*headstrong horse* - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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*headstrong horse*

I have a quarter/ throuroughbred OOTB.He is really headstrong and I always have to keep a tight rein on him. This is quite tiring, and my hands tend to hurt afterwards. He does not know how to collect. People have been reccomending side reins, and I intend to do that soon. In the walk, his natural gait is fast, and he is very relaxed and I can have a looser rein. But if I ask for the trot, it's like jamming on the gas. I can't have a short rein because he gets faster and faster. Give an inch, he takes a mile. Same goes for the canter. When we are on the trails, I will canter towards the barn (our trails are on a loop and I don't canter home), and he takes an extremely long time to stop to try to get back to his buddy faster. This is a big danger- my friend (experienced rider luckily) galloped him, and asked him to walk halfway down the trail. He did NOT stop like he was asked, and kept going (at a slower pace though). He stopped once he reached the fence to the pasture where his buddy awaited. My friend was in the two point position, which did urge him on, and we had never galloped him before, so I truly cant fully blame him. Regardless, that was unnaceptable. I know he was a throughbred and they were trained to pull on the reins, but we have to knock that habit off. Please give some suggestions that might help.
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post #2 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 12:38 AM
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sounds like he could use a learning session on how to flex his neck, and break at the poll. When you're pulling on a horse's rein, they should lower their face, not pull it up in the air.

it also sounds like he could use a good STOP cue.. Not a One Rein Stop but an actual stop cue.

there is only one way to fix a buddy sour horse-- take him away from his buddy.

TB's are absolutely NOT trained to pull on the reins either.
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post #3 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. Would you mind explaining how to train them to flex their necks and break at the poll? Yeah, we are working on the stop cue on the lunge line. As far as the buddy sourness, I can't seperate them very well, only to the point where they can see eachother, but not touch, and when I did that, they were still attatched by the hip.
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post #4 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 12:51 AM
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You can work on buddy and barn sour. You can hand lead them somewhere out of eyesight. Leave one at home. Make them face away as the buddy's ride off the opposite way. Tie to a trailer instead of a hitching rail all together. There's options
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post #5 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by gambler2007 View Post
Thanks. Would you mind explaining how to train them to flex their necks and break at the poll? Yeah, we are working on the stop cue on the lunge line. As far as the buddy sourness, I can't seperate them very well, only to the point where they can see eachother, but not touch, and when I did that, they were still attatched by the hip.
you just need to go back to the basics and teach him to soften up-- grab the rein, pull his neck around, keep doing so till he does it easily-- I would go from doing long pulls, to doing small bumps to soften him up, it will also make him really soft in the mouth.

as for the flexing at the poll, when you pull the reins you want him to bend his neck not pull away from you, or throw his head up in the air-- to achieve this, I would also do the bumping technique. he will bend his head down farther and farther the more you bump him.. you don't want to be bumping straight back, but in an upward type motion.. I would get him backing up, when bumping him. This will show him you want his head down..

for the buddy sourness, he is attached at the hip to his friend, because he knows you're not the leader, and you can't make him listen to you so he does not. You need to show him you're the leader, and his attention needs to be on YOU! Get his attention, every time he calls for his buddy, I would make him do something to get him focusing on me, weather it be pulling his head in my direction, or lunging him a few circles. He needs to know You're in charge, and what You say goes, and he needs to pay attention, and Respect that. If he doesn't respect you, he doesn't see you as the leader, and won't listen to you.
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Last edited by toto; 03-19-2013 at 12:56 AM.
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post #6 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 01:30 AM
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How does he lead? How soft is he normally, say, with his buddy close by?
It sounds to me, from what you've said, like he needs to soften up a bit and you need to be clearer and firmer in order to get his attention away from getting back to his buddy and to his rider. To soften him, try working on the ground with just the lead rope and halter. He needs to respect pressure and learn to flex.
Start by standing to his side, and pulling the lead rope towards you. Make him flex his neck so that his nose is all the way to his side. You want to get him to a point where he will follow the pressure so well that it's like he's just following your hand. Do this on each side, and then do it in the saddle- pull his nose around to your stirrup.
Also, what kind of bit do you use on him? When you're riding him and he gets strong in your hands, try to bump him with the reins, or wiggle/ see-saw them. When you pull back and hold the pressure, it gives him the opportunity to brace against you and ignore it. But, if you're bumping or wiggling the reins, it makes it so that he can't brace or ignore you. Imagine someone trying to get your attention while you're distracted, either by a task or in deep thought- which works better, grabbing and holding your arm or poking it continuously? You don't need to yank or anything, just a consistent 'tap' on the reins, until you feel him give a bit. Then immediately let go. The problem is that his mind is so preoccupied with getting home and seeing his buddy that he's ignoring/ forgetting his rider, so you need to give him a reminder that you're there and he needs to focus on you.
What do you do when you want him to stop? How do you ask him? I would suggest that when you ask for a stop, you sit deep in the saddle. You may have to exaggerate it at first. It helps to take a deep breath and exhale when you sit. If he doesn't stop right away, then you use a voice queue ("whoa") and then if even that doesn't work, use your reins. See-saw them to get him to soften a bit if he's bracing, and then turn him/ flex his neck to the side in a one-rein stop.
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post #7 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 02:38 AM
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I used to (partially) own a horse who did the same thing. Sadly, I was very young and didn't know how to properly ride, I made her iron-mouthed and she gave me iron-hands, I've ruined a lot of horses since then because I would grip the reins so hard.

Often when people have horses who become hard-mouthed, their first option is to go for a stronger bit like a tom thumb or a twisted snaffle. Gain leverage so you can add more pressure without having to wear out your own hands. But the best way to fix the problem is to go back to the basics and teach the horse at what pressure you want them to react. Does it take 30 pounds of pressure to slow down, or does it just take picking up slack in the reins? If you've been asking every time to slow down by immediately using 30 pounds of pressure, then that's what you've taught the horse to respond at.

I retrained an iron-mouthed horse first by doing lateral flexion and then teaching him that when I pick up slack on the reins, he needs to drop his nose and back (and this was a very pushy, dominant horse that would toss his head to any kind of pressure). When you teach lateral flexion, timing is absolutely crucial. You have to pick up on the rein just enough to take the slack out, and when he turns his head, drop the rein before he stops turning it, you have to be lightning fast for him to understand that turning is what gets the pressure released. If you drop it as he stops turning, you could actually be teaching him to not turn his head to the pressure (LFMF).

When you can pick up on the rein and have him bend his head all the way to his stomach, then you can practice backing him up by just taking the slack out of both reins. The way I teach this is by the CA method: give the hindquarter yield and turn him round and round and round, and when you feel him turning smoothly with good momentum, pick up on the reins just enough to take the slack out and stop the hindquarter yield. If he backs up even a step, let go and pet him. Keep practicing that until you can back him up 4 or 5 steps, then just pick up on the reins and see if he will back up to that. If I could train my horse to do it, you can definitely train yours.

Also, a kind of emergency way of slowing down your horse if you're riding him and he's just not slowing down for you, pick up on one rein and just turn him in a circle. It's very difficult for horses to go very fast if they're going in a circle, so you can teach him what speed is comfortable by turning him in a circle whenever he goes too fast, that way you're not constantly pulling him back.
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post #8 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 02:56 AM
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Sorry just realized you probably don't know how to give the hindquarter yield XD but in case you don't, yielding just means they move that body-part away from you. So if you ask for a hindquarter yield, this means when you tap your whip in the air at their hip, they would rotate their hindquarters away but keep their front feet relatively in the same spot. The way I teach hindquarter yield is I stand at the horse's shoulder and look sideways at the horse's hip while tapping the air with the whip. If the horse doesn't move, then I tap the horse's hip. As soon as the horse takes a step sideways, I stop and back off. Then look sideways and tap again. When the horse can move their hindquarters around just by tapping the air, then I practice by just looking sideways at the horse's hip to move their hind end over.

The reason this works well with teaching the horse to back up is because it gets the horse in "moving" mode, and also gets them soft. If you're have to really push the horse around into the yield, then you're also going to have to push them back when you ask for the backup. But if they're turning softly and willingly with a lot of energy, then when you pick up on the reins, the horse will more easily follow them backward.
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post #9 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 07:52 AM
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Hi & welcome!

Of course I understand totally why you feel the need to keep those reins tight, but I don't think this is helping - it is desensitising him to the pressure from the bit & 'nagging' him. So, agree with others that I'd take him back to the basics & teach him to yield laterally. Especially Laffee. I think it's very important to *teach* them to yield, before just trying to make it happen - you're more likely to get into a fight & create more resistance, or unbalance the horse if you just try to reef their head around, especially when it sounds like he maybe hasn't learned to yield to pressure well.

*I also think it's important to rule out/treat physical probs that could very well be contributing - teeth, bit, back, saddle, feet... - before working on the training.

In teaching him to yield, I'd stick to a halter, for now at least, especially as he's gained a bad attitude about the bit. After you've taught him to yield well in all ways, including his head laterally to the rein & hindquarters over, then I'd start teaching him in the saddle, first at a stand still, then a walk, etc.

Get so you can walk on a loose rein & reach for one rein to slow him, bending to a stop instead of pulling two reins. Remember to reinforce - quit the pressure - as soon as he responds & only gradually ask for more/quicker, etc. When you first start doing this in a trot & canter, I'd start out in an enclosed area, such as an arena, where you don't have to worry about him running away with you, so you don't feel the need to hang on the reins, but you can just go with it & ask for a bend & be confident to release the instant he slows - so reinforce & teach him that's what works.

Re the 'buddy sour' business, I think one step at a time & I'd be getting him going well at home before taking him out, but doing this should also help build your relationship & his trust & respect in you, so he's happier to go out with you too.
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post #10 of 18 Old 03-19-2013, 08:52 AM
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Racehorses are trained to lean into the pressure, and go faster when pressure is applied.

Same with TWH show horses for that matter.

You don't need to be galloping/cantering or anything until this horse is retrained from what I read.

Get someone there to help you, that is going to be best.

Horses make me a better person.
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