Hmm...what next? - Limited control under saddle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 09-03-2011, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm...what next? - Limited control under saddle

Hey ya'll,

Looking for some basic advice. I have a 5 year old mare, have owned her since Nov. last year and have limited riding on her, maybe 5 times? I didn't realize that I had some confidence issues until after I bought her and started using her in the Spring (unsure if she helped add to them or if they were just hiding in my 5 year span of no horse ownership - my last situation had me on the ground more than in the saddle, eek.) Anyway, now I'm to the point where I don't feel like I have control of her while she's under saddle. Out on her pasture, I have limited go and basically no steering, whether that's with a halter, bit (snaffle), or legs. She'll attempt to back, back, back, but that is usually counteracted with a little tap on the rump. I really hate pulling on their faces and mouths, and my lack of confidence is adding to me not getting as big and aggressive (I use that term loosely) as I should. When she's on a trail or a road ride, she likes to get out and move, but I don't want to ride and put myself in a situation where I don't feel like I have control.

On the other hand, when on the ground, she'll walk and trot besides me as I ask her. And according to my trainer, this should bleed over into the saddle, which is apparently why we spent all of my time doing groundwork -'s not happening.

Side-story: I tried a local trainer where you are doing hands on stuff and training your horse with their guidance. Sure, the ground work was nice and I understand that groundwork is necessary and all of that - to be clear, I appreciate groundwork - but my main goal was to really get some confidence in the saddle and build a better understanding with my horse. Well, after much money spent, there was no saddle time, and I'm back to not knowing anything when it comes to riding.

PHEW. Ok, so my main question is, what do you think of ground driving? Would that seem like the next logical step? Get my mare working off of a halter first with me on the ground and then progress from there? Or what are other ideas? I know I may have to find a different kind of trainer, but I am very gun-shy at the moment, feel like I lost a bunch of money already, and am not sure that I have many local options for what I'm looking for.

Appreciate you reading my little novela :)
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post #2 of 17 Old 09-03-2011, 04:57 PM
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Lunging then longreining! Teach your mare to lunge and respond to voice commands EXACTLY when YOU say! then add two lines and longrein her (may need an assured assistant to help out with lunging and longreining if she hasn't already learn't how to do it)
Then get in the saddle and ask purely with voice commands. Your could do this with assistant lunging but decide who is giving the signals as it will be confusing to have signals from two sources. Youy will be able to tell where the aids should come from from signals from your mare. Eventually take away the line between lunger and you+horse and, Bobs your uncle, your riding her with her purely listening to voice. Many horses (I have found) go much better from the voice than legs and reins, especially when young.

You say you don't feel very confident. Perhaps your horse isn't either? Always keep up a single sided conversation with your horse with your voice when riding. It doesn't matter how ridiculous you sound because it reassures your horse. Keep a two-way conversation open with your horse through feel, responding to her reactions and her responding to yours. And be the confident leader she can trust in. Play the part and soon enough you are that part because you subconsciensly learn that being confident make things run smoothly.

Oh and a very good instructer once told me "you can always make a horse stop when its moving forwards, but if the horse wont go forwards, then you have a problem" Teach your mare to be forwards in every way-thinking, moving and responding.

~I live for the moment when a creature with a spirit wild and heart untouched puts its head in your arms and falls asleep~
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post #3 of 17 Old 09-03-2011, 06:37 PM
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From this I would say you need a different horse. If you have confidence issues a 5 year old horse that is relatively green is not a good match. A better match would be an aged horse that is confident and reliable.. a been there and done that horse.

I double what I am saying since your last horse you had issues with (sounds like a lot of falling off with the last horse.. a 5 year absence and now a 5 year old green horse).

That being said, ANY horse needs to be ridden more than 5 times in 3/4ths of a year if you want the horse to work for you.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
(or woman!!!! ) Dinosaur Horse Trainer
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post #4 of 17 Old 09-03-2011, 08:31 PM
Green Broke
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best horse in the world isnt great if you only ride him once every other month, lots of communication issues can be resolved with time in the saddle, You dont sound like you are sending clear signals, and your horse hasnt had time to understand them if you were, get thee to a round pen, and start riding, round and round, turn round and round, walk, trot walk, figure 8's back and forth, bith you guys nned to learn eachother.
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post #5 of 17 Old 09-03-2011, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input guys.

I'm not ready to sell my mare. Kind of to the point where I need to figure out how to make things work, you know? I've had old and young, and each has had their own different problems - I've never run across one of those really steady eddies for sale in my area, although I think this lady has the potential if I can get my mind back in the game. Of course, if things get dangerous, I wouldn't think twice about changing stuff, but that's not the situation as of yet. She's a smart horse, I think she just figured out that I'm not quite ready to call her bluff.

'Fraid I don't have a helping hand, so I will cater some things to do on my own. And no round pen any more, but I think I can go build something in the pasture if the ground gets a bit softer. Have a feeling that it will help me build my confidence, especially since it will be reducing the amount of ground that she can cover rather then working in the entire pasture. Then I can focus on just getting her to move out rather than moving and steering, kind of in relation to what B&A said.

I'm still game for more ideas if anyone has them, but thanks again for the other ideas!
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post #6 of 17 Old 09-03-2011, 09:39 PM
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All the horses I have owned objected to being ridden in the pasture, much preferring to go somewhere.
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post #7 of 17 Old 09-03-2011, 10:06 PM
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When you say 'working' on the ground, what do you mean? As in, what have you done as far as exercises?

I don't know a horse who, with alot of ground work, doesn't wind up doing well undersaddle...but again, I need to know what your definition of 'ground work' is. Just being able to lead at a walk and a trot next to you on the ground does not mean the horse will do will undersaddle, sorry. How soft he is in other ground exercises, however, will/can determine how soft and responsive he might be undersaddle, though.

So, what does she know how to do on the ground, besides lead?

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #8 of 17 Old 09-04-2011, 08:56 AM Thread Starter
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I know she is not happy about working in her pen, however, I feel she should be willing to work no matter where I take her. If she decides she doesn’t want to work out in a hundred acre field rather than my pasture, yikes. I don't want to put myself into that situation.

I brought up leading just as a quick example to show that she does have “go”, just not under saddle. As far as working with her on the ground, I have done lunging, lunging at liberty (when I can get into a smaller pen), disengaging the hindquarters and the shoulder, moving away from pressure, going through all the gaits, that stuff. That’s all still a work in progress, we are by no means fluid at all of those things, but working on it. Even at the peak of working with a trainer, before a bad trim job that took her out of training for a while, she was the same way under saddle even though she was very responsive to what we were asking in the round pen/out of the pen.

I would like to point out that the trainer kind of mentioned that she seems more like an all or nothing horse. You can supply her with small signals, but it typically takes her larger motions to react to. It’s kind of like she’s been desensitized to half of the cues beforehand or something, and when you supply those small cues, she'll just blow you off. So is she maybe desensitized to cues under saddle? I don’t know. She’s not sore now, the saddle fits, and I’m not too big for her or anything like that.

She is broke to ride by previous owner, hauled to varying states for trails, but she sure has me working for it. When I initially tried her out, she pulled that backing up deal with me, which only needed a reinforcement from behind to get her going, but she had more forward motion and ability to steer. Do I just need to focus on more forward motion in the saddle along with more softness on the ground? How do I bring those ideas from the ground into the saddle?
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post #9 of 17 Old 09-04-2011, 09:48 AM Thread Starter
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Ah, I should include that we work on giving to pressure as part of the ground work too ^^

Last edited by Chrome; 09-04-2011 at 09:51 AM.
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post #10 of 17 Old 09-04-2011, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Chrome View Post
She is broke to ride by previous owner, hauled to varying states for trails, but she sure has me working for it. When I initially tried her out, she pulled that backing up deal with me, which only needed a reinforcement from behind to get her going, but she had more forward motion and ability to steer. Do I just need to focus on more forward motion in the saddle along with more softness on the ground? How do I bring those ideas from the ground into the saddle?
May I ask how long you've been riding horses. I ask since from what was said earlier this is your second problem horse. I train horses myself and the last horse that was brought to me was a 4 year old mare who was already broke but the lady said she can't get the horse to do anything. The girl said similar things you have she was also not confident. I took the mare to be trained and the mare was stubborn at first but once I established that I'm not a push over she did everything I told her too this mare was broke! I took the mare back to the lady she still can't ride the horse. The mare knew she had that lady in her pocket and she could boss her around. I had this mare for a month she was an excellent horse so nice I offered to buy it.

I'm not trying to be mean to you so please don't take it that way. I was just wondering if perhaps you need riding lessons not the horse. If this mare was riding all over the trail just fine and now she won't do anything it really makes me wonder. Or the other scenario is that whoever you got the horse from lied to you. If she's green you need to consistently ride her take her out of the pasture let her walk with you in the saddle. Its a start. Horses pick up on lack of confidence she is either taking advantage of it or your making the horse unconfident plain and simple.

Noey's Herd
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