Getting a horse to seek bit contact

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Getting a horse to seek bit contact

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  • Teaching a horse to seek contact
  • can side reins attach to the bit

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    05-06-2012, 05:33 PM
Getting a horse to seek bit contact

Okay, the way I was taught by an old trainer, to get a horse's head down would be to see-saw the reins. First we would put the reins to the sides through rings attached to the cinch and tied up to the horn. I'm guessing this would be the same as side reins in english. THe reins would not be tight, but tight enough that the horse would feel it as he was trotting and put his head down. I have been reading about getting horses to "seek the bit" and was wondering how this was done. I watched a video about the difference between a rounded frame and a horse not rounded and things clicked. I understand that part now. The video also showed the horses stretching down into the bit. My old arab/saddlebred mare did this when I gave her rein and pushed her into a faster trot. Now I have a 2 year old I just started, I want him to learn to be rounded the right way. How would I go about starting my colt with this? I rode him for the first time today, and will only be riding him 1-2 times a week until I can find a house and can move him so I see him every day
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    05-06-2012, 05:43 PM
I could answer this question in my sleep, lol. Excepting the bit is always solved the same way: forward motion. Soft rein, always. Soft fingers holding the reins, you can even have the reins slightly forward to free its head and allow the horse to seek contact as you drive with your leg and seat, encouraging them to round and lower their head. The horse will naturally seek to fill the gap between bit and rein, and round into your leg.

However it does take time, and before the horse learns to carry itself you might have some hard rides ahead of you. Just remember forward motion. When you feel the need to pull back, drive forward. Always. Soft rein, never pulling back or tight through the fingers. Allow your horse to seek your contact and carry itself. :)
    05-06-2012, 05:51 PM
Thank you that helps. Okay, so I'm trotting around on a loose rein, horse decides to break into a lope. Do I let him? Sitting down to have him slow down stops forward motion doesn't it? I know a lot of people will probably tell me to find a trainer and take lessons. I don't want someone else riding my horse. And The only lessons I have found around here are for little kids from nonprofessional "trainers" or reining and cutting trainers who I do not agree with.

Really hoping it stops raining so I can go out and rake my parents' arena next week
    05-06-2012, 05:57 PM
Yes sitting "deep" in the saddle and squeezing with your legs (calf) stops forward mtion. Part of classical dressage states that you never have to work a horses reins, and that 99% of correction, motion, and lateral work is with your body. Your hands are really a separate entity. And to answer yoru question, yes let him lope around. This is one of the hard lessons of horsemanship: you have to ride through it. When he breaks through your leg its to get out of work, so kick him with swift jabs and run around the ring a few times until he gets "in front of your leg" and realizes he can't escape contact. Then regulate his speed with your seat and leg. Leg to seat. Drive and sit. Squeeze with your leg to get him back to a trot and then sit and drive. Your seat regulates the pace not your reins. Again your horse will eventually realize he has to carry himself and will seek that contact, no longer breaking through your leg but seeking its cues for pace.
    05-06-2012, 06:03 PM
Thank you that makes so much more sense now. Now to go watch more videos
    05-06-2012, 06:04 PM
Originally Posted by TimWhit91    
Thank you that makes so much more sense now. Now to go watch more videos
Glad I could help ;)
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    05-06-2012, 08:20 PM
I like to think the opposite. I want my horse to seek release from the bit and be responsible for his own frame. Maybe it's just semantics, but when I hold, I want him to find that release and rely on the release. That is aided by the forward movement.

For colt starting, I usually do a lot of lateral flexing. Holding the rein to my leg, and when the horse gives his head, I release the pressure completely. I do this a thousand times until I can get that suppleness with a pinkie amount of strength. That way when you are moving forward, asking with both reins, the foundation for "seeking the release" has been put down.

For a freshly broke two-year old to retain learning on 1 to 2 rides a week - it's not going to happen. It'll be very slow going until you get your own place, and I wouldn't expect a lot out of the horse. I would have to be riding my 2 y/o every single day before I expect him to learn higher concepts such as holding a frame.

On the subject of if he is trotting and breaks into a lope, I would maybe let him lope a few strides, but I would bring him back down with a one-rein stop. You didn't cue him, and if he has a problem dealing with the pressure of your legs, he can deal with it going in a circle - looking for that release, yet again.

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