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post #1 of 24 Old 03-04-2017, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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Need Advice - Super long post sorry!

So before I ask, here’s a little about me that may help better answer my question. I am 20 years old have have primarily ridden English for 10 years, this has been 10 consecutive years so I’d say its been more like 7 or 8 and most of that has been Hunter/Jumper. within that time I had ridden a bit of Western (Had formal training) and a bit of dressage (also formal training) and Trained and worked a large variety of horses from green broke to tune ups and have been pretty successful with the ones i’ve worked with but I would NEVER consider myself a trainer. I do tend to ride with more contact (again I was a jumper) but I’m usually not ever heavy in my hands or in a horses mouth when I shouldn’t be and I definitely don’t ram or hang on their face, but i’m really not used to a super loose rein like they use in western (It actually causes me to feel a bit uncomfortable). I think generally I have a good seat, but I don’t think I sit deep enough and I often don’t know if I’m even communicating through my seat, though I didn’t do bad in either Western or Dressage which both have the deeper seats and I did take a major break from riding so i’m a bit out of shape.

Okay so that you know a bit about me, here’s my problem. I currently answered an Ad for a person who needed to their horses ridden a bit before they started riding again. This person was older and just wanted someone younger to work her horse before they took him on trails so that they knew he wouldn’t be stupid. The horse is 7 and was professionally trained twice for western at a very young age. He was trained once by someone not so good, and then again by someone who was really good. He was ridden a bit and then got injured and his training wasn’t kept up, owner said he was last ridden in the fall by another girl around my age. He is not that tall but a very beefy guy and is pretty intimidating, he's a foundation bred QH. On the ground he is very sweet and good for tack up.

The first day I rode him he tossed his head and wouldn’t listen to me leg cues at all. I really like to use leg to push them to the fence and he wouldn’t move over one bit. I was in his face a bit (Like I said, I’m used to contact) and he had a bit that was a bit too hard so he tossed his head and acted up. We decided to change out his bridle and gave him a snaffle and I put my english saddle on him and he was much happier. I rode him a bit in the arena and then took him out and rode him a bit around the house and he crow hopped once while out and then did a few small rears while I was at the barn, and then danced around a bit, which was when I realized he was barn sour.

The next day I went out, I tried my own bridle on him and we put a lighter western saddle, as the owner didn’t want him to get used to the lightness of the english, This saddle didn’t fit me at all so my feet weren’t in the stirrups, but it did allow me more contact. My bridle is a traditional english bridle and has a full cheek snaffle. He didn’t seem to mind it, but still tossed his head a bit when I first started to ride, but this ride didn’t go horrible and I relied of the owner to give me a bit of info on how he was trained so that I was riding him to fit those standards the best. I was more relaxed in the reins and he did fine, but again he wouldn’t listen to my leg cues to move over at all. I ended the session by leading him around and bonding with him to gain my trust.

This last time I road (today) he wore his bridle with a D ring bit, and a saddle that fit my legs better and we again rode around in the round pen. I kept my hands relaxed, used the advice the owner gave to help him turn and ultimately things went -okay- he didn’t fuss but didn’t stay on the rail and acted bored as ever, but because he was being so calm I figured it would be good to have him ride out of the round pen and give him some freedom. So I took him out and went went down the drive and he did fine, suddenly he went into a trot and so I sat back yelled woah and tried to get him to slow and ultimately had to pull on the reins pretty hard to get him to stop which caused him to toss his head, rightfully so. If I can I do everything I can before pulling the reins to get a horse to stop but at this point he seemed to not want to listen. we got around the house and he tried to get fast so I made him circle (again I couldn’t just get him to woah with my seat and legs) and he bucked and reared on me, which completely confirmed that he’s barn sour. I didn’t want to end him on a bad note so again we went around the house and he did better but as soon as we got in site of the barn he began to trot so I pulled him in a circle but the contact on the bit caused him to toss his head but when I’d give him his head he’d speed up, and suddenly seeing his owner he took off into a canter, then a dead run and stopped just short of the barn and I admit I did not handle it like I should have and I didn’t have control of him, which was extremely concerning. I talked to the owner a bit about what had happened and luckily no one got hurt (other then my pride) and we agreed that we needed to end him on a good note, so I went back the other way to see if he would be any better. Again he got fast and I had to pull him into a series of tight one reined stops just to get him to stop dancing around and fussing and got off when he finally stood still and calmed himself, as he was huffing air angrily and I ended the session in the round pen with me leading him.

Now remember i’m not a horse trainer by any means and he has been trained before. I have only ridden him 3 times and learning slowly what he tolerates and what he doesn’t. My problem is I don’t feel like I have any control over him. In the Arena he is calm and slow and when I figured out how to turn him how he was trained, he turns, but he won’t listen to my leg cues to move over to the fence and is super stiff. Every time I need to steer him i have to hike up on one rein and pull it up as he won’t even go around the pen in a circle, he just wants to meander. I can’t have any contact on his mouth, because he tosses his head and I don’t feel like he listens to my seat, which could be completely my fault, is halt is -okay- but I feel like I have to use the reins more then I’d like. When I take him out of the arena he is horrible barn sour, and likes to speed up when not asked and is a nightmare to woah. He races towards the barn and will fight you and get even MORE frustrated if you pull him into circles or turn him around and fights the bit nail and tooth. If I have contact he fusses, if I give him his head he takes advantage and tries to get fast.

So here are my plans, I decided after today to ditch riding him out of the arena until we master controls as I find there is absolutely no reason to ride him out until he is able to listen and especially until he is able to woah without me using so much rein. I already have read some stuff to help with barn sour horses and will be trying that out, though I know the owner wants to use him for trail rides off their property so I assume being barn sour shouldn’t affect that.
But I have no clue how to handle his fussiness with contact. I give him his head but he doesn’t listen or he takes advantage of it and tosses and fights. I don’t know how his teeth are, as he’s not my horse, though the owner seems to take very good care of them and as far as I know he’s not in pain anywhere else. I’m not ruling out his teeth being the problem, but from what I can see, I don’t think it is. I just would like to feel like I have some sort of control without being in his mouth and I’m not training him, so I am 100% prepare to change anything I’m doing as I know how he responds could be all me. I just need advice so that I can help his owner be able to ride him again.
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post #2 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 12:12 AM
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cOnsider that if he had any training, it was bad training, and that he is not anywhere near what would be considered broke, Western
Semehow, many English people get the idea that if a horse is trained western, then he does not understand contact, nor can you ride him with it. Completely false, as western horses are trained with contact, same as any other horse, with the difference being, that you work towards eventually being able to ride with a loose rein. Even then, when schooling , there are many times you need to take contact, while also using legs, to 'fix', what is not right, when the horse is allowed self carriage, without bit support
Well trained western horses certainly understand leg aids, as you would not be able to ride on a loose rein, executing sidepassing, half pass, flying changes, ect
Thus, starting on the ground, as if the horse has not been started or bitted, is a good place to begin
Use a snaffle and put the basics on him in some controlled area, until he is responsive to leg aids, has a good whoa, side pass, halfpass, turn on haunches, turn on forehand, good at all three gaits, both leads, before riding him out again.
You need tools and buttons, in order to ride a horse out successfully, instead of just a 'wing and a prayer'
You can also take hold of a horse, much as it takes, while driving with legs, until he softens-then reward. Just never jerk on a horse, or you will soon have a jerk for a horse!
Welcome, and good luck!
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post #3 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
cOnsider that if he had any training, it was bad training, and that he is not anywhere near what would be considered broke, Western
Semehow, many English people get the idea that if a horse is trained western, then he does not understand contact, nor can you ride him with it. Completely false, as western horses are trained with contact, same as any other horse, with the difference being, that you work towards eventually being able to ride with a loose rein. Even then, when schooling , there are many times you need to take contact, while also using legs, to 'fix', what is not right, when the horse is allowed self carriage, without bit support
Well trained western horses certainly understand leg aids, as you would not be able to ride on a loose rein, executing sidepassing, half pass, flying changes, ect
Thus, starting on the ground, as if the horse has not been started or bitted, is a good place to begin
Use a snaffle and put the basics on him in some controlled area, until he is responsive to leg aids, has a good whoa, side pass, halfpass, turn on haunches, turn on forehand, good at all three gaits, both leads, before riding him out again.
You need tools and buttons, in order to ride a horse out successfully, instead of just a 'wing and a prayer'
You can also take hold of a horse, much as it takes, while driving with legs, until he softens-then reward. Just never jerk on a horse, or you will soon have a jerk for a horse!
Welcome, and good luck!
I say he doesn’t like contact because this was what the owner told me, and the fact that any form of contact I give him causes him to angrily toss his head, though I did have better luck using my own bridle, but the owner didn’t like it so we switched back to hers which is a normal western bridle with a d-ring snaffle. I love using contact because it makes me feel a bit more in tune with the horse, but per the owners request I ride him on a very loose rein.
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post #4 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 02:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curing View Post
I say he doesn’t like contact because this was what the owner told me, and the fact that any form of contact I give him causes him to angrily toss his head, though I did have better luck using my own bridle, but the owner didn’t like it so we switched back to hers which is a normal western bridle with a d-ring snaffle. I love using contact because it makes me feel a bit more in tune with the horse, but per the owners request I ride him on a very loose rein.
When a horse is "broke in the face" or has had "a face put on him", then you can take hold of his mouth and not have a problem. I just sent a horse back to the seller for a LOT less misbehavior than you're describing.

I would start over with 'breaking him to the bit' and work him on the ground first. At his age and this point (where he's rearing, bucking and in general just being a lop) I, personally, would break out the surcingle and side reins and let him work in those until he learns that throwing his head around only hurts his mouth and release is obtained by being still and softening the face. We'd eventually work back up to driving lines and working on contact and steering, from the ground, before I ever got back on him. Since he's already been trained to an extent, it shouldn't take you too long to get there. Then, and only then, would I get back up on him and work on leg cues. He basically needs to be restarted and honestly, not a a 20 y.o. 'not a trainer'.

This horse is spoiled and is willing to put up a fight, which means you could get seriously injured. At your age, I'd probably have continued to try to ride him and wouldn't have thought about getting hurt until it happened. Now, I would tell the owner, "Thanks but no thanks, you need to send this horse to a trainer." and I would walk away.

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post #5 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 03:47 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curing View Post
I say he doesn’t like contact because this was what the owner told me, and the fact that any form of contact I give him causes him to angrily toss his head, though I did have better luck using my own bridle, but the owner didn’t like it so we switched back to hers which is a normal western bridle with a d-ring snaffle. I love using contact because it makes me feel a bit more in tune with the horse, but per the owners request I ride him on a very loose rein.
When a horse is "broke in the face" or has had "a face put on him", then you can take hold of his mouth and not have a problem. I just sent a horse back to the seller for a LOT less misbehavior than you're describing.

I would start over with 'breaking him to the bit' and work him on the ground first. At his age and this point (where he's rearing, bucking and in general just being a lop) I, personally, would break out the surcingle and side reins and let him work in those until he learns that throwing his head around only hurts his mouth and release is obtained by being still and softening the face. We'd eventually work back up to driving lines and working on contact and steering, from the ground, before I ever got back on him. Since he's already been trained to an extent, it shouldn't take you too long to get there. Then, and only then, would I get back up on him and work on leg cues. He basically needs to be restarted and honestly, not a a 20 y.o. 'not a trainer'.

This horse is spoiled and is willing to put up a fight, which means you could get seriously injured. At your age, I'd probably have continued to try to ride him and wouldn't have thought about getting hurt until it happened. Now, I would tell the owner, "Thanks but no thanks, you need to send this horse to a trainer." and I would walk away.
I agree with you, I do think he needs to go back to a trainer. But as he's not my horse I can't make that decision. The bucking and rearing comes from being barn sour which is a problem in its own. No I'm a trainer, but I did go to a school where I learned to work with horses so I'm not incompetent, but because he's not mine I can't discipline him like he was mine, if he was he wouldn't even get away with a head toss. But I'm here solely to work him, not to retrain him. In my opinion and I could very well be wrong, but I don't believe he needs to be brought back down to lunging, I think he needs a consistent rider that won't let him be pushy. He's not a dangerous horse in the round pen he just doesn't listen because he didn't have to for so long, if he could get away with it he would just be lazy and stand there. You are very correct in saying he's spoiled and of course I can only do so much for him, but that won't stop me from working with him as best I can. It's important to remember that riding is a dangerous sport in its own and I don't personally feel theres a reason to shy away from this, especially since this is only my 3rd time on him and he's already proven better. I think it'll just take time, patience, and some work.
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post #6 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 05:07 AM
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You may have the bit too high in his mouth. But, ore likely, his teeth do need doing.

I think he is very dulled by lack of riding and very spoiled. But might be a good horse under all that.


Work in the round pen on getting him to soften to the bit, but try riding him in a halter or sidepull, just in the round pen , to see how different that is.

Make sure you have him going forward when you say so. His rearing should be dealt with by making him move forward any iMessage you feel him start to get light in front, so you think he is thinking about rearing

When you do go out and leave the barn area, and he starts acting the tiniest bit fussy, turn him and let him go back to the barn. Then, when you get there , work himin small circles or serpentine trotting fast. When he wants to stop you turn him toward that road aroun the house, offer him to walk down it.. he'll go a short ways and then turn and want to go back. Let him. Let him go back, but start the circles and hard trotting, and tire him some, then see if he wouldn't prefer going away from the barn.


See what I'm getting at?

It's hard work where HE wants to be and easy going where you want him to go.
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post #7 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians View Post



This horse is spoiled and is willing to put up a fight, which means you could get seriously injured. At your age, I'd probably have continued to try to ride him and wouldn't have thought about getting hurt until it happened. Now, I would tell the owner, "Thanks but no thanks, you need to send this horse to a trainer." and I would walk away.
I agree with Dreamcatcher Arabians. This horse needs an experienced trainer.
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post #8 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 10:19 AM
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When you say “contact” you are simply taking up the reins to the point of feeling the direct connection between the mouth and the reins and not trying to put the horse in any kind of “frame” or to work “on the bit” at all correct?

You actually have five issues here:

A seven year old essentially green horse (from the amount of riding it sounds like he has had in total)
"Contact"/hands
Dead to the leg
Barn/buddy sour
Rusty horse who hasn't been asked to do anything for several months and probably has decided that he likes it that way!

Your first problem is that you have a horse that is riding out of control.

I agree with Smilie that a refresher course is in order. Starting on the ground would be a good place to remind him what his job is supposed to be.

It also gives you a really good chance to see what he remembers and is just choosing to ignore under saddle and what things were possibly skipped or forgotten. Some ground work will help you determine what needs doing in the saddle so you know when something is attitude and when you know he isn't understanding.

I'd start on lead. You walk when I walk, you stop when I stop (use whoa too). You turn when I turn. Get it to the point where there is no tension in the lead and he is calm and relaxed. If his foundation training was laid in well, this should go quickly.

Next up would be the round pen. I'm not a big fan of Parelli, but I do like the concept of "the porcupine game" for evaluation. How does this horse react to being touched by a hand in the hip cue zone, shoulder zone, barrel zone? If he doesn't "get it" after a little bit of work, you will know the horse doesn't have the correct buttons installed to understand what you are asking for with your legs. If he does then you know he is being a turd.

It is quite possible that this horse was never taught to accept contact. It is an ideal but, unfortunately, a lot of western horses haven't. The fact that he is getting better about it by your third ride, I think has less to do with the bits you are using and more to him adjusting to accepting contact.

An important thing to remember is that western horses are initially trained to know that they "found the right answer" when they receive "release"; full and total relief from pressure in their mouths and leg. That absence of contact and removing the leg cue tells them they got it right. When that full release never comes (especially for greenies), they can get frustrated or confused and then will act up; head tossing, ignoring cues etc.

He will need to be taught incrementally to accept contact and that partial release is the signal that he has "found the right answer".
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Last edited by Reiningcatsanddogs; 03-05-2017 at 10:40 AM.
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post #9 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 10:43 AM
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The owners expectations are un realistic. The horse does not need just riding out, he needs training
If you feel that you can't put those basics on him,which he IS missing, then there is no way in 'h'll,', that he will become a safe horse for his owner to ride out, just by some \strong rider using force, with the horse dead to leg, ect
I do not believe that western hroses are not ever taught to accept contact, as I see no way that you can start a colt, and not use contact. What many western horses don't understand, is constant strong contact, which is never lightened or released, even when the horse is giving correctly
From what the OP has said, I doubt that is the problem with this horse. He has simply learned to resists contact, along with rearing and other undesired actions
Yes, there is the possibility that some idiot started the horse in a curb, was abusive with his hands, and thus caused a bit evasion, but without seeing the horse, all is just guess work, beyond the fact, that any western horse started correctly, certainly understands both contact and leg aids
Riding on a loose rein, is the final product, through first using contact and release at the right time, riding with more legs then hands, and giving the horse , when he is going correctly, a chance to keep that correct movement and frame, on a loose rein, then taking hold again, when he falls apart, and building on that, so the period he stays correct on his own, without bit support, becomes longer and longer
If the horse does not have these basics, he lacks training, which just riding will not correct, unless some training is involved also
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Last edited by Smilie; 03-05-2017 at 10:53 AM.
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post #10 of 24 Old 03-05-2017, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
What many western horses don't understand, is constant strong contact, which is never lightened or released, even when the horse is giving correctly....without seeing the horse, all is just guess work, beyond the fact, that any western horse started correctly, certainly understands both contact and leg aids.... If the horse does not have these basics, he lacks training, which just riding will not correct, unless some training is involved also
This is kind of the point Smilie, first, you need to know what the horse does and does not know rather than assuming they were started "correctly". Not all horses are started the same way. Some are indeed started by what you called "idiots". Maybe the horse is being a pill, the OP won't know which she is dealing with until she finds out what the horse knows and does not know.

BTW, "contact" can refer to different things when used in the course of human speech. Since we are discussing an English rider here, she may be using it as what western riders might think of as constant, strong, contact, which is why the first thing I asked her was to clarify.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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