Ending a Frusterating Ride on a Good Note
So I was riding Koby today in the round pen and whenever I would ask him to trot he would go to the middle of the round pen and stop. I would tell him to move over, but he refused. Eventually we were both getting frusterated with each other so I got off and decided to free lung him. We "joined up" for the first time and I felt us connect. It took about 20 minutes for him to relax and drop his head, lick and chew, and do all the things for join up but when he did it was awesome! He followed me around for a long time and I told him he was a good boy and pet him. So even though our ride didn't start well, it ended on a good note :) so what do you guys do when you and your horse aren't connecting?
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Gaaah...I hate it when that happens. For me, it kind of depends on what's going on that makes me realize we aren't connecting. The other day, it was driving me NUTS - I was cueing him for a canter from a walk, but he kept doing leg yields instead. In that case, I just stayed persistent and every time he yielded off the leg from a canter cue, I bumped him with the opposite leg, and we just kept. at. it. a couple of times around the ring until the penny dropped and he said "Oh! A canter? OK." I suspect that if he kept going into the middle of the ring and stopping, my trainer would have instructed me to kick him until he went forward instead, and that once I had him doing that, it would be OK to stop. I can already hear what my trainer would have said if I'd decided to get off Huey if he was pulling that kind of stuff instead of obliging him to cooperate with my master plan...Not saying that's what you should have done with your horse, just saying what would have happened if it had been me + my horse, given my skill level, his skill level, our temperaments, etc. It's complicated, I know.
What I think maybe speaks better to your question is this: I pay very close attention to Huey from the moment I go into his paddock to pick him up, and I can tell if we're communicating or not from that point on. If we aren't going to be communicating, it usually is pretty obvious from the get-go, not something that just crops up midway through a ride. And if (when) I realize that I do not have his full attention and/or cooperation, I don't even get on him until I do. Too dangerous otherwise - he can spook and explode if he's distracted. So I will groom him, and then put him into the round pen and lunge him and do the kind of groundwork it sounds like you did, and if I get his attention focused on me and staying there, *then* I will tack him up and ride. Otherwise, we do groundwork until I get a consistent basic level of compliance with my requests, then he gets a scratch and put back into the turnout, and I just don't ride at that time. If that's the case, though, he gets a jolly firm workout, with plenty of trotting and cantering in the round pen, before it happens. I don't want him to get some idea that he can skive off work by tuning out on me.
I usually just go back to a walk, and make sure I have his full attention. Usually if my mustang is acting up, it's because he's bored, so adding obstacles to our work or trail riding also helps. :)
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I break it down, into really small steps and stop once he gets to a good place.
For example, cantering at first was very very very naughty. He would tuck his hind under and just steam ahead without any balance and this was from a soft cue. He would motorcycle (lean badly) around corners and try and crash into the wall.
In other words, he was out of control. So we would stop asking for canter and worked on trotting, when he was put together I would just place my legs where they go. If he sped up, we did figures and I slowed down and put him back together. If he stayed at his speed, I cued him and we did THREE canter strides, and got back to trot. We would repeat this until he stopped being a loony.
That was the end of that.. he ended on a good note and I didn't want to push my luck. The next time we cantered, he held it together for an entire lap without being a jackrabbit. :)
It's really hard to keep from being frustrated, but ending in a good place for both you and the horse is the best thing you can do.
To a huge degree, I owe this insight to my trainer, who spends at least as much time starting horses and training problems out of already-started horses as she does giving lessons. Groundwork is such a huge part of that process that it creeps over into the riding lessons too, and I think we're all better for it.
My horse use to do that!! What the problem proballyyy it is that when u get off u get off in the middlw. So he thinks if he goes to the middle u will get off. I would get off him on the rail and not let him stop in the middle for a while :) give him a break on the outside
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