Stop your horse vs "ask him to stop"
I took big Zulu out for ride on my own today. He was a bit fresh since we had not ridden for a week. I have been working with him on getting him to stop, and not requiring a really heavy pull for him to do it.
I discovered that I need to prepare him more to stop (he is 17 hh and 1400 pounds, so it's like steering a cruise ship) and once he starts to make the mental change over to responding to my "ask" to stop, I need to kind of stay out of his way and let him do it. I mean, I was trying to use my rein and body to stop him when he was powering through the bit, and it felt like I had to put up this big "wall" and I was trying to hold this wall (firm, closed hand and a firm abs to hold him) until he came to a full stop.
I found today that when I asked him to stop, once I felt him mentally decide to respond to that, I could really ease up and allow him to complete the decision on his own, and he stopped a lot more balanced, and a lot less work for me.
So, it made me think about the way of phrasing the stop;
the difference between "Stop the horse" and "Ask him to stop"
Stop the horse is like braking your car; you must continue to apply pressure til it stops.
Ask him to stop is giving him a directive and waiting for him to accept it , then you stop asking while he completes the task.
just my meanderings of the mind.
I suppose it depends on what you are doing (ie dressage, trail riding) and how fast you are going.
Keeping in mind that I almost exclusively trail ride, I don't mind occasionally just 'asking' for a stop when we are cantering. Kinda like taking your foot of the gas and coasting to a stop.
At the same time, if I Need a quick Woah, then I guess it is like laying on the brakes, lol. Cliff ahead!
Driving lessons 101!
Well, it's just amazing how different things are if your mind and the horse's mind are on the same page.
I mean, I can make Zulu back up, but the feeling is really differnet if I "pull" him back to if I ask him back. When I ask, and don't stop asking until I see his thought going there, he backs up on a feather's weight on the rein.
I mostly trail ride, too. I spend a lot of my time when riding observing my horse as we go along and "watching " his thought. Horses are so wonderfully transparent about that.
Tiny, I like the way you think. I totally get what you're saying.
It reminds me of how sometimes Lacey will decide to "forget" the stop cue and no matter how hard I try to force the stop, it's never going to happen. If I forget about forcing her to stop and use my body+voice (in the form of "deadening" my body and growling her name) she'll generally stop very quickly.
I often forget to ask for the stop and command it instead... I know what my goal for my next ride is! haha
I also observe while I trail ride...I feel like we could come up with some cool theories if we ever trail rode together. :lol:
Tiny, regarding whether your mind and your horse's mind are in sync.
I had an interesting experience years ago with Spike, my heart horse, the one in my avatar. This was about 16 years ago, when I first got him.
Back then, he was a nice boy, but very introverted. He had never really been mistreated, but never been really loved either. He was very uninterested in things, generally. At the time, we were doing a lot of riding in a small paddock, about the size of a large arena. He would walk and trot fine, but would only canter a few strides before slowing again. I tried everything I knew at the time, which was basically just squeeze harder, lean forward, and shout encouragement.
After a few weeks of this, I was getting very discouraged. My first horse, wont even canter?
So one day I went home, and just sat there and envisioned us cantering around the whole paddock. I 'saw' us do it, again and again. Next day, driving out to the barn, I imagined it again.
And yes, as soon as I mounted, we took off on a beautiful canter all the way around the paddock. Then we did it 4 more times! lol
So what was different? My cues? My body language? I don't know. I like to think that maybe he picked up on my brainwaves, and he saw it too.
Lol, anyway, that is my true story about my mind and my horse's mind finally being in sync. :)
Well, I feel very fortunate to have had some training in the last few years where my trainer frequently said, "Where is his thought?". My dressage trainer never said that. So, I'd be trying to do all kinds of stuff with the horse, whose doing it, very poorly and very resentfully because his thought is not with me.
This doesn't mean I am going to "beg" my horse for his thought. But it does mean I won't accept him backing up while still mentally (and sometimes physically) leaning on the rein to go forward. It's pointless to try and direct him to do things if his though is far away. Either do what it takes to get his though with you, or realize that he cannot give up that thought (like a deep seated buddy sour horse) right now, and work out a plan for helping him give up that need.
I rejoice in getting Zulu to bring his thought to me , or give up his own thought and respond to me, lighter and easier. Z likes to balk at times, and when I can get him to give up that thought easily, it's just a nice feeling of knowing that he is willing to give over to me , but I also kind of like that he does keep his own mind and it shows up from time to time.
I am not such a fast killer rider, not doing barrels or high level dressage, so have too much slow time on my hands, thus the lengthy brain farts.
It's similar to that with barrel horses when finishing their run at a show...Riders push, push, push in the arena and then expect their horse to stop quickly from a flat out run. That's not likely to happen, there are rare horses that can though (or reiners, that still slide)...I know mine don't.. they need a vocal "whoa, easy" and pressure from me telling them to stop. It takes a little ways for the horse to go from such a high speed to a walk, and even after that walk I'll back my horses a few steps to reinforce that "whoa" then continue at a forward walk to cool my horse down and let them calm down..All in all in barrel racing, you warm up slow and you cool off slow..
Tiny I also like the way you think! you have a good perception on things =)
I always ask for everything but if I ask it I want my horses to still follow through with the direction. I only force something if I am training and the horse ignored my jester, or if I am just being ignored.
I like using my voice, Grady does everything but turn, off of my voice... backing isnt his strong suit so I still sit deep and put my legs forward. I think if your horse is well broke and paying attention asking is all it should take it. But trust me I know that even the best have their days haha:wink:
Drum, I did barrel racing all of ONCE. Mac had done it in his past, so I was depending on him to take care of me . He went La Di da around the first two barrels, like barely cantering. then on the back side of the third, he want ZOOM! and accelerated so fast I nearly flipped off his backside. AND, I felt something go "crunch" in my lower back. So, 4 years later I still have back trouble. NO barrels for me!
But I can see what you are saying; Ask the horse to stop, trust him to implament the "ask" but be fair and give him the time and space to do what he can with his size, mass and speed.
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