Trail horse refuses to walk, just wants to run
   

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Trail horse refuses to walk, just wants to run

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  • How to train a horse to walk that just wants to run
  • How to keep horse in a walk when it wants to run

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    01-06-2014, 12:31 PM
  #1
Foal
Exclamation Trail horse refuses to walk, just wants to run

My boyfriend has a teenaged morgan mare named Mika. She's super friendly, not spooky at all and has a good head on her. She's great on the ground. I've redone all of her groundwork because I thought it would calm her down with a rider. My boyfriend ran her too much on trails years ago then stopped riding her because of her walking problem. So now I'm trying to recondition her so we can do a couple trail competitions. She's bombproof and doesn't do anything bad besides getting worked up when unable to run. I want her to enjoy being ridden again and it's such a simple fix that it's worth trying. I've changed her bit so she can't grab it with her teeth and take off, that's helped some. But I'm kinda stuck as of what to do now. I don't have an indoor arena to work her in. I have a round pen and open trails. I'm use to training Morgans but not for trail. All of my experience is with hunt seat and western pleasure show morgans. So if anyone could give me some ideas or explain what they did on a similar situation that would be great!! I'd love to fix this mare.
     
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    01-06-2014, 01:09 PM
  #2
Weanling
There's a couple things i'd like to know first before giving advice.

How does she ride at home? Can you w/t/c on a loose rein or is she hot there?

Where does she run? Is she wanting to go back to the barn or is she hot no matter where she is heading?

Are you holding her back so she doesn't run or do you ride on a loose rein then correct her when she gets too fast?

What bit is she in now and what bit was she in before?

What does she do when she does she worked up when she can't run? Does she prance, rear, what?
CowboyBob likes this.
     
    01-06-2014, 01:30 PM
  #3
Started
My friend had a Morgan mare who did NOT walk on the trail. Once she jigged sideways for 12.5 miles.

How to fix it? The horse will do a tiny circle until she steps off in a walk. Then she gets a loose rein reward until she starts to jig. Repeat until you throw up. Don't be in a hurry.

Good Luck!!

Nancy
Foxtail Ranch likes this.
     
    01-06-2014, 01:38 PM
  #4
Green Broke
Breakable Rider posted great questions and I'd like to hear the answers to them as well.

But in general, CIRCLES (and lots of them) are going to be your friend with this mare.

Take her out for a trail ride. Give yourself plenty of time. For the first ride, all I want her to do is walk. Allow her to have a loose rein. Let her make a mistake. The very instant she speeds up above a walk, and you did not ask her (be mindful that you keep your body language relaxed and don't accidentally tense up), pick one rein or the other, and direct rein her into a small enough circle that it will force her to break down to a walk. Once she's walking again, release the rein pressure, put her on a loose rein, and allow her to walk on.

Chances are, she'll break into a faster gait again. That's okay. Pick one rein and do a small circle until she is walking again. Then let her walk on.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You might not get more than 100 yds on your first ride because you will be circling her so much. That's okay.

I like this method because you are only using one rein at a time and you are not hauling on her mouth with two reins (can lead to rearing, if the horse wants to go faster). And in a way, you are making it her idea to slow down, because she has to in the small circle. And I like this method because it is low-pressure. You said she has the tendency to get upset when she can't run, and this is a calm way to keep bringing her back to you, without making a big fuss and making her more nervous.

If your boyfriend has really ingrained this issue in her mind, it is going to take a long time to fix. Of course, your end goal is that she should walk calmly.

Your first ride, maybe shoot for getting her to take 10 steps at a calm walk on a loose rein. Great! Call that a success for the day. Either walk her home (if she walks home fine) or get off and loosen the cinch and hand walk her home. You want to make trail riding a pleasant experience for her again. When she walks nice, she will get rewarded by quitting and being done.
     
    01-06-2014, 01:39 PM
  #5
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by BreakableRider    
There's a couple things i'd like to know first before giving advice.

How does she ride at home? Can you w/t/c on a loose rein or is she hot there?

Where does she run? Is she wanting to go back to the barn or is she hot no matter where she is heading?

Are you holding her back so she doesn't run or do you ride on a loose rein then correct her when she gets too fast?

What bit is she in now and what bit was she in before?

What does she do when she does she worked up when she can't run? Does she prance, rear, what?

I too would like to hear the answer to these questions.
steeldustgurl likes this.
     
    01-06-2014, 01:48 PM
  #6
Foal
My advice would be to take her somewhere where she has to slow down and watch her feet like through deadfall, if you are comfortable with that. I would try to hold her back from doing anything but walking anywhere you take her, if you have deep sand (like a sandy trail or area), that is good to wear her out a little and she will want to walk. I have a horse that can get hot blooded and sometimes circles make her more uptight, and I found that doing this helped to calm her in a fast and long lasting way and bring her head back out of the clouds.
Foxtail Ranch likes this.
     
    01-06-2014, 02:08 PM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by beau159    
Breakable Rider posted great questions and I'd like to hear the answers to them as well.

But in general, CIRCLES (and lots of them) are going to be your friend with this mare.

Take her out for a trail ride. Give yourself plenty of time. For the first ride, all I want her to do is walk. Allow her to have a loose rein. Let her make a mistake. The very instant she speeds up above a walk, and you did not ask her (be mindful that you keep your body language relaxed and don't accidentally tense up), pick one rein or the other, and direct rein her into a small enough circle that it will force her to break down to a walk. Once she's walking again, release the rein pressure, put her on a loose rein, and allow her to walk on.

Chances are, she'll break into a faster gait again. That's okay. Pick one rein and do a small circle until she is walking again. Then let her walk on.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You might not get more than 100 yds on your first ride because you will be circling her so much. That's okay.

I like this method because you are only using one rein at a time and you are not hauling on her mouth with two reins (can lead to rearing, if the horse wants to go faster). And in a way, you are making it her idea to slow down, because she has to in the small circle. And I like this method because it is low-pressure. You said she has the tendency to get upset when she can't run, and this is a calm way to keep bringing her back to you, without making a big fuss and making her more nervous.

If your boyfriend has really ingrained this issue in her mind, it is going to take a long time to fix. Of course, your end goal is that she should walk calmly.

Your first ride, maybe shoot for getting her to take 10 steps at a calm walk on a loose rein. Great! Call that a success for the day. Either walk her home (if she walks home fine) or get off and loosen the cinch and hand walk her home. You want to make trail riding a pleasant experience for her again. When she walks nice, she will get rewarded by quitting and being done.
^This!

The most important part of doing this is getting relaxation. If you just quickly bend your horse down and let her out as soon as she physically has to hit a walk, it will take quite a while for her to get it. As beau159 you need to stay relaxed through this, and your horse need to as well otherwise you can invite your horse to get anxious in those circles.

This is what i'm always talking about when i'm constantly saying I bend horses to a stop, this is the next step.

I teach the flex and then I am always using that as a 'relaxation cue' in conjunction with disengaging the hindquarters. When done correctly the horse is going to naturally start to relax when you do it because they aren't physically or mentally prepared to do anything silly when in that position. From there I go to the walk and bend down, then the trot. By the time you get to a trot, that relaxation when you pick up on one rein is pretty ingrained in the horse. That's why at that point instead of bending all the way to a stop you can go to just a walk. It isn't about getting the horse stopped, rather just really calm mentally.

The big part that overlaps between beau and I is that you have to let your horse commit to a mistake first.
     
    01-06-2014, 02:36 PM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by BreakableRider    
There's a couple things i'd like to know first before giving advice.

How does she ride at home? Can you w/t/c on a loose rein or is she hot there?

Where does she run? Is she wanting to go back to the barn or is she hot no matter where she is heading?

Are you holding her back so she doesn't run or do you ride on a loose rein then correct her when she gets too fast?

What bit is she in now and what bit was she in before?

What does she do when she does she worked up when she can't run? Does she prance, rear, what?

To answer your questions:

She's the same at home as she is off the farm. If I'm not riding her out on a trail I can ride her on a loose rein fine. I've even free rode her tackless in the pasture and she was an angel. If I'm just riding around on her bareback she's calm, but the moment I tack her up and get on her she gets hot and wants to take off. I've even lunged her for a good amount of time both ways and she did everything fine w/t/c nice and calmly, then got on to go for a trail ride and she was tense the entire time and fought with me to run.

She is hot no matter where we are going, to or from the barn. I always make her walk back to the barn every time I ride her because I won't put up with her racing back. It usually takes a long time of walking circles, but she caves eventually. And she's not buddy shy or anything like that. I just think she believes her job is to rush through a trail and be done with it since she was ran so much.

If she starts to get hot on a trail ride and I'm with others then I usually try to stick her behind the slowest horse in the pack to hold her back. And in times like that I usually have tighter reins so she doesn't run over the horse in front of her. I don't take her out with others anymore because every time I put her behind a horse she freaks them out and makes them hot too. She starts panting heavily like a freight train and does a weird prance/slow jog. Before I swapped bits she would fling her head up and down. Now she just gives me an over tucked headset. The bit she had before was a copper mouth snaffle, but it wasn't working so I switched to a d ring. Which she seems to like a lot better. She doesn't get her tongue over the bit and doesn't grab it and take off.

If I am riding her alone then I do things differently, I ride with a loose rein until she picks up her pace from a walk. Then ill correct her and put her back in the walk and continue riding with a loose rein. But eventually she gets sick of this and starts getting frustrated and ignores my corrections. So I walk circles with her. Even after an hour of doing nothing but walking circles, she doesn't feel any better. Just sweaty and tired. And lastly, when I'm holding her back she doesn't rear or anything. Just breathes heavy and side sets or jogs. She's never reared or bucked with me, even when she's extremely frustrated. The most she will do is side step or back up a bit then try to move forward again.
steeldustgurl likes this.
     
    01-06-2014, 02:53 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
I have a couple of very forward going horses and I find that staying relaxed is the key to keeping them calm
These horse will often wind up if you start getting heavy on their mouths, get tense or start to lean forwards - you need to sit deep and quietly and change direction and ride them forwards into it rather than try to force a walk which will turn into a jig
When we've had horses that got themselves really stressed we cured them by leading them without a rider off another horse and once they were settled to that they were led with a rider on board off another horse the first couple of times. It seems to break the cycle of the habit
     
    01-06-2014, 02:58 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keller4583    

If I am riding her alone then I do things differently, I ride with a loose rein until she picks up her pace from a walk. Then ill correct her and put her back in the walk and continue riding with a loose rein. But eventually she gets sick of this and starts getting frustrated and ignores my corrections. So I walk circles with her. Even after an hour of doing nothing but walking circles, she doesn't feel any better. Just sweaty and tired. And lastly, when I'm holding her back she doesn't rear or anything. Just breathes heavy and side sets or jogs. She's never reared or bucked with me, even when she's extremely frustrated. The most she will do is side step or back up a bit then try to move forward again.
Try doing what I suggested above. Sounds like you were doing something a little bit different.

I would be rather anxious as well, if I got to do nothing but circles for an hour. With what I suggested above, you are giving her a reward/release for walking nicely by letting her go straight on a loose rein. She's only "punished" in the circle when she breaks gait. Rather than keeping her in a circle for hours on end, and never giving her the opportunity to walk straight.

Sure, she might only get to walk a few steps in a straight line before she breaks gait right away, but it is something. And you'll be able to build on it.

When you say you "put her back in the walk", how were you going about doing this? Using two hands on the reins?

I would definitely only be riding this mare alone, for the time being, until you make some progress with her issue. A lot of time when we ride with others, we sometimes don't school our horses like we know we should, because we don't want to "interrupt" the rest of the group.
     

Tags
calming down, morgans, ohio, trail riding, walking

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