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Need advice on softening a horse to a snaffle
Well Ben and I have been doing well but I have a question or two. First is a snaffle always the way to go? I don't know what he was ridden in before I got him. My father in law rode him in a tom thumb once or twice but that was it and then he became mine, before that no clue. He responds to the french link and a loose ring the same. He eventually stops (from trot back down to walk) but I have to really DEMAND his response. From a walk to complete stop he does well and he backs really well. I have to have contact about 90 percent of the time while walking. I ride western and its really hard for me not ride loose rein and not feel badly about it. He neck reins wonderfully responds to some leg and seat, I am not sure how to train those cues. Should I use a mild curb or continue with my snaffle(and be patient) until he is on a loose rein? I absolutely won't ride with contant on the bit( I know better ) with any curb/shanked bit but I feel like if he has something else maybe I won't have to constantly have contact. I try to trot, I probably shouldn't since he can't walk without me on him to hold the pace but we both get bored. I am trying the ask,tell,demand method and he seems perfectly content with demand. We do ground work and he is very light in my hand at walk,trot,canter, what am I doing wrong in the saddle? Sorry this is so long but I have been wanting to ask these things and it just comes spilling out. Thanks for any advice.
You might consider reading this: Why Shanked Bits are Utterly Evil, etc.
If you need constant contact in a snaffle it is likely you will also need it in a curb.
I would work on getting him more self sufficient before moving into a curb.
Work on riding with loose reins and only ever pick up on one rein at a time. If he speeds up, pick up one rein and turn a corner, then let him travel. Too fast, another corner. It may take five corners, it may take 50 - but they will eventually relax and self regulate speed so they don't have to corner.
Once you have him maintaining the correct speed, I would work on softening laterally lots of little circles with his head tipped in and inside leg keeping his body out and bending.
Once I had that, I would be pretty happy to pick a suitable curb.
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Well my horse made a big liar out of me and I don't care because he was an absolute angel today :lol: I went in with a more patient attitude which probably helped but he just seemed to get what I was trying to teach him and I am thrilled. Not once did he try to go any faster than I told him to and I kept my reins loose the whole time. Even when a horse ran at him to the fence, he just flicked an ear and kept his nice walk. It was like " Oh this is how nice and calm works" and he and I both were relaxed. Thanks for the tips however, I stored them in my training file. I got him an underpad as well for his saddle and he seems to be much more comfortable.
Yay! Good on you. I find horses tend to be much happier when given a bit of responsibility instead of being micromanaged.
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That is a little gem of wisdom!!!
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