Help with Slowing Gaits in Lunging and Riding

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Help with Slowing Gaits in Lunging and Riding

This is a discussion on Help with Slowing Gaits in Lunging and Riding within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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  • 1 Post By aforred
  • 1 Post By tinyliny
  • 1 Post By calicokatt

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    09-15-2012, 05:55 PM
Help with Slowing Gaits in Lunging and Riding

I've been working with Calypso on some basic riding skills (since I'm still relatively rusty and she pretty much only has her basic "walk, trot, canter, whoa, and back" cues down).

I've been working on getting her speed controlled in the arena setting. She's a very fast horse and isn't small, so her stride at the trot and canter really eats up the arena. I'm working on slowing her to a more relaxed, steady gait at the trot/jog and canter/lope, but haven't been terribly successful so far.

She's NEVER run away with me or been flying around the arena out-of-control style, but I feel that I have to tell her 10 times in a row to slow down before I get results (slight exaggeration). I've tried increasing my pressure and intensity in both hands and seat when I ask her to slow down. That does work, but by the time she slows at all we end up in a slower gait completely and that's not what I'm trying to ask for.

Example: We're loping quickly around the arena. I ask her to slow, she ignores. I ask a little more firmly, she ignores. I ask more firmly again, she ignores. I plant my butt in the saddle and insist that she slow down, we're walking.

She's in a basic training jointed snaffle bit and I want to keep it that way... Not really a fan of switching to sharper bits to fix a training problem. My end goal would really be to get her into a hackamore for our "just for fun" riding, and maybe EVENTUALLY enter some lower level amateur local western pleasure shows. Right now, her gaits are much too fast to even consider the western pleasure, and I don't have enough of a handle on her to feel comfortable introducing her to the hackamore just yet.

Is this just an issue of trial-and-error in finding exactly the correct amount of "ask" that I need to use, or is something else wrong?

I'm not looking to send her to a trainer, as she is very gentle and willing, just wants to go fast. We mainly ride just for fun, and she's a blast on the trail. We're also beginning to work on the barrel and poles patterns at walk and trot and she does those well.

Also, I tried to take her back to ground work and get her slowing her gait when lunging... Same problem. I'm not very good at lunging, as my last horses were well-trained trail horses already when I got them and I didn't think to lunge them (I know now that lunging is a good idea for ANY horse, no matter the training level or experience). Some pointers for getting her to slow while lunging, as well as under saddle, would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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    09-15-2012, 09:37 PM
Check out smrobs's blog entry on cruise control. The Road of a Horse Trainer
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Lwhisperer likes this.
    09-15-2012, 10:00 PM
Thanks so much! I read the entry and it sounds very promising. I will get going with those techniques ASAP.
    09-15-2012, 11:46 PM
I haven't read that thread, but I am sure smrobs knows what she is talking about.

This is a very general thought, but whenever a horse braces against the bit telling her to slow down, then you want to think "bend". A horse cannot brace as well against the use of ONE rein, as they can when you apply both reins in an even pull back. So, when you feel her go stiff, or react to the bit by going faster, you get one rein working a lot more than the other and get her into a bend or circle.

Just always keep that very general thinking that a horse can brace up easy against two reins, but not so good one.
Lwhisperer likes this.
    09-16-2012, 12:07 AM
Ok, thanks. Sounds like good advice. The blog entry did talk about circling smaller until she is forced to slow down by using the one rein and then slowly making the circle bigger if she stays at the speed I want. Also, it said this is hard to teach if a horse's stance isn't as balanced and rounded as it should be. Caly tends to hold her head a little high when we lope, but I thought that was a separate issue altogether. Now it's looking like it's the same problem, so hopefully this will fix her head placement as well. :)
    09-16-2012, 12:14 AM
Yes, the headset should come naturally when a horse is working correctly off his hind end.

I am currently at the stage before controlling speed. Miss Abby hasn't been loped a lot, so she has to learn to carry a rider at that speed, just as she did the trot.

She certainly has no problem with "forward", she just needs to learn to use her body, and build the right muscles to do what I'm asking her to do.
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    09-16-2012, 12:27 AM
I know for my mare, who is very speedy, that my dressage instructor (when I could afford her) had me 'pulse' the reins at the canter. So basically, keep the leg on to keep from breaking gait, and squeeze and release the reins with each stride until she's at the speed I'm wanting, then quit until she speeds up, and repeat. So, as her hind feet approach the ground, I squeeze the reins (with leg still on) and as her front feet begin to lift up, release. It works much better than steady pressure on every horse I've ridden.
Lwhisperer likes this.
    09-17-2012, 01:58 AM
Does anyone have advice on slowing her while lunging? I should mention that I only "free-lunge" in a round pen, as I don't like using the line because it can pull the horse off-balance. Caly's previous owner said she responds to vocal cues for gait change while lunging, and I have found that to be true when I ask her to go faster. But if I ask her to slow (from a canter to the trot, for instance) she ignores my cues. Not sure what to do with that.
    09-17-2012, 02:43 AM
I just got a Tennessee Walker, he is 7. I am just getting beck into ridding after a long time. He has awesome ground manners, but does not neck rein well. He currently rides with a standard O-ring snaffle. Do I need to change bits, or someone suggested a stage 2 Tom Thumb. Or do I just need to work with him? I want the ride to be as enjoyable for him as for me, and hope to eventually use a hackamore. Can someone please help, or give me some ideas
    09-17-2012, 11:03 AM
Originally Posted by Lwhisperer    
Does anyone have advice on slowing her while lunging? I should mention that I only "free-lunge" in a round pen, as I don't like using the line because it can pull the horse off-balance. Caly's previous owner said she responds to vocal cues for gait change while lunging, and I have found that to be true when I ask her to go faster. But if I ask her to slow (from a canter to the trot, for instance) she ignores my cues. Not sure what to do with that.
If you're walking around the round pen with her while you're free lunging, as opposed to standing in the middle spinning around in one spot, you need to slow your own pace just a tad, and move a step back from where you are to slow her down. You're effectively easing the pressure when you slow, and step back just a bit (not much, or she'll stop).

If you're standing in the center, say eeeeaaaaassssssyyyyyy, in a calm tone with the inflection going down at the end of the word, and spin just a little slower, so she gets 'ahead' of you if she continues at her current pace. Keep repeating the 'easy' until she slows, even just a little.

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