Not to create more controversy, but

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Not to create more controversy, but

This is a discussion on Not to create more controversy, but within the Horse Riding Critique forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    02-26-2011, 09:26 PM
Not to create more controversy, but

To fulfill a promise of posting another video for comparison and explanation.

So my first thread got locked and I don't intend to make the moderators work overtime. No devious tricks up my sleeve this time. Legitimate critiques and points for improvement (or requests for clarification) are more than welcome, providing they can be backed up by evidence and experience.

Without further ado, the horribly-riding horse abuser's video from today:

Points to notice:

1. Soft hands with light, constant contact. Yes, I do have the bad habit of holding my hands too low and too close to my body when asking a horse to drop its head. This, however, for better or for worse, is how they were trained and what they respond to. But my hands are very forgiving and move with the horse's motion. When she fights, she is not reacting to pain but rather to an innate desire to go faster, due to her high-strung temperament and barrel training. Especially check how loose my reins are when asking her to stop or trot laterally (at the end of the first clip). This rein pressure, but the way, is the exact same "level of abuse" I was applying in the video from the other thread, only now riding with two hands instead of one.

2. I am stiff in the saddle, particularly at a lope. So is this mare. We play off of each other, with her own tension originating both from her natural movement and carriage and from my unfortunate and unintentional response from my own lower back pain. This is something I am trying to work on.

3. Therapeutic shoeing. I take her soundness extremely seriously, and have spent over $5000 just on veterinary bills for her left front leg over the past two years. She gets the best in farriery care, as well, all designed to maximize her comfort and minimize her chances of re-injuring herself.

4. Headset. No, it's certainly not going to win any awards in the subjective, controlled disciplines like dressage, western pleasure, or hunter under saddle. Yes, it's high, and yes, the horse has somewhat of a ewe neck. But despite the head raising and tossing, she holds it at a comfortable level for her and remains relatively soft in my hands. Function over form, in this case.

5. Equipment and its adjustment. The bit is a relatively mild Argentine snaffle with a loosely-adjusted curb. The tie-down is wrapped in SealTex rubber for cushioned padding and adjusted extremely loosely. Notice how even when she raises her head to its maximum level, she seldom if ever reacheds the end of the tie-down strap. I never ride her without both splint and bell boots.

6. Her attitude. Yes, she's a witchy, hormonal mare, both on the ground and under saddle. Yes, she wants to go go go. That's an unfortunate but expected side effect of being a competitive barrel horse, and so I cut her slack for her over-exuberance and don't expect a WP-like cadence out of her.

7. Backing up. She's somewhat stiff and unresponsive earlier in the video, so I posted a clip at the end to show that she can and will back up simply off of a subtle leg cue.

8. This is a typical day for us, unedited for the camera (with the exception of probably 20 minutes of walking and several minutes of trotting and cantering cut out for brevity). She's in neither an exceptional calm nor crazy mood, and I'm riding neither exceptionally well nor poorly. What you see is what you get.
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    02-26-2011, 09:36 PM
Super Moderator
I can't see the video so I don't know if it's your link or my home computer (which is pretty poopie)...
    02-26-2011, 09:37 PM
While contact is "light" in this video (compared to your other video) - you are riding your horse in a curb bit. Curb bits are meant to be used on horses that are finished and do not need contact on the reins. Curb bits should not be used while direct reining. Your horse is bobbing its head as it has no clue where you want it to be; the curb is saying "wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong" no matter what - there is no relief. I suggest switching to a snaffle - that is what they're meant for - to allow a horse to carry contact comfortably.
You need to learn how to control your horse with leg and seat aids. The aid for "back up" does not come from the bit/reins, it comes from the seat and leg.
    02-26-2011, 09:50 PM

Did you notice the clip at the end where I back up up with the reins dropped onto her withers and using only my legs? That was sort of my point. She was being resentful of both leg and and rein earlier in the video and fighting the back-up, so I added the last bit to clarify that she actually does understand the command when she's not being a butt.

As a Western rider, I respectfully disagree about the proper use of curb vs. snaffle bits. An Argentine snaffle (a misnomer, I know) can be effectively ridden with either one or two hands. It has a broken mouthpiece and independent side action for lateral control.

It is a well-designed, well-balanced, and mild curb bit. Coupled with a flat double-up curb chain, it allows for support of the horse's head, good lateral control, and either neck or direct reining. It's a very versatile bit generally used to transition young horses from the snaffle into the grazing curb.

A snaffle does not provide the security of light curb support that my mare has come to expect, nor is it necessarily (or even ever) a "gentler" bit. Its direct-line action is not conducive to neck reining, and the fact that a snaffle is either "on" or "off" makes it less complex and and with less finesse than a curb, which allows varying degrees of pressure and action to be applied. A curb gives a warning with shank rotation and rein-jingling before a cue is applied; a snaffle does not.

My experience over the years with horses who have become accustomed to curb bits--no matter how soft the hands of their riders--is that they will not tolerate snaffles. They hate the direct pull action and much prefer the subtle lift of a curb. They'll gape their mouths and brace their necks but immediately relax when the curb is returned. I personally have a mare who rides wonderfully in a curb, in a halter, or with a bridleless neck rope, but who will flat out bolt and brace and fight with a snaffle, every time.
    02-26-2011, 09:54 PM
Green Broke
I just watched all the videos that you have posted on this forums. Have you ever had your saddle fit checked by a saddle fitter? Or had your mare checked by a chiropractor?

She looks very hollow through the back, so her head set is going to be fake until you get her to round all the way through. Her hollow-ness could be caused by back pain. Back pain could also explain why she is sweet on the ground but hard to handle under saddle.
    02-26-2011, 09:57 PM
Green Broke
Also, since there seems to be no difference between when you ride with a tie down and when you don't, I would get rid of the tie-down. Its only giving her something to brace against and creating more muscle on the underside of her body and neck then on the top side.
    02-26-2011, 10:00 PM
Super Moderator
Ok... I had to go to my ipad to see the video because this laptop is a stupid insert curse word here piece of loose waterfilled poop. Anyway, this is what I see....

This horse reminds me of my Blue, especially the head toss. She (I think it's a mare) is not being the most attentive horse, in fact, she kind of looks like she might be a little bit on the bitchy side (no offense intended). She doesn't want to collect up because that's work so she's trying to ride around in a strung out straight line, she doesn't want to bend and a couple times she tries to go her way. I think it would help to deepen your seat, you tend to roll up on your pelvis when she gets racey (kind of like a hunt rider). If you can keep yourself from doing that and sink down deeper it will be harder for her to string herself out.

Her head thing is something that Blue is horrible about. I havne't posted videos of him in a very long time because I am certain people would blame the hands of the rider and it's not. I've had his teeth floated (which if you haven't I would suggest that as a start). I even had a bit-seat put in which some of the NH people have fits about. I felt like it helped. He's avoiding the bit and also, it's his way of arguing his point, which is, He doesn't want to do it. He wants to pick his pace and do things his way. Her head thing to me is trying to figure out a way to avoid the bit. She's not being snatched in the mouth, she's not got a lot of preasure in her mouth, she is trying to find a way to carry her head so that she doesn't have to listen to you. (that's my opinion). I'm not sure how to fix it because I'm dealing with the same problem and I've tried many different bits. Draw reins help but you can't ride with them all the time and since you are doing barrels (I think I read somewhere) I doubt draw reins are something you want...

I do think you would benifit from a deeper seat though. Another thing you do is let your legs slide forward and that knocks your balance off....

That's my two cents....
    02-26-2011, 10:01 PM

She's actually not sweet on the ground, in the pasture, for the farrier, for the vet, in a house, with a mouse, in a box, or with a fox, she does not like green eggs and get the picture.

I do, however, think there's a potential she is back sore. Her saddle was actually custom-made to fit her years back. However, I noticed over the past season that as she gained more muscle in the shoulder she started to get dry spots behind and below her withers. I was in the process of seeing if I could correct the problem with therapeutic saddle pads when she got hurt again.

At the moment, since she is still atrophied and out of shape, it's not an issue. And certainly from all outward appearances the saddle seems to fit. But I'm suspicious all the same and intend to have the vet give her back the once-over when it's time for spring vaccinations here in the near future.
    02-26-2011, 10:01 PM
Super Moderator
Adding to what QHdragon said... I did just get Blue an adjustment on his jaw to see if that makes a difference, if it does I'll do the chiro route. I also checked my saddle fit as he is much like this mare.... It's good advice...
    02-26-2011, 10:02 PM
Your mare's head is telling me a different story regarding the bit. Curbs are not designed to be ridden in two-handed; if you're going to keep contact on a bit, I suggest switching to a snaffle.
Have you had her teeth floated by a dentist recently?
I respectfully disagree on your opinion on curbs.. there are many, many threads regarding that on this forum, though.

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