strong horse and my position making her even worse! please help! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-10-2010, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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strong horse and my position making her even worse! please help!

SOrry guys dont know if this is the right section to post this on but will give it a go ...
okay so ive got a fizzy, lively mare who ive had since last summer. shes always been forward going but over winter she got very strong and a lot more forward going, to the point of being a little uncontrollable. Shes very sensitive to the leg and soft in the mouth, so although i have tried a stronger bit (was kinda a last resort as when jumping and hacking she is quite hard to pull up and for safety reasons i need the brakes!) she doesnt respond to it well
i think as shes got stronger, my position has compromised a lot and i have become very tense in my shoulders and arms when i have been trying to slow her down (i DO know you should use body weight more than hands to slow down a fast horse but i do find her very difficult and have tensed up a lot which i know is making things a whole lot worse)
does anyone have the same problem at all, or know of any exercises to soften through your back/chest/shoulders and hands as i know that if i work on softening and loosing my tenseness then my pony will respond well
and keep my contack more even!
thanks guys, wanna get this problem nipped in the bud as i know the ponio is feeding off my problems and getting worse :/
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-10-2010, 04:30 PM
Green Broke
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work on your position. :) and use half-halts, they are amazing! lol
and use your seat more, and sit straight up, dont lean forward :) i think a video of you two would help us help you, but those are just some things i can think of that might help.

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-10-2010, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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i am certainly trying to work on my position with the help of my instructor but my progress is coming on rather slow lol i think i am too fixed in my ways :/
will try and nag my friend to viedo me so i can post it up here but watching myself on vid makes me cringe lately its that bad!
and definately sitting up taller is something i need to do .. im a bit of a hunchback and throw myself forward durign transitions but im defaintely gonna work on it!
thank you for the advice :)
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-10-2010, 05:19 PM
Green Broke
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anytime, oooooo what i found helped sooooo much with my position is do just a little bit of yoga everyday, i only do about 10/15 minutes but it helps me stay aware of where my body is, its amazing! lol goodluck! :)

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-10-2010, 08:48 PM
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I second the half halts!

Only thing i can think of as far as exercises go, is the warm ups you do before lessons. I haven't had lessons in years, but you know, the arm rolling, leg pulling stuff. Leaning back, leaning forward, etc. Get yourself as loosened up as possible.


Easier said than done i know. If you are tensing up, that is sending her the signal that you're stiff and is making her speed up, and the tenseness is also going to make her jittery and nervous. Focus on relaxing. When she starts to speed up, take a deep breath. Maybe give yourself a second to say "Okay, i need to relax!". If half halts do not work, do circles. She needs to learn not to run off with you, regardless of whether you're tense or not. Come out of the circle, as soon as she speeds up, try a half halt. Doesn't work, circle. Etc.

I hope i helped some. I'm super tired and probably am not making any sense!

"Animals are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole."
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-10-2010, 09:39 PM
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Well take this bit of information for what its worth. We had a strong 12yr old 16.2h oldenburg mare who didn't really like to work and would get stronger and more aggressive as the ride went along even on the flat with just walk trot and canter. All transitions began to get alarmingly uncomfortable with an actual battle of wills. Turns out the horse had some mild pelvic instability with irritation called synovitis to the lower hock joints one being more irritated than the other. This made transitions uncomfortable for her. Have your horse evaluated for potential joint irritations especially in horses over 10. Our mare turned out to be a love once we got her on series of legend and intra articular joint steroid. She was in pain and we were writing it off to a moody mare... so save yourself some frustration and get her orthopedically checked, get some flexion tests and a good vet to do a thorough gait exam. You might get some improvement if the problem is joint pain because they can't carry themselves balanced if they hurt.
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-11-2010, 03:35 AM
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Can I ask a question first? Is your mare quite tense? Does she tense up when you try and use the reins?

Because if she does, then she sounds exactly like my mare. I would suggest a couple of things which have worked for me and my excitable mare. If you have a lunge ring, lunge her a little before you ride, but its not a neccessity (I dont do this). Then I would take her into a safe, confined area and start with a walk. I walk my mare around, ask for lots of change of directions, circles, figure of eights etc. and ask her to keep at a walk. I dont get mad at her, I just simply correct her each time she tries to go faster or doesnt want to go in the direction I asked. My mare usually is very hyped up at the beginning, jogging sideways etc. but eventually she calms down as she realises that life is easier if she simply does as I ask.

Then I moved on to a trot. My mare is VERY sensitive to the leg and its hypes her up so in the beginning I simply used a voice aid as it calmed her down, made the trot a little slower. At first I asked her to trot for only a few strides then back to a walk. I did this a million times until she didnt rush forwards. Then once she was doing that calmly, we moved on to trotting circles. Boy did my mare want to trot SO FAST! So I used voice aids again (a good woah or a wistle, whatever calms your mare down), squeezed with my thighs and slowed down my rising trot (I find that the best way for me was to sing a slow song and match my rising to the song) as well as taking long deep breaths. Once she slowed down, then I would give her a bit of rein, let her stretch her head down and then bring her back to a walk.

So she basically realised that she would get a reward (stopping work) if she slowed down to a nice trot. I also found that the slightly looser rein (for the moment anyway) and stretching her head down calmed her which was the main problem. Once she calmed down, she trotted calmly too. I then began to ask for a nice circle at a calm trot before she could stop work. Each time they speed up, do the same as above, but dont let her walk until she has given you a calm trot (I always used to do that but I realised I should rather ride it out till she calmed down else I was rewarding the bad behaviour). And now, my mare has calmed down, realised that a nice slow trot is much nicer for her and for me. I think once your mare calms down, you will relax too (the deep breaths and singing really help too!).

I havent progressed to slowing my horses canter just yet (we're still working on our trot and jumping but when I do, I'll share any techniques that work =)
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-11-2010, 08:41 AM
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I am working on the same problem! Well, sort of. Just my mare is NOT sensitive to your legs and she is also usually pretty good about slowing down on command when she gets speedy (because I have FINALLY learned to sit deep).

For months and months I've had a problem with sitting deep-I always tend to hold myself a tiny tiny bit out of the saddle and this means my legs and stomach are tense. So to get me to finally sit down my instructor said to sort of slouch. Not all hunched-over slouch, just sit so down and so deep in the saddle that it takes a few cm off your height, and just totally and completely relax, like you're sitting on a couch (I'm also in a Western saddle, not sure if this is the same for English). I'm lucky my horse has quite a smooth trot so I'm almost able to fully sit the trot. Before, when I was all tensed up she was always fighting to go faster, and now that I'm relaxed in the saddle she responds really well to commands. I think that could work for you, you just have to work on relaxing.

I know how hard it is! Before she'd always be running away with me and rearing and I was so nervous in anticipation of it that I'd just tense up, already preparing my muscles to fight her. I couldn't even imagine relaxing, because if I did that, well, I'd fall off! And really, relaxing was all I needed to do. And yes, lots of half-halts. Good luck!
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-11-2010, 09:47 AM
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Hello there and welcome to the Horse Forum!

In reading your post I thought to myself about my own body position and what can happen with my body on occasion.

Here is a suggestion for you. And a few questions?

Ride from your core.
You stated that your upper body is very tense. Are you holding your breath?
Ha...I do this sometimes... Take a deep breath and get yourself centered.
For me it is difficult to ride from my core and have a tense upper body at the same time.
If your jumping at this time maybe it would help to scale that back on go back and do some flat work.

Half-halts are amazing! Gotta love those suckers.
You mentioned "using your body weight"
For me it is not so much as using the weight of my own body but more riding with my core and abs engaged.

Does your instructor get on your mare at all? If not maybe you want to find out if she could school your mare for a bit before you get on.

Hope this helps....
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post #10 of 10 Old 04-11-2010, 09:56 PM
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Sometimes it makes it easier to identify what part of your body is tight if you shake everything out one at a time. When you first get on and are walking on a loose rein, shake out your wrists, then your forearms, shrug your shoulders, few circles with you neck, etc. Just hit every body part until you're satisfied that it's all loose. It will give you some info as to where the biggest problems are and should help you go back and shake it back out when you do tense up.

I also agree with Halfpass about riding from your core. It sounds like you might be subsituting your upper body for your stomach muscles to complete your half halts which will create tension that doesn't need to be there.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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