Must we really have a fit on every halt? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 19 Old 12-14-2010, 07:22 AM
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I often feel the same way as well. I am actually in one of those moments now. Don't give up as it sounds like you have come a long way with this horse already. Do be sure to reward yourself for all of your accomplishments along the way. I wish you the best of luck for what the future holds :)

There is one principle that should never be abandoned, namely, that the rider must first learn to control himself before he can control his horse. This is the basic, most important principle to be preserved in equitation - Alois Podhajsky
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post #12 of 19 Old 12-14-2010, 10:14 AM
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I definately agree with what other people are saying, if you are doing the exact same routine, walk trot canter walk halt back walk every time (or something like that) it bores the horse. you need to keep the routine fresh, mix it up, and everytime you halt you should not back, because as it seems to be going, you will be teaching the horse to effectively not halt, but back up everytime. I would say keep the backing to only about half the halts you do at most, only when she's feeling really heavy on the forehand.

Horses lend us the wings we lack
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post #13 of 19 Old 12-15-2010, 05:42 AM
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It seem to me like your horse has gotten the impression that halting and backing up is a punishment for something. But she doesn't respond with a negative attitude when you guys go forward? Could that be due to that you do not put pressure on the reins when you ask her to go forward but you do put pressure on the reins in order to halt her and go backwards? Not criticizing here, just guessing. The very moment you feel that she is going to halt, immediately release the pressure. The same when you want her to back up, the second you feel that she's intending to make a move backwards, release. Timing on the release is crucial when training a horse. It makes the world of difference between a punishment and a reward.

You could try to ride her directly towards the fence sometimes during the sessions. When you get close to the fence, don't touch the reins at all (except to keep her nose towards the fence) lean a little back, pinch your seat muscles together and use an oral command of choice to halt the moment you get so close that she just has to halt in front of the fence. Then the only way out of there is backwards. Again, don't touch the reins except for keeping her facing the fence, use an oral command of choice for backing up and cue her with your feet or heels in front of the girth. She's now given a cue to move but she has no choice but to back up. And she will if only for a few steps. But that's enough. Later on when she gets the grasp of it and understand that halting and backing up isn't a punishment, you start to do the same exercises elsewhere in the arena. Pretty soon you will have a horse that willingly halts and goes backwards with no attitude and ears pointing forwards.

Horse training is very often one step forward and two steps backwards. Sometimes one just has to go back in the process and repeat something that was basic. And while you are in the saddle training your horse, keep smiling. If you find that the smile has gone of your face, get of the horse and take a break until you are able to smile again.

None of what I've written here is meant as criticism, only as suggestions. We all have our issues with our horses from time to time. Smile, and keep up your good work.

Don't fence me in
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post #14 of 19 Old 12-15-2010, 03:45 PM
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With my rescue mare I did a lot of downward transitions, especially the stop and back. But she loves to back up now! (..weirdy...)

Anyways, I think it may be the way you are asking her to back up, as well as maybe over doing it. I rode my mare western so there could be some difference in the way that you teach yours, but for me, I bump gently with my legs and add a small bit of pressure on the bit (and sit on your pockets),

Everytime you feel the slightest bit of backwards movement (enough to make a step back) release the pressure from all three aids and reward with a pat. In your warm-up, maybe only start her with one step back and do an 'only stop, not back up' every other downward transition. So mixing it up a little.

After cantering, then start with two steps (keeping seat and leg aids going but releasing with reins on each step). In your hands, it will almost be like you are squeezing sponges twice in a row. loool that was a bad example but you get the point.

Also, what I did with my girl on the 'only stop not back up's" was to get her to stop and stand quietly for a few seconds, letting her stretch her neck and breath, then get her to give to the bit and hold it. Then I would release. It got her really soft in the mouth and started building up her neck muscle gradually. She too was used to carrying her head high and hollowing out so at the time, we were mostly working on long and low to build up back muscle, but I wanted to start on her neck slowly as well.

Not sure if this makes any sense but hopefully it'll help!

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post #15 of 19 Old 12-15-2010, 09:00 PM
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Well, I am new here, but I have been lurking for a while.

For a little background, I have spent a lifetime training western horses (and a few Huntseat and Dressage horses years ago). Balanced stops and light compliant back-ups have always been very important to everything I have trained. Without them, you are just pulling around on a horse and he will never be 'really trained'. As long as there is resistance in a stop or back-up, you do not have a balanced horse that is 'using' himself properly. The elevated head, bulging lower side of his neck, hollow back and hind end dragging out behind him are all testimony to his lack of collection and balance while going forward.

I never ask for a stop or a back-up (other than a step or two ) until I have a horse droping is nose, coming back to my hand at all times and very 'soft' in the bridle while going forward. At least, going forward, I can push a horse up into the bridle until he gives me his face. I worry more about getting him to lift his back and his belly, stretch his topline and about keeping his shoulders up. This is the meaning of true collection - whether you are riding English or Western. Without it, stops and back-ups will always be horrible.

You only have a good stop when the horse is trying to stop and the rider is only 'asking' him to stop. If you have to pull on a horse, YOU are trying to do the stopping and the horse is trying to go forward.

Same can be said for the back-up. It is only good when the horse is picking his feet up diagonally and HE is lightly stepping back. If his feet are dragging, YOU are trying to do the work and YOU are trying to back him up. It is never going to be light, willing or pretty if you are doing that.

You need to drive this horse forward into the bridle until he drops his nose, relaxes his jaw and quits pushing on you. Then, you need to give him the reward of NOT PULLING on him. Make him carry himself -- you can't carry him anyway.
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post #16 of 19 Old 12-15-2010, 10:45 PM
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My guess is you may be staying too firm with your outside rein for a split second too long. The second she makes an effort to halt, soften the reins and let her step into them to halt. She knows what you want. Just make it easier for her to do it.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #17 of 19 Old 12-15-2010, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the suggestions! I rode today and we only backed up once. After the first two halts she stopped tossing her head an pulling at the bit. I guess it was me. She was quite happy to halt without having a fit once she saw we weren't going to back up every single time.

And she backed up nicer when I did ask. So all around a good ride.

I think I was so hesitant to stop asking for a back up because I come from the place of "if they don't want to do it, then do it more", but this was just overkill. Too much of a good thing.

I wish it was easier for me to see my own mistakes instead of her having to suffer through them. She puts up with me fairly well though, lol.
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post #18 of 19 Old 12-15-2010, 11:01 PM
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You're doing great with her. I know she's a handful from your other posts. The mere fact you figured out that backing up was overkill suggests you have good instincts. I overdid the backing up thing once. My horse decided, whenever he didn't feel like doing something, the answer was to back up. Took me weeks to get that out of his head!

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #19 of 19 Old 12-15-2010, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Ah yes, my girl does the same thing. I've overdone a couple other things so far and trained new habits that I did not want in the first place! It's amazing how they learn weather or not you are trying to teach them.

I knew she hated the backing up, but I thought that meant I should just keep doing it til she accepted it. Oh well, live and learn. Onward to the next problem!
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