TWH likes to go
I recently purchased a 15 year old TWH for the purpose of trail riding. I consider myself intermediate/experienced rider, having ridden and owned Dressage, Hunter and Jumpers type horses.
My problem is I don't know how to ride this horse. He does not seem to know how to stop using the basic method of tightening the reins and saying woah! He only slows if I sit back and tighten my seat.
The lady I bought him from rode him in a curb bit, and mentioned that TWH speed up when the reins are tightened? Is this true? If so, how are you supposed to get them to halt? (I am only riding using a snaffle bit).
Any advice would be appreciated.
My stepson bought a 15 year old TWH and we had the same problem. We tried a curb bit with longer shanks and tightening the curb chain a little. He is 17 now and still while his brakes are much improved there is still room for improvement. I've never heard that they speed up when the reins are tightened. TWH's are horses that just want to go. Best advice would be to do plenty of ground work and build up respect, then spend time in the riding ring starting and stopping until he gets on the same page with you.
First, the snaffle bit is crap for a horse with a hard mouth. What type of riding are you doing? Try a tomthumb bit. And that lady is wrong. I have never in a million years have I heard that and I live and grew up in a area where every other horse is a TWH. My barn owner(of 15 years) own 15. Nor have I met that many who just LIKE to go. Most of the time there pretty laid back.
I am the wife of "Racker". It sounds like a few things are going on. I recommend doing some ground work first. You could try lungeing (soft, not running, at a walk or slow gait)before riding. This teaches respect and gets the brain in work mode. Always work both sides of a horse as their brain does not communicate side to side. Next, work on some Clinton Anderson desensitizing. This helps get them in calm work mode and teaches respect and builds relationship. I have been working with a Kentucky Mtn. Horse who has many head (tossing) issues, stopping issues and bit issues. The ground work helps and has made this an enjoyable horse.
Next, ride in a closed area. Practice bending the head each side back to your leg while standing still. If youre horse will not do this, start off the saddle and use treats to get your horse to submit his head. Once you get this accomplished, you can practice one rein stops at a walk, pulling the head to one side. Tighten your thighs just before pulling the one rein to the side. Let go of your thighs and the horses head when you can tell thehorse has softened to the pull on the bit. Do a one rein stop at a walk or slow gait. Practice both sides and then begin again with two rein stop.
I was never a huge fan of all this "ground work" until starting to work with the above mentioned Ketucky Mtn. Horse. Since learning the different steps and training tips, I am sold on the ground work. This horse went from being one of the most frustrating rides to a really good horse.
I own three TWH's -- three very distinct personalities, three very different sized motors.
The little guy (14.3H which is SMALL for a TWH) has a Rodak for a motor. He's the horse in my avatar and was 16 when that was taken on an organized ride lunch break. Looks wore out doesn't he? Not:-P
I have trail ridden him in each of the states we have lived in. He never slowed down until he became sick with Equine Metabolic Syndrome two years ago at age 19-1/2.
When he was 15, he outpaced both my neighbor's younger Quarter Horses in a 36 mile round-trip ride in the low dessert of Southern California.
We had all spent an entire summer getting our horses conditioned for that ride. Each horse was in the peak of condition, yet their horses could not keep up with his non-stop gait and finally told me to just head on home without having to keep stopping for them. Headed home being the operative here ---- big heart & big motor.
I've owned this horse since he was coming 3. Always, when we would first start out on organized rides, I had better be willing to stay up front most of the day because that was where he wanted to be. Since he always finished a day ride coming back to camp in the top ten, I let him stay at the front of the pack.
He still has that huge heart and huge motor but his diabetes interferes with him going at high RPM's for too long these days.
It took me about the first five rides when I bought Duke to figure out Duke did NOT want to slow down until we were a half hour or so into the ride.
Well alrighty then, have at it big guy. He was happy at not having to keep trying to tug the reins away from me, I was happy he was happy at being allowed to move at his own speed while still being polite and respectful, and by the lunch break I was riding him on such a loose rein that even the Quarter Horse folks were envious:lol:
The BEST all around, most even tempered, never refuse to do anything Walker I own is that little guy with the huge motor. He's done everything from cold-stare down a tissed off male llama at two feet away, to flipping his ear off at some moron who let off his jake brake right beside us on the state highway. His most favorite thing in this life is to get costumed up and go in parades. I don't even cue him in a parade --- he quickly learned to start and stop himself according to the float in front him.
I know the "new way" of training is to round pen a horse and teach them respect before getting on them to ride. I have been riding 60 of my 62 years and never have liked tight constraints for myself. I am also from the old school where lunging for half hour in a roundpen (only people out west had those in the old days) before riding doesn't make sense to a mule, unless we're talking show horses. Just get on the horse and let it ride itself down --- which it will in due time.
I said all that to make the point that the horse in question here, while very gentle and mentally laid back, may just be a horse that likes to go-go-go and may be fighting being made to slow down until he's ready to slow down.
The horse you bought also may be cued a lot different than what you are used to and is reacting to getting mixed signals. My thought would be to talk to the previous owner, if possible, or hunt down some very experienced, long-time owners of Walking Horses, or buy a Liz Graves video. They don't get any better than Liz Graves when it comes to Walking Horses:D
Thanks all your responses have really helped. I bought him in December from a lady who couldn't ride him anymore (bad hip). She refered to riding with two hands as plow reining. True, he doesn't speed up on a tight rein, but he doesn't stop or seem to understand woah. He has the best ground manners in the world and each time I think he is the type of horse, who expects me to first to develop a repoire with him, which I've gone back to the basics. I bought him for the sole purpose of trail riding him, which is what he is best at. I had never heard of tightening the reins to make a horse do anything other than halt, slow down, or collect--Just thought there might possibly be a different school of thought in the way a TWH is cued or trained to respond.
Perhaps he does have a hard mouth, I will try him in the curb. And yes WalkintheWalk, you explained him perfectly. The other day I rode him out on a flat river road and just let him go at his own pace, on a semi-loose rein, and after about twenty minutes he would listen not to my hand but to me sitting deep in the saddle and saying woah. I quess I am just surprised that a 15 year old shaggy TWH has so much ability to go for as long as he does without even getting winded.
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