My horse still bucks when I use spurs even after lots of groundwork
So I have been leasing a horse for almost 1 and 1/2 years and have been doing natural horsemanship with her for 1. She backs up with wiggling my finger and yeilds her hinds just by me looking at them. She has a fairly slow walk and trot and I have been working on slowing down her lope and her getting the correct lead. (She doesn't take the right one) i have done a huge amount of groundwork on her. Desensitizing and sensitizing all that stuff.
The thing is she is lazy and does not like to lope. normaly, she swishes her tail when I ask but still goes into a lope. Her lope is somewhat fast and I have been working on that. Today I asked her to lope to the right and she did. At first she was on the left lead (wrong lead) but the switched to the right. Right after that... She was trying to veer or the circle to the left and wasn't responding to my outside rein so I gave her a little tap with my outside leg and the spur then she just started bucking.
Also about her leads, on the ground she will take the left lead right away. When going to the right, at first she takes the left lead but then once I work with her she will switch to the right lead in the front but still has the left in the back. I have heard this is because she doesnt have enough impulsion, but she is on a long line. Also going to the left she isnt that cranky and doesnt put her ears back, but going to the right when i ask for the lope she does and gets really cranky.
Any tips or comments??? I just don't know where to go from here in her training as of now.
Does her saddle fit? Has she been recently seen by a vet? Does she canter fine on the lunge line, with a saddle and without? Sounds like it could be a pain issue.
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Does she always show agitation when you apply the spurs?
I have been using the saddle ever since I started leasing her and it seems to fit fine. No she doesn't normally show this much agitation like when i am doing a spin or just using them at a walk or trot. I don't think she has been seen very recently by a vet so I will have to check up on that. She I am cantering her from the ground, she looks fine. No sign of lameness or anything it is just that even when I am not on her she still doesn't take the right lead going to the right. What I have noticed though is when she is cantering to the left just on the lunge line she doesn't look very mad or cranky or anything but going to the right she starts pinning her ears a little.
May I ask what kind of spurs? Do you feel as if you can use your leg without using your spur while they're on?
In general, spurs are for refining cues--which is great when you're trying to say "this specific feeling means right versus left lead," but it can be difficult to control your lower leg if you're having a tough time. I've ridden for many years, but I've only recently started using spurs to give my horse more subtle, specific cues-- and those are little round nubs!
Some horses are just "offended," as anabel puts it, by some tools like whips or spurs. If you are using a harsher/rowel-type spur, maybe switch to 1/4" or 1/2" nub spurs. If you are already using a smaller, easy-to-control nub spur, maybe practice giving leg versus spur or just scrap the spurs altogether and try something like a dressage whip that you can apply behind your leg/at the girth to enhance your cue.
Will your horse at least pick up the canter (either lead) without spurs, just your leg?
ETA... most horses have a "preferred" lead where they balance better and find moving along much easier. For my horse, that's his right lead. That is completely normal; however, it can't hurt to have a vet take a look at the horse you're riding! Never know if it's arthritis or a little stiffness, etc.
Not in favor of spurs - never have been and never will be.
I'm thinking a couple things could be happening. One is, as the above have mentioned, would be if the saddle fits properly or not. You could do a saddle fit critique thread and maybe get some good advice.
Another issue is pain. She could have a sore back or a stifle issue.
It could also be a simple balance issue. I'm guessing she's green and I have a feeling she isn't balanced. My guess is that it's holes in her training....
One thing it could also be is how you are using the spurs. Can you try to explain how you use them?
It is common for horses to be more resistant on the off side. From the ground you need to teach her to become more resilient on that side, not on the lunge but by directing her halter. When you first lightly pull on the halter on her resistant side she may give you only a few inches then pull her head back to straight. That's ok. Just continue to ask by give tiny bumps on the halter. As she comes a little farther hold her there for a few seconds then push her head straight. If you are patient she will bring her head around. Encourage her to bring her head around, not just her nose. When she will do this she is releasing the tension in the poll which translates all the way down her back. Only when she does this well do you switch to a snaffle bit and then repeat, doing both sides of course from the saddle. You have heard of the one rein stop, it's not so much about stopping but getting the horse loose in the poll. When the resistance is gone the horse will respond.
Spurs: Because an occasional semi-annoying poke on the side is preferable to allowing a horse to travel around leaning on the bridle, the leg, and dumping the front end.
That said, to come in with a firm outside leg and especially spur at this stage is likely to surprise a horse into bucking if she were already traveling around not being incredibly responsive. I might think more of using my inside leg and rein to bend her body around my inside leg and un-track her hindquarters to the outside. That should break down the momentum she needs to continue with the bucking. It's a one-rein stop. Another name for it is turn on the forehand. If you practice the motion and get quick with it you can recover when she starts to lose her mind 99% of the time, and then go on like nothing ever happened!
As for where to go with her training, I'd be thinking lateral bending left and right, one rein at a time, until walking in a 10-12' circle on a loose rein was dang near perfect and she was totally cool with it. At that point I wouldn't expect to have any more problems with my horse, at all.
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