Keeping calm when riding a frustrating horse?

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Keeping calm when riding a frustrating horse?

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    03-30-2013, 11:31 PM
Keeping calm when riding a frustrating horse?

How do you do it!?
Let me just say, Dozer and I have come a long way! When I first got him four years ago, he was a big horse who did what he wanted. He would run away with me, refuse to work, and when I wanted him to go faster(normally a canter but sometimes even a trot) he would stiffen his neck and run towards other horses until I'd make him stop(Yes, I had to stop him. He is an 18hh draft and I'm a little 120lb girl). But after a lot of work, we've gotten over those issues. Mostly. Sometimes, he goes back to them. AND IT FRUSTRATES ME!
Recently, I've just been trying to bond with him (After losing my heart pony 9 months ago, I sort of drifted away from the horses for a while) so I've just been sitting on his back while he wanders around the arena. Since starting that(four days ago) I noticed he doesn't like me mounting from the fence (but I have to because he's 18hh!) so I've worked on that and he now waits by the fence and lets me get on easily. Which makes me happy and didn't require any real training.
However, when I was riding him bareback annd brideless today, I asked him for a trot and he ran straight for my dads horse and refused to stop until we got to the horse! I was mad but had him do it again, which normally would have a different outcome for him, but he did the same thing. I tried facing him the other way and asking him to go to the other end of the arena, he still ran right for the horse. I was pissed. Since I had nothing to control him with(I know, I should have gotten off, put on a bridle and approached the situation calmly) I tried pushing harder with my legs, didn't work. So, I ashamedly admit, I started hitting him on the neck(close to his ears) and he did start going somewhat in the right direction, but I didn't want him doing it out of fear that I was going to slap him (And it didn't solve his 'I'm not going to stop till I run into that horse' problem either). After battling for ten minutes and getting pretty tired myself, I got off, put the other horse back in the stall, and got back on(he waited by the fence and let me get on easily- so no, I didn't abuse him and scare him with my hitting) but he still was trunning towards the middle of the arena! I got so angry with him. I ended up slapping him and kicking until he miraculously figured out what I wanted and started doing it. After he went around the arena, sticking to the fence each way, I got off and called it a day.
But just because it ended up working this time, doesn't mean I want to guide him until he gets what I'm asking by slapping him. So, how do I stay calm and think logically WITHOUT giving up and letting him win!?

Sorry for the freaking novel. I'm still slightly mad that it took us so long to do something he is normally so good at with a bridle on.
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    03-30-2013, 11:42 PM
Sometimes "training aids" like a bridle or crop let the horse know that we mean business, without even having to put them to real use. Without any tack, he assumed he had your number!

Deep, slow breaths! I had a frustrating lesson yesterday with a similar issue--Jax was stubbornly refusing to give me a nice walk-to-canter transition, which we do all of the time... and then dropping it without my permission! And to top it all off, my new instructor (well, instructor who I'm trying out) was oblivious and perfectly happy that he was "trying." Needless to say I picked up a dressage whip and suddenly he was dramatically attentive to my leg! ;) Anyway, until that moment, I would bring him back to a point of control (even if it was a walk) and take a deep breath, smile, and move on. And in the midst of frustration, look for reasons to praise him! Even if it's only for yielding to leg or something small-- it'll make you both feel more positive.
Icrazyaboutu likes this.
    03-30-2013, 11:45 PM
Why would you ride him bareback and bridleless when he's not ready to be dependable at that level of work? You can't get frustrated with a horse when he's doing what he wants because he hasn't been trained otherwise and isn't being helped in making the right choices.
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    03-30-2013, 11:46 PM
Why do you expect him to do this without a bridle? If its been a while since you have worked with him? Did I misunderstand?
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Palomine and CowboyBob like this.
    03-30-2013, 11:46 PM
I definitely try the "Stop. Relax. Try again." method but I just don't want him to think he is getting away with the bad behavior, you know? If he gets away with something once, he won't forget it. About two years ago he went to my cousin's house while I was riding the bucks out of her spoiled horse and he came home not knowing how to canter in a circle. It tooks months(even working with a trainer) to get him back to not changing gaits whenever he felt like it.
Palomine likes this.
    03-30-2013, 11:53 PM
Dancing and Tiffany- I have been working with him recently, but we just weren't bonding... It might sound stupid but oh well. I like when the horse and me know eachother, it makes them easier to read. And we use to be like that and hopefully are on our way back there.
I was riding bareback and bridleless because I can. He knows legs cues, he responds to my voice, and when I ride with a bridle, I rarely use. Most of the time, the reins are loose on his neck and I'm not touching them. I use legs and voice cues even when I have the bridle on. It just is less work for me when I don't put it on.
The other three days, he was listening to me and doing fine. The fence mounting issue was solved after the first day, him not wanting to back yesterday was solved that same day, and then today, not listening to my cues was solved. But I didn't solve it how I would have liked to solve it today.
The question wasn't "why is my horse not listening". It was "How do you guys stay calm while riding a frustrating horse". I knew I'd get comments about my 'method' today, but that was just a back story. Not what the post was essentially about.
I assure you, he is more than capable of doing what I ask. He just didnt feel like it today.
    03-31-2013, 12:00 AM
Originally Posted by Icrazyaboutu    
...I was riding bareback and bridleless because I can...
Except for when you cannot.

Originally Posted by Icrazyaboutu    
...Recently, I've just been trying to bond with I've just been sitting on his back while he wanders around the arena...
That tests his tolerance. It doesn't build a bond.

When I get mad at a horse, one of the first things I need to consider is this: Is she trained to do what I'm asking her to do? If the answer is no, and I get mad at her failure, then I'm a jerk. Then it is time to either train her, or stop asking her to do what she isn't trained to do.

If you want to drive a horse away from you emotionally, few ways are better than getting angry with him without just cause.
    03-31-2013, 12:07 AM
Bsms- You don't feel like you build a bond with a horse when you just hangout with it? Sitting on his back and just relaxing, in my opinion and previous experience with him, is a good way for the horse to be more calm around you and a good way for the person to learn to feel what the horse is about to do. At least in my experience.

I've already stated that he is more than capable of listening to my leg cues with or without a bridle on. He just didn't today. Which frustrated me because I know he can. And yes, ALL I WAS ASKING OF HIM was to go where I told him to go while using my legs. Everytime I ride him with a bridle on, I set the reins down and have him go around the arena at a trot listening to my legs. It's very rare for me to actually use the reins while riding. I mostly just pick them up off his neck when I want him to turn sharper.

But I do appreciate that you told me what you do when you get mad with a horse, like I asked. Thank you.
    03-31-2013, 12:09 AM
Okay. The horse misbehaving is a training issue. Your frustration at his misbehavior is not understandable to me since its a training issue. "He didn't feel like it" is never an acceptable excuse or reason for a horse's behavior. They don't have logic like we do and don't randomly decide to not feel like it this time. He didn't listen because he knows he doesn't really have to.

IOW, when I am frustrated with a training issue, I do more training.

Groundwork builds a better working relationship than does tackless work. He doesn't respect you as leader and you do not have control of his body. More groundwork, build that working relationship (or bond if you will) then move to advanced things.
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    03-31-2013, 12:16 AM
Thanks for your opinion Dancing, I appreciate it but I know this horse and I know he knows how to do this. I think you were correct about him not respecting me and I plan on doing more groundwork with him tomorrow.

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