Not Stopping - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-31-2011, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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Question Not Stopping

Sorry about the misleading title, but I have a 2 (almost 3) yo mare that I just started working with under saddle (not much really). She has always been a dead-head. Really numb to everything. I have to actually hit her with the lung whip to get her to move in the round pen, I have had to use a rope halter on her to get her to listen better. It's not that she draggs me or whatever its just that when I stop to talk to someone she will take a few extra steps, small crap like that. Doesn't whoa "exactly" when I ask....stuff like that. She gets into everything. I like her personality but I put a broken snaffle in her mouth and I might as well have nothing on her. How do I soften her mouth up? She isn't disrespectful on the ground. I have worked with her on the ground to try to find something to go back to, but when I say "whoa" in the round pen, she plants it.

How do I soften a horses mouth that is naturally that way?
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-01-2011, 01:06 AM
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the same way you soften any horse
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-01-2011, 01:17 AM
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Some horses have that "phlegmatic" personality; nothing seems to get them excited. In some cases, it's because they are stuffing their anxiety down inside and appear to be unreactive to things, just not moving, but when the stiumuls gets beyond their ability to stay frozen, they just come apart, like a bomb.
However, from your description, your horse strikes me as the more dull variety, not the stuffing it in kind. As to building softness )aka responsiveness), all I can think of is that you have to really raise your expectations and abide by them until she meets them.

So, for example, under saddle if you ask for a halt, you apply the pressure to the reins (and I think it helps to have one rein be a bit firmer than the other) and you apply it slowly but you give her only three steps before your hands and body become concrete!. She will run into the brick wall of the bit which you will not give an inch until she does. In the beginning, you require her to only give a little, but as you go, you keep the brick wall on that bit until she really gives her whole head at the poll and releases hersefl from the pressure of the bit, then you also give her a lot of release. As you go along doing this, you sloly raise the levle of your expectaiton.

So, start out asking for a stop within 3 to 4 steps and work into one step (thoug you MUST give her a signal with your seat and body that you are asking for a stop before you apply the reins . . . always. If you don't, it's not fair.)

Keep her to the standard and review frequently. Don't accept sluggish and half hearted tries on her part, once she understand the idea of feeling the bit halt and her kind of bouncing off that bit. Back her up even.

In general, you require more of her . She can easily dull you out with that kind of behavior, so you have to stay sharp yourself.
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-01-2011, 09:28 AM
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^^ agreed. I did this to my gelding when it came to stops and it helped a lot. I started by sitting back on my butt, I say "whoa" (he knows it from lunging), then I pull back on the reins and hold them until he stops. It has taken a while but now he stops within a step or two of my rein pull. I can feel him getting ready when I say 'whoa' though.

When I lunge I have to be really clear with what I am telling my horse with my body. If I am not crystal clear then my horse will take advantage of that and pretend not to listen. (different personality but the same consequence). I can't stop to talk on the phone or face a person I am talking to. I have to be on top of things and give him my all.

Eventually you will have a great horse who listens and has a soft mouth, it will just take some time. A lot of time... :)
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-01-2011, 10:27 AM
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I will say, time, patience and more time. You have a very young horse. I may be wrong here but it almost seems like your expecting too much out of a baby. I think you know what you want, but aren't giving her enough time to soak in what she is being taught. Maybe I didn't read this correctly. This is what I get out of the thread.

Softening comes from soft hands. And with a baby it also takes time for them to realize when you tug on the reins that it means whoa. What I would teach her is lightly pull back and the slightest movement from her feet to back drop the reins. Release will be her reward. Now, standing there talking to someone and she starts to take extra steps forward, tug, release (only when you get a back up). The same amount of steps taken forward, make her back that many plus one.

She will eventually realize its more work to take steps forward then to just stay still. But as I said she is so young so you need to give her a little patience. Just take your time and she will come out as you want. Good luck.
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-01-2011, 10:49 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone. I had an idea of what to do, but I think you guys helped me make up my mind. The mare is VERY smart. I have been on her probably 15 times. I can ride her bareback in a halter at a barrel race up and down the alley while horses are running and she just walks around, not a single twitch of the ear, and its not like she has had her butt hauled off, she is just that trusting. So, anyways. Thank you.

And fyi, I almost think she doesn't know how to stop because at a walk she will, but at a trot is where is difficult and I haven't tried the lope because well, shes still 2.

Thank you guys and gals very much :)
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