Well now... - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 28 Old 11-11-2009, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,227
• Horses: 0
Well now...

Alright so the last three rides with Zu I have switched him from the french link I was using to his rubber-d snaffle because he was getting heavy in the french link, which he is known to do in metal bits. And he went wonderfully in the rubber-d the first ride in it last week. I mean, the best ride we've had to date. Now the last three rides with him in it he has discovered that he can completely ignore me. He knows he can be a bully in this bit, and he's fighting me about everything.

Today my goal was simple. I wasn't asking for much, and planned on a short ride. Ended up doing a LOT of transition work, trotting cavaletti's, doing circles, serpintines, working him on the buckle, and working on his woah. Even after all of this, he only gave me a minute or two of proper work where he was actually carrying himself. I was a little worried when I first got on him, because his stride felt shorter than normal (at the trot) and he just generally felt like he was moving funny. I asked the BO to watch me trot him, and she saind he looked fine. After doing the cavaletti work he was moving better, and he would occasionally pay attention and engage his back and get off the forehand, and when he did that he moved fine, like normal, so I ruled out pain.

However, while I know when a horse decides it's a "giraffe day" the movement goes downhill, but I can't help feling that maybe he's sore. Maybe his back? My trainer thinks he's just got my number, which seems to be the case.

Any suggestions are welcomed, and I didn't really explain this well but I'm short on time at the moment. My plan is to school him in his rubber gag bit for a week or two, get him to pay attention to me, and than switch him back. It may very well be that he needs a reminder ride in the gag every once in a while. I do plan on getting another rein to put on it so that I can totally drop the gag rein on the good days, and only use it when necessary. But in the meantime, he cannot be allowed to be such a bully and be so disrespectful undersaddle. He's too big and too strong for me to let him get away with it.

I write so much! As a side note, he's loving the new barn and his ground manners and attitude in general are still great. It's only undersaddle that we're having problems. It's so weird. He went from absolutely fantastic one ride, to stubborn and acting like he forgot it all the next ride.

Thanks in advance for any replies!

I give myself very good advice, But I very seldom follow it
Gillian is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 28 Old 11-11-2009, 09:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 8,157
• Horses: 0
Giraffe day! I've had so many of those lately! I'm in a similar spot as you right now. I know my horse currently has my number. Even after 30 minutes of warmup, lateral work and circles, I'm lucky if I can get him to use himself for 2 minutes. Lately I've been working much harder than him. Tomorrow I'm heading up to the Equine Affair in Springfield, MA to watch every clinic I can get to. I'm hoping to find what I'm missing.

I do the same thing as you. I wonder if I'm just doing something wrong, or is he lame, hurt, sore, etc. The best way to know if he's just putting you on is to take him out for a hack and see if suddenly that big, forward floaty trot magically shows up. With my trainer's horse, the giraffe quickly shows up if the riders inside shoulder is stiff and therefore unforgiving on the inside rein. As soon as that's supple, he goes back to work.
MyBoyPuck is offline  
post #3 of 28 Old 11-11-2009, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,227
• Horses: 0
^ We sound like we're in the same spot. Another thought was that it was me causing the problem, but I'm still having lessons with the same trainer once a week, and she corrects me immediately when I start hanging on him or stiffening up. I do think he has my number. I'm going to lunge him tomorrow with and without tack to see if he's moving normally, and than ride. I'll start out in the field and than if he's doing the same thing he did today I'm going to take him out to a grassy lane nearby and really get him moving. If he moves fine out there I'll know he's just trying to get out of work. I'm also getting some itty bitty (probably rubber) spurs to add some finesse to my leg aids. On top of ignoring my 'slow down' aids, he's been bad about moving off my leg. His owner always rode him in spurs and while he can be ridden without them (obviously) I think having a little extra to my cues will get him moving. I'm not very big compared to him, and if he chooses to, he can ignore me.

Like you said, I'm working much harder than he is these days.

I give myself very good advice, But I very seldom follow it
Gillian is offline  
post #4 of 28 Old 11-11-2009, 10:43 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 8,157
• Horses: 0
We're living parallel lives. I've also been thinking about adding itty bitty spurs. I've never ridden with them and don't really want to go there if I don't have to. I know Puck's putting me on because has acts like he's dying if I so much as ask to have him do shoulderfore at the walk. He stiffens up and barely moves. It's hideous to watch. Twenty minutes later, when we ride home through the woods, his walk is free, swinging and fully extended. It's too bad we can't just hang a carrot on the end of a string and dangle it in front of their faces to make them go forward. I'm going to keep trying to just re-enforce my leg with my crop, but then I'm stubborn and convinced I can still do it whether it's true or not. I was happy to find out my own trainer who events at the upper levels was recently busted by her trainer for letting her horse off the hook too. Guess we all do it at all levels. Hopefully some of the clinics tomorrow will involve horses who are long since dead to their rider's legs and I'll have a lightbulb moment.
MyBoyPuck is offline  
post #5 of 28 Old 11-11-2009, 10:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
Posts: 8,220
• Horses: 0
Here's my thought -

You've been using the Gag for quite some time with Zeus, and while yet, he "respects" the bit because it puts alot of pressure on the top of his mouth and on his Poll - he goes into this "false" frame for you, without ulatizing all the correct muscles - which means, he's developed the incorrect muscles on his body, instead of the correct muscles.

So, now that you've changed the bit, and for that, I am oober proud of you, but now - now, you are realizing that you can't use your hands to get him to focus and pay attention, aaannnndd, you realize that he hasn't developed the proper balance nor muscles, to properly carry himself accordingly.


Nelson will do the "Girraffe" on me, if and only if, I am to handsy. Nelson is a "Give and Take" kinda horse, and if I don't give - neither will he.

So when he throws his head up in the air, and drops his back - I have to stop and re-establish myself.

Breathe, relax, 3 points, soften my shoulders and hands and allow him to open up and move under himself.

If I soften, he'll soften. If I tense, he'll tense. If I don't give, neither will he.

MIEventer is offline  
post #6 of 28 Old 11-12-2009, 06:34 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,227
• Horses: 0
I have not been using my hands to try and get him into a "frame". He's been running through the bit when I ask for a woah, or slow down, even when I'm asking with my body, seat and legs. I wouldn't be using the gag to pull his face around, or create any kind of frame. That's not my goal. Like I said, I've been working with correct contact, and working him on more rein asking him to reach for the contact himself. Sure, there were tense moments in my ride, but I'd check myself and soften up. Didn't matter what I was doing with my body or my hands, his head was up in the air, and he fought everything I asked. Which is why I was a little concerned that he might be sore. It seems more likely that he has my number and is ignoring me because he can.

I understand your concern. But please don't make assumptions about the way I've been riding him. I really have become more aware of how much hands I'm using, and my goal has only been to work him up into the contact with the rest of me, my hands only used to cap it all and give small half-halts when needed. My problem is not so much where his head is, but his completley ignoring my woah, and not moving out like he normally does.

I'm planning to add a second rein, and only use the gag rein when he needs a reminder. I'm going to borrow a rein from my BO. I won't be riding straight on the gag. When he started ignoring me the last few rides I tried everything I know (which granted, isn't a whole lot, but it is the basics) and he continued to ignore me.

I love your advice, because it is good, and would love to hear what you would recommend we work on, that I haven't been doing already, because we do transition work, trotting cavaletti's, doing circles, serpintines, working him on the buckle, and working on his woah in pretty much every ride as warm up.


I give myself very good advice, But I very seldom follow it
Gillian is offline  
post #7 of 28 Old 11-12-2009, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 33
• Horses: 0
I don't know you and I don't know your horse, but I'm a very tiny person and I know a little bit about not getting dragged around by a strong horse :)
It is hard because I don't know you or your horse, but I would advise you forget transitions for now, if your horse is dragging you through them you will only make him stronger by doing lots. Every transition is going to give one of you points and up your confidence... make sure that it's you gaining ground.
I would make sure to ride him in a way that he can NEVER pull on both reins. Ignore what he's doing as much as you can for a bit and focus on your core strength and inside leg/outside rein connection. Your inside rein does not need to have the same connection and feel as your outside-it should be lighter. Always think shoulder fore when riding dressage, even if it's so slight that no one can see it but you can feel it. Keep steady contact with him pulling into your outside rein, but do not allow him to pull on the inside rein. If he tries to pull on the inside rein, push him closer to shoulder in (Even through corners and on circles). Remember that the feeling you want in shoulder in OR shoulder fore is that if you were to drop your outside rein, the horse would travel straight ahead accross the arena. Make sure he doesn't get away with just bending his neck and popping his shoulder.
If I felt in total control using about half of the arena I would slowly start making straighter lines to see if I could keep him stepping under himself and not pulling (dragging) into the inside rein or popping his shoulder. Then start working in half halts and eventually actual transitions. The down transitons are likely to be more successful if you go on a circle and shrink it down as small as you can before asking. That way, you'll know he's collected and sitting right between your inside leg and outside hand.
If he starts dragging on the outside rein, I would sit up tall, flex my abs and ignore him. If you are in control and can collect/extend your gait you might still have a horse who is pulling into the reins. You won't win a tug of war, so don't engage in one. Don't pull OR give, just wait. It's a hard thing to explain, because there is a fine line between getting bullied and waiting for the horse to give. If you want to have a really good ride, get the feeling before you go, try going on YouTube and watching videos of Canter Pirouettes. I hope something in this post will help you.

Last edited by MissDiva; 11-12-2009 at 09:19 AM.
MissDiva is offline  
post #8 of 28 Old 11-12-2009, 10:12 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
Posts: 8,220
• Horses: 0
I've used the Gag before Gillian, I used it for quite some time before I attended the Dorothy Crowell Clinic - so I understand exactly how the bit works. Even with the softest contact, the bit still does the job it was created to do - pressure.

I was making no assumptions, because I've experienced the bit first hand as well, and I still use it when Nelson and I go on large group hackings.

I know you've been working very hard through your seat and legs, but the bit still encourages the use and building up of incorrect muscles. While it is giving you that extra level of control, like woah, it is still encouraging the development of incorrect muscles when being used long term.

My thought is, the reason why he is ignoring your seat and legs now, is because before, he wasn't properly carrying himself like he should of been while in the Gag. He wasn't developing the correct muscles.

You've come light years in advancement through your riding and your edcuation - via Seat into Legs into Hands to Soften, and I am super proud of you. All I was trying to say, is that the Gag was doing it's job during its' use. I wasn't saying that you were using your hands to force this false headset - I was saying, that he bit was doing it's job during the time you used it during your Dressage lessons.

So now that you don't have the Gag in his mouth anymore, and have moved onto a French Link - you're now realizing that there are holes resurfacing in his education and training.

This is why I dislike the Gag. The bit is great for short term use, quick fixes (like big hacks or fox hunts) but I dislike the bit for long term training use, because it mutes underlying issues - In my opinoin.

Has your Coach gotten on him since you've changed the bit? Maybe she can get on him and get a feel for what is going on to better aid you in this situation.
If so, has she been able to shed some light on what is going on?

Have you tried ground driving him? When I was breaking and training Mules, I used to spend quite some time ground driving before I got on their backs.

When I got my OTTB off the track *this was back in B.C Canada* I got on her and it was quite an experience that I didn't want to repeat. She reared, she wouldn't listen to my woah, she was stiff, braced and quite a handfull.

So my Coach told me to go back to basics and Ground Drive her. It was a great learning tool for me as well.

What it did for me, was that we were able to work together on the ground, we started to work together and we were able to re-establish the basic cues. Walk, woah, trot, woah. Turning, bending - and at first, she was braced and stiff and evntually she softened up and became more supple.

So then when I finally did get back, onto her back - we were able to transferr what we establsihed from ground driving, into the saddle and it was a much nicer, softer, easier ride than the last.

Now I know that Zeus is far more advanced than what Gilly was at the time I ground drove, but it may beable to help you out with softening him up, getting him to respect the french link and aid you in establishing your woah again.

Just a thought.

If you have done everything already, such as transitions, using your seat and legs, and all the important dressage maneuvers to get him to soften for you and it hasn't worked - I just thought that maybe a different approach may help?

I would love to see some vid footage if you could - and I would shoot Spyder a PM and see what she has to say. I turn to her for advice, and she is exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced and may beable to shed some light on this situation.

I think I asked this already, but what has your Coach said about this predicament?

MIEventer is offline  
post #9 of 28 Old 11-12-2009, 11:39 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
Posts: 8,220
• Horses: 0
Oh Gillian, I got to thinking on my way to work - that I had the same "Girraffe" issues with Nelson when we first started riding together.

I'm at work now, and I've been thinking about you and Zeus since last night - lol - anyways - Nelson's previous owner was able to get Nelson soft, and supple and round and engaged and into the bridle beautifully, but when I got on him - he would instantly drop his back, throw his head up, lock his jaw and stiffened up.

So I started to take lessons under the current barn manager *at that time* and she had me doing things that just weren't working.

She had me holding the inside rein until he would give and the moment he gave I was supposed to release.

Worked fine when we were just walking around without any impulsion or tracking up or forward movement, but the moment we broke into the trot - he would react the same way - head up high, dropped back, stiff.

So I was getting frustrated. Why couldn't I get the same results as his previous owner was getting?

So I tried to stick with it, but it just wasn't working at all. So during that time, that BM left and a new one came in from Conneticuit. Came from a big Hunter/Jumper barn and all this experience and blah blah yadda yadda.

She would watch Nelson and I riding, this was before I started taking lessons with her - and she wouldn't say anything to me, but I knew she was wanting to give advice or tips. So I approached her and she said to take 1 lesson with her and she'd fix it.

So I did, and wow. I was able to get the same results, that his previous owner was able to get.

What she had me do - was work only at the walk. She said "if you cannot do it at the walk, you have no business doing it at the trot. If you cannot do it at the trot, you definately have no business doing it at the canter"

So we worked on a 20 meter circle around her, and she had me ride forward first at the buckle. She explained that you cannot get anything from your horse until you get a nice forward walk where they can open up and move under themselves.

She waited for him to relax and soften. Then when he did, she had me collect the reins and start to ask with the inside leg into outside rein *which you are already doing*

Keeping a steady while soft contact with my outside rein, and while still driving forward through my seat and my legs, sponge softly with my fingers until he gave. The moment he gave, I had to give back.

Relaxation had to be the important key factor. If he was stif or tense, it wasn't going to work.

My previous coach had the right idea, but she left out other puzzle pieces to ensure that the whole picture was there.

Eventually, I was able to engage Nelson forward, quiet and relaxed, while using my outside rein as direct contact, and driving with my inside leg, with no inside rein use at all - to have him soften up, and move into my contact.

Now, that's what worked with Nelson - and of course,I understand that Zeus isn't respecting you at all, so it seems - and it could be because of my previous posts theory.

But try the ground driving, and incorportating walk work with you in the saddle.

Don't move to the trot, until you've established woah, softness, relaxation, forward first.

I still say shoot Spyder a PM and see what she can give you. It's hard because I'm not there in person to see Zues, to feel Zeus and to see what exactly is going on.

MIEventer is offline  
post #10 of 28 Old 11-12-2009, 11:41 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: In the saddle.
Posts: 5,157
• Horses: 1
I agree with what MI has said about the gag having developed the incorrect muscles. It's also allowed you to slack off it sounds like. Our horses don't just go round and move uphill because we say "oh pretty please will you do this" because it is a lot of work for them. We must ride properly and get a bit sweaty too if we want our horses to move well.

My horse also has respect issues with the bit and doesn't always stay soft. In order for me to correct this I have to ride his hind legs quick and never allow him to convince me to give away the contact. Through transitions I really have to work to keep a flexion and contact and drive him forward so the first stride is correct. In transitions, the most important thing is the first stride of the new gate.

As my coach says - once a horse knows how to do a half pass, a flying change, a medium trot, etc.. they remember it. You don't have to keep teaching them. Teaching the tricks is never the issue, it is keeping the horse supple and engaged because these are the things that a horse can learn but will forget to do - they are what makes dressage difficult. Any horse can simply do a half pass, but only a talented and well schooled horse can do one correctly bent, engaged and supple.

I recommend lessons and more lessons. It would also be a very good idea to get a knowledgeable rider on your horse once or twice a week to keep up the training of the horse.

Good luck!
~*~anebel~*~ is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome