Good brakes help - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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Good brakes help

I have a 9 year old appendix gelding who is just awesom, but we have problems with his brakes. Right now I'm riding him in a twisted wire gag combination bit. He is really light side and bends, and flexs awesome in this bit but in anything i ride him in he really pushes on it once i asked for stop in a fast trot or lope and wont sit down. It takes alot of muscles too make him stop and this can be very danerous.

Im looking for any advice on bits or training tips too use on him.Thank you
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 12:08 AM
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If hes not stopping in a twisted wire combo gag bit, he aint stoppin on nothing. Are you asking with your seat before you ask with your hands? What other bits have you tried? Have you had any success with anything else? Do you have a trainer who can help you?
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 12:09 AM
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Dont you a canstan pull to slow him down, use half-halts.
and half-halt him onto his butt if he didnt listen, just dont do sharp snaps with the reins, but dont pull either.

keep his favourite treat in your pocket, and when he stops, feed it to him. he will WANT to stop once he figures out he gets cookies or scratches.

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
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post #4 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 12:36 AM
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Firstly, get that bit out of his mouth. As Corino said, is he isn't stopping in that, strength isn't helping you one bit.

Get him in a smooth mouthed bit. I prefer a snaffle for my training work, but if you must use a leverage or gag bit, then go for something without huge shanks or endless gag action.

Stopping is a really easy thing to teach a horse when you know how - but really easy to stuff up if you don't.

There is one, super important thing you need to do, and it's the key. Without it, you will NEVER have a good stop.


As soon as, and I mean not a millisecond after, that horse stops - You release all pressure. Straight away. Doesn't matter how much you had to get in his mouth to get the stop, you need to give it all back.

The second key - Start with your ideal cue, and escalate to whatever it takes to get the response.

This is how I teach a youngster to stop in the first few rides.

I get a good walk up on a loose rein. Firstly, I sit up, clench my butt cheeks, and say aaaand - Whoah. The 'aaaand' is like a half halt with my voice - And eventually, they better be stopped on whoah or they will know about it. But not yet - You can't expect it straight away.

If there is no response, I pick up the reins lightly.

No response, I take a good hold on the mouth.

No response, I flex the head around to the side and let them circle until the feet stop.

As SOON as the feet stop, I relax, give the rein back, give them a pat and let them stand and think about it. Then I go again.

Horses are smart - it doesn't take long for them to catch on. Latte figured out in like 3 rides to stop off my seat and voice by the time I said whoah. She now stops almost better than my 7yo gelding who had some 'questionable' training.

I don't pick up on their mouth too much until they are clear that the bit means stop. That would be pointless and confusing.

But on a horse who knows better? You bet i'll get in their mouth if they don't respond.


So, for your horse - I personally would put him in a snaffle, get him in a yard or a fairly flat paddock, and do similar. Get him walking at a good pace on a loose rein. When I was ready to stop, I would sit up, clench my butt, and say aaaand - Whoah. No response? I would pick up on him softly once. No response? I would pick up on him HARD. if he doesn't stop, I would use a pulley rein - One rein nice and short and lock that hand on his neck, and pull up and back, hard, with the other. Sometimes it's necessary to use your entire strength on the pulley rein, but usually not more than once.

If he still doesn't stop, then I would look into checking he doesn't have any nerve damage in his mouth.

Remember - As SOON as the feet stop, give him the rein. Doesn't matter if his head is sky high - He needs to learn without a doubt that if he stops, the pressure goes away.

If you do it properly, he WILL get lighter. Do it at a walk until he stops without rein consistently. Then move up to trot and repeat. Canter - lather rinse repeat.

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post #5 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 02:20 AM Thread Starter
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Keep in mind this horse was neglected for several years before he came too me in october and then i started consistently riding him. So he is still learning alot.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 02:32 AM
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^ Even better reason to change bits and do as I suggested above.

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post #7 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 11:18 AM
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A stronger bit won't help you here I'm afraid.

I too use much the same method as WS

I start on the ground teaching a firm "whoa" though - with leading, then lunging... and by the time I get to the saddle "WHOA" means stop.

When I ask for the halt from the saddle I do it in stages - but not letting the horse go more than 3, maybe 4 strides before MAKING it halt forward motion.

I do not let the horse just turn a circle - because I've found a lot of horses are all too willing to do those little circles if they don't want to stop (many horses who resist the halt are still nervous or anxious about something)... asking them to step over keeps me in control of their hindquarters (the motor), and it's harder for them to do than just turning a circle so they seem more willing to stop motion.

Another method I use (depends on the horse and why there's no whoa) is to turn the horse into a fence within the 3 or 4 strides. So I ask with my body, then voice and body, and then I use the fence. I will do this by pushing their hinds over so they cross (again, like that turn on the forehand) and riding them into the fence while sitting deep and saying "whoa". (This is a method I tend to use on those really strong "bulldozer" horses who lack finesse, and I don't have the opportunity to do the work on the ground first - an example might be a horse I'm viewing to purchase)

I prefer to do just about everything from the ground first - and find that if the horse has a firm mastery of things from there, they will naturally carry to the saddle.

I also TOTALLY agree that the key to a good halt is a GREAT release of pressure at just the right moment. Without that, it doesn't matter what bit you have in the horse's mouth, you won't get a clean halt.

The other thing I thought I'd mention is... without good forward you won't have a good halt either. When we ride we "go forward to halt" - it sounds backwards, but there you have it.... to me "good forward" means you have a relaxed horse who goes forward willingly without a lot of aid. The key here is relaxation - without that you have nothing to work with. Without forward you have nothing to work with (everything from steering to stopping comes from forward movement).

You will never teach an anxious horse to stop and stand still - while it's anxious.

Last edited by TheLastUnicorn; 07-15-2010 at 11:21 AM.
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the tips me and my horse really appreciate it=D
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 02:25 PM
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You dont need to get a harsher bit. I would get a snaffle with a curb strap. And do the whoa-sit-reins-back up excersize. Start at the walk. Say "whoa", and if he doesn't stop use your seat and melt your hips into the saddle. I neither of those aids work pick up the reins and make him back up. Eventually he learns that you won't touch his mouth if he stops in whoa. Just make sure each aid is distinct in a rythym, same every time.
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 07:26 PM
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I TOTALLY agree with all the advice everyone else is offering. When I bought my mare the owner gave me the bit and said I would "need" it. I kindly told her to keep it (double twisted wire) and went home and put in the most basic snaffle bit I could find. We worked a TON at the walk for a couple days and as soon as she began to realize that I wasn't going to haul on her mouth and jab at her she stopped gripping that bit and loosened up. We eventually worked our way up to the trot and canter and we are now jumping in that same bit. I recently saw the old owner at show and she was shocked that I had "calmed" that horse down. Best of luck but my first step would definitely be changing to a less severe bit.
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advice , bit , giving , sitting , stopping

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