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post #21 of 39 Old 04-05-2013, 09:02 PM
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Some horses have "hot" gaits. My TB mare's hot gait was the canter when I first purchased her. She exploded when anyone asked for it. I sent her off to the trainer's for a month, and she sorted her out by doing lots of work in a snaffle. She's now level-headed at every gait.
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post #22 of 39 Old 04-05-2013, 09:07 PM
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there may be something wrong in his back or other part of the body , that is only really triggered by cantering.

HOw does he responde to cantering on a lunge line? have you changed saddles recently? or has he had any accidental falls, where he might have put a rib out of place?

When you have a horse that used to canter ok, and now behave fine at walk and trot, but freaks at canter, the most immediate thought should be something causeing pain.
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post #23 of 39 Old 04-05-2013, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
there may be something wrong in his back or other part of the body , that is only really triggered by cantering.

HOw does he responde to cantering on a lunge line? have you changed saddles recently? or has he had any accidental falls, where he might have put a rib out of place?

When you have a horse that used to canter ok, and now behave fine at walk and trot, but freaks at canter, the most immediate thought should be something causeing pain.
When I lunge him he is perfectly fine I've been riding him in this saddle since i started riding him. I really think he is just psycho at the lope. The trainer is going to get on him and ride him tomorrow and see what is going on I don't want to use a harsh bit which is why I posted this to get ideas of what I could use. He just is a very strong willed horse. I am slightly discouraged though but he's my baby so I'm hanging in there :(
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post #24 of 39 Old 04-05-2013, 09:46 PM
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Have you had your saddle fit checked recently? Horses' shapes change as they grow and develop toplines, so it's definitely possible that the saddle no longer fits and is causing him pain when he tries to canter.
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post #25 of 39 Old 04-05-2013, 10:30 PM
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OP, honestly we aren't trying to discourage you, we are just trying to get you to dig a little deeper into what may be the root of the problem. There are quick fixes, and there are proper fixes, very rarely are they the same thing. Maybe when your trainer rides him she will discover you are accidentally "pushing a button" you don't mean to. It happens more often than you'd think.
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post #26 of 39 Old 04-06-2013, 10:05 AM
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This sounds like a training issue, the fact that he is "perfect" at the walk and trot tells me he knows what you are asking, just chooses to disregard at a lope (or runaway, lol). I would NOT be loping this horse outside an arena without getting a handle on this...lots of transitions up and down. When you ask for a lope & he STARTS to get strong, ask for a downward transition. YOU are in charge. What do you do at this point when he takes off?
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post #27 of 39 Old 04-06-2013, 10:23 AM
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I have got to say, bitting up to fix a problem is just about my biggest pet-peeve.
This horse needs training to overcome his issues. I'll get into that in a minute.

The next thing I'm going to mention, going from a single jointed snaffle - jumping ALL the way up to a tom thumb is a HUGE step, there are many smaller steps in between. First of all, what exactly does the horse do when he 'ignores' the bit? Does he gape his mouth open wide? Does he lean into the bit pulling on your hands? Does he toss his head or tuck his chin?

My assumption is that he's leaning hard into the bit and running through it (based on the explanation that he ran blindly and wouldn't stop). Think about it, a horse would never just run around blindly - especially not hitting bushes or trees as they go - unless there was a pain issue.

So first off - Get your saddle checked again horses' bodies change all the time, seasonally and aging and diet changes and muscle changes all affect how the saddle fits. So what may have fit for years and years may be causing serious pain. He may be kind and tolerate the discomfort at walk and trot - but at the lope the tree jamming into his shoulder or the seat hitting his back could easily push him over the edge.

Now, if the saddle and teeth check out fine then it isa training issue. You aren't looking to refine cues - refining cues is when the horse is polite and responsive but you want to be able to stop rather than with a pull but with a touch of the reins. Refining is switching between turning the horse by pulling a rein over to just turning your body and shifting your hands just barely.
You aren't looking for refining you're looking for control.

Here's what I'd suggest after you check his tack and teeth. Get a french link or some other type of snaffle that doesn't have a nutcracker action. Snaffle meaning a bit with rings - not shanks - NO leverage, his training isn't at a point to warrant a leverage bit. There are many Myler bits that have individual side actions without a nut cracker affect. The reason I say no nutcracker is because bits that have only a single joint, when the pressure is pulled back evenly on the reins (maybe when you collect your reins a bit shorter to start the canter?) the joint of the snaffle can hit the roof of the horse's mouth - which hurts! A horse will often react by gaping his mouth and/or pushing into the bit (so all the pressure goes onto their bars/tongue instead of the roof of their mouth).

So once you've got a snaffle that isn't as likely to hit the horse's pallet you can go back to practice.
Someone else explained quite well how to do the retraining. Do a lot of walk/trot transitions, lots of changing directions, do figures in the ring (making circles and serpentines). Never finish a lap around the ring without changing at least 2 things, either speed or figures. The more you change things up the more the horse needs to pay attention to you. They start reading your pre-cues trying to anticipate what you want before you go to the actual cues. So they'll feel the weight change in the saddle and feel you looking around a circle, so before you even touch the reins they'll be turning. Always remember to start with the gentlest cue and gradually up the anti and remember to have immediate release of pressure the moment he does the right thing.
Once he is reading your mind at the walk and trot in a snaffle then ask for just a stride or two of a lope then bring him right back down. That's his reward for cantering without getting worked up - he did it he gets to rest. Let him walk for a minute or two. Over a week or so gradually work up to being able to make 1 lap around the ring at a lope.
If you take your time and train your horse properly he'll be much easier to handle, there will be no pain to run away from, and you'll know you're doing what your horse needs.
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post #28 of 39 Old 04-06-2013, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by cassidilla View Post
so I was trying really hard to just ride my horse in a full cheek snaffle but he just runs right through it as soon as we lope. He decides that were going where he wants to go and nothing can stop him we'll run sideways across the whole pasture, and don't think that we run full speed at anything other than the big tree, branches, and fences. Any ways i've decided that he needs something that's going to stop him because its scary as hell running everywhere sideways i tried a tom thumb and that seemed to work really well but they've got such bad reviews and seem kinda awful i'm going to test it more and see how he reacts but someone suggest a slow twist. I'm just in desperate need of a suggestion on what bit would be a good idea for my little stubborn booger butt lol thank you :)

training for both the rider and the horse. Learn one rein stops. Teach the horse to respond to a snaffle before you end up with more problems down the road with your "Bigger, Stronger, powerful stopping power miracle bit your looking for.
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post #29 of 39 Old 04-06-2013, 11:41 AM
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I don't think the OP is saying her horse runs full speed INTO a tree. Most trees would stop him if he did that. But can an excited horse run without paying much attention to branches, fences, gullies, or rocks? I'd say yes. If Mia thinks she is 'racing' another horse, about 95% of her focus switches to the other horse. Getting her to listen when only 5% of her brain knows I'm there...that is tough.

And since it doesn't happen in an arena, and pretty much only happens if there is another horse going fast near makes training tough.

Arguably, if you don't ride your horse bridleless, you have a training issue. But most of us don't have the time or inclination to do the many hours of training to get there, so few people say THAT.

But if you don't ride you horse in a bitless bridle, do you have a training issue? True, bits allow a more subtle communication - but using the old "fly on a horse's butt" argument, you COULD train a horse to respond to finger signals on the withers. Run your finger forward = speed up. Pressure on the right means go left. Run your finger back = slow down. Etc. After all, a horse can feel a fly land on its butt, so why do you need metal in the mouth? Why not a fingertip on the withers?

Except it is natural for a horse to follow the nose. It is a clearer, easier to understand signal. And if need be, yes: we can use pain to cut thru the horse's excitement or fear and change the horse's direction. Anyone who has ever been on a galloping horse headed toward a busy road can understand why that might be a good thing.

I think the belief that a french link snaffle is THE bit, and anything else is harsh, cruel, and indicative of a training gap comes from the ENGLISH approach of riding a horse "on the bit". I guess if you are constantly fussing with your horse's mouth, then you need a lot of caution about what you put into it. And I can sympathize with that, because Mia LIKES to feel some contact with her mouth. It seems to reassure her that I'm there and we're a team.

Personally, I prefer a slack rein. With Mia, we compromise - just a LITTLE slack. Trooper gets a lot of slack. The difference between how the two horses like to be ridden is captured in the picture below, with my daughter on the Appy Trooper and me on Mia:

In an environment like that, both horses can be ridden fine bitless:

But if you put Mia outside the arena without a bit, you are asking for trouble. Is that a training issue? Of course. But after 4.5 years, training it out of her may be more than I can accomplish. The trainer I hired who came over 4 times/week for 3 months, and then 2 times/week for 3 more months, said her favorite horse is like Mia - and that after 15 years of owning her, she will still get very wound up at times. Her recommendation was to plan on never riding Mia without a bit.

All that said, it doesn't mean the FIRST reaction to a horse who doesn't stop (and it always seems to come down to that) is a harsher bit. Even with Mia, I've come to realize I must always demand perfect stops from her at a walk or trot. In the arena or on the trail, it doesn't matter. She needs to stop quickly, squared up, and relax with every cue to stop at a walk or trot. No fidgeting, no moving around - just stop as quickly as is safe, feet in a rectangle, head level, no fuss, no fidgeting, no resentment. If she won't do that, then she won't give me an adequate stop if excited. Expecting a 100% effort to stop and relax every time at a walk and trot is the minimal training that is safe for her - unlike some horses, who like stopping!

I like the elevator bit because Mia seems to understand it. This is it:

I went with a single joint, because Mia doesn't like french link snaffles.

Neck reining, she does fine in it. Direct reining, an opening rein to the left is enough for her to understand left. If she wants to fall into the circle, slight pressure on the left rein will tilt her nose in. And at those levels of pressure, it essentially acts like a standard snaffle.

But if she gets wound up and doesn't want to stop, then pulling back with both reins does the same as it does with a loose-ring snaffle - except that it adds pressure on the poll. That additional cue seems very instinctive for her. And using an additional cue for the horse is a lot milder than increasing the pressure on the snaffle in her mouth.

Going to a curb bit also isn't mean or harsh. By the time the curb strap takes effect, the horse has already had a cue to the mouth, and then poll pressure...and then the curb strap will engage. Assuming, of course, the rider isn't an idiot who just snatches back full force on the reins. And the fix for that is training the idiot rider, not condemning a class of bits. It seems better to add cues outside the horse's mouth, than add pressure inside it!

Sorry for the essay, but I get frustrated with the idea that Mia has the same needs as Trooper, when they are very different horses. At the same time, I get frustrated when someone grabs a twisted wire snaffle 'to make their horse mind'. I've joked about putting a car battery in the saddle bag and running a wire to the bit, with a big red "STOP" button on the saddle horn...but I'm getting nervous that someone will think that is a good idea. There needs to be a middle ground, combining training with tack the individual horse understands.
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post #30 of 39 Old 04-06-2013, 11:54 AM
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OP like others have said, if he stops in a trot or walk then he is understanding your cues, and the bit is doing its job by communicating them.
I rode my one mare in a tom thumb type bit for years, but only because that is the bit she came with & she rides with very little contact. It's easy to frustrate a horse with that type of bit if you don't have quiet hands.
First I would pay attention to what you are doing in the lope and compare to how you ride when he is moving slower. You may be unconsciously cueing him forward. Are your legs tense, is your balance off, are you shifted forward, etc..
Then you need to pay attention to the horse and get him thinking when he is moving fast. He needs to realize he's still working and not playing. Don't let him build momentum until he is out of control. Try loping a few strides then stopping, backing him up, and changing direction.
It's hard to make suggestions without seeing you ride, but your trainer should be offering you better options than bitting up. How does the horse respond when the trainer rides him?

So in lies the madness, the pursuit of the impossible in the face of the complete assurance that you will fail, and yet still you chase.
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