Getting slightly frustrated/feel like all i do is fight with my horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 03-20-2011, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Getting slightly frustrated/feel like all i do is fight with my horse

Normally phoenix is a sloth, for the past year and a half (with a few exceptions) i've mostly had to work to get him moving when i ride. Normally i want more, more, more from him and sometimes he gives it and sometimes he just doesn't.

So let me explain my week to you. I rode last sunday and phoenix was having a lazy sloth day, he basically trudged around the arena and no amount of kicking or using my "driving seat" worked to get him to give me what i wanted. I figured that's just him, plus it was very muddy and squishy. Then i didn't work him for a few days due to work and the weather, during this time the BO's rotated some of the fields and phoenix and his group were moved from the big front pasture to the big side pasture that has been resting since mid-summer last year.

Anyway, i went to the barn friday and got him out to work him, i tacked up and lunged him. Different horse altogether, he was super fast and super excited on the lunge line and then under saddle he was like a little rocket. Fine at the walk, although much faster than normal and then at the trot he was very fast indeed. i put this down to the nice weather and him feeling frisky.

Saturday i set up my new standards and let him free jump. I started with just ground poles leading up to the standards and then no poles in the standards to let him have a look and get used to the idea of it again (he hasn't jumped since last september when our old standards were taken away by a boarder). Then once he was warmed up i put them up in increments, i think the highest they went was maybe a foot and a half. He was so excited, he loves to jump and was galloping round the field and then slowing to pop over the jump and then galloping off again. He was bucking and just really having a good time.

The i went out today, i decided to ride again and maybe just do a little trot work and lots of walking and stretching and such. Well, he was frisky on the lunge line again and then when i got on he was fine at the walk but at the trot he was once again all go, go GO! I decided that today i'd take advantage of this new frisky horse and since he was offering more energy i'd try and get him working more on the bit. I did some half halts and he felt like he rounded out, i can't tell what it feels like when the horse back lifts but his trot got very springy and slowed down some. Then after a few strides it felt like he was throwing on the brakes and he'd fling his head up in the air and trot off at his mad fast trot again. i tried slowing him with my outside rein, which he ignored so we'll have to work on that, and with my posting but he was charging around and i just felt like i spent a good 20-30 minutes fighting with him.

I wanted to end on a better note than us having a battle so i took him for a cool down walk down the driveway and between the two front pastures, we did some suppling exercises and this seemed to slow him down some and calm him down a bit.

i never have to deal with a forward horse, like i said i've been riding sloth-man for over a year and suddenly he'd all forward and fast. not what i'm used to at all. Is it normal for a horse who isn't used to working on the bit to only be able to work like that for a few strides until they build the correct muscles, should i stop being so hard on him? It's just frustrating, if i'm not wearing myself out asking for more i'm wearing myself out trying to calm him down. Where is my happy medium horse? i'm sure i asked for one of those.
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post #2 of 5 Old 03-20-2011, 06:59 PM
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Maybe when he wanted to trot of with his head up you could have let him go for a bit. It isn't necessary for a horse that is new to being asked to come to the bit and stay there to have to do it immedieately. I mean, say you have him on the bit, you feel that lift in the trot (nice feeling, huh!!) and then he loses it. That could be either you or him losing the connection. No matter, he throws up head and tries to run out from under the saddle and doesnt' want to work at carrying himself but would rather fall forward on the wings of gravity and momentum. You dont have to recover him immediately. You can bring him back little by little. That might help reduce the feeling of contrary positions ; him wanting one thing and you the other. The more you can "coax" him into the on the bit position the happier he'll be about it.

I wonder ifthe new grass has upped his energy?
let him go a bit and don't worry too much if it's a bit strung out at times. He might tire himself some and be happier to come back to you.
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post #3 of 5 Old 03-20-2011, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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I only worked at it for a little bit, i don't want to stress him out too much, wear out muscles he need to build, it seems slightly counterproductive to do that. So i'm okay letting him be on the bit for a few strides and then letting him lengthen and stretch out? this will help make him more comfortable, get him used to the feeling? And yes, that springy trot is such a great feeling, at least now i now what i'm looking for and i'll know when he gets it. I'm hopefully soon going to get some lessons on a school horse so i can establish with an instructor better riding on my end so hopefully that'll help him get better if i'm not pulling too much or letting go of the contact too much.

i think the grass probably does have something to do with his upped energy, he went from weedy muddy horrible grass to lush spring grass in a field that hasn't been touched since last year. I quite like this new go horse, it'll help when we come to work on his canter when the ground firms up a it.
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post #4 of 5 Old 03-22-2011, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by phoenix View Post
... Then after a few strides it felt like he was throwing on the brakes and he'd fling his head up in the air and trot off at his mad fast trot again. ....
So to fix those issues - head in air means he's not on the bit and not using his back, so most likely on the forehand also. First issue is to get him on the bit. To do this:
1. Keep your legs on. They speed up to try to talk you into shortening the reins and pulling. Then they slow down or put their heads down and fall forward onto their forehand like freight trains. So keep legs on so you can use them. Your legs drive his hind legs, your reins control his shoulders.
2. Using reins you need to re-establish contact so do a QUICK take/give on each rein - i.e. bend inside then soften inside rein and take then immediately give on outside rein. You want horse to lower head while you keep the same rein legth you had before he started his evasions.
3. If he speeds up do NOT pull back - use small circles to naturally slow him down (while keeping legs against his sides) or use your posting - if the rider posts slowly the horse will eventually follow your lead - you just need to be persistent.

If you go to the reins then he'll start the sloth response - so keep legs on and use exercises/posting to slow him down.

Dressage is for Trainers!
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post #5 of 5 Old 03-23-2011, 07:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, that makes a lot of sense actually and yes i think i was probably going to the reins and easing off my legs because he did speed up so much. i'll try slowing him using circles and posting and try not to let go of the contact. I'll also add the quick take/give on the reins.
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