Taking off - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 09:50 AM Thread Starter
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Taking off

So yesterday it was BEAUTIFUL outside and I decided to ride my guy out around the property. He is usually much better on the trail, so I was assuming it would be a nice relaxes ride.

NOTE: My horse is GREEN. He is wonderful and I love him to death, but he is green. I have worked with green horses before, and do get tips from fellow boarders//riding instructors at the barn, but wanted to hear here..

The second we got outside he started whinnying for his friends. I had him do some basics that he already knows how to do, hoping to engage his mind. I disengaged his hindquarters and forequarters from the saddle, had him do some serpentines, etc. He slowly calmed down and I decided to walk him down to the outdoor ring instead of trying to go out on a trail when he was clearly more hyped up than I wanted.

I was just going to walk around the ring. Notice:JUST. haha. He decided to take off at a full canter, from the walk, when I rounded a corner. He was not responding to a deeper seat or a normal "ho," so I had to one rein stop him. I moved him in a tight circle from there.

Every time he tried to take off on me, it was back to tight circles. I am afraid I was too hard on him and got after him too much about it. The last thing I want him to learn is "hmm, mom goes to ride and all she does is make me turn hard"... ugh.

Finally, I got him around the entire ring by doing Trot, halt. trot, halt. trot, halt. By the end, he was very responsive, although sweaty. I am thinking he just tired himself out...

All this to say, he clearly favors the gate. He speeds up towards it, wants to be at the barn with his friends. Whenever we pass by the gate he sidepasses past it (tries to go through it!). Even if I turn in the MIDDLE of the ring to avoid this, he still sidepasses the entire way through the middle of the ring. No amount of leg on his shoulder helps, either.

Any pointers? Did I do the right thing when he took off? I want him to know that taking off is more work than it's worth.
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post #2 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 10:17 AM
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Don't avoid the gate - it will just make him want to go there all the more.

Work him, and work him hard near that gate. Tight circles, moving haunches, etc - all with an insistence on quick movement and no break. Then move away from the gate to the middle of the arena or really anywhere else and let him rest for a bit. Let him walk it out some and then go back to the gate and repeat. You may need to do several sessions of this depending on how persistent he he is.

Eventually he will decide the gate means work and he doesn't like it all that much.

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post #3 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 10:34 AM
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He's insecure and still needs someone to lean on - currently he's thinking that he feels safer around the other horses than he does with you.
Some horses deal much better with these sort of things than others and as you're still quite a novice rider yourself you should probably ask someone to ride out with you the first few times you hit the trails so he can have a bit of help getting his confidence and learn from the example a calm horse gives
It sounded as if you coped pretty well in the manage situation - keep the work in there to short sessions always stopping on a positive so he can see it as a good experience not a bad one. You were tough on him but he can't learn to get away with stuff - just remember to praise him when he's done well so that's what he remembers for the next time.
You might find it easier to lunge him in the manege for a while and once he's doing well with that and not fighting you move back to riding him in there again
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post #4 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 10:34 AM
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You need someone much more confident and assertive (actually a bit aggressive) to ride your horse a few of times.

Then, you need to be a lot more demanding. You need to learn how to teach this horse 'leg yielding' exercises. Instead of just barely getting this horse past the gate, you (or someone else) need to aggressively push him all the way to the other side of the arena every single time he even drifts a little bit toward the gate. If you do not address this problem very assertively, he is going to get worse and worse. He may soon start 'stalling out' which leads to rearing and deciding not to do anything you want him to do.

Trainers address problem like this, NOT by just getting the horse to go where they want but by 'over-correcting' the problem. If a horse drifts or pushes out 3 or 4 feet, the effective trainer will counter that with 'driving' (not just pushing) the horse away from where he wants to go, driving him 25 or 30 feet the opposite direction. Each pass by the gate, the rider would get more demanding by over-correcting until the horse goes straight past the gate without drifting even a inch toward it WITH NO INSIDE REIN OR OUTSIDE LEG. Only then is the horse staying between the rider's legs and reins.
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post #5 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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I can get him past it with a crop in the outside but I don't want him to NEED a crop there.

I have been riding for nearly 20 years but never worked with a horse this new to being broke. Definitely worked with problem horses and I am not scared of correcting a horse- but I would rather not use fear or aggression...

When he gets overwhelmed at times he stalls out(has done it once or twice) and I have used a crop them with a quick "thwop" to get him to go if he doesn't respond to my leg immediately.
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post #6 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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My friend also mentioned that all of his behavior could have been helped if I had introduced him to the outdoor ring first (not sure how much it would have...) since he has never been in there.
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post #7 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 12:26 PM
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That's why I suggested lunging him in there a few times - not to wear him out but because he can see you when you're on the ground and that will help give him confidence in a new setting.
You can still insist on good behavior and respect so he has to work through his issues and he'll have to listen to you and focus on what you want him to do - just from a different perspective
He's mentally still a baby and feeling more overwhelmed than anything so even though he's got to learn to do what's asked of him its not fair to punish him if he's acting out of confusion and struggling to deal with new things in a new setting more than plain naughtiness
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post #8 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 12:44 PM
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Do not look at a smack with the crop as being overly aggressive. It gets the horse's attention and believe me, he doesn't want another one. If you're not familiar with riding with a crop, it's a good skill to learn. Some horses just need that extra incentive to help them pay mind to the rider. It doesn't mean you have to use it after the first time, but he knows it's there.
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post #9 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 12:54 PM
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If it was his first time ever in the outdoor ring, his behavior was very typical for a green broke horse. You handled things really well, so don't feel bad about being too hard on him. I totally understand where you're coming from about not souring them when they want to go. My horse is also very green, and if you let her she will run until she falls off the end of the world. Good for her, but if I don't ask her for it, I expect her not to do it. We also do lots of circles, and I know what you mean by feeling bad about being hard on her, but it's better than dealing with a horse that thinks it's ok to run away with you and do whatever it wants.
As to the gate issue, everyone else gave you good advice on that. Work harder there, then give the horse a break somewhere else. If he wants to rush towards it, make him rush past it. Do circles, yielding, if he wants to sidepass, then make him keep sidepassing. I always tell my horse she can do it the easy way or the hard way. She picks the hard way more often than I'd like, but she's learning ;)
The funny thing is I dealt with the same thing this past week. It's just gotten warm for the snow to melt, so yesterday and the day before I took my horse out and we walked out to the outdoor ring and did some groundwork. As I said, she can be very hot, so I wanted to introduce her to everything new on the ground where I had more control and could keep her in her right mind. We walked the perimeter, got her used to the corners, and yes, worked her twice as hard by the gate because she wanted to go out really bad. I'm all for taking things slow, and would much rather deal with something on the ground first, and then potentially not have to deal with it in the saddle.
Best of luck!
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post #10 of 12 Old 04-03-2014, 12:59 PM
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This sounds like the kind of horse that demands more of the rider. There's going to be no getting around that fact but the good news is that he'll make you better! You've got to be able to ride those *inevitable* unexpected changes of speed and direction without being taken by surprise and falling behind the motion, and ride confidently no matter what happens so that he can gain confidence in you. The best success I've had in riding distracted horses is to always stay busier than the horse's wandering mind UNTIL I feel those feet get right under me and that mind get quiet. It sounds like you were doing that, so I'd say that yes, you did do the right thing for the moment that it happened. But it seems like what you're really looking for is how to do away with the frustration and find a way to actually enjoy the experience of riding this guy. For that I would say that the key lies entirely in how you think about what you're doing. If you think "I'm so frustrated having to do all these transitions, why won't he just settle down" you'll certainly come away from the ride with a bad aftertaste. Take it for the free advice that it is (with a grain of salt) but here's my thought process in the same situation: the fastest way to put life in a horse's feet is to take him away from the other horses. I expect it, so I'm ready for it. I'll want life in the feet someday anyway, he needs it to make manuevers, so it's an opportunity not a problem. Anything he does just gives me the opportunity to practice another transition which he needs to learn how to do anyway. Slow down, speed up, turn, stop, back up, move your hindquarters over, all valuable experiences for both of us. As he gets more accurate he grows in confidence, I grow in experience, and we're both a little bit better than we were before. The successful ride is not one absent of conflict, but one in which conflict has been acknowleged, addressed and successfully resolved with patience, presence, and the most excellent technique that I'm capable of bringing to the table.
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Last edited by Ian McDonald; 04-03-2014 at 01:05 PM.
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