Tossing head with the stop.

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Tossing head with the stop.

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    08-06-2011, 12:20 AM
Tossing head with the stop.

I've been working on starting (ahem, actually starting) one of the yearlings at the livery. The horse is 4 years old, and an AQH/?? Mix. He accepts the saddle and bridle, lunges with both, and leads with both.

I convinced the BO to let me do some turn and stop work with him before we take him out on trails and such. So yesterday I took him to the round pen to work on him. I saddled him up and fitted him for my brand-spanking-new Full Cheek Snaffle bit (recommended -- that or the Bosal).

A basic exercise I learned on teaching the horse to turn is to stand facing their shoulder and to pick up the rein, enough to put pressure on the bit but not pulling the horse's nose over. When the horse tips its nose to you, you release. After you've done this on both sides and the horse understands it, you ask them to yield their hindquarters away from the pressure. I did this by picking up the rein and asking him to move his feet by looking where I want him to move, and then gently 'bumping' his side (where I would use my foot to ask him to move his hindquarters) with my fist. Again, both sides.

I got in the saddle and used my heel. NOW he understands that when I squeeze with my legs and tap him with my heels, he goes forward. He turns. When I work on his stop (something we had done on the ground previously), a light pull on the rein and a "whoa," he began to shake his head as if trying to escape the bit. I did my best to put minimal pressure on the bit ("feelable," but not harsh) with a verbal and seat command.

Would anyone have some suggestions? Does this happen often or am I pulling too hard even still? Input from other trainers would be appreciated. (:

This winter in his initial training (indoor arena) we had a snaffle with a pretty goofy shank on it, not for starting horses. So I switched him to my "training" snaffle. So far, outside of stopping, he's responded so much better. His bridle fits, saddle fits (it doesn't pinch) and he has no "complicated add-ons" like breast collar, crupper, etc. (yet?). Our current goal is simply to have him as a livery trail horse (but will likely not be rented out until next year). Workers will only be riding him, getting him accustomed to the sights, sounds, and smells of the trail.
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    08-06-2011, 03:11 AM
Other than head tossing, are you getting what you want? (a stop)
    08-06-2011, 05:56 AM
I like starting a horse with a sidepull rather than a bit. My personal feeling is that they already understand (hopefully) the pressure on their nose and poll so they aren't really have to learn something new as with the bit. I believe that they have enough to concentrate on with learning to carry weight and to respond to leg cues, shifting weight and balance. I don't see a need to confuse them by asking them to adjust to the bit at the same time. My philosophy is that every horse will learn and progress in its training as its mind and ability allows. Expecting a horse to fit into a preprogramed 30 or 60 day training schedule is just foolish.
    08-06-2011, 09:26 AM
Originally Posted by christopher    
other than head tossing, are you getting what you want? (a stop)
He will stop, and I don't release the pressure until he does. I will exhale, sit deeper in my seat, give a slight pull (I've even tried repeating pull-release, pull-release, until he stops when the pressure stops entirely) and say "whoa." When I put "stop" pressure on the reins is when he shakes his head up and down, tossing it around a little bit. He stops in-hand almost immediately; under saddle he'll take about 5 steps with his tossing before he stops.

Also, we HAD a side pull but a volunteer took it for her horse and it hasn't come back yet. I'll give her a call and see if she can send it back our way so I can give that a shot.

We do have a Bosal at the barn, but it's without mecate and I honestly don't have the first clue on setting them up (I was told I could make a mecate with an 8' lead rope cut down, but I'm unsure on how to fit it onto the bosal). A gentleman visited and he used to start horses with a bosal, but he's already out of town again and it's unknown when I'll see him next.
    08-06-2011, 04:14 PM
Green Broke
Head tossing is an exhibition of resistance. Horses resist for a variety of reasons with the first and second coupled.. the horse does not clearly understand what he is supposed to do and the horse is unbalanced.

The fact that he stops after five steps under saddle says he is not comfortable or balanced with your weight on him (yet). It may also indicate he is not sure what you are asking. All you do on the ground is fine but when you make the horse top heavy by sitting on him, the ground training can disappear handily. From the horse's point of view you just changed EVERYTHING by getting on his back!

This does not sound like a bit problem but a horse that is simply very very green and unbalanced. He finds it easier to stop in hand because no one is on his back.

A round pen needs to be pretty large to start a horse under saddle. I prefer areas where the horse can go straight and be asked to stop without also turning more along the lines or an arena.

I also agree with starting a horse in a bosal or a side pull. Do a search on setting up the mecate.. but check first and see if the bosal is rawhide core or cable core. If it is cable core, don't bother as you cannot shape it to the horse's face. You also need to know where on the nose it needs to ride and how it works. Side pull is easier.
    08-06-2011, 04:22 PM
Originally Posted by Creampuff    
We do have a Bosal at the barn, but it's without mecate and I honestly don't have the first clue on setting them up (I was told I could make a mecate with an 8' lead rope cut down, but I'm unsure on how to fit it onto the bosal). A gentleman visited and he used to start horses with a bosal, but he's already out of town again and it's unknown when I'll see him next.
You have to be really careful with a bosal. If you don't have it tied and balanced correctly it will sore a horse very quickly.
    08-06-2011, 07:01 PM
Sounds like the horse either doesn't understand or as elana said finds it difficult. Be very consistent in how you apply the pressure. And only release when the horse stops or slows down.

If you try stopping in increments (pull release, pull release) make sure that you only release each "increment" when the horse responds to it by slowing down.

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