Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: NW Arkansas, USA
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!