Getting him to work better

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Getting him to work better

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    06-17-2010, 09:05 PM
Getting him to work better

Alright, so I have finally come up with something that really works, as far as Ice and working goes. Pretty much now any time I want to touch him, other than leading him out and back into his stall, the first thing I do is ground work (even for grooming). A few circles in each direction of walk and trot, and then he comes into the center to do whatever needs to be done, which he behaves and sits still for, or he do a few more circles at a trot. Lots of relaxation going on, licking and chewing, today while we were tacking up he even let himself drop (he's such a bad pony--we were nowhere near my excalibur!) until we went to girth up, and even that was uneventful. One nasty look and a very loud "NO SIR" and slap on the chest, and he was done...we even went to re-tighten the girth a few moments later and got nothing from him.

I've learned that he doesn't particularly enjoy having his face touched as a greeting, but if I go and pat his shoulder and his neck first, he seems to accept that, and then he doesn't flinch or pin his ears when I go to touch his face to wipe eye goop away or shoo flies or whatever. Some days he looks fat, and some days he doesn't--I am basically out of rice bran though, so until I get another job I think I'm going to up his beet pulp. Today I even went into his stall, actually went in to take his halter off, and although he kind of shut down and got glassy eyed, he didn't attack me either, lol.

My question is really more about riding, though. Well, its a couple of questions. The first one is pretty straight forward--since I plan on ground driving him before backing him, so I can build up his topline a little bit and maybe encourage him to put his head down, can I use a hackamore? I'm thinking generally no, even though he does seem to do okay with semi-direct reining under saddle, I wouldn't be able to do that while driving. I was thinking of getting one of those "indian hackamores" (I believe Wallaby has one) that use sort of slip loop type thing, which would be better for direct reining. Putting a bit in his mouth is just a straight no-go in case you're new to Ice, he gets way too stressed out no matter what kind of thickness, mouthpiece, or any extra coating (copper, rubber, etc) and doesn't pay attention. The second question is, today I noticed that, while he is very comfortable physically carrying someone at a walk (although his tail was a little bit raised, he was carrying his neck very nicely and not at all hollow in the back) he is not comfortable at all carrying someone at a trot...It could have been a combination of things, because there were a lot of things wrong this morning, but overall he just isn't comfortable. He's been seen by a chiropractor recently, we finally got one to come out, and his back is still fine, he just has a bump over his right hip bone, its not a misalignment, she basically just equated it to when a persons leg is longer than the other. I do have a video, but I won't post it unless a couple people ask, it really was just a terrible example of riding (although not my riding). So, other than trotting poles and lots of directional changes, anything I can do to get him working under himself and get his head down and his back a little more leveled out?
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    06-18-2010, 06:33 AM
In all honesty from reading what your posted I wouldn't even get on his back until you do more ground work. It sounds like he takes advantage of you, by getting mean in his stall extra... The only time I like to lunge is for respect, I never do it to "get some energy out". Instead I use that "extra energy" for something constructive. But many would disagree so do with it what you please. I would just work on entering and leaving his stall and the basics for a week, or however long it takes for him to not to pin his ears and things. The littlest things matter in the long run.

For some reason, my horse always gets pissy when I tighten the girth as well. My boss as well as I have palpated his back but he doesn't flinch anywhere. And my saddle fit is great. The chiropractor comes out soon so maybe I'll get her to check him out.

Instead of going straight to riding, ground drive him with a simple snaffle bit. And not work on backing. The only time I would use a hackamore on a horse is for a horse that already learns how to bend and give to a bit and knows proper leg cues. The way I see it is your horse is ignoring a bit, what makes you think he won't ignore the hackamore? Perhaps the reason why he gets so stressed is because you always have constant pressure on his face? My horse gets the same way.

I would love to see the vid, but be prepared for bad things to be said. So if you don't want to hear it then don't post xD But I would love to see the way the rider carries his/her hands and how the horse responds.
    06-18-2010, 09:38 AM
Whitefoot, I don't know where you read that I lunge to get his "energy" out, but I lunge for respect. It just doesn't take him more than 20 minutes to start paying attention to me. Maybe I should post before and after videos of trying to groom and tack him up....when I get new batteries for my camera. The stall is a real solid issue for him, since I don't actually need to go in there and have a party, I'm going to continue working with him of course, since I'm doing that anyway, but it just seems like a real waste of him to not back him, or work on backing him, when he goes perfectly well for that.

The bit is an absolute no go. He hates snaffles, I mean really hates them, and is only slightly more accepting of a three-piece/french link. With a bit he does not ignore it, he actually does the opposite and focuses on it. He chomps and chews and gapes his mouth and stretches down and tries to get his tongue behind it so he can push it out, kind of pushing me into the back of his brain.....since he's a racehorse, jockey's aren't real active riders, lol. I've had multiple trainers see him, and the all said the bits fit him well enough. There were a couple of girls who were shocked at the difference between riding him in a bit versus a hackamore, and the one woman didn't want to try because she said it didn't bother her since he still listened and followed cues. I have ridden him in a hackamore for months previously (those would be the months where he didn't respect me, lol) and even on the first day I put it on him, never had a problem. He took to it right away, pushes his nose into it, and licks and chews when we first put it on. I think its the funniest thing.

As for the video. Before I post it, I'm just going to list all of the things wrong with it. Aliana, the girl riding, is riding in a saddle that's probably about 3 seat sizes too small, she's very bouncy in the first part (I actually ask her to try and post) and even with the posting, she posts very small, and pretty much still looks bouncy--she's using her legs, but it looks like she's letting her seat take the brunt of the fall, which is not very nice for my horse! Since her seat is compromised, its probably not very nice for Ice and making him more hollow backed than usual....he looks very bent in half in the video, and I have pictures of me riding where he only dips his back and becomes head high a little bit...He can't pick up the appropriate leads because he doesn't have that muscle yet, but I'm not really worried about that, but I think someone might notice it. I honestly think she is just too heavy for him to carry at this point, after watching them yesterday.

Our resident live-in stable hand, who had never seen Ice under saddle, even commented "well, he doesn't look like the devil right now!" which he's not anyway, he just likes to act like he is, except around little girls.
    06-18-2010, 09:57 AM
    06-18-2010, 10:35 AM
So here is my lil opinion...As far as the ground driving goes, if he responds to a hack under saddle, ground driving him in a halter shouldnt be a big deal. If you were going to go buy a special hack just to ground drive him, maybe get a lunging caveson instead.

As far as the riding and the video goes, I think you have a hesitant horse because of a hesitant rider. She seemed a little unsure at the walk and he was walking very slowly. He may be having a pain issue but I didnt see any huge signs that he is ouchy. I don't think it has anything to do with her weight or her saddle, just the fact that she seemed like though she was urging him on with her hands and legs she was holding him back with her seat. He seems pretty perceptive and was trying to give to her but she was holding him back.

I don't know your back story (or ices') but he seems like a nice greenish horse who is trying very hard! While I agree that backing him is a good idea and that you should continue to do so, take it nice and slow. Try to get him driving from the hind and yeilding in every direction. Work with the walk if that's where he is most comfortable. Good luck with him! He's adorable!
    06-18-2010, 10:47 AM
In addition to the comment above, I assume your using the tack in the photos of him in your barn then I personally would put a real bridle on him.

I really don't like using those 'hackamores' things (really, around here those types of hackamores are called jaw-crunchers and for good reason) on green horses that travel high headed, it makes worse...add a green rider to the mix and your asking for trouble.

Get a good snaffle bit (for english I love egg butts or full cheeks) and a trainer to help you along... that horse has a long ways to go in its training.
    06-18-2010, 01:15 PM
IllComeALoping, please see above. He's a 12 year old OTTB, not very green to being under saddle, just very green to working his body correctly. However he knows w/t/c/g and whoa. A bit is just not an option. If you live in Florida and want to make the trip, I invite you to come and see the difference for yourself!

Thank you corino, he does try VERY hard. He's very smart too, and once he figures out what you mean he's golden.
    06-18-2010, 01:30 PM
I should also add that with regular riding and lots of transitions his head does come down (or rather stays at the natural height, like his walk) and he builds up muscle pretty well. I just don't have the means to ride right now.
    06-18-2010, 02:52 PM
In my opinion I think that if the horse works best in a hackamore then use it. Some horses who carry a light head work best in something such as a beetle or sweet 6.. As for the backing I think that ground working such as you are doing is fine however I've never heard of someone ground driving to teach a 'back'. I have broke 1 horse but trained many and we always worked on backing in the round pen by stepping to the side of the horse slightly pulling with equal pressure while saying the command 'back' and later perfected it when we were on the horse. And it has worked great Getum backs great on the ground and when you ride him.
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    06-18-2010, 02:55 PM
In my opinion I think that if the horse works best in a hackamore then use it. Some horses who carry a light head work best in something such as a beetle or Jim Warner.. As for the backing I think that ground working such as you are doing is fine however I've never heard of someone ground driving to teach a 'back'. I have broke 1 horse but trained many and we always worked on backing in the round pen by stepping to the side of the horse slightly pulling with equal pressure while saying the command 'back' and later perfected it when we were on the horse. And it has worked great Getum backs great on the ground and when you ride him.
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