Is this a bad habit? - Page 2

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Is this a bad habit?

This is a discussion on Is this a bad habit? within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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    11-24-2013, 03:51 PM
Hm, well, I wouldn't say "cheating" but a crutch. . . Like you I don't like anything you have to keep doing over and over, doesn't seem right.

Nevertheless, it's wonderful that you have found a gentle way to communicate what you want! Now you can ask him to go on without the squeeze. As soon as he tenses up, or pops his head, stop, and apply the squeeze again, as if to say, "Remember this?" Practice a few strides, then proceed without the aid.

I'm doing something similar to this right now. By horse is a "head popper" too, even in so simple a thing as going from walk to trot. I can walk her in a very relaxed state, then ask for trot, and the moment she tenses, I release my aids, tell her to keep walking, "We're not ready." It takes awhile sometimes before she'll do transitions fairly relaxed, without tensing.

By the way, we do warm up some before focusing on the "stay relaxed" exercises. She wouldn't possible stay relaxed for the first trot of the day. It's a habit, and it's going to take some time to get over it.
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    11-24-2013, 04:09 PM
Talking is fine, you need to communicate, but a constant nag on the rein is as bad as a leg and spur that constantly kicks. You may end up with a horse with a dead mouth.

He just sounds like he needs a education on the use of a proper half halt, and yourself too, so you can progress.
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    11-24-2013, 04:31 PM
Green Broke
Thank you so much for your comments.

And Duffy, I agree...he and I both need a bit of education. We had several hurdles to cross first as he was a "green reclaim." He sat in a dry lot for the first 6 years of his life and then was taken to some guy who did a "30 day break" with him (and in Nebraska that's cowboy style), then he had ill fitting equipment on him and sent a few people to the hospital because of it. From there he went back to the dry lot until he was about 8 when I bought him. I was told he was "untrained" when I got him, but then said he was green broke but bucked. Then I started running across people who knew the lady I bought him from and the stories about Cin started coming out. By then I already loved him so we've been drowning him in patience, or at least trying to. I'm the most impatient person in the world LOL.

It has taken us over 2 years to get him to even accept us to picking up the reins let alone giving him any real pressure with them. I'm talking head tossing, grinding, bracing, had shaking, the works. It's been a long road but now that I am learning more of what makes him comfortable, we are both finally ready to really be educated.
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    11-24-2013, 06:06 PM
It always takes time :) it is never going to be an overnight thing, and it shouldn't be viewed as one. Taking time and having patience means you will have greater rewards at the end.

You may want to start thinking about weaning him off the squeeze, though. Only apply it if his head starts to come up... But leg goes on at the same time to push him forward in to it. If you've come this far already, you don't want a horse that has a dead mouth. I have had one, and it took a long time to get any sort of softness from him. Fab horse, but he would pull against you, not to get his head up, but so he could have the feel and he was happy. I changed the bit to a thinner one as he was aging and the room in his mouth decreased and found that it was a big change for us.. You just have to figure it out over time, learn together and see what works. But you need to get out of the crutch of being on his face all the time.
    11-24-2013, 06:10 PM
It sounds like you two have come a long way. It's great to hear that he's progressing.

A weird question though, do you feel like you guys are connecting more now? Is he the right horse for you? I know you were looking to sell him and it fell through.

He is such a pretty boy.
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    11-24-2013, 06:41 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by thetempest89    
It sounds like you two have come a long way. It's great to hear that he's progressing.

A weird question though, do you feel like you guys are connecting more now? Is he the right horse for you? I know you were looking to sell him and it fell through.

He is such a pretty boy.
I think we are connecting a lot more. I know that he most likely will never move beyond First level in Dressage, and may not move out of Training level. But we are becoming closer as I make time for us to bond and do the things he likes best like trail, trot on trail, canter on trail, graze on trail etc.

He was sold, but it didn't go through ( there is a thread about it). At this point I'm just going to go on as we are and work with him some more. Since I've sort of "given up" on him he has actually gotten better. I think he was reacting to expectations that were maybe too high for him. We will see what happens down the road.
    11-27-2013, 01:39 PM
Alternating actions on the reins is a very bad habit for a rider to learn because it easily creates false flexion (behind the atlas/axis) because of its actions on the bars of the horse. A crutch at best, with a severe downside for the horse.

There is a difference between changing flexion (usually in hand) to mobilize the jaw and therefore be able to extend the neck, and creating longitudinal flexion from the action of the hand. The former has intention is creating a horse which follows the hand and keeps stepping through and the later only produces an outline (which has negative actions on the entire body.

But the 'winners' today (with horses which are compressed in their outlines/blocked in their gaits) are promoting alternating actions (chiefly because it is easier and judges allow it to produce 'winners'). The winners however are rarely poll the highest point or horse in front of the vertical (as per the rules).

The fact that the horse 'pops back up' and grinds it teeth shows the tension that is created by the actions, and worse yet the fact that the horse "flips" his front legs higher and flashier shows the (negative) balance implications.

Work on curved lines (this helps put the horse into the outside rein contact/thus creating straightness) with a mobile jaw, and then the horse's bit acceptance will improve and can be made longer as needed.
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    11-27-2013, 06:30 PM
Green Broke
I don't really do it enought to change flexion. Trust me, he is a super sensitive horse and I barely move a finger and twich my calf and he bends in half to that side LOL. What I barely do with my finger doesn't even make him move his head.

But I see where you are going on the flexion, that is a very good point.

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