Some training tips please

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Some training tips please

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    05-02-2011, 08:34 AM
Green Broke
Some training tips please

Ok since I have started riding Apache again I have noticed a couple of things that need to be worked on. I would love it if someone could give me some tips or even a link to a previous thread. My first one is when he threatens to rear I disangage his hindquarters and turn him in a few fast tight circles. A couple of times he has down one circle then stopped and kept his head almost at my knee because he can't move it but simply wont move. Normally I just keep upping the pressure until he starts moving again. Then I give him release. Is there anything else I can do if he stops and won't move in this situation?
Next question I haven't quite worked out why or exactly what he is doing. I think he is either napping, buddy sour or ring sour. I think they are different things but I haven't really looked into them a lot. He usually will speed up when going in the direction when going towards the gate/saddling area. When going away from this area he isn't as eager and sometimes backs up and threatens to rear. Which I respond with doing the above (he hasn't actually reared since I started riding him again he just does all the dancing around threatening to before he actually would), I do know he would go up if pushed enough too. He can be a bit funny when his buddies aren't insight but I don't think that is the problem. He normally just gets excited and calls out if he can't see them or they're running around calling out. He doesn't normally necessarily try to go back to them. I'm not sure if napping and being ring sour are kind of the same thing. He tends to when going away from the gate area do the above attempted rearing or when going parallel to it I will have his head slightly facing away and I will have my leg on him to try and keep going straight but he will just have his head that way and be slowly kind of be starts going sideways towards the gate area. I don't get to ride him anywhere except in my paddock at the moment I'm hoping to use him for trail rides later when I get him working for me better. So my question is does this behaviour sound like napping or ring sour? Also am I dealing with it correctly? He doesn't do it the whole time I'm riding just occasionally during a ride.
I hope this makes sense and thanks in advance for any help.
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    05-02-2011, 09:48 AM
Super Moderator
This is a really common problem that comes from some really common mistakes riders make.

NO! He is not 'napping', nor is he tired or sore or anything but getting spoiled. He is 'stalling out' and losing forward motion because he wants to go out of the gate. That is why he is speeding up going toward the gate and stalling out and trying to NOT leave the gate area.

A rearing horse is always a rider error until it has become a habit. Then, they will rear because of a previous rider letting them lose forward impulsion.

NO! Disengaging his hind quarters is not going to stop this unwanted behavior -- as you have found out. It takes a more serious form of 'negative reinforcement'. He quite simply needs his butt spanked and be made to go faster away from the gate.

If you had popped him a good one on the butt the first time he tried this, it would have discouraged the behavior back when he was first thinking about leaving the arena and its work behind him. Now, he may fight you to maintain the status quo. Some put up a pretty good fight because their rider has accepted the behavior. So, not knowing how old you are or how good a rider you are, you may need someone else to get on him and straighten him out. If you do this, he will still 'try' you, but he will quickly straighten out as soon as you get after him.

This is a very common 'vice' when riders do not know how to prevent a horse from disliking their 'work area' and allow them to think that rest, relief, removing all pressure and only 'good' things happen outside the arena and only work and drudgery happen inside the arena.

There are some things that ALL riders can do to prevent this kind of behavior from starting in the first place.

1) Rest a horse often in an arena ONLY when the horse is doing things well and wanting to go forward freely. Then, rest him at the point farthest from the gate. Or, if there is a particular place in the arena he tries to avoid or is afraid of, simply rest him there. Rest in the arena is the only reward he needs for doing well.

2) When you are ready to leave the arena, never ever let a horse just turn and ride out of the gate. Always go past the gate (preferably to the farthest point from the gate), stop, stand him still while mounted for at least a minute. When, AND ONLY WHEN, he is relaxed and standing still on a loose rein, get off, loosen your girth and lead him out of the gate. Again, reward good behavior.

This is how I have made my students and 4-H riders quit each riding session for more than 40 years and not one has had a horse get gate sour. They NEVER are ridden out of the gate.

[I also do not let riders stop near the gate to visit with people standing along the rail.]

3) If you are at a show and must ride out of the gate, ride your horse directly to a work area and work him hard. I prefer to work a horse harder outside AFTER a show class than he did in the ring. Then, at the far end of the work area (out of the way of other riders), stop and rest the horse on a loose rein for at least a minute (5 minutes is better), then get off, loosen the girth and lead the horse back to his stall or trailer or wherever you saddled and got him ready.

You must reward good behavior and never inadvertently reward unwanted behavior.

You must never let a horse decide when he is done working and never let him decide where he wants to go. You have to call ALL of the shots.

This will escalate if it is not addressed immediately.

Good luck and ride safe.
    05-02-2011, 10:23 AM
Green Broke
Thanks for all the tips I do do number 1 and 2 every time I ride. I do not mean to make this sound like horse error because I believe rider error caused it. I do not think it was me that started it because he has done it since I got him and he does it with every rider no matter where he has been ridden (not always on my property). When he first tried this with me my instructor got me to use a whip and that just made him worse with the rearing. The more I used the whip the more he would stop and rear. He has never risen more then a few inches off the ground but I definitely wouldn't put it past him to go higher if he was pushed. In the end my instructor and I agreed he was to much for me and she took him on to see if she could at least get him to behave for a more experienced rider. He did improve a little but she didn't get to work with him much due to health reasons. My new instructor had a ride on him awhile ago and she did what I said above and within the first few mintues of the ride he soon settled down and did as she asked without a fuss for the rest of the ride. Which is normally what he will do then he will settle and be quite a good ride for a horse that hasn't been worked in a few months.

Just quick background story. I bought him about june last year (bad decision lesson learnt) he started all this behavious straight away when I got him home. He was used for a couple of months as my lesson horse, my confidence fell. I rode different horse he went to my instructors house for a couple of months. He then came back due to her health. I worked with him on the ground for the next few months due to no instructor to help and not enough confidence. About a month and a half ago I think, I found a new instructor who helped with Apache. She worked with him a bit. I got a lot more confident in her lessons with my other horse. I started riding Apache again just over a week ago.

I have been riding regularly for almost a year and a half now. I had a few lessons when I was 12. I have since had lessons on and off for the past year and a half due to needing to find instructor. I class myself as a beginner though not complete beginner, not sure what other people would think.

He is very much a fighter not a runner. He is more likely to stand and fight then even attempt to run. With a whip he simply becomes grumpier and fights more. He is also the laziest horse I have ever met. Very very very rarely will he go faster then a walk when its his decision and a slow plod at that. The other reason I do the above when he goes to rear is he seems to think in his mind that going in small circles fast is harder work then simply doing what I asked so he stops trying after the first couple of goes. He is also only turning 11 this year.

I don't mean to sound like I'm making excuses just wanted to give more insight. Also I'm turning 17 this year.
    05-02-2011, 11:03 AM
Super Moderator
He is not a good horse for your to ride and learn on. You need a well trained confidence builder that you can learn good riding techniques on. You are constantly on the defense riding this horse and not learning good riding skills on him. This is an old spoiled school horse and is not good for what you need. He is not a good enough horse for a good rider to want to ride him and he is a poor horse for a beginner to intermediate rider.

I do not think you have the confidence or skill to fix this horse. I do not put whips in beginner's hands simply because they usually only make things worse. They usually only 'peck' on horses and make them rear worse or just get them mad. For a whip (or spurs for that matter) to work, they have to be used harshly enough to get an instant positive result and then the rider needs to leave the horse alone. 'Nagging' at a horse NEVER works! If done correctly the first time, the horse WILL go forward with great impulsion -- may ever run off -- which I do not worry about and only pull one up after a complete lap around the arena and after the horse has gone past the gate at least one more time.

My method of choice on a horse that already rears is to ground drive that horse past the gate and use either a buggy whip (about 5 foot long) or the ends of the reins and REALLY get after the horse and drive it very quickly past the gate. Driving takes skill and is not very easy for an inexperienced person to do.

If the horse is just stalling out and threatening to rear, I spank its butt. I spank it hard enough that it WILL get gone. I greatly prefer to use 7 foot long, western style harness leather reins -- even on an English horse. I take these long reins and spank with an 'over and under' action where, withing a second or two, I can spank the left hip, swing the reins over and spank his right hip and then his left hip and his right hip again. I do this as fast as I can and I expect a horse to leave out and want to get away from the spanking just like it would want to get away from a herd member that was coming after it with its mouth wide open trying to take a hunk of its butt out. [You have to make sure you are not pulling on the horse's mouth when to spank the horse to go forward. That would only make a horse rear as it would have nowhere else to go.]

I use the 'over and under' method because many horses will duck around to the right if you smack them on the left side. If you spur one really hard on both sides or give them an over and under spanking that is effective, you will only have to do it once if the horse has just started to stall out. If the horse had done this for quite a while, it may take 1 or 2 more spankings. For it to take more means that the rider is not doing it hard enough to make the horse quit that behavior.

This is just like the horse in a herd that tries to take the lead horse's grain. The lead horse will bite it hard (if it does not run away quickly enough). If the horse is foolish enough to try to take the lead horse's grain again, the lead horse might chase it all over the pasture, get it in a corner and kick it several times in the ribs and then still turn and try to take a hunk out of its butt. Negative reinforcement MUST be harsh enough to get the job done quickly. If you want to just 'peck' on a horse a hope it stops the behavior, you are probably going to be disappointed.
    05-02-2011, 03:34 PM
Green Broke
Ok I'm just trying to understand what your saying. Are you saying I should just stop riding him because I don't have the skill to ride him? Are they things I should have done when he started? I am aware now he isn't a good beginner horse. He isn't the horse I usually ride the one I would normally ride can't be ridden at the moment.
    05-03-2011, 03:10 AM
Green Broke
Everyone agree with Cherie?
    05-03-2011, 04:03 AM
Very much agree with Cherie.
    05-03-2011, 04:42 AM
Green Broke
So are you saying I should stop riding him and leave him in the paddock for my instructor to work with during my once a week lessons?
    05-03-2011, 05:29 AM
I agree with the tips Cherie has given. Though not that you should just give up on him.
I think that you need more guidance with this horse, particularly as he is threatening to rear. I do not like horses that have an upward tendency to avoid work.
Your instructor should certainly do some work with him, I feel that he needs a strong and experienced rider to get him past this behaviour. He also needs a good whack on the backside to wake him up to the fact that this is absolutely not acceptable behaviour. Spinning the horse is a cover up and is good for on the spot, once off attempts at a rear or buck. It will pull them off balance and save your butt. But horses get smart - I was riding one for a client that did the same - he would jack with an upwards tendency, and his rider would pull him in a circle every time. Worked for a while, then he clued in and become dangerous. He'd try to jack on the small circle and a number of times flipped himself over in the spin.

My own horse will stop and jack as he does not appreciate my forcing the issue of coming through half halts. However, he is a difficult horse in that if you increase pressure, he will blow his brain and lose the plot.. you can then do nothing but hang on for dear life and let him get it out of his system, after which point you can get nothing more than a long rein walk out of him without him becoming stressed and tense again.
To curb this jacking behaviour, I simply sit out the buck with my lower leg closed on, and the second he comes back to earth he is driven forward for a few strides, then the half halt aid is repeated until he responds positively.

These behaviours do require a rider with significant experience to effectively ride it out of the horse's system. Once they clue in to the fact that you're not brave enough to sit it out and give them a what for if they need it, they walk all over you. Your timing also has to be spot on with when you should do nothing, and when to react.

Speak to your instructor about the concerns you have, and ask for guidance as to exactly what to do and how to do it. One cannot give EXACT advice on these issues over the internet, as it does depend on the temperament of the horse. Some you can give a good whack on the backside once and they'll get over it. Others, like my boy, need a patient rider to wait it out, and ask once their brain is back in its box. Only an experienced person on the ground or in the saddle can tell you what 'temperament' your horse is in respect to these problems.
    05-03-2011, 06:25 AM
Green Broke
Thanks I will definitely discuss this further with my instructor during my next lesson. I have only just recently started getting lessons with her so she is still understanding Apaches temperament. My recent riding I haven't allowed him to get to the point of going up I have stopped him the moment he starts giving signs. Thanks for warning me about the turning thing too. I will talk to my instructor about the whipping on the bum and see if she will have a go at it with him. This is not because I am scared off how he will react but simply if he decides to go rank I don't know if I could sit it and I don't want to come off him and possibly teach him a new bad habit. So far he has tried almost everything at one point or another to get out of doing stuff but not to the point of being dangerous I don't think. It has taken me at least 6 months to get his respect on the ground. He is very respectful of me on the ground though he still has his days where he will argue about it. It took me just about all this time just to be able to lunge him with me giving the directions and not him deciding what to do. He has made major improvements since I have had him with the help of more experienced people. I know you can't really understand a horses temperament over the internet but here are some points just to give you an idea. Most people say there is no such thing as a dominant minded horse but that is the best way I can describe him, he believes he is boss and it takes quite a bit for him to really respect you, he is very aggressive to animals of any kind when showing dominance (I don't think he has been taught very good social manners if that makes sense), he just seems to have this air about him that says don't mess with me even towards very aggressive mares. The only way I can say it, is he is stubborn and very much so at that. He is very smart and picks things up quickly, he also get bored with things if it becomes a bit repetative and he feels he doesn't have to do it anymore. I think he may have been spoiled a bit with his previous owner, just a little hint why I think this. She told me speak to him in a baby voice because he likes it.

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