Aversion to Rein Pressure - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-30-2008, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Gallant, Alabama
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Aversion to Rein Pressure

I posted this on another forum, but thought I'd ask yall too.

I’ve ridden my two year old colt a few times this summer, just to give him a slight background on what is expected of him next year… I’m not planning on riding him through winter… he’s going to finish growing and just be a horse, then his working is going to begin next summer, I just want him to have something to fall back to…

Anyway, I’ve ridden him bareback and under saddle, never long at all. He’s never taken a bad step, but we’ve had a few arguments. When he’s irritated, he’ll back up and/or sidestep. He’s learning the basics of neck reining (he’s caught on very quickly) and understands leg pressure a little. He doesn’t buck and has never threatened to rear or bite under saddle. It’s easy to saddle him as long as I do it little by little when I’m tightening the cinch and he stands still to be mounted and walks off at a ‘click’ or ‘kiss’. He’ll turn either way and has no fusses, though he hates another horse getting beside and/or passing him. He’ll ride off with or without other horses and doesn’t mind being alone at all.

We’re focusing on just walking, but he has trotted with me three times (never more than just a few strides) and he’s taken off at a canter twice (only a few strides each… he spooked and took off, but stopped easily and quickly).

However, we’ve hit a problem… Dakota apparently hates rein pressure. I’m riding him in a hackamore, and he’s just fine and dandy as long as there is literally no contact with the shanks. I know for a fact that I’m not being heavy handed with him… if I need to turn him, I BARELY pull the side, very, very gently, and lay the opposite rein across his neck while cueing him with my legs to turn. If he feels the pressure of the reins, he tosses his head badly… he’s came very close to hitting me in the face a few times, and I’ve thought about using a tiedown, but I don’t want to if I don’t have to.

I’m kind of at a loss for what to do… I do have a snaffle that I could use on him, but I prefer hackamores… Does he not like the way the shanks of the hackamore tighten around his node and chin and also pulls down across the poll (or whatever any type of bit with longer shanks does to the bridle)… should I try him in a snaffle? Or is there anything else I could do? I’ve also ridden him a little with just a halter and he still tossed his head… am I just going to have to let him work it out that he has to accept it, or is there something that I could do to make him stop?

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)
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post #2 of 5 Old 06-30-2008, 03:20 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: May 2008
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groundwork (in my opinion) would be your best bet in thoroughly teaching him how to react to rein pressure. get some driving lines and a surcingle and line him in the arena till he gets the hang of it...then you can venture out. :)

Good Luck!

Justin (qh/tb)
Boo (asb)
kickshaw is offline  
post #3 of 5 Old 07-01-2008, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Texas
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Sounds like he is acting like a baby The unfortunate thing about baby's is that they have temper tantrums.

1st...make sure you check his teeth though. I can't remember when my horse lost his baby teeth...but that could be a cause...even with the hackamore...he might be holding his mouth weird when you ride...irritating a growing tooth.

2nd...I agree with kickshaw about the groundwork. I personally am not a fan of hackamores...if you don't want to put something in his mouth I would prefer a bosal. I don't like hackamores because the shanks can pinch their nose and cheeks and can actually be more severe than bits.
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-01-2008, 01:16 PM
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Some horses just do not respond well to mechanical hackamores and your horse is very young to be in one. They hurt - period. They are meant for a trained horse not a green one. If he was my horse I would have put him right into an eggbutt snaffle.

If you don't want to put a bit in his mouth for some reason, then I would go to a bitless bridle or at the least a bosal and mecate.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.
iridehorses is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 07-01-2008, 08:24 PM
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I agree about groundwork. Teach all the responses you want well on the ground first, then transfer it to riding. Eg. teach him to yield(respond softly with understanding, not react or resist out of confusion or fear) to pressure on his side to transfer it to leg aids, teach him to yield to rope/rein pressure & follow a feel before you try it on board. Resisting something confusing or frightening is very natural for a horse.

I agree too that your choice of equipment is not helpful. If it has shanks, it is not a true hackamore, but a mechanical device. The feel can be very unclear & confusing, especially if used one rein at a time. It may also be too claustrophobic for him - that pressure around his nose - when he hasn't been taught how to yield. This would cause him to resist it.

A true hackamore is a bridle with a bosal(nosepiece). Or a rope halter. I think they're a great tool for communicating clearly and effectively with the horse. I think it's important to start with this sort of gear, teaching the horse to respond well & softly to all rein cues before attempting to use a bit or such, assuming you feel the need.

Bits are designed to cause pain when used with any pressure. With a good rider and educated horse, barring accidents, pain can be avoided and the bit used just for communication not control. However, I think he's a fair way from that point yet.

After many years of training, I don't believe horses 'throw temper tantrums' at all. If they are acting up, it's generally from pain, fear, mistrust &/or confusion, so it's our responsibility to work out how to avoid or minimise those problems.

Oh, forgot to add, the more practice he gets at whatever behaviour works, the more habitual it becomes, so the harder it is to eliminate. It's unclear what you do when he throws his head, but perhaps you let go the pressure? This would be inadvertently reinforcing his behaviour, because it works for him to get you to let up. But don't just get heavy with him! *Teach* him first on the ground, gently & patiently and use clear equipment.
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