The problem: The horse's hind legs spread wider as he slides, creating a “vee” until he picks up one foot to regain balance.
Why does this problem happen? The reasons a horse's hind legs spread when he slides are:
3. The horse stops too hard.
|Example of "Vee" Slide|
How to correct this problem: The first thing I consider if a horse slides a "vee" is his conformation. If his hind legs/feet point to the outside (toe out) then that is surely where his legs will go in a slide. They will start to spread as soon as he sits down for the slide and the longer the slide, the more they will spread until he has to come out of the slide to bring them back together. This kind of horse can be helped by a good farrier turning the sliding plate a little to the inside on the foot (straight with the world). Corrective shoeing may be all it takes to correct the problem!
The other thing to consider if a horse "vees" in the slide is the inside muscle of the hind legs. Good inside muscling holds the horse straight in the slide; conversely, poor muscling in that area can allow the legs to spread.
If the horse's conformation is all right and the sliders are properly positioned and he still slides a "vee", I work on getting the horse to 'soften' his stop. He may be going to the ground so hard that his hind legs spread.
Exercise: I don't stop at speed until I correct the problem at slower speeds. I may not go back to a trot/stop (depending on how deviated the mistake is), but I need to at least go back to stopping at a collected lope and then work up to big stops with speed.
As a rider, I must also be very aware of the signals I give to my horse when I want him to stop. Am I possibly sitting down too hard?
Is the ground good? If it is too slippery or too deep, it could make the problem worse.
There is a mental aspect to this problem, too, so if the horse is not relaxed about his work, I work on that. I must be relaxed as well if I want him to soften his approach to the ground, and very consistent with my rider aids. If he is a good stopping horse (wants to stop, built to stop and tries hard), he already likes his work. I just want him to mellow a bit. This horse (as opposed to the one who doesn't want to stop) has the confidence to stop. I don't want to take that away but I want to encourage him to "enjoy the slide". I want to show him that he does not have to complete the stop in ten feet.
Note: A horse will not ever be able to slide 30 feet if he "vees" and even if he picks up a foot and goes back into the slide, the maneuver will be downgraded.