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Harlee rides horses 01-07-2009 12:08 PM

Western Pleasure??
Alright, most of you know about my horse Lizzy.
Well she's a great little mare with a wonderful jog. She's a great WP prospect. But as of now, I'm the only trainer she has, and I intend to train her to do everything I know how. But, I'm only fourteen and I just got out of barrel racing, so I don't quite know everything.

Well, Lizzy is coming along wonderfully. But here's my problem, she is amazing as long as we have draw reins on with the O-ring snaffle. Lopes wonderfully, jogs perfectly, walks, the whole nine yards, and the kicker, she carries her head where I want it. Now I know you all are probably thinking that I force her to carry herself like that, but I hold the reins as loose as physically possible, mind you, I will tighten up when necessary...Then as soon as she's in normal reins and an o-ring snaffle, it's good for the walk and long as I don't try to touch her mouth...once I go to correct anything, her head pops up..not high or anything but up that it's not right for show...she won't even consider putting her head down for the trot and the lope she's rushing and her head is in the air.

So, I put her in the correction bit for little work. I barely touch her with that because I really don't want her sour to that bit...So she jogs wonderfully in it, headset everything. Haven't tried trotting in it...But the lope, she carries herself...alright, but it could be better she has an alright speed, but could be slower and still maintain impulsion and self carriage. But at the lope, her head is in the skies! I figure its her trying to hold herself to maintain the speed so I'm not too pushy with the headset quite just yet, but the thing is is eventually I have to teach her it and she doesn't quite get it... We don't use the correction bit even once a week... and I don't work her in a fenced in arena because I don't want her so dependent on the rails. But now it seems she's too dependent on the draw reins...

I've tried stopping and loping. Backing and loping. I don't use spurs. And she knows the head set, she will let me correct it at the stop and set her head, but at the jog or lope it's like I have to just let her do her thing..

I've also lunged her with her head tied down to help her transitions, but she's ******ed for lunging lol.


.Delete. 01-07-2009 12:15 PM

Ohbaby! I love you! I'v already told you my opinion on this =]

Harlee rides horses 01-07-2009 12:19 PM


and if you have, I'd appreciate another explanation:-)

.Delete. 01-07-2009 12:37 PM

Draw reins, crank her nose to her chest and force her to do transitions like that. Thats what i did for Roman. Then gradually just jerk once or twice and her head will go down. But you have to do that alot. It fixed Roman when he did that. But remember, once she gets the gist of when i pull your head goes down, you do the whole pull and release thing again to help her self-carriage.

SaddleUp158 01-07-2009 01:55 PM

Personally I would not be using the draw reins as a primary rein! The reason she is so good in the draws and so bad without them is that she has learned to depend on them. Put her snaffle on with a direct rein, if you are dead set on using the draws put them on but don't use them except if needed for a correction, correct and immediately release so the draw has no contact. Speaking from experience, once YOU and the HORSE become dependent on the draw or martingale it is very difficult to wean both the horse and the rider away from them. She is most likely in a false frame and is just giving in to the draw rein, but once it is off she goes "hehe I am free!" Start off by pushing the mare up into the bridle. Your seat and legs should push her up and your hands will gently recycle the energy. Start off at the walk, work on circles, serpentines, transitions, once she is steady at the walk move up to a jog/trot. There should be NO jerking, yanking or putting in a severe bit just to get the head down. That is as much as I am going to touch on the correction bit at the moment.

How old is this mare and how much training has she had? I would suggest getting a trainer or at least taking lessons on her to help you out. Barrel racing and western pleasure are completely different.

GottaRide 01-07-2009 02:12 PM

You mentioned a few times that you are very careful not to touch her mouth while you are riding. That is what is causing your problems. I think that she has not learned to respond properly to your rein cues. In order to get her head where you want it, you are going to have to touch her mouth with those reins. You need to make contact with the bit, and hold that contact until she tucks her chin & then drops her head (you will be looking for her to drop from her withers so that her neck can flatten out but her chin still stays tucked). When she gives to the bit in this way, you should immediately release the contact. If she doesn't tuck her chin right away after applying contact, you may need to encourage her by pushing her into the bridle with your leg cues. Don't worry right now if she speeds up. Her only reward will come when she tucks her chin & drops from the withers.

Don't ever put the draw reins on again. I would guess that there are also other issues you will have to fix because of them (is she heavy on the forehand?). Some of the draw rein issues will be fixed if you go back to making appropriate contact with the bit.

farmpony84 01-07-2009 02:32 PM

wow... western pleasure is crazy isnt it? so many ways to ask for and get what you want!

I think you've been doing a terrific job with Lizzy and you've made tons of progress. She is still a baby, she's only 3 right? I agree with .delete on the over flexing, she isn't ready to just go w/ her head set on her own so you ask for a little more then you want and it's even ok to get a little arch in the neck during excersizing becuase when you drop her head for show, she'll ride with it where it needs to be. You are right on w/ the halting and backing and the collection. I agree with the overuse of draw reigns idea. I had to move mine from under the girth to the sides of the girth because I had poor Ri really on the forehand. I wouldnt worry about slowing her down too much too fast.

Have you tried canting w/ her for speed?

Harlee rides horses 01-07-2009 03:33 PM

Yeah. We do A LOT of cantering now just because I want her to have the forward motion and then I slow her down and ask for the same frame and she does it perfectly with draw reins.

SaddleUp...I'm not USING the draw reins like stated above, they are just there. I'm not dependent on them, it's just like riding with regular split reins but I just have that contact when I need it..

Sorry I must have giving you a misconception GottaRide, I do touch her mouth but only when necessary, like when she's carrying herself correctly, I leave it. But whenever her head is high I apply pressure on the reins whether split or draw... Usually I see saw. But I want to get away from that considering whenever she has to neck rein you can't use two hands.

Whenever I ride with the direct reins and make contact with her mouth like you said, she just holds her head up and eventually acts up and refuses to set her head. That's why I decided to use the correction bit one day to get her used to it and because she sets her head automatically and when she doesn't, I touch her with the reins (pop them if you will) and then she usually sets her head. But thats only at the jog. It's like she either refuses to carry herself the right way or she is focusing on getting her hind end under her at the lope, she just sticks her head to the sky- but she's holding herself back from cantering when she does get what I'm saying?

I think I've decided I'm going to just forget using draw reins for a while and work on starting her lope over..but I don't quite know how to do that because she seems so numb to the o-ring snaffle unless she has draw reins on..

Harlee rides horses 01-07-2009 03:37 PM

Sorry for double posting..

I think one of my main problems is with my knee problem it's easier to have the security of the draw reins knowing that she WILL listen.

I don't know what I should be aiming for, the headset first or the slow lope first?

farmpony84 01-07-2009 03:38 PM

I don't know if I used the right word... I thought it was called canting. Like when you are cantering/loping but you are pushing the hind in to the center of the ring while keeping the front end on the rail? So you are cantering/loping at an angle? that will teach her to slow down... I'm not very good at it... someone else might be able to explain it better...

I don't know how to help you on headset, I'm too dependent on the draw reigns right now and too "naggy" w/ my reign contact... :( Good luck though... I'm very interested in the advice you get on this thread.

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