Rope Halter Training - Hard Time
I've been trying to introduce my gelding to a rope halter, and he does okay until we come to a patch of grass, and all he does is eat. He ignores everything I do to get him to pick up his head. When we're not near any grass, he won't yield his head to me for the turns. Basically, he is very hard to turn in a rope halter. BUT, I am determined to train both of us to ride well in a rope halter. So, what can I do to get him to respect the halter? How should I re-introduce it to him? He is soft with the halter when we are in the round pen, but the second I try to ride him with it outside of the pen, he doesn't listen at all. UGH. It's so frustrating....
do you ever lunge his outside the round pen ? to me it seems like he could associate the round pen with work and outside it with not working. you just need to teach him that he also has to work outside the round pen.
What sort of rope halter are you using? Is it one of the big, thick, soft ones or is it stiff, thin, "clinician" style? The former is quite easy to ignore and rather ineffective - the later, not so much.
And my question has nothing to do with lunging. I RIDE him with his halter in the round pen, and he does okay. And he doesn't associate the round pen with work. Sometimes I work him a little and I just let him chill in there. The same with the arena. He does well with his bridle on, round pen/arena or not, but the second he is wearing his rope halter, all he want to do is say hello to other horses and eat.
And I BUMP.
you are focussing on his head when you need to focus on his FEET.
If he gets stuck, either at the grass or wont yield his head over to you, then break him out of it by moving his feet, then try again.
If he reaches down for grass, give him a swift kick and a growl or pop his hiney with the tail of your "rein". He'll throw his head up and move! Dont' try to pull him up, you can't win .
If he wont yeild sideways, raise you hand more straight upward, the one hand that is trying to bend him to the inside, and don't yield until he does, then give him a little reward. You will keep in mind that your "goal" is that he bend around about 90 degree but flexing at the poll, too. So that his nose stays in a perpendicular line. That's the goal, but it won't look like that at first. Use a sensitive hand in that you reward his "tries" but don't give in just becuase he is stiff and he outwaits you. And, kind of lift you inside hip so that he can both turn his head around AND step under with his inside leg. IT's this moving of the back feet that can break up a brace in his neck.
First a rope halter is just that a halter which is made to tie or lead a horse. If you wish to ride in one then you really need to work on other things first.
One of those things is like Tinyliny stated getting the horse to move his feet. You need to get him to move every inch of his bady with your leg/seat. If you can not do that then you will not get the lateral movement you need to push him up into the bridle. Keep in mind that soft has little to nothing to do with the horses head. You need to be able to push the horse up into the bridle.
The round pen forces a horse to focus on work and its handler. It cant bolt, get up any momentum bucking or turn and fight to go home/eat like a horse can in the open. The handler just makes them go in circles. Its like teaching a 5 year old kid to listen in the home, then wondering why they are so hard to control when you take them to the toy store for the first time. Trust and obedience need to be reinforced in all circumstances, not just the round pen.
Work on some basic ground excercises(clinton andersons are good), getting your horse moving its feet when asked, where ever you ask him to go. Pretty soon he will get more responsive to the halter. The start riding as others have sugested, with focus on his feet. Also bend and flex.
Horse is humoring you in the pen more than respecting you. The behavior outside of the pen shows it has no respect for you.
The kid analogy I think is backwards though? A child that is taught to mind at home, will mind in public. One that isn't, doesn't.
I agree with tap under chin with boot toe when horse ducks head to eat, and secondly, make sure you NEVER let him eat while leading, or just standing around. It is not fair to tell him "okay" one time, or 20, and then all of a sudden it is not okay for horse to eat.
Also, be alert for horse's signals that it is thinking about ducking head. Head just doesn't fall out of nowhere to grass. One ear forward/one back is indication horse is thinking, and usually, that is not a good thing, as it say horse is reading you and if you are paying attention. A certain distance, mentally from you too is a sign, you should be able to feel this, and the horse will take its eyes off of you, to shut you out too.
With a horse like this, that is basically spoiled more or less, I use a chain shank, and give one pop, and then go back to lead rope. But I expect respect from mine, and they aren't allowed to get by with less.
Make sure horse will yield to your cues in pen, while tacking or leading, and also while feeding. I would imagine horse is showing other signs of disrespect too, that you aren't reading as that.
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