Retraining and Desensitizing to Aids.
 
 

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Retraining and Desensitizing to Aids.

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    09-03-2012, 07:13 AM
  #1
Foal
Retraining and Desensitizing to Aids.

Hi guys,

So in the last three months I've acquired a TB, he's thirteen, has raced but not for eight or so years and has been schooled previously. Bit of a back story before I get onto the issue - Before I acquired him he was owned by a girl who used to just barrel him over jumps, letting him practically gallop over them, as well as being pretty rough on the mouth (Riding in a gag most of the time) She had a fantastic seat from what I saw when he'd throw his tricks out, I wouldn't be brave enough to sit to it! (He was boarded with her where I was already boarding, so this is all first person) and they'd just go for hoons quite a bit, he got away with a bit ;) She only came out once a week, eventually once a month for around six or so months.

He was very sensitive to aids, you couldn't put your leg consistently (even just relaxed and not putting any pressure) on his side, and god forbid you click at him. Although he's made a huge amount of improvement with his aids, he's still very touchy with where my legs are, and I don't want him to keep being so precious.
I've been lunging him with stirrups down, even attaching things to his stirrups to try and desensitize him, which has been working, slightly (any progress is good progress however!)

I've been told to keep my leg on him when he shoots off when he's touched behind the girth, but that really seems to just wind him up and it takes a long time to get him back to me. (to add I'm also riding him in a snaffle, which he's responding well to, although still working on accepting and relaxing on the bit)

Does anyone else have any suggestions as to desensitizing? / anyone else have this same problem?

Any input I will be grateful for! Thank you for reading this essay :)
     
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    09-04-2012, 04:54 PM
  #2
Weanling
How sensitive is he to you touching his sides with your hands while you are on the ground?
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    09-05-2012, 01:54 AM
  #3
Foal
Doesn't care. Its a combination of pressure on his sides, and being unbalanced in the saddle. Today was a very good day though! I was able to relax my legs against him, and he stopped jig jogging :') Any progress is good progress.
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    09-05-2012, 02:15 AM
  #4
Super Moderator
Sounds like you are doing what needs to be done. Just need more time, maybe.
     
    09-05-2012, 04:07 AM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
sounds like you are doing what needs to be done. Just need more time, maybe.
Reassurance is very encouraging, thank you. I'm hoping so, starting to see him put the pieces together. I've got him on mag-eze which I can already see the difference (he was never THAT nervous, the odd spook but nothing unusual but its taken his sensitivity down a notch)
     
    09-05-2012, 05:23 PM
  #6
Trained
How good is your independent seat?
Ideally, you will be able to sit quietly on his back, just letting your legs hang without gripping, and not jerk him in the mouth when he launches forward.
I am glad to hear that this has been recognised as an issue, as I hear a lot of people commenting on how forward and reactive to the aids their horse is - when it's not forward, and it is evading the aids by launching itself forward.

As you have him in walk, relax your seat and allow it to swing with the walk motion. If you're legs and seat and really relaxed, you'll feel that your legs will want to be applied in a 'left, right, left, right' motion. Go with it. Allow your legs to hang against his sides (think of a wet towel, or a slab of meat over a rolling pin), take deep, slow breaths and just relax as much as you possibly can.
If he goes to launch forward, keep your seat gently swinging in walk motion, and just use your seat to bring him back to the rhythm and temp that YOU want.
As the rider it is your job to dictate the speed - doing this clearly will make the horse more confident in your capacity as a leader and you will find that it becomes more willing to comply.

The same thing goes in trot and canter, just keep your seat going at the speed you want - preferably a fairly slow tempo, and let your legs hang down his sides with no tension, just constant light contact.
If he goes to rush off, don't attack him, just gently and quietly bring him back to the pace you asked for and keep going. It won't take long for him to start coming to the realisation that running off will not take the pressure off. He'll learn to live with it and not be so electric in time.
     
    09-06-2012, 04:53 AM
  #7
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayty    
How good is your independent seat?
Ideally, you will be able to sit quietly on his back, just letting your legs hang without gripping, and not jerk him in the mouth when he launches forward.
I am glad to hear that this has been recognised as an issue, as I hear a lot of people commenting on how forward and reactive to the aids their horse is - when it's not forward, and it is evading the aids by launching itself forward.

As you have him in walk, relax your seat and allow it to swing with the walk motion. If you're legs and seat and really relaxed, you'll feel that your legs will want to be applied in a 'left, right, left, right' motion. Go with it. Allow your legs to hang against his sides (think of a wet towel, or a slab of meat over a rolling pin), take deep, slow breaths and just relax as much as you possibly can.
If he goes to launch forward, keep your seat gently swinging in walk motion, and just use your seat to bring him back to the rhythm and temp that YOU want.
As the rider it is your job to dictate the speed - doing this clearly will make the horse more confident in your capacity as a leader and you will find that it becomes more willing to comply.

The same thing goes in trot and canter, just keep your seat going at the speed you want - preferably a fairly slow tempo, and let your legs hang down his sides with no tension, just constant light contact.
If he goes to rush off, don't attack him, just gently and quietly bring him back to the pace you asked for and keep going. It won't take long for him to start coming to the realisation that running off will not take the pressure off. He'll learn to live with it and not be so electric in time.
I'm working everyday with my instructor with my independent seat, have been told that I sit very passively with him. But I have also been told that I should NOT be sitting passively constantly as it will make him furthermore precious with where my legs are, and timing. I'm planning on doing showjumping (he does love his jumping, and is pretty calm right now with it) and I need to feel safe enough that if something happens which makes my leg slip back or myself to lean forward more that necessary, he will not panic or get flustered.

He goes well when you're balanced, and being very quiet. But I've seen other people (including myself!) that he takes off on the second they are unbalanced. Not nasty taking off, just running on and losing any brakes.

Your advice is extremely helpful, because I keep getting told so many different things (With most people its their way or the highway ;) ) And you're saying what I am thinking.

Its so easy to get frustrated dealing with him when he is having an off day, to avoid any of this frustration I take him on a gentle hack, its not worth making us both uncomfortable and ruining a weeks worth of training.

Do you think there is an age where retraining becomes very difficult?
     
    09-06-2012, 05:26 AM
  #8
Trained
I can see where you are coming from re getting him used to you moving around - BUT at this point, where he is just so reactive and sensitive, I really feel that it is best to sit quietly, let the leg be constantly on his side - not nagging, just hanging - until he learns to deal with that. THEN you can start allowing yourself to move and get him dealing with some more motion in the saddle. You don't want to get him too dead though, its a fine line between hyper-reactivity, good reactivity and too little reactivity.
You see this happen when people desensitise a reactive horse on the ground. They throw everything at the horse, until eventually it just shuts down and doesn't react at all, to anything. That is not want you want.

Sitting quietly and letting the legs hang against him is not going to make him precious, trust me on that one! What WILL make him precious is to take the leg off and very gingerly put an aid on expecting him to jerk forward, then grabbing at him when he does. A confident, relaxed rider makes for a confident, relaxed horse.


As for ages, generally the longer the horse has been on the track, the more difficult it becomes to retrain. However they are thoroughbreds and they're going to be explosive in many cases. My 7 year old ottb with 32 starts was the easiest horse I've ever retrained, he took to it like a duck to water, never had a problem.
The 3 year old mare I took off the track with only 3 4 starts was absolute hell, she was so **** explosive, her first reaction was always to blow up and I found her very difficult. She had no regard for her own safety let alone the person on top of her. She was one horse who I've come across who I think was truly dangerous.
     

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