01-05-2008, 10:09 AM
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A good exercise for every horse is to 'give to the bit.' Basically just stand at your horse's shoulder, take the slack out of the rein, and hold it until the horse gives. Don't jerk or increase the pressure, because that nullifies the effect. I spent all summer working on this with my mare who is notorious for not being very responsive (her stop button had popped off somewhere, she was barnsour, wouldn't listen), and within a couple months of consistent giving to the bit all those problems disappeared. Granted, she will test me sometimes, to see if she can get away with speeding up towards the barn, but after a few repetitions of turning in circles etc. she leaves it alone.
Another good one is just concentrating on getting the ear to drop. When Colletta was constantly racing up to the barn I would get upset and nervous every time she faced the barn, thus giving her a reason to bolt. But while in the saddle I started doing give to the bit. When a horse softens and gives they will also tend to drop their head, just a little. So by concentrating on that ear and waiting for it to drop it took my mind off of the barn and consequently by occupying her mind with a job to do it got rid of the vices.
Another rider I would suggest, along with Parelli, is John Lyons. He's an excellent rider whose exercises have basically saved how I and live around the horses.