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post #1 of 9 Old 04-23-2014, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Missouri
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Question Help, Guys!

Alright, I'm going to try to keep this fairly short and sweet and to the point. I'm still a fairly new horse owner. I got my gelding, Tigger, last March, so I've had him for a little over a year. I only do trail riding as of right now, and I'm having some difficulties with him.
At about 16.3 hands, he's not the biggest horse in the world, but Tigger is also very long, considering he is a Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse mix, which means he has a lot of muscle and sheer strength. Weighing about 1350 pounds, me, at 130 lbs, am at a disadvantage. See, the thing is, Tigger loves to run.
Whenever I go trail riding, I go with a group, and we will race each other down long stretches of the trail for half a mile or so at a straight gallop. The others will pull back and say 'woah', and their horses come to a stop in about 20 feet. I pull back and say 'woah'...and Tigger keeps galloping. I pull back even more, until the reins are against my hips, and Tigger keeps galloping. I pull back until I am standing up halfway and his chin is against his neck and I am certain I am hurting him, and he will only then slow to maybe a canter, and then a fast trot, and then kind of walking. Do you see the problem?
It takes me about 300-400 feet to get him to stop, every single time. It's dangerous for both me, him, and other riders, because sometimes we are coming towards a very rocky patch of the trail and I am afraid he will hurt himself, or stop all of a sudden and throw me off. One day he could run us into other riders and hurt himself, me, and them. It's also embarrassing because others says I can't control my horse.
On the ground, Tigger is a really great horse. He leads perfectly, lunges fairly well, stops when I stop, picks up his feet for picking, and is just plain respectful, usually. Whenever I tack him up he gets a little dancy, but more like he is excited than testing me.
I know this post is getting ridiculously long, so my main question is:
Should I change my bit? I use a 5 and a half inch tom thumb bit, and some of my friends say to get a curb bit for more control and assertion, but I feel as if that will make the problem worse rather than help. Guys, what should I do?
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-23-2014, 08:22 PM
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I may get flamed for saying this, but I think you should definitely change your bit out on trail (maybe a kimberwick or Pelham). It comes down to your safety, and if he gets riled up you need to be able to maintain control.
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-23-2014, 08:33 PM
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A big horse does need a bit more space to stop, but it sounds like you are riding a horse that is actually out of control. I would not continue such all out races with a horse that was so unstoppable. You should work on his "stop" in places and circumstances where you will be successful. many horses get very strong in aa "race " sort of situation. So, don't race him until he has a better stop on him.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-23-2014, 10:13 PM
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I second the suggestion of kimberwick, Pelham (maybe), or curb.

But only bother to change bits if you are going to work on stopping him on his own. By himself. Away from others. Get that trained well before you make him race again.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-23-2014, 10:40 PM
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No more racing for him until you can get him out of control.

First get him stopping on a dime from the walk, trot and canter. Then ask him to gallop in the ring. If he doesn't want to stop with a *light* ask, PUSH HIM to keep going... And going... And going. The next time he'll stop, trust me! ;) He will soon look forward to you saying woah or walk, especially when he is expecting he'll be running his hooves off! You can practice the same thing on trail.

The only thing is this may back fire on the rare horse who WILL run until they drop dead. Even the hottest of horses with know when they have hit their limit. No can only this on one horse I've known who would literally run until he dropped dead. His owner tried to "run it out of him" on a large circle in the arena... For 2 hours. I suspect his mind was just blown by to much rodeo and rough riding.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-24-2014, 02:55 AM
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I'm surprised that someone hasn't jumped on the Tom thumb part yet. Personally, I don't see an issue with the bit. Training? Yes.

Many things in your post tell that he doesn't listen well. Lunges fairly well? Dances when tacking up? Respectful usually? These and that he doesn't listen to the bit when stopping.

I'm not trying to bash you or make you feel bad. Little things will lead to bigger things. Such as the dancing and not lunging well leads to not stopping when you want.

All horses out weigh humans. Training is what is used to get the advantage. Also that we are smarter.

When riding in a group, everyone needs to ride at the experience level of the least experienced rider or horse. Running or racing may be fun but you are setting yourself and your horse for an accident.

Now, how to fix it. Your horse needs to learn to give to the bit better and listen to it and you. Does he or you know how to flex correctly? Does he know how to one rein stop? Do you? If not, learn yourself and teach him.

Next, start at the walk and do several walk stop walk transitions. When he stops with you just picking up the reins and sitting deeply, only then start the trot to stop. Then when good at that move on to the lope/canter to stop. What seems to work best is only let him get a few strides in at first before you stop him. Then slowly increase.
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-24-2014, 11:59 AM
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I like usandpets comment best with the others added in...all good points.
Training issue yes, a equipment issue...think it may have a part in the total picture and equation...

Until you can control that horse better, with consistency and accuracy...
You are an accident waiting to happen and it is going to as you know..
you indeed wrote the truth!

Earn and demand more respect from the horse when working on the ground...
When saddling he stands quietly not dancing. He may indeed be excited, he needs though to respect your cues and wait for your command to walk off. Right now he "respects" you when he wants...and that isn't good enough.
When lunging he consistently obeys your cues and commands...every single time!

You write of the head being brought completely to the chest and still he runs on...he has evaded the bit tucking in as he has now need to learn to ride him so he can't evade and must listen.
You must stop trying to out muscle him as you have already lost that must outsmart him, out ride his brain and anticipate his mind...and stop his pain factor and fear of pain.

Tom Thumb bits are a very misunderstood bit.

It can be cruel bit in the wrong hands...
Many think they are a snaffle bit because they have a single joint...truth is this is a curb bit.
The headstall attaches on a different ring than the rein does, this creates a pressure point at the poll and leverage applied. Longer shanks equal more per square inch of pressure than any direct ring/rein when the mouthpiece is between the rings...think attached headstall then the bit sits lower then the reins attach ever lower... that is a whopping amount of pressure on the add a curb strap/chain and you could actually be driving the horse out from under you in his effort to run away from your cruel hands... here is a article that far better describes what that Tom Thumb really does in a horses is written clearly, so easily understood where my explanation will confuse...

I would also suggest not riding out till you have a better control of that horse at all gaits...then when you do try again go with one person who rides to your activity and ability level of you and your horse. When that is successfully accomplished add another rider and then another when you can control not the horse control the control the activity level. After each successful person added to the group and a great ride...add the next...

It isn't any fun to be run away with for you, or for those you ride with...
Downright scary, terrifying might be a better adjective to use...

Do be very careful. I would strongly encourage you to wear a riding helmet if you are not...especially till you solve your issue...
I would suggest a helmet anytime you have a greater chance of walking away with no head injury if you face plant wearing that helmet than without one...only have 1 brain to last your life...and it only takes one simple plop on the ground to ruin a life or create issues forever...

I would also suggest you seek out a real trainer to help you gain the control of your horse you need.
Friends to ride with are fine, but there not knowing because they haven't experienced {I hope} runaways and their lack of bit knowledge could also be hurting you.
A simple change of equipment may be all it takes and a small change in your riding style... knowledgeable eyes though you need to watch and help you overcome...

Be careful and be safe.

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post #8 of 9 Old 04-24-2014, 12:14 PM
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While I would still ditch the Tom Thumb bit anyway (because I think they are garbage), your do NOT have a bit problem.

Repeat: You do NOT have a bit problem.

You have a training problem.

Your horse does not listen to you and does what he pleases. You are just along for the ride, and quite dangerously so.

You could put a piece of barbed wire through his mouth and force him to stop. But eventually he is going to learn he can just ignore that too if you keep riding him the same way.

Do you have a trainer you are working with? If you are not, you need to find someone. It would be better to have regular lessons, but if you can only afford a couple, then at least do that. You need to be taught TIMING. If you release the reins too soon, the horse learns that he does not have to do what you want. If you release the reins too late, the horse learns to brace against your hands and ignore the reins because there is no release. Timing is very difficult to teach over the internet. You need someone in person to give you instant feedback on if you released too soon, too late, or just right.

Plus, you need to learn how to use your body when you are riding. You said that you end up standing up in the saddle to stop your horse. Let's think about this. What do you think the message is to your horse when you stand up in the stirrups? GO FASTER.

So you are standing in the stirrups AND pulling back on his mouth. Your body is telling him to GO and your reins are telling him to STOP. Wouldn't you be confused too?

Again, go take some lessons.

Absolutely NO more racing on the trails until you learn how to control your horse and re-train his bad habits. Please note that is may be MONTHS until you can race him again. It's for your own safety so you (or someone else) doesn't get hurt.
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-24-2014, 12:31 PM
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Yep, switch bits, to a plain snaffle.

I have used tom thumbs multiple times, before I ever heard all the "tom thumbs are evil" talk, and I really disliked them because I felt the horses got frustrated and confused. A snaffle seemed much clearer, and a curb gave more finesse, the tom thumb was the muddy, unclear one in the middle.

any how, circles are your friend. I ride OTTB's fresh off the track all the time, and circles are the single most important tool. Like one of the other posters mentioned, if he get running and you have the space, run him till he begs to stop. that usually gets the message across.
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big , bit , confused , horse , stopping

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