Am I a bad rider or is he just a difficult horse?
I've been working with a 23 year old QH, and he is...difficult. He won't stay on the rail, I'm constatly dragging him back to the rail and sometimes he fights back a little, hebreaks gaits and I always have to give him a good kick or smack him with reins he doesn't really listen when I ask him to go into a trot or a canter and I have to kick him real good to get him to go. But the most frustrating thing is keeping him on the rail! He won't stay on the rail! I have to pull him on to the rail and he will stay for a couple strides and then try to cut into the middle...after riding him today I feel really discouraged and just want to quit. Is it me? Is he being like this because of me? Or is it him? I'm not too soft ot too gentle with him either and get on him for acting up but he just won't learn!!! :-(
It's not something we can determine without a video. It could be argued either way without seeing it.
He also hasn't been ridden in like over 5 years. And I've been riding him for over a month. I can try to get a video...
My instructor doesn't comment if I'm riding bad or not so I'd assume I'm riding fine. But, how can I keep him on the rail? How can I train him so he'll stay on the rail. I don't want to keep my foot on him constantly either (which I don't because I want to keep his sides as sensitive as possible). Any ideas?
what does he get out of leaving the rail? I mean, is the center where you stop and stand around while the instructor talks,? so that is where he gets rest? or is he trying to cut across the arena to get to the gate, or just shorten the distance he will travel?
every time he leaves the rail, start him to working hard. Fast trot or canter with you leg popping him, not super hard, but irritating. if he turns back toward the rail, stop the leg popping. let him choose: inside you will keep popping him with your leg , until he chooses again. if he chooses out toward the rail, stop bopping him. YOu'll work on getting him to choose the rail, so when he's on the rail, let him walk. I think you might have to work solely on this and not do a lot of trot or canter work ON the rail until he can accept being there and stay there. you have to figure out how to make being on the rail nicer than being in the middle.
First, it's never a fault of the horse. That leaves the rider. :) Yet, it'd be wrong to shame you for it; to find a horse who's beyond your present skill level is normal, & can be a gift to you as it provides the challenge for you to improve your skills!
If this horse is unmotivated, calmly ignores you, calmly & deliberately goes against what you want (moving off the rail), you've got a Left-brain introvert. (the first thing is to see if a horse is doing what you don't want calmly or from fear/adrenaline.) To get into a fight/kick him/pull him won't work; seems that you've discovered that. So, you're left with what will MOTIVATE him, & since LBI's are food-motivated, FOOD gets this horse's interest. It's not a food reward EVERY time he complies, (that teaches him to demand a treat EVERY time) it's surprise food rewards, when he thought you'd blow your cool, & randomly spaced rewards for complying. Eventually, you'll phase out the treats, because he's gotten interested in your leadership ideas, & will even offer moves to you!
He's trying to frustrate you, because prey animals are experts at frustrating humans so that they'll give up, so if you get emotional, he chalks up one for himself. I hope that you can see that no one should deal with a LBI who has no sense of humor!
Parelli has detailed info on this & the other 3 main "horsenalities". There's clicker training, too, which is great for food-motivated horses.
Sounds like he is dropping his shoulder, or your outside leg is on more than your inside leg (which some horses yield from beautifully as long as that's what you're looking for)
He sounds like a difficult horse and as far as your riding, I would just be guessing. Even the worst rider could get on my horse and he would try to please.
He's trying to shorten the distance. I don't stop working him and let him rest until we get outside the arena gate. Then I hop off of him. He was gate sour and everytime we went by the gate he'd stop. But I've fixed that and he won't stop anymore. He's definitely a horse that is a little beyond my skill level in riding, but it is a good learning experience, but is also frustrating at the same time. And when I start to get discouraged I don't slump my shoulders and hang my head I tend to get a little more harsh with him. But here's the weird part...when I'm in a canter he stays along the rail just fine. He may cut a corner every couple times around and I'll correct him, but he only has problems in a walk and trot, more the trot than the walk.
He is for sale and when I was working him today some people came by to check him out and ride him and he was doing the exact same thing he does with me when they were riding him. But they also let him get away with a lot of things that I've trained him he can't do so I have a feeling tomorrow we're going to have to go back over stuff I've already worked out of him (I thought). For example he liked to stop when we were walking or trotting and start grazing on grass sticking into the arena. I never let him get away with that and trained it out of him and he won't do it anymore. Today when the other people were riding him he'd try to do it and they'd let him and sit and run him a minute then start him off again. A little frustrating when I've worked to get him out of that, and now he might think it's ok again. We'll see tomorrow :/
at the age of 23 he may be in pain if not ridden in 5 yrs
The trot is actually a lot more work for a horse than a canter. I find if a horse is going to get lazy it'll be at a trot. The horse I take lessons on is pretty lazy. She knows that the lesson people let her get away with stuff. I tend to not be as firm as I would be with my own horse because I am still feeling out the instructor. Thankfully she is usually of the mind that I need to tap the horse with the whip (when lunging) or give her a kick when riding.
For my own horses, I don't do a lot of ring work (we don't have an arena or a riding ring). So I might not be much help there. I tend to work my gelding while riding down the road. We'll stop and do some hind quarter yields, or giving the shoulder. I need to do more training and less 'riding'.
Maybe break up your routine. Instead of just getting off when you leave the riding ring work him outside. And then bring him back into the ring to unsaddle him by the rail. Just some things that I would try.
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