I'm creating a peanut roller and I didn't mean to...really, I didn't. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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I'm creating a peanut roller and I didn't mean to...really, I didn't.

So after months and months of having a horse with a giraffe neck, I now seem on my way to training a western pleasure horse. Which would be fine if I had intended to do that, and didn't want to do dressage.

I have been encouraging her to stretch her neck and lower her head by releasing contact when she does this. If she has her head high, she gets firm contact. So....she now goes around with her head low and her neck only semi-round half the time. If I allowed her to she would stretch all the way down even at a trot.

Problem being, the moment I try to take up contact, her head goes up. Of course. Because her reward for low neck is release. I created this all by myself and I didn't mean to.

At this point I'd just like to be able to get some contact again without her going all giraffe on me.

Obviously, I've made errors here. Any suggestions would be appreciated. And if you have a western pleasure horse you'd like me to half train for you by accident, feel free to send them along!
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post #2 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 07:27 PM
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Oh no! Have you tried encouraging her into the bit by keeping your hands low while holding contact? I mean really low below the withers (if that makes sense). I do that but you have to make sure that you only do it as a training tool so that you dont develp a bad habit i.e. Make sure you proceed normally once she gets the idea and check in often to see if she does get the idea. Honestly I don't think you were totally wrong on your approach, perhaps some of the big dressage riders on here can speak to that? I think there is a point where you have to fight a bit so they know that you mean business and it's not ok to ignore what you are asking.
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post #3 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 07:27 PM
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From what you write, it sounds as if the horse has not learned to *accept* the contact. Releasing when you take a contact is a good start, better than just bracing against it or fighting it, but she needs to take the bit.

At least she understands that she needs to yield to pressure in her mouth. This is a good thing!

"Correct" contact comes from the hindquarters pushing through, rather than from just the horse putting its head down. Think of the hind quarters creating energy and your hands, through the bit, capturing the energy as it comes from the hindquarters, through the back, coming through the bit, and then coming back around rather than being vomited out through the front end. If the untrained horse doesn't have any guidance at the front end, impulsion generated in the hind end is just going to spew out and you'll get an unbalanced horse who is just running. At the same time, a horse can soften to the hands, but still be so far behind the leg their hind end is in the next county. Hard to say based on reading internet posts and not seeing you and your horse, but I think you should continue to work on the horse softening in response to pressure -- as I said, this is good! -- and getting her moving forward off your leg. Really start thinking about the latter. Once you start generating impulsion, getting her really propelling herself with her hind quarters, then you give light pressure up front. Now she knows she needs to yield to that, rather than lean on it or brace against it. So the energy from behind hits the soft wall up front, bounces off it, and the horse lifts her back, engaging her abdominals and the weight shifts to the hind quarters.

Does this make any sense? Basically maintain and continue to train the concept of yielding to the hand, at the same time as encouraging the horse to move off the leg and come into the hand.

Last edited by thesilverspear; 01-06-2011 at 07:30 PM.
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post #4 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 09:26 PM
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Once she has stretched down, I would try slowly taking up contact, making sure your still pushing her into the bit and almost roll her into a higher frame if that makes sense. Take her up a little at a time so that you don't get such a reaction all at once, as she starts to accept more contact you can start asking for the contact earlier in the ride. You could also try, and I don't know where she is in training, side reins on the lunge so she can feel the correct contact and build some of the right muscles without getting the giraffe neck under saddle.
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post #5 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 09:49 PM
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Silverspear said a lot of good things. I second her for the most part. You did the right thing getting your horse to release to pressure and to reach down. Wow! you did it! I remember when you thought a change would never come about. and now you're unhappy? No way. this is just step one. NOW you can go to step two.
As the other poster said, the next step will be to get impulsion from the rear and the third step will be to have impulsion AND to have acceptance of the bit so that the energy can stay inside the boundary of your horse and be "recycled" in a more engaged horse.
So, next time you are out trotting, and she goes giraff, you put on contact, she lowers, you reward and you let her go along, trotting with her head down. this is a good exersize for you, for you as a rider, and for her too. It does put her a bit on her forehand but it also can lift the back IF she step under herself and doesn't "shuffle" by pulling from the shoulder. For you , you will learn how to balance on your horse without the support of reins to hang onto and without the neck up in front of you as a sort of comforting "wall" holding you in place.

So, you let her trott around, neck down peanut rolling. Go along for a good distance, then ask for MORE. Put your leg on and ask her to move out faster. DO NOTHING with the bit at first. Just let her surge forward. When she does, she will naturally lift her head up. when that happens, slowly bring on contact until you get a give. If she dodges behind the bit or reaches downward, again put the leg on, surge her forward and "catch" her head as it comes up. Now, be careful not to grab her. Let her put her head up (even if it giraffs a lttle) then find her mouth in about three steps or so. Eventually, you'll be able to have her come up and you'll be already there with your hands and she just comes up into your hands! Voila! impulsion from behind and a horse on the bit!
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post #6 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 09:58 PM
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Yeah what Alcatraz and Tiny said. On your last post, you didn't ever think you'd get her head out of the sky. That's great progress. You've achieved a step on the dressage training scale, relaxation. I won't write a book since Tiny already covered it as to how to address it. Just be very clear in your cues and only take what rein slack she gives you during each half halt. If hang on the reins, that head will go back into the clouds. As soon as she responds positively, soften immediately. Don't throw away, just relax your shoulders and elbows so the reins feel like taffy to her mouth. You're making progress! You'll get there with her.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #7 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the responses! I'm glad to hear that we're actually on the right track, I haven't ever trained a horse like this before so I wasn't sure if we had made a big error or not.

So this is a good thing?! Yay!

It makes sense now when I see how you both explained it. She does need to stretch down and be relaxed before I can get her to come up and collect.

Tiny, she does go around on her forehand quite a bit, it's about half and half. Sometimes, especially on corners, I can feel her driving from behind, but that's pretty rare right now.

So I need to work on driving her forward more and then teaching her that she can accept the contact on that bit, slowly.
If it's one thing she has, it's forward. She is go, go, go all the time. I actually tend to need to slow her down a lot. But I'm thinking the kind of forward I want is more about using the butt and less about simply "going", right? Becuase we have a lot of go already but it isn't doing much yet.

I'm excited to work more on this now. I had thought maybe I took some advice and ran with it a little too much and created myself a nice western horse!
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post #8 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 11:23 PM
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Wowza I've been riding for 7 years now and after reading this thread I feel like I know nothing. I have so much respect for you guys that do the dressage riding, it's so cool and amazing to watch. I could only dream of being anywhere near that good with a horse. I like my little trail rides and watching the kids have fun in 4-H though. But literally dancing with a horse like that is just the neatest and really shows you all work really hard at it. Thank you!


'I love my Sexy Scarlett'
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post #9 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 12:50 AM
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I know what you mean about racing around. Zooming might be good word for it, zipping. It is the horse falling forward and needing to go faster to find their balance. It is hard for a rider to stay balanced on, ,usually choppy and you end up leaning forward, which only promotes the gait.

You will be looking for a forward motion that feels more like acceleration. In the most extreme, you would actually feel a tiny bit of extra "G" force as the horse lifts the front and surges forward. Like bundling up the muscles and surging over a jump, or collecting to canter up a hill. The first few steps are accelerating, and they come from the rear legs pushing.
YOu will probably only be able to get her to pick up her head, leap forward and find the bit and STAY there for a few steps and then it will all fall apart. In the beginning, if you feel her meet the bit and stay with you for three or four steps, so that's pretty good. Time to reward. Take your inside hand forward , like 8 inches forward, on her neck and pat her and "Good Girl" and let her reach forward or down or whatever, you are rewarding her. YOu do this over and over, and over time you can have her stay in the correct place for longer periods of time. If you can, let her out of the working frame BEFORE she falls apart if you can. And don't over do it in the beginning. Occasionally go back to letting her run with her head down and you trotting along and on the buckle of your reins.
Once she accpets contact with her head either up or down, you will eventually start practising the extension and collection of the horse longitudinally. You'll go along, ask her with a little tickle of the rein to strethc forward and this time you'll follow her down with the rein, just barely on contact or loose if you prefer. Let her go a few steps and feel the nice long loose steps, and then pick up the reins and slowly (IN RYTHM) ask her to collect up and push into the bit, and then back down again. You wont be able to do this very well until she starts accepting the bit, but it is a very valuable exersize.

I know some people say that when the horse tries to put their head way down that you lower your hands and fiddle with the reins until you get them onto the bit and then raise their head. I don't agree. If you fiddle too much with the riens when the head is down, you build in a backward, behind the bit mentality. It is better to drive forward with the front door open a bit and then when the head is up and the energy engaged, then start the process of taking more contact.
in the words of the wicked witch of the West," THese things have to be done delicately"

Last edited by tinyliny; 01-07-2011 at 12:53 AM.
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post #10 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 04:44 PM
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My mare is half saddlebred and used to keep her head really high. I could ask her to flex her head and give to the bit, but I wanted a nice, easy, pleasure headset. I got it by moving my hands forward -not down- and let her 'find the bit'. that way she learned to set her head. When she put her head where I wanted, I'd close my fingers. now, if I ask, she'll drop her head, and if I collect the reins, she'll collect.

“Have fun - Stay on top.”
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