Training problems - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Malta
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Training problems

Hi all, I got a KWPN Dutch Warmblood 5 years old.

I got a big problem with this horse and hope someone can give me some advice.
I trained horses for quite some years now and I have been training this horsefor 2 years but somehow he seems to get worse.
He is a very nervous horse and spooks from a lot of things. He doesnt box well which means if he spends 20mins in the trailer he is soaking wet.

He is a very good show jumper but dressage is almost impossible with him. He goes on the bit and works well from behind but he rushes too much. Walk and trot is fine with him and so is the canter but once i want to get him back into a trot he just fights me all the time. Once i get him back to a trot he immediately tries to get back into a canter. These moments hype him up so much he will be aswell soaking wet with sweat.
I have worked on loads of transitions and he has weeks where he does really well and calms down, so much that I have to push him forward to get into a trot and he doesnt mind nor even look at other horses with us in the arena. But then....all of a sudden he gets into that mood again and just wants to take off. And recently, after he didnt spook nor rush for a good 3 weeks, he started off freaking out again.

I just cant understand why. I didnt change his tack nor food in the meantime.

Has anyone got some advice
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
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I'd suggest to call a vet and let him/her have a close look at the horse, especially its spine. Do you know anything about this horse's past? Was he maybe mistreated?
matzki is offline  
post #3 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 07:21 AM Thread Starter
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I know quite for certain that this horse has never been mistreated.
I know the horse since he had been 2 years old. and the people who had him before just kept him in a field. Then he ended up with a friend of mine when he was 2 and was used just as a pet. When he turned 3 i saddle broke him and with 3years 7months I started riding him. He was a real quiet horse, but already noticed at that time that he enjoys cantering. With the years he started getting stronger but he aint really out of control.
Since my friend couldnt afford him anymore he gave him to me and he has been fully at me for almost 2 months.
Its just so annoying because during a dressage test he keeps wanting to go into a canter when we are meant to trot. And whats even more annoying is that just a day before he remained all calm and did a beautiful and almost perfect test.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 08:43 AM
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Rule out any discomfort, both through the vet and careful examination of all tack.

That being said, it may be something as subtle as your "gearing up" for trouble, thereby creating the very trouble you hate.

Let me explain,

I had a great German coach who would say "the tenser the horse gets, the softer you ride".

Horses are very sensitive to body language. More than we can believe. If your horse gets strong after the canter work, when that time comes, you probably "get ready to deal with it". The horse will feel that and react, as much to that as to the end of cantering. It may be hard to separate what he is really reacting to...the end of cantering or the building of your defensiveness.

I liken it to a staircase. The horse gets tense (stepping up to a higher step) and the rider reacts by getting tense and defensive (stepping up to the step above that, then the horse reacts to this escalation by stepping higher on the stairs, the rider reacts by getting even more defensive/combative.................

The ONLY one who can stop this escalation is you. The ONLY person who can diffuse this situation is you.

Start by practicing being calm and relaxed (even if it is the last thing you really are). Canter your circle, When you do your downward transition, make your self ride MUCH softer (not gear up for the fight). Take your inside rein and go completely slack with it for a couple of strides and then slowly take it back. This sends a message that you are relaxed and trust him not to take huge advantage. Keep sending major messages that you are calm and relaxed.


I have several students with very sensitive horses who will react to tenseness this way. After talking them through these techniques all of them improve.

Try it and get back to us. I wish I could ride him.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 08:51 AM
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Excellent response, Allison.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 10:46 AM
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AGree 100% with Allison. I have a TB mare that is very sensitive to seat and leg cues. If you ride her on a looser, more giving contact with a quiet seat she is like putty in your hands. But if you get on her with a strong contact and a very active seat or a tense seat she will blow you right outta the water and refuses to walk... It's all relative to her.

Another thing is that if you slow and relax yourself and he still wants to go forward you need to do strong half halts and then relax and then if he tries to canter again you strong half halt and throw him away again. If he gets shut down every time he tries to break gait he will eventually stay consistent because it's not worth the fight. But you have to make sure that you shut him down and then throw your contact away and make it his decision to go or stay. That being said, most of your problems will most likely sort themselves out from what Allison was describing. My method has always been "Speak softly and carry a big stick" and it has been working for me for years =)
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 11:12 AM
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yes! allison said it well!
my aunts horse is terrified of going over groundpoles (we think she had an accident once and got hurt) and my mom was riding her, but she wasnt going over the poles, like, she would back across the arena faster then a horse could gallop forwards, thats how much they scared her. so i remembered one of the most important jumping rule i learned: look over the jump. sure enough, i told my mom to look at the wall on the other side on the poles, and really FOCUS on that spot and forget the poles... the hrose trotted right over them after that. my mom was anticipating he horse flipping out, so, the horse flipped out.
its funny how sensitive they are sometimes.

good luck! :) and keep us posted

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
ridergirl23 is offline  
post #8 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 12:39 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Maybe your trying to force a spuare peg into a round hole. If he is a good showjumper then maybe that's what he should be doing. A world class hurdler could do ball room dancing but would he be content?

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-07-2010, 01:09 PM
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Dressage is necessary to be a good show jumper as jumping is pretty much dressage with speed bumps. She needs to be able to collect, extend and steady his stride at a moments' notice and be able to avoid the rushing while on course. If a horse gets strung out then they jump flatter, don't tuck their knees as well and they start to knock rails and waste time on course.

That being said...he might not be able to go through a dressage test without his exuberance getting in the way. Remember he is still young and has a lot of baby energy, in a few years he could mature and lose some his "go". That doesn't mean working on your dressage and doing schooling figures, dressage exercises and practicing tests is a waste it just means you will probably lose points in a dressage test with him until you can better channel that energy and get him more willing to follow your aids. But each movement is scored in itself and the more you work with him and get him familiar with the movements the more your scores are bound to improve!

General ground work and desensitization exercises are always a good idea as well with nervy horses. The more they learn to accept, the more willing they will be to accept things that they don't like or haven't encountered before.
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