Issues with Cross-Firing
   

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Issues with Cross-Firing

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  • "cross firing around the barrel
  • Crossfiring barrel horse

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  • 1 Post By ChipsAhoy

 
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    08-21-2012, 05:48 PM
  #1
Foal
Issues with Cross-Firing

A friend of mine is having a problem with one of their horses and is looking for some advice. First some info on the horse...

He is a four year old gelding. He has been bred to be a barrel/roping horse and has great potential, but obviously he is still being worked on the basic foundations of riding. He has been ridden consistently and is coming along really nice. The problem is, he has an issue with cross-firing. For example, when he is worked in the round pen, if I ask him to canter he will canter around nice and slow and correct. Then, if I ask him to speed up into a quick canter, he will switch his hind lead so he is cross-firing. He won't switch back until he has done three or four circles at a slower pace.

The same thing happens when I ask him to turn in the round pen. He can be cantering along fine and dandy and I'll ask for the turn and when he comes out of it he'll be correct in front but not behind. And, if I ask him to turn again while he is cross-firing, he'll switch his back lead again so he is still cross-firing. He does the same thing while being ridden.

He has been checked out and it isn't pain related. His saddle fits. Is he just unbalanced? What are some exercises that we could do to help him with this?
     
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    08-21-2012, 07:21 PM
  #2
Weanling
I know how frustrating this can be. My gelding has been doing this, but he does it no matter the speed, not just when he is fast.

Make sure the vet looked at him, his saddle fits, etc.

My guy is unbalanced. I do lots of serpentines at the walk and trot and circles with him in the canter. Uphill/downhill work is also great to form there muscle.

Does he do it in the field? Look for that as well.

There are no short term solutions, you just need to get them bending nicely and more balanced.

Good luck and I hope this helps :)
Quote:
Originally Posted by hjracer    
A friend of mine is having a problem with one of their horses and is looking for some advice. First some info on the horse...

He is a four year old geldng. He has been bred to be a barrel/roping horse and has great potential, but obviously he is still being worked on the basic foundations of riding. He has been ridden consistently and is coming along really nice. The problem is, he has an issue with cross-firing. For example, when he is worked in the round pen, if I ask him to canter he will canter around nice and slow and correct. Then, if I ask him to speed up into a quick canter, he will switch his hind lead so he is cross-firing. He won't switch back until he has done three or four circles at a slower pace.

The same thing happens when I ask him to turn in the round pen. He can be cantering along fine and dandy and I'll ask for the turn and when he comes out of it he'll be correct in front but not behind. And, if I ask him to turn again while he is cross-firing, he'll switch his back lead again so he is still cross-firing. He does the same thing while being ridden.

He has been checked out and it isn't pain related. His saddle fits. Is he just unbalanced? What are some exercises that we could do to help him with this?
     
    08-21-2012, 09:37 PM
  #3
Foal
I had the same issue with my horse but he did it every time I asked him to canter no matter where we were. I had him checked all over for pain, gave him regular appointments with a chiropractor and did tons and tons and TONS of balance work until he was very well balanced at the trot but his cantering continued to get worse. Eventually he went lame and I got him tested for lyme disease..which it turns out he's had for a while and that was the root of his issues. Now he cross fires when rushing and during downwards transitions out of habit, but It's getting much better. I'd make sure he is completely pain and disease free first.

Some training exercises I recommend are
-serpentines at the walk and trot
-going over lot's of walk and trot poles
-do trot-halt-back-trot transitions frequently
-work in circles of different sizes and all three gaits
-begin cantering and the second he switches in the back, slow him down and ask him to canter again.

It takes a lot of work to build up a horses muscles enough for them to carry themselves properly, but with time the issue should improve.
Black Beauty 94 likes this.
     
    08-22-2012, 09:19 AM
  #4
Super Moderator
When you rule out pain, then you have to treat it just as a habit. I can tell you for an absolute fact that once a horse has cross-fired a lot, they become very comfortable with it and it can become their 'normal' lope, sometimes even when they not loping in a circle or through a turn. Most of the horses that do this are either very 'thick' heavy made horses that lack flexibility or do not possess great natural athletic ability. A horse bred for the barrels should have more agility than that.

I have had quite a few horses that had become very comfortable with cross-firing and I got them all to not do it or do it only occasionally. I was able to get all of them to stay true-leaded and only occasionally flop out their butts.

You can scold a horse and use negative reinforcement to stop the from cross-firing. I am so adamant about a horse staying correctly in lead that I make them 'fix' it from the very first time I put them in a round pen or on a longe line. I absolutely want them to know from the git-go that is not going to be accepted.

I always get after a horse and make them 'catch up' with the hind lead and never let them slow down, break stride and start over. I want this to hold over to riding and any horse that is going to be 'used' is going to have to stay 'in lead' to get anything done. Barrel horses, in particular, need to stay in lead because they cannot 'drive' away from a barrel to the next one if they flop out of lead behind. If you watch 'high level' futurity runs or big 'open' barrel events, you will see that every horse with a good time is staying in lead and bringing that inside hind leg way up underneath them so they can drive away hard from the barrel. You will also see many horses that flop out half way around a barrel. They NEVER do any good in placing. Is costs them too much time.

When I ride a horse, early on, I teach body control of all five parts of the horse. I want to be able to move a horse's hind end over when his head is also facing that same direction. To successfully barrel race at a medium to high level, you have to be able to teach full control of the horse's head, neck, shoulders, ribs (body) and hind end (hips). So, you have to do what you have to do to teach this horse NOT to flop his butt out. It has to have severe consequences. Every time he is allowed to do this without consequences, he thinks it is OK to do it.

I KNOW that you can stop them from doing it because I have done this many times. The longer you let him do it, the more difficult it will be to correct.

Always remember --

"Whatever you allow him to do is what you are training him to do!"

"The worst performance or behavior you accept (and do not interrupt or correct) is the best behavior you have any right to expect!"
     
    08-22-2012, 03:53 PM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
I KNOW that you can stop them from doing it because I have done this many times. The longer you let him do it, the more difficult it will be to correct.
Yes, I am aware that cross firing is an issue that he needs to deal with. I have not worked with this horse very often, because he isn't mine, but as you said it has probably become a habit for him. Would you mind explaining in a little more detail HOW you worked with the other horses? For example, if he does a turn in the round pen and comes out of it cross firing, how would you respond? What would you consider an appropriate consequence?
     

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