My horse won't walk straight....
 
 

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My horse won't walk straight....

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  • Getting your foal to walk after braces
  • Horses won't go straight

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    07-22-2009, 11:31 AM
  #1
Foal
Exclamation My horse won't walk straight....

I've been in the process of breaking my five year old mare since February, but thanks to ice storms, rain, work, and school it's been slow-going. I've finally got some time to work with her, and she's doing great! Except for one thing..

She won't walk in a straight line.

She'll walk, mind you. She's even learning to trot. She just can't, rather downright refuses, to walk straight like any other horse might.

There are other horses around her, and I suspect this may have something to do with it. She walks toward them, and I have to guide her away, and she just drifts back to them when I ask her to walk for me. She turns for me, but again, when given slack to walk straight, she drifts.

She's extremely well behaved under saddle, but this is the only thing keeping me from taking her on a trail or training her further.

Remedies? Suggestions? Comments? All are appriciated.
     
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    07-22-2009, 11:38 AM
  #2
Showing
Not sure if this will work on a young horse but try paying special attention to where you are looking. Make sure to look in the direction you want to go. Pick a point in the distance and keep your sights set on it. Don't look down at the horse.
Then keeping a short rein, give a light bump when she goes even slightly off course.
Hope this helps even a little
     
    07-22-2009, 11:45 AM
  #3
Yearling
Patience and perseverance. Our mare will take every slight chance she gets to drift toward our other horse. Husband has to stay on her reins pretty consistently.
     
    07-22-2009, 12:05 PM
  #4
Banned
Give her someplace to go. A trail might be just the thing. It gives her a focus, a place to go. Before I entered the forest I cross a big field. In the beginning my new guy would wonder across the field, he had nothing to focus on, just a big open area. Once we hit the trials they guided him and he travelled stright and true. Going home across the same open field he focused on home and went straight towards the barn. If I rode with another horse he would drift into that horse in open fields. On trail he was single file so he didn't drift.
Take him on the trial. It is far more interesting then arena work
     
    07-22-2009, 12:09 PM
  #5
Yearling
What are your legs and seat telling her? Maintain light but consistent leg pressure and ensure your centered in your seat. I agree with the comment "look where you want to go".
     
    07-22-2009, 12:47 PM
  #6
Super Moderator
Vida gave you good advice. Take a cone or use a tree as a marker, look at that object and nothing else. Don't allow her to look at anything either. If she looks around remind her that she's got a job to do. She's going to end up going in whichever direction she's looking which is why babies tend to weave like drunks... she will also go in whatever direction you are looking becuase your body will shift and your leg pressure will tell her to go that way.....
     
    07-22-2009, 01:21 PM
  #7
Weanling
Not trying to take over the topic from ameliaelizabeth, but instead of starting a new topic really is the same question I have.

I have tried the suggestions that everyone has made previously. I have tried laying out two cones that are about 100 ft apart and walking straight from one to the other. I have also tried just walking down a fence line and focusing on a tree that was way ahead of us. Both times my mare will drift farther and farther way from the cones or fence line. I try to give the cue on my right side to keep her from floating to the right to bump off of, but if the cue is slightly too much she will turn to the left, which is what she was trained to do. I end up having to hold the left rein tight and way from the neck and leaving the right rein loose to get any response of a straight line. Sometimes, the mare even walks in a zig zag line like a drunk. I have tried to play the game of stay between the lines by using leg pressure to guide her, but it gets worse and the mare ends up acting confused.
     
    07-22-2009, 01:26 PM
  #8
Green Broke
I've heard that it isn't natural for a horse to walk straight. I guess it's kind of unatural to make them walk straight. Of course, it depends where you are working with her. In a field is the most common spot for a horse to go sideways.
     
    07-22-2009, 01:30 PM
  #9
Foal
Hmm, this is just a suggestion, but maybe....keep going in different directions, and really make it hard for her to want to turn, and than when you walk in a straight line its like a treat for her, make her think that your unpredictable, that way its keeps things interesting for her, make sure you change up different things every day don't just stay in the ring if you can help it, keep things changed up, just like we do horses get bored, and they need things to do to keep them busy. Hope this helps :) I hope you get what I mean too :)
     
    07-22-2009, 04:01 PM
  #10
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunny06    
I've heard that it isn't natural for a horse to walk straight.
That's correct, they will meander all over a field, they seldom walk a straight line, so they have to be taught how to do it.

As perviously stated the best way is up the centre of the arena, pick your spot at the end and DO NOT take your eyes off it. If your horse moves off to one side gently pick up that rein and correct him back, still DO NOT stop looking at your spot, not even for a second.

This is off a web site, saves a bunch of typing.......

Here's how to fix that: back up to arena work. Start off in a walk in the arena (not along the fence line; do this exercise away from the fence, like in the middle of the arena). Pick a focal point, like an arena fence post, on the opposite side of the arena. Lock your eyes on that focal point and don't remove your eyes from that. (Horses will pick up what you are focusing on). Don't look down at the horse, or his head, just keep your eyes locked onto that post focal point. Ride the horse at a walk straight for that post. Picture there is a straight line drawn in that sand, between you/your horse and that post. Ride the horse on that invisible line. He's inevitably going to sway off that line. When he does, quietly, patiently, pick up one rein to correct him and get him back on that line. When he's riding the line correctly, leave the reins alone, put slack in them (release of pressure for the right answer). Only pick up a rein to correct him back onto that line if he steers off it, then release with slack in the rein when he's doing the right thing/riding the straight line. Be patient, be kind, just keep at it. And most importantly, keep your eyes focused on the focal point post, even as you make corrections. You're not only teaching the horse how to ride his feet on a straight line, but you're also teaching him here how to pick up on your focus, so he makes it his focus as well.
All horses learn from the release of pressure what it is you want, not the pressure itself, so get your release timing (slack in reins) very quick there when the horse does ride the line straight/right answer after the correction.
At first, it is going to take a lot of corrections as the horse's feet and brain learn to ride that straight line at the walk. Be patient with him, just keep using pressure (correcting with one rein)/release (slack in rein) there as he learns to ride straight. When you reach that focal point fence post at the walk, now turn your head and with your eyes, pick another distant focal point fence post on the opposite side of the arena, turn the horse and walk that next straight line. Again, pick up the rein to correct him if/when he veers off that line; put slack in the rein when he's got it right. Do many, many repetitions of this exercise at the walk until he's got it down perfectly (may even be over several sessions potentially; don't be in a hurry -- sometimes "soaking time" between lessons goes a long way!).
Only when he's got it down perfectly and confidently at the walk (no more corrections needed), then, introduce the same exercise at the trot, performed exactly the same as above, picking the distant focal point and correcting with one rein when he veers off the line at the trot now. It's going to be a struggle for him at first at the trot to stay straight, so that's why it's important to get it well planted at the walk first to begin patterning his brain that he can do this. You have to build in the walk-straight-line foundational "bricks" first before you move on to the trot-straight-line expectation next-level "bricks." Remain patient. It takes as long as it takes, as we say in natural horsemanship. Don't be too goal focused; be "in the moment" focused.
Practice it thoroughly at the trot until he can ride straight for your focal point at the trot every time without corrections. Then and only then, after he has mastered all that at the trot, move on to practicing riding straight at the canter, same way.
Do all the above, in that exact order, and you should get him past this problem for good. Once he can accomplish all this in the arena, at all gaits, then move outside the arena and, again, pick a focal point and review with him riding straight for that focal point first at the walk, then the trot, then the canter.
Do take the time to break all this down into baby steps like that and he should get it.
It's not an unusual problem, by the way. I find most horses when first learning to ride with the human on their back share this foundation hole/problem. And if it doesn't get fixed properly, like I described above, it can often lead to irrational behavior in the horse (even bucking!) as the horse overloads on not being able to ride straight if/when someone jumps "A to N" there, skipping the necessary learning "letter" steps in between A-B-C-like, to better enable him to "connect the dots" for understanding. But it has to be broken down into smaller, digestable baby steps like I describe, first at the walk, then the trot, then the canter, mastering each level well before moving on to the next, and the horse will get it, will settle down and know he can ride straight, usually for the first time in his life.
Remain patient, take your time, and you should get past this problem for good, because once the horse learns how to ride straight, it becomes no big deal after that and he'll relax, be more connected to you as a unit,
Quarterhorse88 likes this.
     

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