison to my scruffy furball above.

Any ideas on how to bend a brick?

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “How to Bend a Brick Part II (with an actual post this time)

  1. Well this is really funny, because I’m dealing with the same problem. What I’m doing with Cassie at the moment for more or less the same reason is the Tellington Labyrinth. You lay out 6 12 ft poles (or planks, or even ropes, anything that comes to hand and is safe really) in an S-bend. You lead your horse in and stop on the straight bit. Pause for a few seconds and move your horse through the bend. Stop and pause on the straight again, then do the next bend. (If your mare is like Cassie, she’ll want to go straight on. Cassie is 16.1 and she is NOT into bending!). The idea is that the hind legs follow the front legs going through. There are all sorts of ways to use the labyrinth. I’m doing a post on it, just have to take pics tomorrow.

    • Pretty big D’oh! moment for me today after reading that Tellington had a labyrinth designed for “flexibility”–yep, guess I should’ve dug around a little more online (but hey, that’s what YOU guys are for!) I can’t wait to see the pics and your post on this.

      • horseideology

        I second the Labyrinth and do have a video if you want to see it:

        I used it when I was rehabbing Tristan after his Pelvic Fracture. He’s wearing the body wrap in this video. I also have one using the Star pattern:

  2. smazourek

    She is a beautiful mare- those solid walkers really do make nice horses 🙂

    I don’t have anything really helpful to say except that I’m working on my own stiff-as-a-brick horse. I’m starting at the mouth, getting him to chew the bit and loosen up a little, then I’m planning on doing a lot of circles at the walk with the neck bent in and out. We’ll see how it goes.

    I’ve been reading some people say how the ribcage really doesn’t flex, recently Phillipe Karl but also this guy: http://www.goodhorsemanship.com.au/December2011/files/category-biomechanics.php.

    • After looking at the photos on the link above, and doing some more thinking about this, I wonder if what I’m talking about may really be equal parts bracing and uncoordinated horse. When I’m trying to get her to move away from me in a circle (like if she’s rushing forward when I’m on the ground) it’s very difficult to get her to bend so her hind swings away from me (which is important because sometimes she’ll throw in some tantrumy behavior if we’re not doing exactly what she expected). She tends to get a little vapor-locked mentally–I’ve seen her exhibit the same sort of behavior even in a herd situation. Thanks for the link, smaz.

  3. horseideology

    Tristan aka Big Guy is also a Brick. Under saddle I found riding serpentines and doing a spiral in and spiral out very helpful in building flexibility in the ribcage. The “trick” is not to overbend, just look for the eye and if you see more of the nose, the horse may be bulging out with the outside shoulder (dropped shoulder on the inside) of the bend.

    JMO but a horse who has issues bending may be stuck in the front shoulder area. I would work the shoulder, neck and forelegs with some bodywork such as Carrot bends
    http://horseideology.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/activate-mobilization-exercises/
    and I also really like the Masterson Method; have started the shoulder work – and have already seen a difference with Z in her flexibility.

    She looks gorgeous, hairy and all! Does she gait? Hope this gives you some ideas!

  4. Yep, she’s gaited. The stretching exercises would probably be very good for her, too. I’ve never had chiro done on her, but she’s enjoyed pretty dang good health (the paint is the accident-prone one). Thanks for the spiral in-out idea, too.

  5. She’s beautiful and I love her name! I used to have this problem with Dusty. We did lots of circles at the walk, spirals too. We used many different rein aids and if I’m remembering correctly, the one that worked best was the direct or opening rein aid. I’m not very good at explaining these things but my daughter is a trainer (www.glenshee.blogspot.com) and without her expertise I’m afraid Dusty would still not be as soft and relaxed as she is now. If your interested in rein aids she’s done some informative posts on them. It took a long time with Dusty but it was worth it. Good luck with your lovely mare.

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