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Discuss exercises to loosen up stiff hunter? at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

I've been working a Hunter horse named Daisy recently, and I need some exercises to ...
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    Senior Member tobylover's Avatar
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    exercises to loosen up stiff hunter?

    I've been working a Hunter horse named Daisy recently, and I need some exercises to loosen her up. She is very stiff, and I've mostly been doing lots of circles and some long and low. I'll probably start doing gymnastic lines with her, where I'll have her weave through cones, and trot over poles and such. What else can we do?

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    How old is she? Does she need hocks/stifles injected? Is there any pain? I'd get that checked out first, and then do a lot of lateral work, circles, trot poles, stretching... any videos?
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    Senior Member tobylover's Avatar
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    I believe she is 14 years old, although she doesn't have papers so I don't know for sure. The owner recently had a vet out to examine all her horses, and he said she looked healthy but definitely out of shape. He said exercise would be the best thing for her at this point. She never seems to be in pain, she never pins her ears back or anything.

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    exactly how is she stiff? not bending? throwing her head? Not going forward? crooked? Do you mean QH hunter or H/J hunter?

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    Senior Member tobylover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayMare1 View Post
    exactly how is she stiff? not bending? throwing her head? Not going forward? crooked? Do you mean QH hunter or H/J hunter?
    She likes to be lazy and not use her hindquarters, she is bending much better now then she was. She has no problems with throwing her, going forward, or being crooked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tobylover View Post
    She likes to be lazy and not use her hindquarters, she is bending much better now then she was. She has no problems with throwing her, going forward, or being crooked.
    so does she have any history of hock issues or stifle issues? I just have a red flag go up as all lazy horses that don't engage that I know personally have si/hock/back issues.

    But yes, some horses are lazier then others. Typically its lack of the horse respecting the leg aids.....For this I suggest a trainer who can help you see if you are contributing to the laziness by how you apply the aids. Its an issue that seems simple (ie-"make the horse go") but its definitely definitely time to bring in a trainer to avoid falling back into old habits IMHO.

    All pain and riding aside, some horses just don't like to go and should find a job that they enjoy that doesn't ask them to--be it lesson horse for beginners, trail riding, etc. They JUST WILL NEVER COME AROUND. I know a few of these. Though a good vet exam, saddle fitter, trainer, and farrier program is the first step to seeing what is the real root cause of this. This issue is a really really hard one.

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    Assuming this isn't a health issue there are some simple exercises you can do. I start out doing them at the walk and recommend you try them at the walk during your warm up and then move up to doing them at the trot. Serpentines, broken lines, leg yield, shoulder fore, shoulder in, spiraling in and out from a 20 meter circle to a 10 meter circle.

    serpentines have nice gradual changes in the bend.

    you can ride a bending line. that's where you bend around a corner, head to the center of the ring, change the bend and head back to the track. then bend around the corner again.

    spiraling in from a 20 meter circle down to a 10 meter circle, gradually making the circle smaller while keeping the bend. then slowly spiraling back out to the full 20 meter circle. you have to be a bit careful during this exercise to not stress your horse out. this can be kind of demanding for a stiff horse. i recommend taking a break between all the different activites and just riding forward, long and low to allow your horse to stretch and relax.

    I am not an expert and I'm sure some of the other memebers here can give you advice and a better explination. Good luck.
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    Senior Member+ FoxyRoxy1507's Avatar
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    def work on spiraling in and out of circles at a trot and canter. lots of turns on the haunches, shoulder in and backing to really get her loose and engaging her hindend. You can also work on leg yields and half passes at a walk first and then at a trot once she gets stronger. these exercises all promote stretching and engaging
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    101 Dressage exercises! It's the bible for 'long and low' which is what you're trying to accomplish here. Full of lots of exercises to limber up a stiff horse.
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    I like the one in the book that describes a 10m half circle "ice cream cone" to a 15m circle, then another 10m half circle and back to another circle. Its good for horses that can comfortably make a turn onto a center line, so not for really green horses. The changes of direction with some bending and also straight lines are awesome.
    So one way to do the exercize is start going left from P and do a 10m half circle to left at M returning to the track at P (as a straight diagonal). then you do a 15m circle right at P, then go down the longside from V to H and another 10m half circle (going to right) at H returning to the track at V (short diagonal). Then doing a 15m circle to the left at V. I may not have the exact directions but tailor to the sizes the horse can handle. Hope it make sense! I do it as my warmup in trot and sometimes throw in transitions at the various points.

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