Reconciling different training expectations in one horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 01-28-2010, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Reconciling different training expectations in one horse?

I've been mulling this over for a long time. Is my habit of having different expectations of my horse in different situations detrimental to my long term goal of turning him into a successful show horse?

I use my current show horse for a lot of things PC, Trail Riding, Stock work, ASH shows, Campdrafting, as well as numerous small PC shows in many different disciplines. I am a big believer in versatility in horses.

However, Ive noticed that I expect different levels or response from him to certain cues depending on what I happen to be doing. The biggest discrepancies are in Trail Riding Vs. Showing/Campdrafting.

Out on the trail I ride him on a loose rein, and generally let him pick the speed as long as he isnt being rude or lazy. If he is being lazy Ill whop him with the end of a rein and he picks himself up again. If I ask for a stop, it is generally more rein that seat/legs as his attention is usually elsewhere In the bushes or on the horse in front. It is still quite a gentle cue, but it is still more reins than seat. I am also happy with a gradual stop A sudden stop is not so relaxing out on the trail! I only ask him to move off my legs when doing a gate or avoiding an obstacle otherwise as long as he is following his nose Im happy. Generally, as long as he is moving forward and straight I leave him alone. He is naturally very low-headed and calm.

However, when showing I expect him to respond to just seat cues, just my spur, without much rein aid. I ride him on quite a short rein with a lot of leg to get him to show some energy, impulsion and to pick his head up and shorten himself. The thing is, it takes a good warm-up and often a few reminders to listen to my seat for stops and rate, and to lighten up his front end and not lean on the bit, and to give me good lateral flexion. I also ask for a lot of bend through his body Especially when campdrafting, he needs to have a bend in his body toward the cow at all times.

In other words, I cant just hop on and have him light to my seat and leg cues straight away Its like I have to remind him of what he has to do.

So what do you guys think? Is allowing him to be pretty lax on the trail detrimental to his lightness and responsiveness in the show ring/Campdraft arena? Is there a way to remedy this without compromising his mental wellbeing? (I.e. not constant schooling?) Do any of you have the same issues/conflicts in your horses/training?

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post #2 of 17 Old 01-28-2010, 06:28 PM
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On the trail I would ride him collected with periods of relaxation mixed in. Don't want them all strung out regardless of where I am riding. I also use the same cues regardless of trail riding or show ring.
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post #3 of 17 Old 01-28-2010, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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^ The thing is, even if I asked for the stop with my seat, I know that out on the trail he wouldn't bury his butt in the ground and it would turn into a fight. For him to respond like that I need his attention 100% on me, but on the trail I don't want that - I like having an independant mind out on the trail as they often see things that we don't.

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post #4 of 17 Old 01-28-2010, 09:12 PM
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What you've describe sounds perfectly normal to me. I'd much prefer having a horse that I can take out on the trails and relax with AND show (with maybe some schooling tune-ups to get them more responsive to lighter cues again) than a horse who's all business and go in the show ring but an idiot out on the trails. If you want the best of both (very opposite) worlds in one horse, then you've got to expect that something is going to suffer a little. No horse is a perfect all-around horse, just like no human is a perfect all-around athlete.
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post #5 of 17 Old 01-28-2010, 09:16 PM
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You need to decide what your horse's job is. If you want a horse that is light and responsive, you nave to be consistent in expecting that every day. Some horses are capable of learning two, three, four, etc.. distinct jobs and performing them all, but most are just not.
The reason horses are generally cross trained is in their younger years to get them used to a plethora of experiences and to decide what they are best at. As soon as they are really showing talent for something, they should be switched over basically entirely to that discipline and taught the intricacies.
It is like grade school and moving onto uni for people. After a while of doing so many different things, we want to do what we are best at and enjoy the most. This is not to say that people in sciences are completely devoid of a social or language component of education, just like any show horse should be trail ridden. It is just the expectancy for the "fringe" subjects is much lower than that of the main study.
So if you want a show horse, you should expect him to behave like a show horse and when he is trail ridden he will still be a show horse. Or if you want a trail horse then expect him to act like a trail horse at all times.

Good luck!
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post #6 of 17 Old 01-28-2010, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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^ That's the thing - if he HAD to be one thing, then I would want him to be a happy, sane, safe trail riding packer for a kid. Which he can be. However, I bought him with the intention of re-selling. I am still planning on doing that but a few years down the track, hence, I want to get him as well-performed as I can. Gah, it is just very frustrating.

It makes me wonder - Thos successful show horses out there, how are they managed? Are they expected to be feather light all the time? Or do they get times when they can just ride for the sake of it?

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post #7 of 17 Old 01-29-2010, 11:23 AM
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Training a horse for multiple issues is the best way to keep them fresh.

Changing the cues is usually not a good idea. How hard you sit back for a stop tells him how quick to stop. Reins one time and seat the other is not cool.

I usually change the bit for different things. Not so much to add pressure but to let him know that when he is wearing this bit its all business and when he is wearing another its ok to relax a little. But the cues do not change.
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post #8 of 17 Old 01-29-2010, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by 5cuetrain View Post
I usually change the bit for different things. Not so much to add pressure but to let him know that when he is wearing this bit its all business and when he is wearing another its ok to relax a little. But the cues do not change.

Your horse can't be allowed to be naughty but he does deserve mental down time.
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post #9 of 17 Old 01-29-2010, 11:32 AM
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i think it is okay to use different cues when you are doing different things, it sounds like he just needs a tune up on what means what. my horse scout does both english & western & i use different cues to get him to go & stop & turn & he does just fine. 2 different signals can end with the same result, they just have to know what a signal means.

Gypsy & Scout <3
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein
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post #10 of 17 Old 01-30-2010, 01:29 PM
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I believe a horse can tell the difference between a pleasure ride and a show ring.
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