horse just wont whoa! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 04-25-2008, 06:05 AM Thread Starter
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horse just wont whoa!

my 16 yr old standardbred just wont whoa. as soon as i give the smallest pull on the bit he puts his nose out n opens his mouth. he wont listen to WHOA! or to my leg. can anyone give me some advice on this? is it a training issue or more a bitting issue? i wouldnt mind a bitless bridle but i cant afford 16...any help is much appreciated.
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post #2 of 15 Old 04-25-2008, 06:24 AM
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I'm sure you will get better advice but I can tell you what I did :) Vida didn't have a whoa either when I first got her. The only way she would stop or even slow down was a one rein stop. Not ideal when your getting ready to cross a busy road
I spent the day with her in the paddock just giving her the cues to whoa as she approached the fence. She had to stop or run into the fence. Use a corner if a straight fence won't work. Say "whoa" every time and use your leg and hands. I'm not sure of the right order, but I go verbal first then hands. Give lots of praise when he stops. Rub him say good boy and do it again and again. She stops at the verbal "whoa" now.
I want to add that I do a stop-back thing when we are warming up. Make it all one motion stop- back. he has to learn the stop first though

It sounds like you may have some biting issues too. Or you may be pulling too hard.
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post #3 of 15 Old 04-25-2008, 06:37 AM
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I dont know if I'm the best to give you advice, but this is what I found useful with my mare who had the same problem.

First thing first, I started riding her with a flash which prevents her from just opening her mouth and resisting the bit - not a solution but it helps in the training process). Flashes are cheap as far as I know! Then, you need to start training (assuming you've got his teeth checked - if you can do this to make sure its not a pain issue).

What I do with my mare is a pressure system kinda adapted from the natural horsemanship techniques I guess. Whenever I ask her to do something, I start off asking her in the lightest way possible. For example, if I want her to slow down (I cant use my legs for this as my horse is leg shy), then I give a tiny pull (more like just closing your hands on the reins). Then, if she doesnt respond, I increase the pressure until she does respond. The moment she responds (even in the slightest), release the pressure. The horse needs to understand that the moment they do what you ask of them, you'll release the pressure. This way they begin to learn to respond to the lighter pressure!

Other than that, I'd try teach him voice aids. You've said that whoa doesnt work, so maybe try another voice aid or a sound like whistling. Each time you ask him to stop, use the aid, if you lunge the horse and want him to slow down, use the aid. Eventually they begin to associate the aid with the action. I give the verbal aid first then use the reins, and Anita (my mare) is already beginning to respond to the voice aid alone.

I found this combination very useful for my little mare and she is already beginning to respond amazingly well to it so I hope you might find it useful for your horse!
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post #4 of 15 Old 04-26-2008, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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thanks heaps guys. i got my sister (whos a vet) to check his teeth a while ago she floated them for me but said there was more left to do im hoping she can come out and do it for me again. ive tried the fence and he just turns when he gets to it. and hes not very good with stopping on the lunge either. But thanks heaps for your help.
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post #5 of 15 Old 04-26-2008, 11:15 AM
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OK, I have a different view on this. This is what I did when I first got one of my horses that didn't have a whoa at all. He was an ex cutting/reiner and barrel racer therefore he just wanted GO!!!!

If you have access to a round pen or arena or just a fence line use this. What you have to do is ride along the fence line. When you say whoa mean it. With your legs, body (sitting back with all your energy), and voice (not loud, but normal without much excitement). If he does not respond, you one rein turn him to the inside. Like you are going to turn him into the fence. Don't worry they hate this as they are clausterphobic. ANyway, go another 10 feet, "Whoa!" doesn't do it inside turn, keep doing this until he gets it. As soon as he gets it, you stop him and let him rest with lots and lots of praise and rubbing. Then do it again. After a couple of sessions over a couple of days he will get it. It truly doesn't take long. Let me know if you have any questions as I don't explain things too well!
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post #6 of 15 Old 04-26-2008, 12:11 PM
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Remember one rein is stronger than two.
Think of the little kids and their ponies trying to eat grass. Two reins won't help at all. One rein/hand WILL resolve that problem.
And don't pull - massage/sponge the reins
Also, slow your body down. Did you know 90% of the time people are pulling back, but their body keeps telling the horse to run.
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-27-2008, 02:11 AM
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I would use ground work to teach your whoa before you get on again and try there. Might prevent some injuries.

I teach my babies whoa right from halter breaking and there on. I say whoa whenever I want them to stop for anything. Take that into ground driving as early 3 years olds. When I take them out in the arena and ground drive them to teach them turns etc. I'll use whoa then. I use whoa for absolutely everything. Lunging also, lots of whoa transitions. By the time someone gets on, its what they know best.
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post #8 of 15 Old 04-27-2008, 12:27 PM
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I've been working on whoa from the ground with Twister... I'll have him on a lead and walk basically anywhere I want (we have no arena or round pen yet ) And totally and completly randomly ask for whoa...when he does he gets lots of praise and when he doesnt we spin a circle and keep going untill he does stop. Its slower than some other ways but it has been working for us... :)

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

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post #9 of 15 Old 04-27-2008, 01:52 PM
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Exactly. They really seem to catch on a lot more when you start them off on the ground and ask for those random whoas.
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post #10 of 15 Old 04-27-2008, 11:12 PM
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I would go back and do the basic ground work with him for a week. Get him really good on the ground, and then move on to doing things in the saddle.
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