green horse/wants back to gate
when i ride in the arena and she wants to go back to the gate and she resists me turning her back the other direction, is it ok to use a strong leading rein to turn her back? i use some leg too but mostly i just pull her face back around. i feel guilty about this.
what's the best way to handle this resisitance in a green horse?
I would add more leg, start with a soft directing rein and increase both leg and rein pressure until you get her listening. If you want to solve the gate problem, make her move near the gate. Transitions, lateral work, circles, make her move move move! Then take her away from the gate and let her rest or walk on a loose rein. This will keep her from thinking that the gate means rest and not having to work.
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You are using too much rein and too little leg.
Once a horse's head is looking the direction you want them to go, QUIT PULLING. As a matter of fact, if the head is looking the right direction, the inside rein should be loose and you should be using a strong outside leg and a crop on her shoulder if you must, but you MUST teach her to 'follow her nose'. If you do not teach her that she MUST follow her nose, then you are teaching her to 'rubber-neck' and teaching her to put her weight and energy into her outside shoulder and teaching her to go to the gate -- as surely as if that is what you are trying to do.
It is just as important to use inside leg on the far side of the arena or you are teaching her to 'dive' to the inside and drop a shoulder toward the gate.
IMO, make the right choice (going where you say) easy and the wrong choice (loitering at the gate) hard. Work her harder near the gate and allow her to rest away from the gate. Let her drag you to the gate and make her WORK. Circles, sidepassing, whatever it is that's appropriate for her level of education - just at the gate.
Warwick Schiller was able to do this on a green horse. The horse in this video knows lateral flexion and has just learned to steer, but he was also giving resistance when Warwick was asking him to turn back away from the other horses.
(However, if your horse does not know lateral flexion, then that is something you really need to teach first on the ground.)
I would agree with her doing her work at the gate end of the ring, whatever work she is capable of, then only let her rest at the other end-and NEVER dismount near the gate.
Along with the ideas of more leg, less rein, and making the arena gate a place of "work" rather than of "reprieve," I'd like to add that, the more attention that you pay to the gate, the more attention the horse will pay to it. Think of this as the corollary to the idea of remaining very calm and working past a scary object or scenario -- don't anticipate, don't fixate --Respond, don't react.
Don't treat that span of fence where a gap sometimes appears any differently than the corner where the oak tree is, or the short side where you can see the neighbor mowing his lawn, or any other distracting thing in or around the arena. All it is is another distraction to work through. Treat it as no big deal, put your horse back together between your aids (to whatever degree his ability/training level will allow), and keep riding forward with purpose.
Convince him that what you are telling him is far more pressing than whatever fantasies of hay-munching relaxation are galloping through his head. Become interesting to him. Or, barring that, throw so many requests and transitions his way that he absolutely must focus on you (rather than the gate) to keep from getting his legs tangled. The gate-draw will fade with consistent work over time. :wink:
Make her work hard next to the gate, then ride her away from the gate and let her rest. If she starts bucking, dismount and work her this way on the ground, until she submits and gets soft.
After this, work her on the rail of the arena, make her walk when riding towards the gate, then canter away from it, transitioning down to a trot midway, and then walking towards the gate.
Repeat and do this exercise for at least one month straight BOTH reins, before proceeding to other work. This is a BAD habit and will make your horse dangerous if you don't fix it.
Also make sure that she is not testing you in other ways on the ground, as it could be she is subtly and this is the only time it is really causing a problem that you notice.
And agree with Cherie.
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