Slowing the trot - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 07-03-2010, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Slowing the trot

My mare has a very speedy trot. She is go, go, go all the time. I have been trying to teach her to slow it down a little and relax into it, we've had several sessions on this specific behavior and while she is getting it, the process is slow going.

I am not a horse trainer. I haven't ever trained a horse basically from scratch which is what I'm doing with Cookie. I've tried to find a trainer to help us, but the few I've called haven't ever called me back and the one at the barn I board at is not my style whatsoever.

So for the time being, I am all she has to learn this.

What I've been doing is slowing my posting, and squeeze, squeeze, squeezeing on the reins until she slows, then I stop all aids right away and give her her head.

I've goggled it, asked a few people around the barn and from my previous lessons many years ago this is the info I've been getting.

However, I feel like all I'm doing the whole ride is hauling on her mouth because she fights it. I could squeeze and release a dozen times before she finally slows and I stop bugging her.

I have soft hands, I know in reality I am NOT hauling on her, but I'm just hoping someone might have some tips or tricks on how to make it easier for her to learn this. I can tell she is frustrated even though she is still trying.
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post #2 of 44 Old 07-03-2010, 10:57 PM
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I hope you are not feeding her any grain. If you are then stop. Then trot her at whatever speed she wants to go at for 10 miles then start to ask her to slow down.

You also have left some pretty big holes in your training. I would guess she doesn't break at the pole at a walk or trot and that you would also have a problem changing the speed of the walk. When you slow your seat and pull on the reins to slow her down don't release the pressure until you feel the change in her feet but first you need to get her soft in the face and responsive at the walk. If she is very tired then you will have better luck getting her to want to slow down instead of forcing her to slow down.

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post #3 of 44 Old 07-03-2010, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the reply!

She does not get grain.

She is actually very good at the walk. She will slow or speed up and will stop on a dime.

We are working on bending and breaking at the pole but that is an ongoing process so far.

I really wish I could find a good trainer to work with. It has just been much harder than I thought to find one that actually returns phone calls, or one that doesn't have methods that are totally off in the other direction from what I want. I am still looking though.

I think I probably haven't been letting her get tired enough before I ask her to slow down. I'll be sure to get her beans out first and then ask and we'll see how that goes.
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post #4 of 44 Old 07-04-2010, 07:22 PM
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One method I use is getting them to trot 'with their brakes on'. However, this also really shortens their stride and I am not sure if you ride english or western. If you ride english, you might have to just ignore this advice as she will stop tracking up at the trot.

How I work on this is to give them a nice workout. It is easier to work on this at the end of the ride as they are more tired and more focused. I will ask for the trot and when they pick it up, I let them go for 2 or 3 strides and then stop them, back them a couple of steps and keep them there for a moment or 2. Since you are already having a problem with her bending and giving to the bit, keep the pressure on until she breaks at the poll and gives her nose even the tiniest little bit. Then let her out and ask for the trot again. Let her go for 2 or 3 strides and then do it again. Repetition is the only way to make this a constant. Do it every single ride for 15 or 20 minutes, just trot-stop-back-hold and soon, she will begin to anticipate the stop and have a moment of hesitation every stride. Done properly and consistently, this will slow her down, lower her head, and really solidify her stop.

If you look at this video at the very start, I have begun to work on this with this mare. You can see that her stride is shortened and she is a bit hesitant at the trot. It isn't really smooth yet but keep in mind that she only has about 15 rides on her at this point.

Also, you can kinda see the after effect here on my older horse. His trot is slow and controlled, it is a nice little jog instead of a big trot.

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post #5 of 44 Old 07-04-2010, 07:32 PM
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I helped my friend with her mare who was gogogo all the time, does your horse trot with her head in the air? if so then her trotting fast could be because of a balance issue, when a horse has their head in the air like that their not engaging their bodies like they should be, causing them to be out of sync, this was the reasoning for my friends mare anyway.

other than that, try sitting really deep and/or back into your saddle.. I would forget about posting right now and focus on her.. I'm a western rider so I've never had to worry about that with my horse, but that along with a voice command is what I use.

does she lunge? You can try to get her to slow and pick up pace at the trot with your voice from that, eventually she will catch on.
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post #6 of 44 Old 07-05-2010, 02:15 AM
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I had a very similar problem with my mare. She's also all go go go go and usually goes with her head up in the air, very fast and very tense so we've been working on relaxing and going long and low to get her to just relax and realize that life isn’t so scary.

I also used to do a similar thing to you but I found that I just spent too much time in my mare's face and it just ended up with her getting more and more tense. So, we started over again. I'm not sure if this is technically the "right way" but it works with my mare.

Basically, I took away the rein aids completely. Kept contact with my mare's mouth and then, once she started to speed up, I would circle her and slow my posting, using my seat to slow her down, then the moment she slowed down and relaxed and dropped her head, I gave with my contact and brought her down to a walk - rewarding her by stopping 'the work'. The important thing is to keep doing it, keep asking with the seat and circling, making the circling smaller if needs be, until she responds. I initially made the mistake of thinking that if I brought her down to a walk, let her walk a little and then ask for the trot again, she would have ‘relaxed’ but I found out it wasn’t the case and I realized that I was ‘rewarding’ her for her fast trot. Once I started keeping her trotting until she slowed down and relaxed and only then allowing her to walk, we’ve come a long way.

Its taken me a while but we've gradually been able to build it up. From just asking her to relax to slow down, I began asking her for three or so strides in a nice long, relaxed frame before allowing her to walk, then for a whole circle. And it’s made a world of a difference. Now if she speeds up, I give the seat aids, and she almost always immediately slows down and goes into her nice relaxed frame.

As I mentioned earlier, not sure if this is the ‘correct way’ but I tried everything else (including making my mare trot and trot and trot until she was tired and slowed down but it never seemed to get across to her that a slow trot was what I wanted from the beginning so I abandoned that approach). But be warned, my method does take some time to be effective but my mare was getting the idea after a week or two.

Hope it helped!
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post #7 of 44 Old 07-05-2010, 03:17 AM
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My horse is fairly green and we are working with a trainer on this issue.

Always start with the lightest/easiest command possible and increase pressure from there. The idea is to make the "wrong" thing really uncomfortable for the horse and when they are doing what you want to make it easy and pleasant for them.

When my horse gets out ahead of me I slow my posting. If/when that doesn't work I give a little tickle with the reins and then release. Pull, release harder until he gets the message. Once he is going at the pace I want I let him go and get out of his face. If he does what I ask he gets left alone, if he doesn't then I'm all up in his business making him uncomfortable until he does but the key thing is to always ask as lightly as possible first so that they get the message and respond before you have to escalate your cues.

I'm still working on this too and it takes a lot of patience and practice. I've also been working on our walk/trot transitions building up a language and communication and a nice obedient working relationship.

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post #8 of 44 Old 07-05-2010, 01:06 PM
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Folks with go-go-go horses, do you canter at all or just do walk/trot? My horse is go-go-go with the head high, but strangely enough it's day-by-day basis: some days she keeps frame and head goes low, and some days (like yesterday and today) nothing seems to help to slow her down (I mostly try to do what munschk suggested to stay away from the mouth). I'm still guessing if she's in heat on those "bad" days (I never can tell for both of my mares if they are).
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post #9 of 44 Old 07-05-2010, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by kitten_Val View Post
Folks with go-go-go horses, do you canter at all or just do walk/trot? My horse is go-go-go with the head high, but strangely enough it's day-by-day basis: some days she keeps frame and head goes low, and some days (like yesterday and today) nothing seems to help to slow her down (I mostly try to do what munschk suggested to stay away from the mouth). I'm still guessing if she's in heat on those "bad" days (I never can tell for both of my mares if they are).
I wouldn't blame it on the mare thing, that's actually what can give mares bad reps because people give them hormonal excuses!

Horses have good days and bad days just like us and it can be a number of reasons like the weather, what they did or ate that day or even just their 'tude.

If you get a really solid, controlled walk and a really solid controlled trot your canter will be much better as a product because you've built the communication and trust and obedience in the other gaits. I wouldn't ask for the canter from an out of control trot or a trot that was out in front of me. Control the trot first and then ask for a canter from a balanced, controlled position.

Right now my horse and I (since he's been in rehab and we have soooo much to learn together) are taking things one step at a time and focusing on a few things to master (like keeping the trot from getting away) at a time so that we can perfect them before putting too much on our plate.

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post #10 of 44 Old 07-05-2010, 05:36 PM
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All I can say is: how much do you work her?

Tango is the same as yours: gogogogogo, and if you're in her mouth too much she starts to fight it. I found that a good, long gallop helped...her, anyways. She just had SO much energy that she didn't know what to do with it, and was misbehaving because she was bored and because she was full of wind and piss. I galloped her three lengths of a 30-acre field, and by the end she was so tired (yes, she's unfit) that she didn't even want to go faster, for once in her life. Today when I took her out in that same field her trot was slow, easily controlled, and even though she's not 100% relaxed, it's a HUGE difference from the head-up, strung-out, always-pulling-and-fighting trot that she always had before.

Also, a horse like her really needs to be worked, hard, every day. Walk-trot for an hour around an arena is not enough for her. I've been working her every day and though she's still fiery and has tons of go (I don't think I'll ever take that out of her) she's settled quite a bit.
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