Problem mare, help with lunging, desensitizing, and woahing.
So my 14 year old mare who I've had for 2 or 3 months now is proving to be quite the challenge. We are having one major issue with lunging, a little bit of a woahing problem, and I have some questions about desensitizing.
We will start with the MAJOR issue. So I usually exercise her by long trotting or just leading her around while I jog. Today I decided I would try to lunge her to change things up a bit. Well this did not work! She lunges okay to the left but it takes a lot to get her too. She absolutely refuses to go to the right. I try sending her off and she just stands there facing me. If I try to walk towards her hip she just spins around. I tried starting with her body parallel to me and walking towards her hip and she'll take a few steps and then stop and turn towards me. I seriously need help! I got so frustrated and stopped trying because I had no idea what to do and I was afraid I was messing her up. I do know how to lunge a horse who knows how to lunge. I do it at the barn I work at all the time and I lunge my gelding frequently. He's easy, just point the direction you want him to go and kiss, he takes off. However I don't know how to teach a horse to lunge, help me please!
Now with the woahing or stopping. My mare stops on her front end, I hope that makes sense. She doesn't sit on her rear end and stop. I'm not expecting her to slide stop even though I know she can, she's trained in reining. When I ask her to woah she putters to a stop hopping up and down on her front legs, she also takes forever to stop. I'd like her to sit a stop and stop more quickly when I want her to. This is how I work on her stopping: I start at a walk, take a deep seat, push forward in my stirrups, and say woah simultaneously then I pull back on the reins. When she does stop I make her back up a few steps. I repeat this at a walk and trot. But it doesn't seem to be making a difference, any advice?
Lastly how do you desensitize your horses? My mare seems to be afraid of lots of stuff especially trash and I'm not sure how to go about desensitizing her.
Thanks is advance for any help and I hope this wasn't too confusing.
Well, in the lunging, you cannot approach the horse at the hip, because that will push the hip away and make her bring her head toward you. you kind of have to do it the opposite of what you think would work;
you push her head and neck away from you, and this will make her step away from you, bringing her shoulders out away and making her flank be available for you to put pressure on to drive her forward.
And for whoa, I don't know how reiners do it, but pressing hard into your stirrups was something I was taught is a no-no. I was taught that doing this only gave the horse something to brace against, so you are in a bit of a tug of war in the stop. I was taught to more deepen my seat more in that i actually put less weight into my stirrup, thus more of it goes into my seatbone, i keep my upper body back a bit from the waist up and keep my legs ON the horse, and the rider should think "back!". And rather than pull back, you take up enough rein that there is good contact, then you close your hand firmly around the rein and your hand becomes very firm, which makes a kind of "wall" for the horse, and the hrose feels this limit and backs off of it, rather than you pull him back. Fine difference.
You need to take some lessons from a trainer.
I'm not saying this in a negative way, but that's the best way to learn.
Sky- I'm not offended at all! I actually had plans to talk about the stopping problem to my boss, who is a well known cutting horse trainer. However it is his busy time of year and he has been gone a lot. He's supposed to be home at the first of next month after being gone for 3 weeks and I'm gonna discuss this problem with him. I talked to my aunt about teaching Belle to lunge and she is gonna come to help me within the next week! I'd still like any advice about any of the problems.
Tiny- My boss actually taught me to stop his horses at the barn by putting my feet forward and sitting deep in my saddle, all of the horses at the barn I work at slide stop. We own a horse that is trained to stop by saying "woah" and pushing forward in the stirrups. I'm not saying this is the right way it's just the way I was taught. I'll try what you suggested with my mare it definitely could work!
And, to be honest, I dont' know if the way I was taught is the "right" way, either.
I do know that the more you push into your stirrup, the less weight you can have in your seatbones, thus the less deep your seet can be. Simple physics on that one.
Okay how I deal with the "refusing to lunge" thing is you say she trots/jogs in hand with you.. GREAT! Do that, and slowly step farther and farther away from her. Do this in short sessions and end on a good note.
Eventually, and I DO mean eventually, you will be able to walk less with her and begin to "send" her off to continue to trot. What helps my horse is instead of standing (I hate that lol) I move with him as he walks, trots, and canters.
As for the stopping, a simple voice command and sitting deep should stop her. Putting your feet forward is fine, but do not press on the stirrups. That's bracing, and as you've probably noticed, it doesn't work on your horse. :)
You shouldn't need to use a rein command, especially on a reiner horse.
Sit deep, STOP following the movement (freeze your seat), and say "Woah". If she doesn't immediately stop, bump the reins (which will bring her to an immediate, if ugly, stop), and make her back up swiftly. She doesn't get to do a few lazy backwards steps. She ought to be backing up quickly.
Then give her half a lap of break, and then set deep, stop your seat, and say Woah. If she stops, be sure not to be caught off guard and end up shifting your weight forward. That will confuse your horse and she'll think you didn't want her to stop. If she ignores you, bump her with the reins to a halt and swiftly take ten steps back. Repeat until she gets the idea.
As for lungeing, I'd do free lungeing. It's hard to correct a problem like that with a lunge line, since it just gets in the way. I'm assuming you understand basic body language? Always watch her eyes. If she's behaving, allow your gaze to drift over to her neck. Keep yourself parallel to her. If you turn away from her, she's going to turn to you. If you turn towards her hip, she's going to turn towards you. Watch her eyes, and keep your shoulders facing her, and then use to whip to drive her forward. If she tries to turn at you, use the whip to push her away. If she ignores it, smack her with it. It's a lunge whip; it isn't going to do any damage.
Make her trot or canter away from you if you have to. Just get her away.
If she's ignoring the lunge whip and still trying to come at you, bring a dressage whip with you as well, and use that on her if she gets too close.
Do not look at anything you think she would be afraid of. Look away and she will be less likely to notice it. If you keep your eye on something at a distance and ride toward it with purpose she is likely to not notice the other spooky stuff.
My guess is before the asking to stop she has her weight on her front end and that is your problem. I would suggest some lessons from someone and getting the horse more balanced and using his hind end.
Does the mare know how to lunge? It sounds like you are coming at it knowing how to lunge horses that know how to lunge but this mare may not know that. If you are teaching her how to lunge it can be done but it will allow you to adjust your expectations of this mare.
As for the whoa issue, I would in general agree with these folks. I would ask if you are looking for a western reining stop or just a good old fashioned stop. Where it does not have to be fast and flashy.
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