yanking on the reins vs being soft - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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yanking on the reins vs being soft

Ok, here's the backstory. I have a pony who used to be a little girls lesson pony at a local barn. He is hard in the mouth and dead on the sides. The mare I ride during my lesson is so sensitive and responsive. I have to have super soft hands and body. This has taught me so much in how to actually ride a horse. I want my pony to become responsive to soft cues. I don't want to yank on his head, and when I mean yank I mean YANK with his mouth gaping. I don't want to do this, I think its wrong. So I've been talking to my trainer and reading all I can about how to tech him to respond with softer cues. I've been using pressure and release, pumping with my hands/fighting my fingers on the reins to single which way, in addition to use leg and seat. We have made a few good steps with this. Lots of circles, 8s and serpitnes(sp) all with soft soft cues. So, here's the issue, I asked my boyfriend to hop on so I could see how my pony does from the ground with someone using leg pressure and poking with a crop on the girth area/where my leg would actually be. This is all to see how he is responding to leg pressure rather than yanking. But what my bf does is yank on the reins! I said wth are you doing? He said that's how you get a horse to turn. No no no. I've know my bf since we were kids ( we both are 21 now ) and the both of us have been around horses our whole life. He rides western and I ride english. So the question that I have is how can I explain to him that horses should work of off softer cues, ideally using the reins last. This is how I have been taught my whole life and he professes to tell me that im wrong. I want someone to be able to help me with my pony, I can't afford to pay my trainer to come out. I just don't know what to do, cut my boyfriend out of the process completely? Do it my way? Am I doing the right thing with this pony in the first place? Help!

Also pain has been ruled out for his unresponsiveness. He's teeth are good and everything has checked out.
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post #2 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 05:19 PM
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Cut him out and do it yourself.....this could cause a breakup!!
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post #3 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 05:32 PM
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Cut him out. Sounds like one of those "cowboy" types who dont actually know much about riding apart from sticking to the horse's back.
You should not have to yank on the horse's mouth & you are right in doing what you are doing.
There are many ground exercises you can work on with him as well to get him softer, but being older & dead to riding cues it will take alot longer than training a totally green horse.
A good rider & horseperson knows how to ride with their body first & hands last to the point where you have to do very minimal with your reins at all. Yanking on a horse like this will just make it worse.
Keep on with what you've been doing, as well as ground work and he will come along in time ;)
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"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
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post #4 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 05:34 PM
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Get the boyfriend off the pony. You don't ride the same style and its your pony so the pony needs to be trained for the way you want to ride. It sounded like you were trying to pole the pony with a crop while the bf rode? If so, don't do that.

Treat pony as though he were just learning and new - which he technically is. Ask, insist, demand. Ask gently and politely and escalate as necessary. Reward the pony as soon as he does even a weight shift correctly.
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post #5 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much everyone. @ ruffian, I totally think you are right, im beginning to think that's all he knows is to just stay on. @ dancing, poleing to me is where you have a patient pole... what im trying to describe is using the butt of the crop to push/nudge/poke him in the flank to where he moves away from the pressure. And by using my boyfriend on him he would use leg pressure in addition to me using the pressure with the crop. Then I would gradually put less pressure on his flank to where he would respond only to leg pressure. Im just trying to use hard enough pressure in the area would my leg would press and gradually tune down the pressure and then stop using my crop. If that makes sense. I saw it on a youtube video, I will see if I can get something to show it.
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post #6 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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Also @ dancing, he's only 7 :( so he's pretty young considering. I think it was a combination of him being a very beginner lesson pony and possibly not being trained right from the beginning. I realized when I first got him that we really are going to have to start from the very beginning. Im willing to put in the work and to do it right the second time. He's completely different then what I normally ride which is a super trained, super sensitive appy mare. I have to be so soft with her and its amazing that even a slight change in my movement will direct her to do something. I feel like its just better for the horse and rider.
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post #7 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by lilruffian View Post
Cut him out. Sounds like one of those "cowboy" types who dont actually know much about riding apart from sticking to the horse's back.
Sounds like the boyfriend isn't much of a horse hand. Cowboys with jobs don't get away with yanking on the horses. And horses are harder to replace, so mistreating a horse is about the best way to get fired. That and mistreating a cow.

Originally Posted by lilruffian View Post
Keep on with what you've been doing, as well as ground work and he will come along in time ;)
I agree with this.
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post #8 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 07:24 PM
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Maybe try a side pull for a while until your horse starts to get it.

Yep, no BF on your horse. Or better yet put him on the sensitive horse
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post #9 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 07:33 PM
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I bot a Shetland like that. I put her in a snaffle and started working with her. I am light enough that she could carry me easily. When I asked her to turn by putting pressure on one side of the bit, she just stiffened her neck and was unresponsive. I tried using my pinky to feather the rein. It was amazing how light she became. Whoa was still a different matter. Since we had big snowbanks from the plowtruck I'd ride her toward the bank which of course, stopped her I'd release my contact on the rein immediately and asked for whoa. She caught on quickly.
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post #10 of 17 Old 09-27-2012, 09:20 PM
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Yanking on the reins is an offence people need to be executed for, well maybe we don’t need to be that extreme, but it is certainly a no no. And I agree with the rest, if it’s your horse, you should be the one riding it, not your boyfriend, particularly if he is yanking on the reins. It sounds like you have a pretty good idea about how to go about softening it up, but the thing I’d recommend you do, (that is if you aren’t already doing it), is to check how you are timing what you are asking from the horse. I mean that, say you want to go left, you should ask the horse to go left (and it doesn’t matter what you are using, seat, reins, both), when the horse’s feet are in such a position to facilitate their left turn the best. In other words, time the asking with the horse’s feet.
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