Horse Doesn't Respond to Downward Transitions on Longeline - Need Help!
Hey everyone - I have a 13 yr old percheron/POA/icelandic horse cross (yes, strange I know!) named Harry Houdini, just under 14hh, who has been a pasture ornament for the last 2 years. I have had him for about a month, and while he has made huge improvements in his attitude towards me (as well as others at the barn), now that we've begun training we've begun to encounter some troubles. I really have no idea what this horse has been exposed to and what he hasn't, so we went back to the basics. He has picked up the basics of longeing pretty fast! We have only focused on walk/trot/whoa so far, and the whoa is where the problem is.
He responds really well to vocal commands as well as kissing noises - I usually bring out a whip with me but I rarely use it, as he doesn't really need it. He picks up his upward transitions, from whoa to walk, walk to trot, ect really well. I am just stuck with him on downward transitions, especially the whoa. For the first 10 minutes on the line, he has a lot of energy and is almost impossible to stop. He will not transition from trot to walk, and walk to whoa, or any other downward combo. He doesn't rear or freak out or anything like that, he just trots faster and faster and faster. I have tried stepping in front of him, spiraling him in to me, moving the whip in front of him, but he just gets faster and faster. When I ask him to whoa, I drop my line and whip hands, and lean in to stare at his hip, moving away from his shoulder (the way I was taught by a previous trainer). This works about 60% of the time, and almost never during the first 15 minute or so, when he is working out his kinks.
What am I doing wrong here? How do you all teach your horses to whoa on the longeline? Or really listen to you when you ask for a downward transition? I want to continue longeing him, as he needs the exercise and has to learn to listen to me, but I also don't want to reinforce bad habits (like not listening to me when I ask for a downward transition). This pony is a hard nut to crack - he is not the kind of animal that just give you respect and love automatically - you really have to earn it with him. We are also slowly working on the Seven Games, but am open to other respect-gaining exercises!
I've always learned that if the horse wants to do that, then let him get it out of him. It's better to get all that energy out of him while lunging then when riding.
When you drop the whip stand in the middle with your head down, let him run around until he sees that you aren't after him to trot anymore. And if he's being really bad get after him by stomping your feet and waving your arms to make him canter a few times around so he needs to see that your in charge and once you stop all of that he should try to trot of walk.
Does he stop just leading on a loose lead? If he plows past you when you ask him to stop just in hand, tackle that. Odds are the concept will transfer to lunge work. If he plows past you in hand, jerk on the lead rope and back him up to the point that he was standing when you asked him to stop, then let him rest there. When he stops with you on a loose lead at the walk, master the same exercise at the trot in hand. When he masters this, start in hand and feed the lungline out to ease him on to the circle. Walk with him, on a smaller interior circle. When you want him to stop, stop your own feet and cue him the exact same way as you did in hand. If he doesn't respond, slide your rope hand down toward the snap, draw the rope from the new grip toward you, and swing the whip/stick in an arc over your head toward his tail, swinging his hindquarters away. If he ignores this, repeat as many times as it takes to get him to look at you with 2 eyes. If you repeat enough to get your hand to the snap, back him up, like 15+ steps, then try again.
I hope that makes sense and helps!
My horse Lacey had a very similar problem. =)
She'd barge past me when I was leading her and she wouldn't stop on the lunge line, she still has issues with trot to walk transitions but she has a good whoa now.
I started out leading her and I'd say "Ho" and stop walking myself but cue her to back up as soon as she stopped walking. I repeated that and repeated that and repeated that and now she'll stop in any situation when I say "Ho."
I never needed to jerk on her head or anything becuase she already understood that she needed to stop walking when I did and that was only cemented by the backing up.
Now I can even trot her in hand and say "Ho" and she'll stop immediately. It takes her a few steps on the lunge line but I'm not too worried about that becuase I need a few steps to stop running so I figure I'll give her the same respect.
Good luck! =)
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