Getting her to gait consistently (TWH) - Page 2

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Getting her to gait consistently (TWH)

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    05-31-2014, 05:19 PM
Hill work is very good at building muscles esp in the rear. Like Corporal had said don't let her run up the hill but walk and encourage her to push from her rear this includes going downhill also. In the beginning just let her walk up the hill at liberty then little by little ask for some collection and extension at intervals while going not only up hills but down hills also. Its going to take twice the work to retrain her because not only do you have to break a habit but then you have to instill a new one. Some "habits" are alot harder to break esp when the age factor falls in. If she was allowed to trot for many years then its pretty well ingrained in her head that this is correct or acceptable. Reprogramming her brain will take some time. (and no trotting is not a fault for most gaited horses not hard wired for other gaits will do this its just what the rider allows the horse to perform if other gaits are evident.) Consistancey (cues/movements done properly) is the number one and I mean number 1 key to correcting her "habits". THis can be a me I know. I was working with this QH mare that had been "cowboyed" (not in a positive term) and had learn some realy bad habits (it wasnt her fault but the owner/rider's fault) and retraining her proved to be a huge challenege for me. She had a bit of a defiant streak in her and some time the battle of the wills was not pretty. I almost gave up on her and went to "lick my wounds". But something about her was screaming to me to give her another chance. I did like this mare, and she was a pretty decent horse to be around on the ground. So I decided to stick with her and go back to basics. I found that the more consistant and eliberate (even to the point of over expressing them) I was with the cues I was giving her for what ever I was asking the less the battle of the wills grew. I was on her each and EVERY time she balked, fussed, and boo hooed about what I wanted her to do. I didnt let up untill I got what I wanted. If she responded in the least little way I rewarded her and let her "rest" and after a while she realized that the jig was up and the battles where to exhausting to keep up and she didnt get to win in the end. So the war was over but the restarting/reclaiming had a long way to go. Reclaiming a ill trained horse (either directly or indirectly) can be the hardest part of the deal. I kept consistancy as my number one officer in this reclaiming and what a nice mare this horse turned out to be. It took me two years to turn her out to be a decent well rounded horse. We went from "no chance at showing what so ever" to winning lower level Hunter classes and in the ribbons WP classes. THe worst thing about this deal is that I had to return her back to her owner.

With my late mare (the rescue I mentioned above) it took about 2 years to get her to where I was happy but that included her weight gain/ suppling, flexing and over all retraining. She wasnt defiant in any manner and learned rather quickly for the most part....she was in her mid to late 20s. I did have the advantage to working iwth her on hills and it helped tremendously. (this mare had hip down syndrome and thus a weakness in her hips and doing hill work and flexing work helped with this matter. Cantering in circles was a no go though due to this malady but on the straight ways I let her go and it was a decent canter.)
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    07-17-2014, 11:32 PM
A video will really help. Also, help her build muscle memory at the slower speeds before asking for faster. If she is moving toward the trot (are you sure it isn't the pace?), then GENTLY raise your hands and ask her to lift her head up. If she smooths out at all, praise her and release the reins.

    07-19-2014, 11:21 PM
She is trying to trot, not pace. Her younger full brother has trotted at liberty at his owner/breeder's home a few times.

I'll have her back home August 1st, so will really get to working on hill-work and stuff to build muscle. She is racking easier now, and performing a running walk, but still tries to trot.
    07-21-2014, 07:39 PM
Consistency of gait, and speed within the gait, is simply repetition at one, and only one, until it is mastered.

Pick one, any one you want, and work it until they do it correctly all of the time.. Then pick another and do the same, only, with each session practice the one(s) previously mastered during the same session. Repeat, repeat, until it's complete. There are no short cuts.

Most gaited horse look for some bit contact in order to hold consistency. Not heavy but very light. You can not get this with a hackamore. I'd suggest training the horse to accept one of the comfort bits, that has plenty of room for the tongue. Horses and biting problems are frequently related to the pinching of the tongue between the bit and the floor of the horse's mouth.
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    07-22-2014, 11:24 PM
I've tried her in several, several different bits (snaffles, curb,s twiste d mouthpieces, smooth mouthpieces, dogbone bits, french links, etc...). She hates them all and pitches a fit. I can ride her in a halter and her little s hackamore without a problem, though.

She has gotten a lot better about keeping with the gait (a rack, in this case). The more she's ridden, the better she is.
    07-23-2014, 10:03 AM
All of the bits you mentioned are NOT comfort bits. Have you tried one like this one.

Toklat - Horse Tack - Saddle Pads - Horse Riding Apparel - Bits - HBT Shank

If your horse has a shallow mouth floor, all of the bits you mentioned will pinch her tongue.
    07-23-2014, 11:16 AM
Walkers often are poorly trained in the "basics." One of those basics is acceptance of the bit.

Bob is right that bit type (snaffle or curb) is half the equation; the mouthpiece is the other half.

During the era that this mare was likely trained was a heyday of some really bad practices. Walkers were very popular and were being "cranked out" with minimal training (usually just enough to get them under saddle). Heavy curb bits with aggressive mouthpieces were used as a substitute for training. These horses were then sold to people with poor equitation skills (often new riders with very rough hands). The results were predictable; and now we can observe them.

You're going to have to train/retrain the horse in this basic. That means going back to the snaffle, riding in a balanced fashion, and teaching the horse to carry itself (which it likely does not; that basic was also not generally taught). The horse is likely to object because this means that they are going to have to work harder. Older horses are more difficult as they are more set in their ways, might have some arthritis, etc. Once the horse accepts the bit then you can move to a more sophisticated bit if you want to train for more sophisticated performance. It's not really necessary; it's what you want to do.

Best of luck in what you choose.

    07-23-2014, 02:50 PM
I know the man who bred, raised and trained this mare. He has never put a bit in any of his horses mouths. He trains all his horses in a mechanical hackamore. When I first got this mare, I tried to ride her in the hack that she was used to and she nearly went up and over with me, hence the reason I tried all sorts of bits, and since she wouldn't accept those, the reason for the softer hack that she likes.
    07-23-2014, 03:55 PM
Originally Posted by Britt    
I know the man who bred, raised and trained this mare. He has never put a bit in any of his horses mouths. He trains all his horses in a mechanical hackamore. When I first got this mare, I tried to ride her in the hack that she was used to and she nearly went up and over with me, hence the reason I tried all sorts of bits, and since she wouldn't accept those, the reason for the softer hack that she likes.
One of the enduring "fantasies" of equine training is that "mechanical hackamores" are less "severe" and more "humane" than a bit. They are not, on either count.

If this mare was never trained in bit then my advice still stands. Another training myth is that we humans must only use things the horse "likes" or "will tolerate." In truth we humans decide what will, or will not, be used. It's up to us to be smarter than the horse and figure out a way around the horse's resistance. Again, with an older horse this will be more difficult.

One thing you might want to do is have your vet check the horse's mouth conformation and dentition. One valid reason for using bitless devices is mouth pathology or conformation. It's possible that some abnormality exists that will make bit usage problematical. If you've already done that you can check it off the list. If not, I'd get it done.

If you want to go away from the mechanical hack but feel that your skill or experience level is insufficient to take on the task then you'll have to "hire it done." You can engage a trainer and have them do it or find an instructor that will work with you and teach you how to teach the horse. That last route is slower and more work but you will add to your "skill tool box" and might well benefit in the future from what you learn now.

This task will require the investment of some time and money. Only you can decide if the payback will justify the investment.

Good luck in making your decision.

ivyschex and Britt like this.
    07-23-2014, 06:17 PM
We've found the comfort bit to be a better starting bit than the snaffle. Much easier on the mouth.

Also, a vet may or may not know much about teeth. A good equine dentist is a very good idea.

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