Achieving Softness

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Achieving Softness

This is a discussion on Achieving Softness within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Draw reins to soften horses jaw
  • How to make a horse soften

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    06-18-2011, 02:36 PM
Achieving Softness

I'm having to sell my horse due to me leaving for college, but I wanted to get her a bit more trained and enjoyable to ride. Right now she's kind of bracey and doesn't give to the bit as much as I'd like, although she's gotten sooo much better since I've had her.
I tried draw reins as a suggestion from a friend and I didn't like the results I got, even from the first ride. I don't want to force her head down and MAKE her give to the bit. I want her to willingly soften her mouth and jaw.
I also found an article about softening that basically suggested taking up contact on one rein after the other and making the horse soften to the side and in turn, that would make a horse soften all the time. Well my horse is very soft to the sides and gives to the rein contact immediately, that's not my problem. So that paper got thrown away, lol.
I'm thinking transitions, and a lot of them. Her biggest issue is getting really tense in her jaw and neck when I want her to change gait, stop, or back up. So will doing a lot of transitions with soft rein contact help her to soften up? I've heard the saying "soft hands, soft horse" so I thought it might. But I'm open for any and all suggestions! I just don't want to spend too much money on equipment because I am selling her and won't need the stuff after I do. What I have is: a bridle, french link loose ring snaffle, side reins, surcingle, and lunge line.
Thanks guys! I always trust y'alls great suggestions.
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    06-19-2011, 12:54 PM
People will say alot of different things to this, when I need to soften my horses mouth I do changes through the circle. I do it at the walk for about 5 minutes and trot for about 10. Then I do my lesson and end my lesson with it in the walk just for a few minutes. You need to ask with your seat before you use your reins, so ask with your thigh the wait 2 strides then renforce with your rein just slightly. Eventually it will become much easier to your horse has the mouth softens. Also try tapping with the whip on the hind legs whenever you touch your reins at all, this will encourage the hind legs to come up under and have the hind legs come up and under the horse! I hope this exercise helps you! Feel free to PM me if you have any more questions! :)
    06-19-2011, 02:26 PM
You could try in hand work. While standing at her shoulder, hold the outside rein so it has some contact with the bit, and the inside rein much looser. The idea is to get the horse to understand she needs to balance on the outside rein. Use a crop in each hand along with the reins. Crop on inside rein is for shoulders, outside rein crop (dressage length) is for hind end. Be sure to stay slightly behind the shoulders but not so far back as to invite getting kicked. Walk forward making sure to keep contact with her mouth on the outside rein at all times and inside rein in a more vibrating way for the sole purpose of keeping bend and flexion. The horse will most likey try to back up or bulge out her shoulders or hind end at first while she tries to figure out what you want. Be very patient while she figures it out. Anytime she tries to back up, take her in a small circle to continue forward motion. Do not at any time let her continue backing up. Reward every try and correct answer. This exercise requires the horse use the correct muscles to carry itself, so you probably will experience some resistance at first. Once she's got it from the ground, try it from the saddle being very careful about keeping that consistent rein contact with her on the outside rein that you gave her on the ground. Good luck.
    06-21-2011, 07:35 AM
The transitions should definitely help her, especially if she tenses up. This will take time and patience, but will teach her its nothing to be afraid of, and its okay to relax. I advise to start from scratch. Pretend she doesnt know how to, and start from the walk, then progress when she is comfortable doing each one. And don't let her get bored! Only do ten to fifteen (each pace) a day, or each time you ride, and always stop on a good note!

Hopefully this helps you! You seem very dedicated to fix her problem, well done (:

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