The week has continued with fantastic weather so I’ve gotten out to Z every day this week to continue our Connected Groundwork (Peggy Cummings) sessions. One of the Connected exercises I had written about before is Chin Rest. You take the V of your thumb and first finger and put it under the horses’ chin. You let the horse rest his weight into the hand.
This releases the poll, relaxes tension in the upper neck and opens the throatlatch. In her book, Peggy recommends this for horses that go behind the vertical (aka behind the bit). It is one of five exercises that articulate and release within the head and neck areas: Cheek Press; Cheek Delienetation; Chin Rest; Caterpillar (intersperse with a combing on the line – does induce motion); and Shoulder Delieneation
Z doesn’t move, is not ridden in this manner and has never had a bitting rig (let alone a bit at this point) on her, but she does have a lot of issues with letting me do this. She jerked her head away the first time, but I persisted.
I think she definitely has some sort of pain or tension here as she likes to twist her head sideways in some sort of stretch-release movement.
I also think this is a mental letting go on the part of the horse and a trust issue. The horse must believe that when she releases the weight into your hands that you will hold it and not drop her. Horse “hugs” are often the horse, on it’s own, resting her chin/nose on a human’s shoulder.
Once she thought I would really hold it she really let go and I ended up with her entire head (and weight) in my arms. With her closed eye, doesn’t she look like she is about to fall asleep?
ETA – Z is the type of horse who is extreme in her reactions. If she relaxes – she totally relaxes! If she doesn’t want a touch, she kicks you to next Tuesday. You’re horse may, and mostly will, react differently.
Thanks to Kathy for this link to Peggy Cummings Chin Rest video on Youtube!
On another note, with the liberty work, it has become clear is that she is having issues with her right hind/left fore – she is striding a bit shorter on that side and her front hoof has contracted heels. She is having issues taking the left lead canter which would require support from the right hind. When you have leg issues, problems often present themselves in a diagonal matter – in this case right hind and left fore.
This is a monumental frustration with this horse. Back to the chiropractor is all I can think of as the offness isn’t enough to get a vet interested.