Training to be sensitive? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-29-2010, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Training to be sensitive?

The other day I rode a 5 year old gelding (trained to run barrels) that was so sensitive, you barely touch his side with your knee and he would move. He was so light, you didn't need to hang on his mouth or anything, just squeeze your bum muscles and he would stop.

I know this is a vague question, but how did you knowledgeable people out there start teaching your youngsters to rein? What measures did you take, cues, ect to soften them up so much? I mean the softest touch causing a sharp and quick response?
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-30-2010, 02:07 AM
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I have found that it isn't so much softening them up as keeping them soft. Once a young horse figures out what the cue is for, often they will go through a stage where they overexaggerate the response to the cue. I have seen many people that will ride a young horse and just when the youngster begins to get confident in turning and is doing it just a little over the top, the rider often punishes for the horse going overboard. Like they will ask for a 25 degree turn but the horse goes for 130, so many people would yank or spur them back around or just be rough in general because "that wasn't what I wanted" regardless of what they asked for. I rather enjoy that stage where they are so hypersensitive to cues cause I slowly work them down to the sensitivity that I want. I like them soft enough that it doesn't take much but hard enough that they clearly know the difference between the cue and my just changing my body position a bit. As for getting them soft after they have already hardened up? Repetition, repetition, repitition; softening the cue more and more each time.

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post #3 of 7 Old 01-30-2010, 03:37 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Thank you!

Man there's so much to think about. I'm going to have to go over each cue that has been taught and make it softer and softer...which is fine of course:). Gives me something more to learn and work on. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the outcome and forget about the repetition. I also forget sometimes that even though he may "have it" and understand, that doesn't mean that that's how I want him to respond to that cue forever, I need to teach him to refine it.

We're in the "I've got it" stage and will be moving on to the "refining" stage in the near future ;)

As a beginner, I did somethings right, I also took my sweet time because I didn't want to do anything that I wasn't really sure what I was doing. Now under a trainer, I have direction guidance. We have come so far in 4 months, and yet in a year I feel like we should be further. I only hope to step it up a notch this year with him and really finish his basics. He's no longer green, but far from finished.
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-30-2010, 12:19 PM
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Never ride around with an idle aid on. Always keep yourself in "neutral" and let the horse do the work. When you want something to change like speeding up, slowing down or turning, ask exactly how you want the horse to respond. If you want the horse to stop when you squeeze your bum, then do that and remove the aid and wait for a response for a stride, then if he hasn't stopped, use a larger aid, remove and repeat until you're stopped. Eventually the horse will pick it up that that tiny tiny aid means what the big one does.

Good luck!
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-30-2010, 02:00 PM
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Agreed with anabel. If you want a light horse, you yourself need to be light and gentle, but very precise with what you ask. A solid foundation is key to a light horse, it allows them to better understand what you are asking of them which reduces the "need" for strong aides and allows for much better communication on both the part of the horse and the rider.

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post #6 of 7 Old 01-30-2010, 02:12 PM
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Ask lightly first then if they don't respond ask harder. If you ask too hard the first time then that is what your horse will learn to respond to. If your horse responds well then ask even lighter the nest time untill you hardly have to do anything more than think about it.

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post #7 of 7 Old 01-30-2010, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Thank you everyone, today we worked on lowering the head and keeping it down. His bad habit is "avoidance" he constantly tries to avoid doing the work weather it be blocking with his shoulder or hip, or turning his head. In about half hour we were able to put the bridle with his head lowered after only asking with a touch of the poll. I figure we will start with one cue/aid at a time and soften each one so as not to confuse him.
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