First time training, hit a snag.
 
 

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First time training, hit a snag.

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        04-20-2010, 08:24 PM
      #1
    Weanling
    First time training, hit a snag.

    I have a 4 year old Arabian/Paint pony. She is very sweet, she's the "puppy" of the group. I have worked with her from birth and her ground manners are top notch. She responds very strongly to voice, rather than force. Last fall I started saddle breaking her. I couldn't actually ride her due to an injury (me, not her), but I was able to bit her and get her used to the saddle and lunging with the equipment.

    Over the winter she wasn't worked with much, I don't have an indoor arena. So this spring, we've started back up.

    I have done all of this by myself without an arena of any sort, out in the open or in a small paddock. She is practically fool proof most of the time. She barely reacted to her first time with a saddle on her back. She knows she has to stand when I want her to stand, and that has followed through to make this process pretty simple.

    My only problem is that she doesn't want to accept a bit at all. She gets panicky with the bit in her mouth. So yesterday, I put just the headstall on with a bit and turned her out on her own to get used to it. She ran around, bucking and kicking, tossing her head. Eventually she calmed down.

    I cannot work with her with the bit in her mouth, she acts like she doesn't remember anything i've taught her. She gets nervous, she prances. This is my first time and i'm a total newb at this. So we are both learning together. I've tried a french link snaffle, copper mouth. I've tried rubber. She just goes into panic mode, "I don't like this - omg omg omg omg." She's not bad at all, she just is in her flight mode. Every noise will spook her, every movement. I'll post two video's from last year, the first one is the very first time she had the saddle on her back and the second is the 3rd. She is SO calm, she respects me, I barely have to even lead her. Most of her training to date has been based on Natural Horsemanship. As long as she knows what i'm asking, she'll do it. You can see in the vids that she is just very calm and accepting.

    The bit however, she hates. She lets me put it in her mouth, she keeps her head low. But as soon as it's in she's a quivering mass of nerves.

    I have tried working with her with reins attached to the halter and she does great. But she's going to have to accept a bit eventually. Do I just keep making her wear it? What's the best kind to use (i have access to many, all very gentle. My harshes bit is a curb I used to use for barrels) to make her realize nothing horrible is going to happen just because there's a bit in her mouth?

    She's a very small girl, and i've had a hard time finding a bit that fits her really well. Her teeth were just checked and I was told everything was okay and no float was needed (she's pastured 24/7), but maybe I should double check that? That was about a month ago.

    Any words of wisdom for a first timer such as myself? I thought about sending her off for training, but she's so easy going I really think I can do it myself. It's just hard with the set up that I have. We're getting there. Here's the video's.

    Note: I *look* funky in the beginning of this one. There's no sound so you can't hear, but I was just giving her a pep talk because she was wanting to go the direction we usually worked in, and was trying to be pushy about it. I needed her to go the other way because of where the camera was set up at. And as you can see, she accepted it without a fess. Mostly verbal cues from me. She was always relaxed, willing, and very accepting. Why does the bit make her freak out?
    Here's the other, I just put this one together for my mother to see. But it shows how wonderful she usually is. This was like her 2nd or 3rd time, and you can see how I can tack her up without assistance/her being tied. She's practically trained to ground tie.

    *Disclaimer - I do not reccomend working with a 4 year old who has never had a saddle, by yourself, in an open field, and tacking/untacking without the horse tied. Do not try this at home!*
         
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        04-20-2010, 08:35 PM
      #2
    Weanling
    Sorry for the double post, but please excuse the fact that my pants won't stay up in the second video! I don't think I ever flash the moon, but it's kinda humorous to watch me try to keep them up.
         
        04-20-2010, 08:48 PM
      #3
    Banned
    Just asking, why does she need to wear a bit? There are plenty of bitless alternatives available. My TB can't stand the bit--he chews and gapes his mouth and tries to push it out and focuses on the bit instead of me. In a hackamore, no such problem. He even chews when we put the hackamore on like its a bit.
         
        04-20-2010, 08:50 PM
      #4
    Trained
    I'm doing a similar thing - Starting a horse for the first time, and I don't have an arena or roundpen or anything really. It's a learning curve, that's for sure!

    My advice is to get that bit in her mouth as much as possible. She needs to learn to relax and function with it on.

    I would also work purely off the halter for a while until she can relax with the bit in.

    With Latte I would put the bit in first thing when I caught her and take it out last thing before I let her go, every time I worked with her. I also took her up to PC and put the bridle on and left it on her all day in the round pen. Giving treats/food with the bit in helps them to learn they can still manipulate their mouth with the bit in.
         
        04-20-2010, 09:45 PM
      #5
    Weanling
    I know you said you had her teeth checked, but has she had her wolf teeth removed? If not, maybe they are bothering her.
         
        04-20-2010, 09:53 PM
      #6
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by justsambam08    
    Just asking, why does she need to wear a bit? There are plenty of bitless alternatives available. My TB can't stand the bit--he chews and gapes his mouth and tries to push it out and focuses on the bit instead of me. In a hackamore, no such problem. He even chews when we put the hackamore on like its a bit.
    She doesn't have to. Ideally, I would like her to at least accept the bit. I plan to have her forever, but who knows what may happen. I think it's pretty vital that she at least gets used to it, even if it may not be quite right for her.

    She has had her wolf teeth removed.

    I thought about boarding her to work with her in a better set up, but that'll be even more expensive than a trainer. I really want a roundpen, but we don't really have anywhere that's level, so it's not as simple as just putting one up. I would looove to be able to free lunge her (and my others)!

    It's just amazing to me how nervous she gets. She doesn't really toss her head, she chews on it and foams up nicely, but she doesn't protest to it so much as it just makes her scared out of her skin. Not really sure why. It's like something clicks in her head that she doesn't like, and it puts her on edge for the remainder of our session. Without the bit, she is an angel like in our videos.

    I'm going to have her teeth checked asap. Will have the vet do it during Floyds recheck appointment in a week.
         
        04-20-2010, 09:58 PM
      #7
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wild_spot    
    I'm doing a similar thing - Starting a horse for the first time, and I don't have an arena or roundpen or anything really. It's a learning curve, that's for sure!

    My advice is to get that bit in her mouth as much as possible. She needs to learn to relax and function with it on.

    I would also work purely off the halter for a while until she can relax with the bit in.

    With Latte I would put the bit in first thing when I caught her and take it out last thing before I let her go, every time I worked with her. I also took her up to PC and put the bridle on and left it on her all day in the round pen. Giving treats/food with the bit in helps them to learn they can still manipulate their mouth with the bit in.
    What I did today was put the headstall over the halter and make her work with the bit in for the first half of the session. Once she calmed down some, I removed it before introducing anything else that was "new". I don't want to overwhelm her when she's in that state of mind. She even spooked at a cat today which i've never seen her do. I'm going to go up to the tack shop and look for something else to try, though what i'm using for a bit now seems to fit her near perfect. I also need a smaller bridle for her. While what i'm using "works" it's not ideal. Highly doubt it'll fix the problem as it's not going to make a huge difference, but we'll see.
         
        04-20-2010, 10:24 PM
      #8
    Trained
    What bit are you using?

    I went through a couple with Latte and she is currently in a Myler Level 1 Comfort Snaffle.

    I am also looking to try her out in a Pee Wee bit - That mgiht be a good option for your girl. They are meant to be as unobstrusive as possible while sitting passive in the mouth.
         
        04-20-2010, 10:29 PM
      #9
    Foal
    Hm..sounds odd to me. I would say she's probably just being stubborn. I would keep her halter on, put her headstall on with just a normal snaffle bit and try lunging her. She may need something to keep her occupied until she realizes that she'll be ok with something cold and metal in her mouth. Once you lung her the first few times try putting obstacles in the way of her path while your lunging her. Like lay a tarp down, pool noodles, tree branches, plastic bags, things that give her something to think about besides the bit. I've also seen at the feed stores bit wraps that are flavored like apple. Granted you can't always have a bit that is wrapped but it might work just to get her used to the concept of having a bit in her mouth...just and idea.
         
        04-20-2010, 10:59 PM
      #10
    Started
    Honestly, it sounds to me that you're being too in her face and in her mouth. Alot of horses will fight the bit if you're being too aggressive or not being clear enough. You can't expect your horse to be perfect in a few rides.

    Ground drive her alot, it would be crazy to just get on a horse and expect him/her to understand what your asking in the first few rides.

    It's not the bit, it's you. I'm not trying to be rude D; but so far in my training internship I've seen three horses come in with the same problem you're describing.

    I would never put a bit in and just "turn her lose", that would make her think that everytime the bit is in she can run free and crazy. You need to gain control over her.

    In my opinion lunging is only good for gaining respect and possibly re-strengthening an old injury.
         

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