How hard do you push a green horse when riding?
So I've gotten to the point where is able to go forward, backward, side to side. He can walk and trot under saddle nicely. But he is uncomfortable going to any new areas at all that he hasn't been ridden in before, including new parts of the yard (he is fine being walked there with a human in the lead).
How hard do you guys push green horses to walk on into new 'scary' areas? Do you just jump in, ride out the horse protesting? At one point on our ride around the yard (which is very large, so more like a field) he kept turning himself to go back to familiar areas. When I would halt him or try to turn him, he became frustrated and started snorting, pawing the ground, etc. I would stop him and wait until he was a bit calmer, and try again. After he went a bit further than he wanted to, I turned us back and dismounted, gave him delicious oats, etc... Thoughts?
that being said. I try to keep lessons on green horses short and positive and SLOWLY work up ride time and level of difficulty.
Example. Ive got a horse in for training right now... He had his first under saddle lesson tonight. We have done 3 weeks of groundwork before this point.. got on him. we did several small lessons.. walk. stop back.. turn... probably 15 minutes. than stopped on a good note. Horse was happy and i was happy.
NEVER ask a horse to do anything he is not ready and able to do.
NEVER settle for less than full compliance once you ask.
If you are not going to get the job done (like think you will not have time or you do not think you have the resolve to finish what you start, then don't start it.
A horse judges YOUR competence level very quickly. If you are not the leader that he needs, then he will take over for every decision that is to be made. The instant you back down and 'give' ground' to him or the instant you 'change' your mind about what you really want him to do, YOU LOSE -- BIG TIME. While you think your little 'change of mind' is insignificant, your horse thinks it is the biggest thing to happen to him in his life. He will 'jump' on it and will suddenly become fearful of every tiny thing and refuse to go more and more places. Eventually, he will become fearful of things that do not even exist. This is the main way that horses become fearful and spooky.
There is no reason that any young horse that has been ridden several times should not go anywhere around the yard or out in the pasture. We take our young horses out on the trail WITHOUT another horse by about the 4th or 5th ride. They cross the creeks, go up and down steep banks and go over big dead-fall logs. Most of them ride like they have been ridden for a year. We expect them to go anywhere we point their heads and they do.
I would make him go anywhere I told him to go. If he wants to throw a fit, he can work that much harder and learn that it's a heck of a lot easier to do the right thing to start with.
I don't think people should baby a green horse under saddle. Unfortunately, it happens a lot. The horse is upset with something, the person quits, and the horse learns "Hey, if I act like an idiot then I get to quit."
If I want to go there, WE ARE GOING THERE.
You can't be too pensive on a green horse. You need to be clear and direct and in charge. And I don't mean yank him around or spank him (unless he's being VERY naughty) but just make the right choice easy (going into the scary area) and the wrong thing difficult.
But you don't just want to throw them in without any guidance. I give my horse clear forward cues and I stay with him. I encourage him when he begins to get pensive, I give him something to think about (maybe we spiral into the area and then out again) maybe we go straight into the area and then come back out (a release.)
It definitely depends on what you're trying to push them to do.
I needed to go through the parking lot on the side of the arena (grassy strip) and my horse didn't feel safe about being in such a narrow space. But we did it, and then he was fine. I did need to push him forwards and get after him when he tried backing up.. but yeah I don't let him drive blind.
Is his sort of tantrum normal for a green horse? pawing the ground, spinning back toward the barn over and over, suddenly forgetting how to halt, trotting without being asked constantly, etc? I want to make sure these are normal signs I can.. not ignore, but expect and push on through.
I agree wholeheartedly with Cherie. It's incredibly important that you don't push a green horse too far, but horses are resilient creatures who can take a lot more than most folks think. People often don't push them nearly as far as they should to get the best results.
The first couple of times I take a green horse away from home, I do like to have another person on an older, calmer horse with me. Not only for the calming influence on the green horse, but also just to have a person there that can go get help if/when something happens and I get hurt. After the first couple of rides like that, though, I fully expect that horse to be willing to go anywhere I point him. I would hesitate to put that green of a horse in a situation like crossing a fast moving, deep river or climbing a really long, really steep grade hill, but everything else is fair game. If I want them to step off the little cliff into the creek, they are going to do it. If I want them to walk through the middle of that big clump of brush instead of going around, they are going to do it.
By challenging them and then not giving in until they do what you asked, you are giving the horse confidence in himself and you are ensuring that he has respect and trust for you. You spend enough time teaching a horse that, no matter what you ask of him, he's going to be okay and he'll start having enough trust in you that he won't question something new that you ask him to do.
One of the things about being a trainer is knowing how much your horse can handle mentally, and staying within those bounds. Each horse is different, therefore each training method is different.
I have a two year old colt I just got that I've just started under saddle (not riding, just been saddled three times) and soon he'll be ready for the bit and then start to learn collection. He's a fast learner and takes things right in stride.
I rode an eight year old mare that hasn't been touched, and she is completely different. She's going at a much slower rate, but as long as I don't push her beyond what she's capable of, she'll be great in the end - lots of potential, but she'll train slower then my colt.
That being said, there is a big difference between being scared of something, and being just downright ignorant. If they're genuinely scared of something, I will ask for something - I might have started to ask for them to cross the tarp, but if it's too much mentally for them, just one step on it will do for the day. It's a step in the right direction before the brain shuts down and all we do is fight.
If I know they're being ignorant (such as a horse not wanting to walk through water when they've done it before) you bet I'll push until he goes.
It's all in knowing your horse and what s/he can handle and knowing when to stop while the going is good. There's no point in fighting once they stop thinking because it just turns miserable for everyone, and you have a much harder time the next time around because usually frustration sets in and you usually end up losing that fight.
I always ask for improvement, but it depends on the situation and horse on how much I ask for. A small step forward is still not a step back.
As far as expecting tantrums, almost all young horses are going to protest at some point and you just have to work through it.(and there is that time where they get worse before they get better) However there are ones that are going to be more persistent than others. Maybe be due to bloodlines or previous handling. You have to know your horse and know the difference between "I don't want to, and you can't make me" and "I am scared, not ready for this and this is blowing my mind".
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