Help with giving to the bit, bending, leg pressure, bcking and stopping..

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Help with giving to the bit, bending, leg pressure, bcking and stopping..

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    08-03-2011, 09:46 PM
Help with giving to the bit, bending, leg pressure, bcking and stopping..

Ok, my 15 year old gelding has many issues.. He came to me like this, except in even worse shape.. I have been working with my horse for months trying to soften him up.. When I first got him a few years ago, he was VERY hard in the mouth, stiff in his body and had NO idea what leg pressure was. In order to make him stop (from any gait) you had to start breaking him down a good distance from where you intended to stop him.. Even at a walk. In the round pen or arena, he stops almost immediately for me. Anywhere else, he ignores me for a bit and stops when he is good and ready. I have used steady pressure, give and take pressure, one rein stops and everything else I could try for him.. He just doesn't want to listen very well out on the trail. He stops worlds better now than he used to, but he still takes quite few steps (or strides if he is cantering/trotting) before he stops... I have tried backing him up when he doesn't stop fast enough but his backing is terrible.. He pins his ears out of frustration and attempts to rear if you try to back him more than a few, small, crooked steps.. He gets very irritated very easily.
And for the leg pressure.. He barely listens to it and gets very annoyed with it. As soon as my leg touches his side, he wants to go forward or go faster. Or sometimes when I use it to turn him while in motion, he turns too wide or too tight. There is no in-between for him.

Now what I don't understand is this.. On the ground, he moves off leg pressure flawlessly, bends like he should, backs with barely a touch very straight for as long as I want him to. I can put pressure on the reins and move him anywhere without a problem in the world. I just don't get what the problem is in the saddle... He isn't a very flighty horse, almost nothing phases him. He has a very collected and cool attitude about things, but he still has spunk to him.. I just don't know what the deal is..
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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    08-03-2011, 10:55 PM
Maybe saddle fit?
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    08-04-2011, 12:05 AM
It might be. I don't know. I kind of doubt it because I have rode him in many different saddles and he is the same in all of them... :/
    08-04-2011, 01:29 AM
He might have an issue in his back that is triggered by any and all saddles, so perhaps a chiropractic check, to ease your mind on that.

Or, the bit and his teeth? As you hear here a lot, always rule out pain/discomfort before working on any behavioral problem from the angle of attitude/bad training.

I tend to spend more time having a horse get more respectful the bit than working on the leg. I want the horse to think of following the bit, so when I pick up to disengage the hind quarters or do a one rein stop, I look for the horse to start to "think around the corner". I lift the rein, say to go right, and if he resists I keep on pressure, adding a tiny bit more than he is putting on and I wait for his ear or his eye to come around indicating that he is thinking in the direction that rein is talking to him.
When I ask him to back up, I use one rein more actively than the other, kind of tickling with one and the other is more firm, and I again watch his eye and ear to wait for his mind to come to "back up" thoughts.
A horse can back up but still be totally focussed on moving forward, and I would not release for that. If he leans on my hands and will drag back, I would pick up the active rein even more, bend him inward and back in a half circel until he breaks loose. Then give a reward of loose rein and then ask for a good backup, looking for that minute but perceptable change in his face that indicates he is thinking back to his rider and what I am sahying to him. Then, with the attitude change, give a release.

Watch his mind and when you ask for something try to get his mind to think that way. When yoiu see that, give the reward release.
    08-04-2011, 02:12 AM
Well, his teeth just got floated and the bit is causing him no discomfort. He doesn't chew on his bit or toss his head. He just seems really stiff with everything.. Maybe it is his back... Though I have checked his back myself for pressure points or sore spots but couldn't find any... He wasn't the least bit tender anywhere and he gets a full body massage after every ride (he is spoiled rotten.. lol). And he really seems like he is trying to do what I want but he doesn't seem to know how to go about doing it from the saddle.. It's like he is learning something totally new when I get on his back, like he has forgotten all that I taught him on the ground.

But ok. Thank you, I will try that with his backing. And that is how I want him to be in regards to the bit.. I have trained young, untouched horses and have gotten them that way without a problem, I guess because they were already soft to begin with.. I have contemplated trying a hackamore to see if that would help to get him soft in the mouth.. My only concern is it's stopping capability should I need that while riding out of the arena/round pen... lol What do you think?
    08-04-2011, 02:41 AM
Oh, I think a hackamore has plenty of stopping power.
I really don't know. But maybe if you do some of the work on getting him softer and more responsive to the bit while in the round pen (riding) it might work. I mean on the trail he could be more distracted and all. I am truly no expert and Mac has some real stiffness issues , too. When I keep my expectations high and really ask him to give to the bit, and then go back and kind of test him and see if he isn't lighter the next time, then I feel a softer horse. But it is so easy to get inconsistent and too lazy to do the work needed to make HIM work harder and not just board up and plow forward , ans he is wont to do.
    08-04-2011, 12:20 PM
Ok. I might borrow a friend's hackamore to see how he would respond to it... I will also try working with him more on softness in the pen. I think part of the problem is I don't insist with him like I should.. lol
    08-04-2011, 12:40 PM
A hackamore is not your friend if you're wanting to get suppleness laterally. I suggest bitting him up.
1. Put a simple O-ring or D-ring snaffle on him with split reins.
2. Tie his head around to the side in an arena. You can use the front or back D-rings of your saddle to tie the rein to. You must do it in increments. Start by barely turning his head and go in 1 inch increments every 20 minutes.
3. Stay in the pen with him and keep him moving. He won't learn much just standing there with his head tied around
4. Do this to both sides. You can't do it too much!

Be responsible. If you take his head to the side too much too fast, he WILL panic and flop over on your saddle
    08-04-2011, 01:08 PM
He is already in a plain O-ring. I don't think that tying his head will help him.. He tends to panic when that happens. When I first got him, the guy I boarded with at the time did that with him and when he tied him to a certain point, he panicked and fell over.. He did this when I was not around and if I had of known that was what he was going to do, I would not have let him. I also was just researching ways of teaching him proper head position, and came across a German Martingale.. I think I may try that with him.
    08-04-2011, 01:30 PM
I disagree with Amazin on the tie thingy, but I agree with his comment that hackamore is not so good for lateral flexion.
In classical dressage they say lateral flexion comes before longitudinal flexion. So, working on lateral flexion before expecting a lot of flexion with the martingale should be advisable. But, since the problem happens more on the trail and at higher speeds, working in the arena at lower speeds would help. Using the German martingale on the trail might help, but any device like that can become a crutch. It is meant to be used for a short period of time and then disused.
Post a video sometime. If it's the horse in your avatar, he is gorgeous@!

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