Help me slow down Spirits trot please - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Help me slow down Spirits trot please

My horse has a fast trot that I would like to slow down. Any advice on the proper way to do that? Currently, I apply pressure to the reins and quickly release while saying "easy". It does work but sometimes she thinks that means walk. I want to slow down her trot and give her the proper cue so she's not confused to walk. Am I doing this right?
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post #2 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 01:15 PM
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You need to learn all of the aids for a halt, the aids for a half-halt and the aids for backing.
To be clear to your horse the rider must relax and follow the motion at all gaits.
To be clear to your horse the rider must STOP following the motion of the walk to ask for a halt.
Here's how to ask for a HALT, and you do it ALL at the same time:
1) Sit still, and against the rocking of the gait
2) Tighten your butt muscles
3) Squeeze your calves, just as you do when asking your horse to move out from a halt to a walk
4) STOP following the head nodding with your reins.
Start practicing this every time you halt. You don't have to pull hard on the reins, or haul back on them. The more you practice this, the lighter your horse will be on the reins.
Same as a halt EXCEPT you "pump the brakes" once, then cue forward again. Your horse will behave like your car, which is the hind legs will halt, but then push off again, like your tires which stop rolling momentarily, but then grip the pavement and roll forward again after you stop braking.
1) Tighten your butt muscles
2) Squeeze your calves
3) Lean your upper body slightly backwards
4) Pull reins slightly backwards
The first time your horse will be confused. Release and ask again. At some point he'll try backing one step. Good Effort, so, PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE. Try again, 2 steps at a time. Then, walk a few steps forward. Halt, Practice backing 2 steps.
AFTER these exercises, practiced at least for one week, your horse will listen to you better.
THEN, you can attack the speed of his trot by half-halting him to the speed(s) that you want. =D
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post #3 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 01:17 PM
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Ok I'm a dressage gal so here's how we do it: no pressure on reins period. You could drop the reins completely and control the pace of the animal. Why? Because ur seat controls the horses pace not the reins. Your hands are a separate entity from ur leg and seat. So my advice to you is to ride with a soft rein, no pressure or "tenseness" with ur fingers and do not pull back. No backwards motion. Instead sit and drive. I know it sounds silly but the answer to many under saddle problems is forward motion. So sit and ride him through it. Let him run a few circles while you apply pressure with your calf, making him realize he can not escape contact, remember to keep fingers soft so he can process that u want forward and seek that contact through your leg to rein aid, filling the gap between your hands and his bit. (lowering his head naturally is a symptom of a rounder horse that yields to ur body.) Then regulate his pace with your seat. Squeeze with ur calfs for forward, regulate your posting trot for pace. So your telling him with your legs to keep moving forward and with your seat your saying "at this pace." if he ignores give him a kick and ask him again. He should have a moment of hesitation before processing your cues and slowing his pace into a forward moving trot. However if u don't have the strength in ur legs yet to regulate correctly u can cue with little half-halts with ur hands. These are just minor flexions right and left that will bring his focus back to you and toward your driving seat. Regulating a pace is not easy and u might have 1 or 2 hard rides before u get it down, but don't give up. :)
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Last edited by SunnyBlack; 05-08-2012 at 01:20 PM.
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post #4 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 01:24 PM
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Another option, that works really well with my mare, is asking for a trot, then letting her trot on a loose rein until her trot speeds up to an unacceptable place, then quickly having her stop+back up 4-5 steps. Then, as soon as she's backed up, I have her trot off. I just repeat that every time her trot speeds up too much.

I'm not consistent enough with my mare about it (I have no good reason for her trot slow) to have her have a nice slow jog all the time, but if I were consistent, she'd be 100% slow trotting. :)

For the cue, I sit deep in the saddle, kinda stop her motion with my core, and say "JOG." "Easy" for my mare means "go down to the the gait below this one, please" so I didn't want to confuse her by adding meaning to "easy". She knows "JOG." now, doesn't like it, but she knows and will respond to it.
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post #5 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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WOW! By reading your replies I now know there is SO much I DON'T KNOW. Thanks for the big explanations! Just pushed me over the edge of my decision for me and my horse to go to Tom Read, professional trainer, for a month of 1 on 1 training. He's only and hour from here and trains some of the top riders in the country.

I just didn't want to move her again after just purchasing her and getting her settled at her new barn. Is it too soon to move her for a month? Should I wait? I'm afraid the longer I wait, she will learn the wrong way and I'll have to undo the bad I did on her. She hasn't had a lot of formal training and we just hack the woods when I ride. Mostly ATV hunting trails and just exploring.

Thanks again guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last edited by Spirit Lifter; 05-08-2012 at 01:31 PM.
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post #6 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 01:37 PM
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Yeah professional trainers really help you in understanding the language between rider and horse. The trainer I've been working under for years is a young gal not much older than me but she had lived the life of assistanting to several major show and training barns under several different trainers. Having the experience of working under different people and with different horses is really the only way u can improve your knollwege. Plus my trainer gal is a tough cookie and i like that. We both have a firm hand when handling horses and a deep knowledge and undertanding of equine phycology and body language. Becuse that's really all it ever is, body language both on the saddle and on the ground. :)

Oh and dot worry about ur mare, unfortunately the domestic horses life means being moved around a lot. Since she's had little time to get use to her current situation, go ahead and move her again. It's better to get her in a situation that would be positive anyway. When she gets there just give her a few days to check everything out, walk her around and maybe groom her in the arena if she's nervous. That will associate something pleasurable with work. ;)
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 02:05 PM
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That WAS a lot of information, and stuff that might be more comprehensible after working with the trainer, since it is built on top of more basic things. I think it will be so cool for yoiu to have a month of 1 to 1 training. I envy you.

What I would have said regarding slowing the trot down is to slow your posting down. I am assuming that you are posting the trot. (which maybe yo9u are not). YOu set the rythm that you want (that's reasonable for this horse's natural trot rythm) and you keep that rythm, no matter what the horse does. he will come back and match your trotting rythm.

AND, if you are sitting the trot, use the half halt, as the other said. (can use for trotting, cantering, anything , of course)

here's my description of how your body will do this:

it all ties in with what the others said in that by slowing your body, the horse is forced to match you. in the beginning, you can reinforce this with the reins, but after the horse become sensitive to your body, you might not need to add any rein pressure at all.

The trick is that your body must have a clear difference between "going with the flow" and "restraining the flow". I think of restraining the flow as becoming heavy and firm. My body kind of solidifies from the knee up (do NOT press down hard in the stirrup and do NOT bring the lower leg forward). It is most focussed in making your pelvis and abdomen (core) firmer, almost ast if you are trying to push the horse behind it. the lower leg can lightly apply some pressure to the horse's abdomin to encourage him to step under himself , to NOT back away from you. So, you are kind of compressing him between the lower leg saying "step up, please" and the pelvis saying "just to this point, please". it helps to also firm up the muscles in your upper back. you want to bring your shoulder blades closer together . this is all part of making yourself STOP following his motion. the area right behind your armpit? you tighten that area, and bring your elbow back toward your firming core.

lastly, you close your hands on the rein, and if the horse does not stop with this, then you close them like CONCRETE.
when horse stops,., reward.

NOW. that is what you do to halt. in order to slow, you do the same, but only for a stride or two, or until you get a perceptable change , then release. the horse will speed up , and you do it again.
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post #8 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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I LOVE reading these replies! So informative. Nice!

So all agreed on the training and okay to move her for a month? I will still have to pay my board fees and the trainer/board fees. Not to mention the gas bill getting there and back everyday. It's expensive but totally worth it to "become one with my horse"!!! I get excited just thinking how much more I will enjoy her in the coming years when we both know what we're doing. Good for me and good for her...and fun!
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post #9 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 02:45 PM
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One thing that I do with my green horses to teach them cruise control and get them collecting up pretty nice on a loose rein is I will do millions of circles on them, walk, trot, lope, stop, turn the other way, walk, trot, lope. One phrase that I train by quite often is "Lope them until their head drops". Meaning let them trot/lope in a circle until they figure out that speed isn't going to get them anywhere, they will flatten out and slow down. After they get that figured out, then you can start working on getting them moving with their brakes on. What I do is I will start at a walk, walk a few strides, stop, back up 3-4 steps, sit for a couple seconds, walk off for a few strides, stop, back up, sit.......etc, etc. Once they are good at this at the walk, then I move up to the trot, then the lope. What this does is keeps the horse constantly thinking "stopstopstopstop" and they get to where they are just waiting for you to stop asking for forward so that they can plant their butt. They will start to really keep their hind end up underneath them, they will be more controlled and consistent about their speed, and they will be ready to stop at a moments notice.

However, I feel that I should mention that this method isn't the ideal for an english type horse. Doing this will shorten their stride and cause them to stop tracking up....much like a WP horse.
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post #10 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Smrobs, that sounds like a good thing to practice for many reasons! Thanks.
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