Martengale/Training Fork?
 
 

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Martengale/Training Fork?

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    08-06-2011, 05:58 PM
  #1
Started
Martengale/Training Fork?

I've heard of them, and have one sitting in the barn that's hardly been used... but I'm wondering if it would be helpful for my one mare, Lizzy.

She's 5 years old... I think. We got her for free from a guy who didnt want her... she was wild, never been handled before she came to us.

We started her as a 3 year old and we can now use her as a heeling horse (team roping) and I rope calves off of her in the branding pen. She is well behaved in the roping arena, and branding corral.. and well... that's about it.

Out in the field where I do all of my riding, I can't possibly get her from a nice easy trot, into a lope without her jumping into it and running through my hands with her head in the air.

She also goes from her easy trot into a really fast and uncomfortable trot when I ask for a lope, so I have to get her into a lope, which she runs into with her head in he sky as I said before.

She also has problems with loping slow circles in the correct lead. She'd start the circle, then switch leads, drop her shoulder and do, like, a barrel turn. She then breaks into the fast trot when I get her out of the circle, and we start the whole process again...

It's really frustrating me, because I come out of our rides grumpy which normally doesnt happen with any other horse.

Would riding with a training fork or martingale be appropiate? I for sure wouldn't use it all the time on her, just a few times, then see how she is without it for a couple rides and go from there. And I've been riding her in a snaffle lately, so that isnt a problem.

Here's a picture of the little... witch. (the paint)
     
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    08-06-2011, 06:44 PM
  #2
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by QHriderKE    
I've heard of them, and have one sitting in the barn that's hardly been used... but I'm wondering if it would be helpful for my one mare, Lizzy.

She's 5 years old... I think. We got her for free from a guy who didnt want her... she was wild, never been handled before she came to us.

We started her as a 3 year old and we can now use her as a heeling horse (team roping) and I rope calves off of her in the branding pen. She is well behaved in the roping arena, and branding corral.. and well... that's about it.

Out in the field where I do all of my riding, I can't possibly get her from a nice easy trot, into a lope without her jumping into it and running through my hands with her head in the air.

She also goes from her easy trot into a really fast and uncomfortable trot when I ask for a lope, so I have to get her into a lope, which she runs into with her head in he sky as I said before.

She also has problems with loping slow circles in the correct lead. She'd start the circle, then switch leads, drop her shoulder and do, like, a barrel turn. She then breaks into the fast trot when I get her out of the circle, and we start the whole process again...

It's really frustrating me, because I come out of our rides grumpy which normally doesnt happen with any other horse.

Would riding with a training fork or martingale be appropiate? I for sure wouldn't use it all the time on her, just a few times, then see how she is without it for a couple rides and go from there. And I've been riding her in a snaffle lately, so that isnt a problem.

Here's a picture of the little... witch. (the paint)
Sounds to me like she is trying to run out of the bit. In other words she doesn't wanna listen at a lope.

I have used training forks in the past, they work very well. I am glad to note in your post you said you wouldn't use one all the time. That is KEY. You need to train her to keep her head down and the training fork can be a great tool to help you do that.

The other thing you can try is teaching her the one rein stop (if she doesn't already know it). I have found that working off of that, you can get the horse to slow down slightly by pulling on one rein, which also drops their nose. You can then slow her lope. After you get the slow down and nose drop, you continue to work on getting it further and further down. Then she will understand she can't run like a bat outta hell with her nose in the air, because if she does, it just means circles and work.

It really sounds like she just needs time put under her belt, and a lot of transition work.
     
    08-06-2011, 09:53 PM
  #3
Showing
Has she been like this from day 1 or did it develop over time? When is the last time you had her teeth checked? How sure are you that the saddle fits well? What kind of bit were you using on her when the problems started?

It sounds to me like fairly typical green horse stuff. Not that she's not broke, she has just never been taught how to lope properly or work circles properly. I think if she was mine, after I ruled out pain issues, I would "lope her 'til her head drops".

Start in a large circle in a flat pasture or an arena and work on circles. If she swaps leads, keep riding, if she speeds up, don't try to control her speed with 2 hands, only use one rein to shrink the circle and slow her down and keep riding, if she drops her shoulder into a tiny circle, then pick up the outside rein and change the direction of the circle and get her back into a lope. Keep her in a lope until she starts to actually flatten out a bit (it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours), but she will flatten out and slow down eventually. If you feel her relax, drop her head, and flatten her stride for even 1 or 2 strides, then stop, walk her out on a loose rein, and put her up.

While you are walking her out afterward, work on her suppleness and giving to the bit, both laterally and vertically. Work on getting her to bend around your leg and move off leg and rein (you also need to do all this while you are warming her up). It certainly won't be an overnight fix and you will certainly need to be careful about how you ride her everywhere else so as not to contradict your circle work, but I've yet to have a horse that this didn't work on. It's the same method that worked for my Dad for 40+ years as well.

I am not a huge fan of martingales/forks because so many people don't know how to use them properly and those that do know don't need them because they can get the same results without them.
     
    08-06-2011, 10:00 PM
  #4
Trained
An attractive witch she is. I would try the martingale, just to see if it helps, it's a good training tool if used correctly. If you can get her to pick up her shoulder with it, that's great. Once she's doing it consistently with the martingale, ride her without it. It's a training tool, not a crutch. If they are popping over to the other lead on a circle, check your body position, 9 times outta 10, it's rider position.
     
    08-06-2011, 10:05 PM
  #5
Started
She is in a shanked bit that breaks and swivels in 3 places for roping. She started out working well, and then I guess she thought she knew where she was going and how she was doing it.

She breaks at the poll amazingly backing up, and I've found that she gives to a snaffle very well, very little pressure and at a walk, I can get decent bends out of her.

One day, I took her out all afternoon fixing fence at a pasturte a couple miles away from home, and I loped her all the way back and about 2/3 of the way home, she quit fighting me and loped on loose rein with her head fairly level.

I've been pretty much trying what you've said in the second paragraph, smrobs. And once she gets into the lead I want her in, she dives in to a teeny circle and takes off. At that point I normally sit her bum in the ground and we back up for 10 feet and go again.

Here's a video of her last year, just me riding bareback with a halter, I'm just posting it to show you how her head is when she backs, I just can't carry it forward.
     
    08-06-2011, 10:33 PM
  #6
Showing
It takes a lot of time to go from giraffe like she is now to flat and relaxed. The stopping and backing up isn't correcting her tendency to drop her shoulder and cut the corners. Have you tried picking up the inside rein just a bit? What I mean is picking up the rein and moving it to the outside of the circle, essentially picking up her shoulder and moving them to the outside of the circle without tilting her nose out.
Gah, I'm horrible at explaining stuff LOL.

What's happening when she drops her shoulder is that she's anticipating and deciding on what she wants to do instead of waiting for you to tell her what you want her to do. Whenever she starts doing that, even at a walk, change directions on her, spin her 180* in the opposite direction that she started to go and go the other way (if she drops her right shoulder and cuts right, pick up the left rein and turn her left). Then if she drops and cuts again, do the same thing. You may spend quite a bit of time looking like the pendulum of a grandfather clock but she'll start listening to what you're saying instead of what she wants you to say or thinks you might say.
     
    08-06-2011, 11:49 PM
  #7
Started
I do use that inside rein to push her out, when using my leg fails. But she's just so ignorant to the bit sometimes, it makes me feel like my hands are reeeealy hard, which I don't have hard hands to start with, I'm actually kind of a pansy with my hands, but she makes me be a little tougher, which makes me angry.

I'll definetly try and get a new video working her through all gaits, and attempting a circle.
     
    08-07-2011, 12:16 AM
  #8
Weanling
I think smrobs is describing using a leg yield to make the circle bigger. Which will work if the horse wants to dive into the circle like you described.

You could get a cone or something and circle around it. Just do whatever will work to keep the line between the cone and your inside stirrup perpendicular to the horses spine and eventually she'll get nice and round in her turns. If you feel the horse about to drop into the circle immediately make the circle bigger with your inside leg, or turn tail-to the cone and continue on the opposite circle.
     
    08-07-2011, 12:26 AM
  #9
Super Moderator
I think you are a good enough rider to teach her more advance riding skills. This will not only help her, it will take you up to the next level of riding and training.

The thing that I see missing in your riding / training is that you ride mostly with your hands and not enough with your legs. Adding another gadget to the bridle is not going to fix the problem, but I think you can develop the skill to do it right.

This mare needs to be 'collected'. You get that done by pushing her up into the bit with your legs. You push and bump her forward but your hands do not give until she drops her nose. You can push a horse up into the bridle at all gaits and can teach a horse to give at the poll and can literally get a horse to drop its head to its knees if that is where you give it relief.

In the beginning, the horse will fight your hands. You just need to keep pushing an bumping the horse forward without giving her any relief from the bit until she drops its nose and gives at the poll and in her jaw. The instant she drops her head, you give her the reward of a loose rein.

You start out at the walk and walk forward and stop without giving her any slack. You make her give herself slack by 'setting' your hands solidly and set her up so she can only get relief (release) when she stops and keeps her chin tucked softly.

When she does this consistently at the walk, progress to the jog. Again, only give her a slack rein when she give one to herself.

The lope will be the most difficult and requires the most skill from the rider. Again, you push the horse into the bit until she gives herself slack by breaking at the poll. Once she learns to lope into the bit with her chin tucked, you can teach correct circles, you can keep her shoulders up, you can get a balanced stop. All of these things come with true collection. Her lope will smooth out, she will work better off of her hind end, she will stop better and both of you will be a lot happier.

Once you have her dropping her head and collecting herself, you can work on leg yielding exercises and can teach her that you can control her shoulders, body and hips. Only then, will you be able to keep her between your reins and between your legs and get pretty, slow and smooth circles, stops and other maneuvers.

The most difficult thing for you to learn to do to make this work is that you cannot 'pull' the horse's head into position. You have to 'set' your hands and your legs 'push' her into position. When you 'set' your hands, she can get release by dropping her head and tucking her chin. When you pull, you just get into a tog-o-war that she will win and she will fight your hands. She has to find that 'sweet spot' where she gives herself a loose rein. Let us know if you try this and how it works. It is a much more advanced training technique and I will try to coach you through the problems that you may encounter trying to apply it.
     
    08-07-2011, 12:36 AM
  #10
Started
I understand what you're saying about collecting her up and using my legs as I had a QH/welsh cross gelding that I taught that to in all gaits, but he was more willing and respected the bit and was paying attention to my body. The moment I would just apply pressure with just my calf and draw up some pressure on the bit, he'd drop his head and pull himself together and slow right down.

I'm currently working on similar stuff with my 3 year old, but she also respects the bit and my body cues much more. I can nearly get her to collect at a walk now, after a few weeks of just bending and such.

I know this will take a lot of work. Do you think using the martingale while training the collection stuff would be helpful at all?
     

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