Lately I've been having a lot of trouble getting Dakota to bend around the corners. I know I've asked about this before, but it's gotten worse, and I'm getting increasingly frustrated and angry at Dakota. Now, instead of just refusing to bend around the corners, he just trots around the ring with his nose to the outside. I feel like I've tried everything, so I wanted to ask you all for advice. He literally is looking to the outside the whole time.
I tried to use my inside rein to bring his nose back in but he just cuts his corner or starts to turn to the inside. So then I tried using a little less inside rein and more inside leg, to keep him on the rail, but he completely ignores my leg and continues to stick his nose out. I've even tried turning my inside toe out so my foot is perpendicular to his side, so that I have the spur right on him, but he just ignores it like it's nothing.
Any advice on this problem is greatly appreciated, because I feel like I've done everything I can with him. :(
Does he do it on both reins or just the one.
Rather than getting angry with him try taking a deep breath and count to 5 then relax . you need to disengage from a confrontational situation . try doing something different at each letter of the school , walk , halt , circle , rein back , trot anything to get him to think about anything but looking to the outside . You also need to work on getting his head down , getting him thinking will help with this.
He does it on both reins. It's not like he's distracted or being naughty, really. I have been working on transitions, but I can't do a lot of other stuff cause there are usually 3 or 4 other people in the ring that I have to dodge. I'm thinking, maybe I'm just asking for the bend wrong?
Your aids sound right - talk to MIEventer she can help with those.
As for the rest - some of your problem sounds like you are getting wound up and are transmitting this to Dakota , and he is getting worried.
Have a word with everyone else and ask if you can get a little leeway in the school , you need to change something in what you and Dakota are doing rather than pressing a bad situation
Have you already checked his saddle? Maybe it doesn't fit anymore?
If I were on Dakota, I would start by leveling my seat bones to the ground, keep your stomach tight and back straight, legs directly under me. You will find that your inside seat bone will be higher and your outside seat bone probably won't even be touching the saddle. Keep the weight on your inside seat bone and close that thigh in on the horse, leave the lower leg off for now. Have you ever sat on a ball in a pool? When you lean to one side or the other, the ball pops out to the other side. A horse's barrel will work the same way. It is very common that when we use lower leg pressure, we shift our weight to the opposite side of the horse, actually making it very hard for the horse to move off your leg. If he still doesn't move, use inside rein pressure and start to close in the lower leg, but be careful not to shift your weight. Some horses that are really stuck will take a long time before they actually make that weight shift. Be very careful to balance through your core, that will take a lot of pressure off your horse to move his body around to keep you up there. Like you said he isn't trying to be bad, he is trying to keep himself from falling over in the best way that he knows how.
I would stay away from transitions until he has it in the walk. Going to fast with a horse out of balance encourages the horse to dump weight on the forehand and use momentum to compensate for lack of balance. Don't expect it to be a fast change, be patient and consistent and he will be more and more willing to work with you on it. Good luck. Remember that horses don't do anything bad, they only do what we set them up for. Horses in the wild travel 20+ miles a day out of necessity and learn the best way to use their bodies. Our domestic horses don't get that travel time and on top of that they get extra weight on their back to throw them further out of balance. They are basically like people stuck in the crawling stage that never learned how to walk on their feet. We have to give them the tools that we took away from them by bringing them into our lives.
Okay, next time I will try putting more weight to the inside. Makes sense. Should I still do that when I post, like, sit down harder on the inside?
Couple things: First, make sure YOU are sitting squarely in the saddle, make sure your shoulders are paralell and you are not leaning to one side or another.
A steady contact and a series of balancing half halts on the outside rein will keep him from falling in (cutting the corner). You need to have ONLY enough inside rein to maintain the correct (inside) bend....but your outside rein is really going to be what guides him through the turn and keep him from falling onto that inside shoulder.
With your inside leg and seat bone, you should be pushing him into that outside rein contact (think leg yeild). Be careful that you don't OVER bend him to the inside (too much inside rein. If he does not move off your leg in a timely manner, reinforce with a reminder tap from a whip or spur.
Correct bend is over the whole body, from poll to rib cage to the dock of the tail. Often people mistake a sharp angle through the neck at the shoulder as "bend" - see picture below.
Let me know if the picture makes sense or if you need more explaination.
Alright, sounds like a plan. I'm riding on wednesday and will probably get pictures. =]
The concept of crookedness/straightness is complicated so I will not try to get you confused with a lot of terminology but suffice to say that crookedness is viewable in both the horse and rider.
Crookedness is caused when the horse's hind legs are not working with equal thrust and support. If for example the horse is traveling left and the left hind does not stride forward as far as the right then it does not supporting the shoulder on that side. This means the left front leg has too much weight and the shoulder leans into the left shoulder with the horse bending to the outside or to the right. This will force the right hind farther out to the right so that it no longer remains under the horse and now is supporting absolutely nothing as it is no longer thrusting or carrying.
So how to fix.
The area to look at is not so much the left hind as it is the right hind that is not doing any work. This side needs to be pushed over to bring the right leg more under the body and make it start carrying weight and using thrust so that the two hind legs are working more in unison. The horse may try to avoid this extra work by pushing the shoulders left so the rider will need to use their left calf and supporting the neck/wither connection with the left rein. A heavier right seat bone will help also.
Now in all this be careful that the inside shoulder of the horse has not caused you the rider to feel like you are slipping to the outside so you automatically weigh the inside more in an attempt to balance yourself (that dreaded collapsed hip). This will only cause the problem to increase in its magnitude. This may have started out with a minor crookedness on the part of the horse but incorrect riding has cause the problem to worsen.
To do this you will have to be strong and persistent.
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