Trouble With My Horse - Confidence Going DOWN
I got my new horse back in January, and while I rode him weekly up until now, I haven't spent a ton of time with him. I plan to spend more this summer since I just got done with school.
I've been having quite a few problems with Casper - nothing I can't handle really, but just aggravating ones. For a while, he was really taken with bucking at the canter and when I first got on him. He doesn't usually buck now except when he gets ticked off. He also really cuts corners and doesn't go forward, and he doesn't respond to my leg to get back onto the rail, just at the canter. I've been working on doing trot circles and shoulder ins and outs and nice corners, getting him to flex at the trot, which is going well. But at the canter, he cuts corners a ton, although this has improved.
The biggest problem I'm having is with jumping lately - this is where my confidence has been shaken. I know Casper can be a lovely, calm jumper - he was when I tried him out and has been before. But he's been a terror lately. After jumps, he tries to cut corners instead of going straight and goes very fast, leaning on the bit so he ignores it. He also has gotten into the habit of ducking out. On Monday, I fell off twice within ten minutes because of this behavior, taking out two jumps, biting my lip (it's still fat), and smacking my face on the jump standard. I got back on and we schooled him over each jump at least five times, trotting in, going over, and stopping immediately afterwards. He finally got it and stopped overjumping and fighting me.
I know a problem of mine is not releasing enough over the jumps, mostly because I don't trust him afterwards. Despite my low trust in him, I've been giving better releases.
I guess I just wanted to rant and say my confidence is kinda low and I'm really frustrated with him. He's just been a complete buttface and he knows better. I'm tired of always fighting with him, and I know a companionship takes time, I guess I'm just frustrated lol.
I would say back the truck up and go back to basics for awhile. He's lost his respect for you, you've lost your trust in him, and that's not a good combo. Pick small battles first that you know you can win and work up from there. If all you do on the first day is get him into the corners every time at the walk, you will have made great progress. Make sure you are very consistent with your aids and always get the result you want, even if it takes an hour. Be as firm as you need to be, but be sure to reward him when he does what you ask. Once you get your leadership role re-established, things should progress quickly from there. Good luck!
Bucking at the canter is usually a sign of pain, check that out first.
Trainer... and it sounds like he is dropping his shoulder and not happy with some tack choices.
If it's not being caused by pain, he may have just figured out that he can take advantage of you and is being a brat. Go back to some basic walk work. Once you have the problem fixed at the walk, start correcting it at the trot, then the canter. Work his issues out one gait at a time. Incorporate poles on the ground or cavalletti with your daily work outs. He must walk, trot, and canter over the poles rhythmically and is not allowed to duck out. This will help when you jump him. Get a qualified trainer to help you with this. Don't be in a hurry to "fix him." Take each challenge one day at a time, otherwise those problems you are having with him now will come back to bite you. Good luck and keep us posted on how it's going! :)
I have thought about pain a little bit, mostly because I know he is arthritic somewhat in his front leg - but he had a joint injection in December, and he works out of the bucks when he tires out. They aren't horrible bucks, just happy ones. But I do wonder if that has something to do with cutting the corners.
Our walk and trot is actually pretty good. He gets nice and round for me and goes into the corners for the trot very nicely. It's just the stupid canter that isn't working out so well. :p That and jumping. I don't usually fall off, so falling off twice in ten minutes was pretty scary for me.
Sigh...it's just frustrating because I know we'll eventually get there, it's just working through some of these slightly scary problems!
Do you lunge him at all?
No, not really. I mean, I've thought about it to establish respect mostly, but I guess I don't think that will transfer from the ground to the saddle, ya know? His ground manners are great. As far as running off energy, I guess I want to be able to control him and know I can control him when I don't have time to lunge - that's my instructor's philosophy, and it makes sense to me.
With that being said, I should try it, just to see if it helps. He just thinks right now that he should play games and that every jump should be jumped fast and high...we're only doing about 2 foot 6 inches...we've done 3 feet 3 inches no problem...he's a booger.
I've found with my horse and a few others, working on the lungeline helps to establish a better trot and canter. Then when you ask under saddle they are knowing what you expect and thus are more likely to give you what you want.
A word of advice, I wouldn't jump until you get that canter under control.
And to reaffirm I don't lunge to get out energy.... my previous instructor in MD encouraged me to but I found that didn't help Sky. Lunging for me is about helping my horse gain self balance and work on his own back engagement without me on his back being a pain in the butt.
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