Dropping Head At the Trot And Stopping.
This has been a very frustrating experience, My thoroughbred has been very lazy, when I ask him to trot, he goes maybe a couple strides and then literally lower his head down so slow that it is pulling on my reins, and when he feels the pressure, as I make sure I don't pull, he stops... even if he is trotting without lowering his head he will stop.
I've had the vet clear him, has had his saddle checked repeatedly, it has a changeable gullet system and I use a gel pad to make sure its not knocking his shoulders.
So what happens is when he trots his head just feels so heavy its almost touching the ground and then when he does that, its like his front legs are not engaged and he gets sloppy and stumbly and stops. For the longest time I thought it was his hooves or something wrong, but I realized its just him being lazy and knows he can do this to get me off because I get concerned..
When he drops his head, per my trainer, I give him a kick to get his head up and make sure that Im not pulling on the reins, much rather i have them collected so that if he tries to lower, he feels my pressure, but he really doesnt care, he'll keep pulling and pulling on that rein, and it's very frustrating because Im tired of trying to kick him to death while trying to post on the right diagonal, plus trying to keep him in the corners of the arena * he cuts corners >_> ALOT while trotting and cantering*
My trainer has ridden him a couple times and attributes to him being lazy and his cutting corners that hes just too lazy to look where hes going or focus.
Also, if I get at him a lot for this, he starts getting ornery
I want to know what your opinions or solutions you have to this?? Thank you!
It sounds to me, like he's been allowed get away with too much. He knows exactly how to get out of work. Clever horse.
So what you need to do is establish that YOU are the boss. Not him. Tell him you're in charge.
As soon as you feel him lower his head, give him a good hard kick in the gut. Horses tend to raise their heads if you kick or squeeze them on. If he still doesn't lift his head give him one hard smack behind the saddle with your crop.
He should realize after a while that this behavior is not allowed.
Good luck, and keep us updated.
*Edit* I know you said that he gets ornery of you go at him a lot, but as long as you give him one hard kick, or one hard smack behind the saddle, he should be fine.
What I would say is first make sure your walk is active. Practice some halt walk transition and make sure he is responsive. Ask him to walk with the smallest squeeze followed by a a kick and if still no with a whip tap or a 'pony club kick'. Do this until he is off actively at a walk. If his walk isnt active his trot certainly wont be.
Then practice trot transitions, same procedure, trot a few strides and then bring him back to walk. once he is responsive to the These start trotting longer.
Now you need to work on your core, he shouldn't be able to pull his head to the ground. What I would do is when he pulls keep a tight hold your reins (you don't want to let his head go anywhere) and squeeze. Hopefully, he is responsive from previous transitions so you won't knacker yourself kicking. If he doesn't immediately raise his head and get trotting give him a kick then If still not a tap so he will quickly learn to not.
Finally, I would say the best thing would be try to prevent it, if you feel him abut to slow or about to stick his head down get into action mode quick with a hold and a squeeze, before the fight gets harder!
To address the corner issues maybe try practising trotting on the long side and once you obtains desirable trot start trotting in corners , as it will be easier to steer when he is moving somewhere and you aren't knackered from kicking.
Hope this offers some help! And the key sadly is just repetition , he will eventually learn!
Thank you all very much for the answers!! I am riding tonight and will definitely post and update, I see that i should be much more aggressive with him now because at first I thought it was a pain or ill-fitted saddle issue.
He is also a big baby, because when my trainer rides him, when you ask for a trot or canter, he like does a little hop and pops his head up as if I yanked on the rein, this is usually why I have a lot of slack on the rein because i thought that he was doing his little head pop because I was yanking when asking for transition... but after a few experienced riders rode him, they said they don't know why he does it? but shorly after that head pop he starts pulling it down.
Its almost like a baby fit, he pops his head up and then it takes him quite a few strides and quite a good kick to get him trotting properly because he will lazily just "walk fast" and think that's good enough for a trot.
How about riding with some spurs? even bumpbers to start. If kicking as hard as you can isn't working you are working to hard and need more leg leverage IMO. At least for now until he gets it.
my advice for the cutting corners - put a pylon or other small obstacle in each corner of the arena, just off the rail, so you can go between the pylon/obstacle and the wall or fence of the arena.
i find cutting corners to be a rider problem, not moving the horse exactly where the rider wants it. the visual of the pylon/thing and the clearly marked path to take to not cut the corner helps a lot.
over time, remove the pylons as needed once you are consistently keeping your horse on the rail and not cutting those corners.
My suggestion would be to pull on one rein instead of both. Horses can easily brace against the bit if both reins are pulled. One rein gets the head to the side where they can't as easily brace against it.
I don't know if you ride western or not. If you don't, see if you can borrow a western saddle. Make the reins short enough that he can't put his head very much below level. Tie a knot in the reins if you have to just in front of the saddle. Put the reins over the horn of the saddle and ride. If he tries to put his head down, he pulls against the saddle and creates the pressure himself. I do this with horses that like to drop their head and eat when riding.
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all of the above are good suggestions, but I would take him back to working on the ground, on a good rope leadline. He is "asleep" right now, and you need to wake him up! I wish I had some video of my trainer working with a horse on line, But basically, she asks for him to move and if he moves as if he is going through wet cement, she makes a big noise by snapping the end of the extra long lead line on the ground, or against her boot, or scuffles the sand or whatever, just as long it is enough to startle the horse and make him look at the source of this noise, and so now she has the horse's attention. (she does not hit HIM, nor do anything really aggressive, just makes a bit of a scuffle that makes him go "Wth?! what was that?")
Once she has his attention, she goes right back to asking for what she asked for when he blew her off. Ask, tell -DEMAND! and if the horse is not even mentally THERE, get him there before you try to move his feet.
Thank you all for the awesome suggestions, he is trained both western and english but I am primarily riding english for now..
Anyway my ride last night went suprisingly well, but the thing is, I was usually riding in the indoor, I took him in the outdoor arena and he was much more obedient and "Awake", he walked with more pep, and he was just glued to the rail because he wanted to peer over. He was more awake and alert.
When he trotted he did a great job, He only lowered his head a couple times, and when he did I would turn him in a tight circle and keep him trotting to show him, "hey look it's not fun when you yank your head down" and he soon very much got the picture.
As for kicking, he was very sensitive yesterday and I did not need to kick him to death, I made some kissing noises and he was very responsive.
As for the reins, When turning I do give him a lot of slack on the outside so that he knows and hes gotten much better.
When he is "peppy" and "excited" he is glued to the rail and isn't sloppy and doesn't cut corners...
The problem is the indoor arena, he is immediately bored, tired, unaware, even when I lunge him and get his butt moving in the indoor, soon as I get up on him, hes like "Bedtime!"
Also I did lots of transitions with him yesterday and that worked wonderously. He enjoys transitions as well because he knows it makes his momma happy lol.
He's the kind of "plod around, and gawk at everything kind of horse" so he loves getting his walking breaks, but I didn't need to really get after him yesterday cause he perked up from being outside. His trot was like a goofy prance.
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