First of all, let me say I adore your horse@! What a very nicely built horse and the way he walks out, so evenly and with committment. He's a keeper!
Thank you! I'm not sure how I ended up with such a great horse because I really didn't know what I was doing at the time when I purchased him, but something about him stayed in my mind and I had to have it. Still can't explain it lol. I keep hearing how nice of a horse he is, though, so thanks for being specific and telling he why
he's a nice horse! Haha
you are not being well situated by that saddle. I know you don't want to hear that, but you are way back agains the cantle, and it's putting you a good 4 to 5 inches TOO far back. It makes you sit in a chair seat and it puts you behind his center of gravity and getting a bit too far back on the weight bearing portion of his back.
It also puts you behind the motion and makes it harder for you to keep a soft, following hand. I don't think you are doing too badly in that dept, only that in order to do that, you ended up at times canted forward, and thus have a week core.
If you must stick with that saddle, get a Cashel product called a "saddle shrinker" it will bring the cantle an inch or so closer to the pommel and help get your seat bones more in the middle of the saddle.
I'm still trying to make sure it fits him, but it's looking promising. If it does fit, then it's staying. I LOVE the "saddle shrinker", though, and it'll probably be my next purchase if it does work. Can you translate "canted forward" for me? I think I know what you mean, but am not familiar with the term.
As for the bit and his softening and accepting it. It helps for a horse that is anxious about contact to give him times where he has none. So, he's on contact for a bit, then you allow him to stretch downward and walk on a loose rein. Pick up the rein slowly (gather it in rythm with his stepping such that you neither speed him up nor slow him down). Ask him to flex to it and carry his own head (not resting or resisting on the bit) and if he gives you a nice light flex, reward him with a stretch down on a loose rein.
Practice taking up the rein , asking for him to accept contact, flex to it and get light off the bit (not coming so much off that he comes BEHIND it, tho.), then reward with a loose rein. After a bit, you will reward with a looser rein, but you will maintian a soft contact as he stretchs downward, you still following, and then you ask him to step even bigger into that low rein. Long and Low. A great training excersize.
This sounds great and like it would really benefit us. A lot of my first lesson was just feeling each other (me, my instructor, and my horse) out and seeing where we're starting from. I'll ask my instructor about this to make sure I'm doing it correctly.
As for your hand, be really sure that you don't try to force him down by lowering your hands to "pull" him down. This is so very, very common and only results in a horse that resists even more. Keep your elbow , wrist, bit line very straight (including your wrists, whch I saw cocked a few times). If you want to suggest that the horse lower his head, you can softly tickle with the inside rein , and if he lowers his head, you follow him down. If he comes back up ,. You do to. IF he giraffes above the bit, you raise your hands, too. He won't like that, and he'll likely look for a way out of that. The way out is for him to lower his head, and when he does, you be super quick to reward him. But never try to get himto lower his head by artificially lowering YOUR hands and pulling downward.
This is a bad habit carried over from how I was raised to ride :S I'm still figuring out where my hands should be and what movement is good or bad, so I tend to either be too rigid or my hands are all over the place. Thanks for sorting that out some.
All in all, worry less about where his head is and if you want to build his ability to accept the bit, start out by making it for short periods of time with plenty of breaks.
To be honest, I wasn't so worried about his head as trying to keep my hands in the right position and steady. This was something we worked on in our lesson - we I was keeping my outside hand steady and it allowed me to anchor myself as well as provide consistency for Snickers. It made a huge difference almost immediately, and we were doing half-halts with the inside rein to which he was bending and giving pretty well and even quieted down on the bit. However, I failed to duplicate that here as you can see! Since I can't yet do whatever it was we were doing in the lesson on my own, I'll take this approach to hopefully make our rides a little more enjoyable until my next lesson.
I see a nice pair and a lot of potential!
Thanks - that really helps! I sure hope we can start working like a pair soon!