Insensitive horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 09-19-2012, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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Insensitive horse?

My mare has been broke for about 6 months and I still can't get her to neck rein. I started her out with a D-ring snaffle and I could barely turn her so I switched her to a leverage bit and it works a lot better,but I still can't get her to neck rein.
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post #2 of 15 Old 09-19-2012, 12:43 PM
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How, exactly, are you teaching her to steer? Steering should come from your seat and leg, with your hands as merely a guide.
Your mare should learn how to neck rein FIRST before you switch to a curb bit; curb bits are to be used on horses that know how to neck rein only, they are not supposed to be used two handed, direct reining. 6 months is much too soon to introduce a curb.

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post #3 of 15 Old 09-19-2012, 01:14 PM
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My suggestion would be to go back to a snaffle and teach the horse how to steer, firstly, working off leg and seat. Then introduce neck reining, by incorporating leg and seat aids, with direct reining and introducing the feel of the opposite rein against the neck. Once the horse is good with neck reining in a snaffle at all three gaits and the reins can be loose 98% of the time, THEN switch to a curb for refinement.
There is a reason that under 6 year old horses are allowed to show in a bosal or snaffle; it takes that long to get a horse trained to a curb properly and there are steps to be taken to achieve that level of training.
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-19-2012, 01:36 PM
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-19-2012, 02:27 PM
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Go back to the snaffle. Some people find mecate reins, the horsehair ones, really help teach a horse to neck rein as well since they feel it better than leather. I have a pair and I love them, but they take some getting use to.

As Just Dressage said, make sure to teach her how to steer with your seat and legs. I would suggest if you have cones or trees, lots of serpentines and figure eights.

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post #6 of 15 Old 09-19-2012, 03:02 PM
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Training a horse to respond to seat and leg will not happen overnight, it takes consistent work. I've had my gelding since late May, and just this past weekend I decided to "test" him while we were cooling down - I held the reins at the buckle and practiced steering him with my seat and leg only, no rein involvement. It was neat to see that he responded so well, but the change has been gradual, and we are only solid on seat/leg only (rein thrown away) at the walk right now; any stronger gait and he needs the support to channel the energy.

I really want to go in depth into HOW to train a horse to respond to seat and leg, but my thumb is cramping. If I have time tonight to pop on my laptop, I will take some time to explain the "how" - its Ronan's day "off" free from me so I may have time haha.
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-19-2012, 10:17 PM
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You won’t have a horse going on a neck rein in 6 months, The horse is probably only insensitive to the signals you are giving it to the extent that it hasn’t had time to be taught or learn to be sensitive to them in the first place. Use a snaffle bit and get it nice and soft through a direct rein and signals through your seat first, then start using that in conjunction with a neck rein and slowly try to get the neck rein to overtake the direct rein and try to soften the seat cues; do it right and you will only have to look in the direction you want to go and the horse will go there. Forget the leverage bit, it will probably just complicate things.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-19-2012, 10:33 PM
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I agree with JDI, this horse is nowhere near ready to be in any form of leverage bit. The horse should be soft, responsive, supple, and have a very good idea of at least the basics of neck reining all in the snaffle long before you even consider moving to anything else, especially a leverage bit.

While I do believe that a western ridden horse can be ready for a curb bit in a relatively short amount of time, the rider/trainer has to really know what they are doing in order to do it properly without ruining the horse's mouth or their mind.

Has this horse ever been to a trainer of any sort or did you just sort of start riding her 6 months ago? How much training experience do you have? Have you ever worked under a trainer to learn the proper way to start a horse under saddle?

Just my guess, but I would be willing to bet that this horse was never taught how to properly respond in the first place. While there are some horses that are just hard from day 1, the majority of "hard" or "insensitive" horses were made that way by improper handling during their first experiences with training.

You need to go back to the snaffle and either find an instructor or a trainer to help you. The most crucial part of training a horse is the timing of the release of pressure. If you release pressure at the wrong time or expect too much right from the start, then you'll end up with a bracy horse that is unwilling to respond the way that they should.

You need to go back to the very basics of suppling and teaching the horse to give to the bit. Because she's been allowed to be so unresponsive for so long, you're looking at a lot of work and a lot of time to get her fixed. For that reason, I suggest you seek help from someone more experienced in training horses. Someone who will know when to be steady and when to get a bit more assertive with her.
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-21-2012, 12:18 PM
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As I've mentioned in another post, take your horse into an enclosed area and secure the reins loosely and let them hang on her neck. The challenge is to keep her at the walk and use your body to steer her. Experiment with what to do that elicits what response. She will do pretty much as she understands it. Use a rein only if she gets into a corner and tries to stay there. The idea is to let her meander about. As you turn your head as far as you can and note how your shoulders and pelvis move in the saddle. Also not how both the position and pressure your legs apply changes. Your mare should begin going in an arc. If she doesn't that's ok, just ride relaxed and try again. This time move your inside heel back a few inches and tighten your calf muscle as you turn your toe out a little. This will........I'm not telling. You'll learn what it does. Good luck and enjoy, breathe and relax. You are both learning.
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-21-2012, 12:45 PM
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I agree about the snaffle. If your horse isn't light and responsive to a direct rein on the snaffle, he will fall apart and not turn to the neck rein when he is frightened or otherwise distracted, like out on a trail, at a new place. He'll tune you out, and he won't direct rein, either. It's a skill that your horse needs to master--listening to YOUR steering and doing it without leaning 100+ pounds of head and neck into the bit.
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