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RE: [RC] [RC] travelling wide - Laurie Durgin

I wondered about this thread. As Rascal has a 'barrel' girth conformation.(course he is square too, built like a cube).But he overtracks about 4-6" in his working trot,straight in front footfalls.But he had perferred to break into a canter last spring alot when we exteneded the trot for long. I wasn't sure why, except it must have been more comfortable for him or he liked cantering more. . . ? But he did almost all hill work. I have a picture of him when he was younger in an arena and noticed in it, he wasn't overtracking yet.I think he learned to use his rear more,and we ride up and down so much he got better muscled and had to learn to use his rear. Laurie

From: "k s swigart" <katswig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [RC]   travelling wide
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004 07:46:51 -0800

Angie said:

> Con: If I'm working him on a really great hill that happens to be the
> shoulder of the road with a good slope, it seems to me that the extra
> width makes the slope more extreme so one rear foot is hitting about
> lower. I can slow down and bring the rear end in some or canter where
> can sort of line everything up.

While I am willing to concede the possiblity that there are some horses
that conformationally travel "wide behind" because that is just the way
their legs are made, if a horse travels wide behind at the extended trot
but tracks up straight at other gaits, this is not a conformational
thing to do with the way their legs are made.  If a horse's hind legs
are set on in such a way and it has such a wide barrel that it can't get
the hind feet forward without spreading them out and its stifles make
the legs point outwards, etc. it will travel wide behind ALL the time.

So....if your horse tracks straight at the walk and the canter but is
wide behind at the trot, expecially if it is a big extended trot....then
the most likely cause of this is that the horse has hollowed out its
back and is heavy on the forehand.

As evidenced by what Angie added:

> Kaboot travels
> as wide as they come. ...
> I will admit Kaboot's a bit heavy on the forehand.


> Ben, who also travels wide is a bit hollow when he trots, avoids the
> (feather touch) and a tad parky.

But she also said:

> He's never had back trouble...
> He's been competing 10 years, 2,950 miles...7 100's hills & flat, lots
of top
> 10's, two jackets, one win, one BC so I don't think traveling wide has
> hurt him any. I'd love to see my next prospect travel wide.

So, while the dressage riders are probably right, your horse that is
travelling wide behind is doing so because it doesn't have the strength
in the back to round it up, but rather is hollowing the back and is
heavy on the forehand.  It is up to you to decide if you think this is a
flaw or an advantage for an endurance horse.  I certainly know plenty of
endurance horses that have gone for thousands of miles down the trail
with their backs hollowed out (whether they are wide behind or not) and
heavy on the forehand.

Just one thing to note though.  A horse that travels in this way is not
most likely to develop back problems (after all, the reason for it is
because the horse is hollowing out its back and not using the back very
much), but rather front end problems.  Because "heavy on the forehand"
means that the front legs will be subjected to more concussion.

Where you want your horse to carry the majority of its weight while it
is travelling down the trail depends upon the "strong points" of that
particular horse.

If you have a horse that has great hind end conformation and a short
loin, getting the back and the HQ to do the majority of the work is the
best choice.  However, if the horse has a weak back and/or poor HQ
conformation, but well conformed front legs, transferring the work to
the front end is a good idea, wanting the back and the hind legs to do
the work would be counter productive (to say the least).

The arab breed as a whole, is not noted for is good HQ conformation and
the "standard" that they are selecting for in today's show ring is
actually selecting AGAINST a good HQ and a good back.  However, that
doesn't mean that there aren't individuals with well built hind ends and
backs....and you are likely to find quite a few of them at endurance
rides.  Very few of the arabian horses I see at endurance rides have
what I would call a "typey" back and hind end :)

All that said, you won't catch me wanting my horses to travel wide
behind. But endurance isn't the only thing I do with my horses AND I
almost never ask my horses to do an extended trot.  If I want to go
faster than a working trot, I let my horses canter. :) (since there
isn't a horse on the planet with a back strong enough to perform and
extended trot for miles and miles without hollowing out the back and
travelling heavy on the forehand :).

Orange County, Calif.


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