Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Southern California
What you are describing to me is a horse that has no emotional control at the lope. There are so many things you could do with this horse to quiet her down. There is the calm down cue, rating your speed, control of the hips and shoulders and tons of work on emotional control. The horse that is running away is not softening to the bit and waiting on the rider. You need to ride more specifically and consistently.
So here is the calm down cue as I teach it:
There is a secret button on your horse like a light switch that you can uncover and use whenever your horse is getting scared or excited in order to help calm him down. Once you install this cue on your horse you will be able to help him cope with preshow jitters or calm him down when leading him past an unruly horse in turn out.
Now we are not talking about getting your horse to hold his poll level to the withers or even 4" below the withers. In order to get the cue taught correctly we need the horse to think he is taking his nose to the dirt and in fact we will ask him to do just that in the beginning. We also want the horse to hold his head at the elevation asked for until we ask him to bring it up. It is not a quick jerk down and then back up again.
This is also the cue that is used to minimize rearing as well as jigging. It is possible to over work the horse with his head down below his withers and cause his front end to get too heavy, so once the horse has demonstrated that he has mastered the lesson we will only use it when needed or the horse needs a refresher lesson.
You can begin on the ground using your hand on the poll, a lead rope at the poll, halter and lead rope or a full check snaffle bridle with continuous round rope reins. You can also teach this from the saddle with the bridle. The direction of the pressure will be different from the ground then the saddle, but everything else is the same.
You will start with applying pressure to the poll, upward from the saddle and downward from the ground. You are not trying to move the horse's head, that's his job, you are just putting enough pressure on the horse to motivate him to change. As soon as the head travels in the downward direction, immediately release the rein. Continue the pressure release until the nose gets to the ground. If when you add pressure the nose goes any direction but down, keep the pressure the same and watch for the downward movement. This is a head down cue not a put your head here cue.
Once the horse is consistent with lowering his head down to the ground, raise the emotion. Move, jump, something to cause the horse to raise his head and then immediately apply the rein and have him take it down again. This is the only cue we will make a demand cue. No matter what, the horse takes the head down. It also becomes the first thing the horse does in the saddle when you apply pressure. We are teaching him to always guess down first.
When you go to the saddle, the cue direction will be different so there will be some learning, but it should go fast. When getting to the last 6" to the ground you will want the horse to pull the rein when he goes to the ground. This is the only time and place the horse is allowed to pull and needs to to get to the ground.
After the standstill, work it at the walk until the horse will keep his head down until you ask him to raise it. You ask him to raise it by releasing the rein on the up instead of down. Next move to the trot and then the lope. Don't take his nose to the ground at the lope as he could trip, just pick a low elevation and work on it until he leaves it there.
Again, this is the calm down cue we are working. Once the horse understands we will only take the nose to the ground if he shows signs of not understanding.