Horse Bracing on the Bit
 
 

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Horse Bracing on the Bit

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  • Brace bit for a horse
  • How to stop a horse from reefing

 
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    02-01-2011, 01:50 PM
  #1
Weanling
Horse Bracing on the Bit

So my younger (5) horse likes to grab the bit and pull at times.

It's kinda hard to explain because she is soft and gives to the bit a lot of the time, but she will grab the bit and really pull pretty hard at times.

I try not to pull her head into a false headset since she is still learning, but its really hard when she grabs and pulls. It pulls me forward and I don't want to get into a pulling match with her, we all know who will win

So, I usually do several flexing exercises each time I ride. Lateral flexion mostly and then I will walk her around and ask her to give to the bit, by her bending at the poll. I do these prior to starting our workout.

Then I will begin by warming her up at the trot. Again, I try not to nag her about her headset and I focus more on just maintaining contact with her while pushing her into the bit, but this is generally when she grabs and pulls.

I also do many transistions; walk to trot, trot to walk, walk to halt, halt to walk, halt to trot, trot to halt. I do these thinking she will become more flexible and giving to the bit and she is at times, but its still more bracing and pulling than soft and giving.

Any suggestions on how to stop this behavior? Is this something that will slowly go away over time?

ETA: I currently have her in a french link type bit, but the "link" in the middle is a copper roller. I did this trying to help her accept the bit contact more.

I had her in a regular french link prior to this and she had the same issues. She does have a calmer headset with the roller bit, but the same pulling problem.
     
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    02-01-2011, 02:20 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
It sound like you have a really reasonable and grounded way of working with this mare. I like all the things you described as ways of developing a good horse.

All I can think of to add is to not just flex her at a standstill. Sometimes when horses are flexed a lot at a standstill, they become giving to the bit, but don't really learn to follow the bit with their whole body, particularly their hind legs.
So, maybe when you are doing the long and low work, work on lengthening and shortening her longitudinaly (back to front) and then work on having her give her jaw to the bit (say left) and FOLLOW the give into a nice wide circle. If she tries to barge, take up the rein more vertically until she needs to really give her neck more and eventually step her inside under her body and disengage her hind quarters. Once she disengages, give her lots of rein and go immediately back to trotting or whatever you were doing when she started to barge on the rein.
So, she barges, you take up (literally upward and toward your outside shoulder) the inside rein, bring her in until she disengages her inside hind, steps under outside hind steps over, inside fore steps left and off you go onto a new track but going back to the originl excersize.
     
    02-01-2011, 02:27 PM
  #3
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
It sound like you have a really reasonable and grounded way of working with this mare. I like all the things you described as ways of developing a good horse.

All I can think of to add is to not just flex her at a standstill. Sometimes when horses are flexed a lot at a standstill, they become giving to the bit, but don't really learn to follow the bit with their whole body, particularly their hind legs.
So, maybe when you are doing the long and low work, work on lengthening and shortening her longitudinaly (back to front) and then work on having her give her jaw to the bit (say left) and FOLLOW the give into a nice wide circle. If she tries to barge, take up the rein more vertically until she needs to really give her neck more and eventually step her inside under her body and disengage her hind quarters. Once she disengages, give her lots of rein and go immediately back to trotting or whatever you were doing when she started to barge on the rein.
So, she barges, you take up (literally upward and toward your outside shoulder) the inside rein, bring her in until she disengages her inside hind, steps under outside hind steps over, inside fore steps left and off you go onto a new track but going back to the originl excersize.

Thanks tinylily!

I just want to clarify that I hardly ever ask her to give at the poll at a standstill. Only while walking and trotting will I hold steady pressure with her until she gives the slightest bit and then I will release and continue walking on or trotting on a few strides and then ask again.

Your explanation of the exercise to do when she is "barging" is great. I will definitely try this with her and see if it helps! Also the lengthening and shortening is a good one. I know this exercise, however haven't really put it into use since she has this pulling thing going on, but I can see how it may help with it. I will also try that.

ETA:

Here is a picture of what happens when she pulls. She has pulled me forward here and my shoulders are rounding from me having to "give" to her pull, but my seat is trying to maintain position. She actually looks decent here, but she has just "pulled" me in this picture so I look horrible!

     
    02-01-2011, 07:06 PM
  #4
Green Broke
I think, looking at this picture, that she is pulling because she is out of balance. She may be more in balance before she pulls and simply physically unable to retain it.

In this photo she is entirely on her forehand.. her both back feet are off the ground and one front foot is on the ground and the other nearly so. Meanwhile, the rider has followed the horse forward and rounded her back..

I look at this and I want to say, sit up straight and give the horse more rein!!!

If she is boring on the bit, your response should be elastic.. you sit up straight to help her keep her weight to the rear and follow her forward with your arms and, if necessary, let the rein slip a bit.

I am not on the horse.. but I am thinking I would probably feel her start the pull, and in response sit up straight and do a half halt (or series of half halts). This is done with an relatively open hand where you gently squeeze the rein.. like it was a sponge and immediately release. The give and take leaves the horse nothing to bore against.

I do not know how you ride.. and maybe you are doing this.. but your hands on the reins need to be live and soft.. able to steady the horse, give to the horse and take back... I don't know if I am explaining this well or not.

I have been reading a good bit on this forum and it certainly makes my current NOT having a horse to work seem like a giant and vacant canyon LOL.

I hope something of what I have said here has helped you. Your horse looks to be a lovely one with potential.

Sit up straight.. move your seat forward off the cantle (you may need to lengthen your stirrup a notch), get your shoulders back and give more rein.. I think you may see a difference.
     
    02-02-2011, 01:07 AM
  #5
Trained
I've been competing a mare that has gotten into the habit of doing this reefing action as your horse is doing.
This is the horse not only being out of balance but being disobedient and evading contact. Do not allow her to pull the reins all the way out of your hands to the level that she wants, in the meantime pulling you forward.
I suggest you do a lot of work to strengthen and engage your core, to allow you to sit tall and be able to keep yourself upright when she reefs. By keeping a solid upper body position, you will have more control over her to combat this habit.
When she goes to pull down, don't pull back on both reins. This merely gives her something solid to lean against and pull harder. Take one rein, and when she pulls, bring that rein upwards, so that her pulling action will bring her head around and not allow her to reef the reins out of your hands.
When she comes to the realisation that reefing will not help her to avoid your contact, this problem will cease.

Make sure that you are riding with an elastic, even contact and you are not accidentally 'jabbing' her in the mouth. The hands should 'walk' and 'canter' with the horse's topline in these paces, not move up and down or remain solid. In trot the hands should remain still but 'elastic' - think of having a conversation with her mouth by gently moving the fingers to keep the contact 'alive'.
     
    02-02-2011, 02:46 AM
  #6
Super Moderator
I agree with Kayty. She is not that out of balance that she can be allowed to pull the reins like that. In fact, I think the balance has little issue with it. It could only be a small part and in that respect, YOU may be partly to blame for that. WhY? Because is she can barge you forward like that (and thank you for the descriptive photo) it tells me that you are not sitting in your OWN balance with your engaged core taking complete responsibility for carrying your own weight. You are probably always leaning forward a little and already surrending your upper body and core by advancing your upper arms too far forward. With a mare like this you will need to be super uprights, super grounded to your core and have your hands and elbows totallly connected to your core. If you stood in a correct stance on the ground and put all your "ki" (your internal energy center) down into your gut (just below your belly button) and stood straight and had your weight flow down into your feet, I could not push or pull you over, no matter how hard I tried

With the same sort of seat , your horse will not be able to dislodge you. She will have a rude awakening, and will bonk herself in the mouth by barging like that. If she then chooses to lean on the rein, out of habit, I would then take up one rein tighter and more vertical than the other (like I described in my earlier post) and break her out of the logjam.
When she gives, you give her total release. Trot off again and if she barges, break her out of it, maybe even to the point of disengageing the hind, if she won't give to the bit easily and then total release.
Don't MEET her pull. MEET it plus ONE OUNCE. You must never meet the pull of the horse exactly. Either be softer, so that you encourage the hrose not to lean but to follow the bit forward. OR< you make HER give to your UNEVEN rein pressure and then you reward her with one or both reins very loose. She can earn a loose rein only by giving, first.
She is a cute mare and you are close to having a seat that will make you a driver, not a passenger.
     
    02-02-2011, 09:38 AM
  #7
Weanling
Thank you ALL so much.

These are all very informative posts and make complete sense to me. I am way too soft with my hands which is why I give to her almost always. I know I CAN sit up more and I CAN hold my seat, but I just have been choosing not to thinking that I don't want to get into a pulling match with her. Your descriptions of the pulling up with one rein definitely gives me a way to NOT get into a pulling match with her.

I am definitely going to try this with her the minute I can get back on her (stupid ice/snow).

Thanks again!!
     
    02-02-2011, 11:04 AM
  #8
Green Broke
Never forget the power of that squeezing action of the half halt. You can also half halt one hand an release with the other.. asking for a turn..

The point is to divert her attention from the pulling and ask her to shift her weight off her front. It is not easy for her so she has developed the evasion.
     
    02-02-2011, 11:17 AM
  #9
Weanling
Thanks Elana-

I will definitely try this as well, especially since the ultimate goal is to get her off her front end anyway.
     
    02-02-2011, 11:25 AM
  #10
Green Broke
All of these are awesome ideas, I would like to add just one more thought. I noticed that you are using an egg butt and you might want to try a loose ring. Because the ring slides, your horse wont' be able to get leverage on the bit or lean into it...your horse will have to find another way of balancing. I think that with all the other suggestions and you should have your horse going better in no time.
     

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