Icelandic Horse Connection

The "Unwind" Exercise

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The following was written by Nancy Allen. We call this exercise "The Unwind". It's a VERY valuable exercise.

We are asking our horse for lateral flexion, to bend his spine, move his hindquarters, bring the front end across, keep his attention on you, straighten and stand still. Another benefit is that the horse sees you with one eye and then the other during the flow of the turn (helpful for horses who may have a tendency to want to keep you on one side). He also needs to give to pressure and be comfortable with a rope along his sides and hindquarters.

One little exercise with ALOT of stuff going on!

Remember, this exercise is done at the end of the lead rope, so you're standing a ways away from your horse. Your horse will be working on the feel that you present to him.

You'll stand on one side of your horse and bring the lead rope along the length of your horse on the opposite side. So if you were on the right hand side, you'd reach over your horse's neck and bring the rope along the length of the left side of the horse and around the hindquarters.

Standing out away from the horse across from the right hip you'll present a feel to ask the horse to bend and turn away from you. You'll look for your horse to bend to the left, "shift his weight forward to untrack the hindquarters, and then shift his weight back to follow through with his front legs." In the end he will have made a complete turn and stand facing you and you will lead him away then. Think about how you will handle your rope to get each part accomplished.

After your horse completes the turn, settles and stands, lead him away with float in the rope. Work this on both sides too!

Some horses could get stuck at first as they can't figure out what you're asking. Some might get a little nervous or scared, be ready for this and help them the best way that you can while keeping yourself in a safe place.

"You'd want to remember," Bill says, "that a mixed-up horse is just missing something in his foundation. You won't worry about this at all, because it's real easy to miss some things. I'd say most everyone does miss out, here and there, as they're learning, because there are so many variables coming in all the time to REMEMBER AND OBSERVE. And that's anytime you're with a horse."

You will definitely need a longer lead for this (like 12' or longer) Try to manage your rope well by gently coiling it up as the horse turns so when the horse stops and faces you, you will stll have float in the rope but the rest of it will be nicely coiled in your hand so that no one will get tangled. Then turn and lead your horse away. Remember as you coil the rope that you are not hindering the horse in any way. He needs to follow your feel but we don't want to pull him or run out of rope to hinder the maneuver.

Some people have used this maneuver before. Others might have trouble picturing it. Ask questions if I haven't been clear enough!

In the future, this is also a great pre-ride check to do with your horse. If he's having trouble with this on the ground, you might have trouble when you ride (I'm speaking mostly about disengaging those hindquarters. If he has difficulty doing this it would mean that he is still "straight" and in the best position to flee. He hasn't relaxed yet. He hasn't "turned loose". This is a very important aspect to be aware of and work to correct through feel) and it would be best to fix it on the ground first.

Icelandic Horse doing the Unwind Exercise

Icelandic Horse doing the Unwind Exercise

Icelandic Horse doing the Unwind Exercise

Icelandic Horse doing the Unwind Exercise

Icelandic Horse doing the Unwind Exercise

More Unwind Exercise Photos

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