Fat, Green and Clueless
I volunteer at a therapeutic riding center and I have been helping train a 5 year old Haflinger. He's great with the kids, never a wrong step, but he's clueless when someone more experienced gets on him.
He was a trail horse before so he never really learned leads or how to stay on the rail in the ring. He's a total fatty which is why I'm riding him a few times a week (the therapy kids only walk and that's not enough work, plus we ride every horse at least once a week to let them have some fun). I ride him in a D-ring snaffle which is perfect for his sensitive mouth.
Last time I rode him, a horse pooped in the corner. I let him sniff it once and then it took me a half hour to get him to walk past it without trying to stop or stop later and back up to it. it was another half hour till I could trot him past it.
He understand what the leg means, but he's so fat, it's hard to push him into corners, which is his biggest problem. I can't use spurs and I use a dressage whip for cantering because it helps me enforce the correct lead.
Does anyone know a good way to enforce staying straight and moving into corners? for corners I have been pulling my inside rein back, my outside rein a little out and squeezing with all my might with my inside leg, and my outside leg keeps him moving. that was how a dressage trainer taught me to help green horses and to encourage them to stay out but still have an inside bend. He gets it pretty good by the end of the ride but it feels like i'm starting over every time.
I know it will take some time, but am i doing it right?
I would say that if he's working well by the end of the lesson, you're doing it right. He IS understanding what you're asking, even if it seems to take forever. Are you doing a lot of circles with him? I'd say if that's his major problem and he's seeming to revert back to his old self each ride, spend a LOT of time doing circles and corners.
I know it can be frustrating, but I'd say you're doing fine with him. When I was schooling my Arab mare not to stargaze, it was the same song and dance. By the end of the ride, she'd be dropping her nose nicely and working on the bit, and then next ride it was like I had to start all over. With horses, more often then not, it just seems to "click" one day and you realize you're spending more and more time working with them, then with them working against you.
You don't take a fat, green, uneducated, out of shape horse into the corners. They aren't capable of bending enough or carrying enough weight on the inside hind.
You're several steps ahead of yourself and the horse. Get someone to help you.
he bends just fine, he just has like ADD, he constantly wants to see whats going on other places. his belly is a fatty mcfat fat but surprisingly, his butt is pure muscle from the trail riding.
i don't even really care about the bending, i'm really just trying to keep him straight.
Keep doing what your doing. It's just going to take time, consistency and patience. You might try some shoulders in/out and haunches in/out down the long side. Also make sure you asking for the bend in the corner well BEFORE the corner. Set him up 3 or 4 strides before the corner and hold the bend 3 or 4 steps after.
Make sure he's not dropping or bulging his shoulder in the corner that will kill the bend.
Have you tried boxes instead of corners? Set up 4 cones in a square. use the same principles you would for corners, but bend around instead of away. This may help him to understand what you're asking.
And because of his weight, he just may not be ready. try loping him out of his fatty mcfat fat fatness, LOL. He sounds like he may have a long road ahead of him, but if you get him into top condition before you get to expecting any more out of him, there won't be any excuse for him not to do as you ask. So, make him lose the weight, and don't allow him any excuses.
Good luck! Let us know what you get done!
Oh! Wanted to add a little more. I took classes and volunteered with a hippotherapy program based out of Baxter Springs, KS, called Horses of Hope. Most of the horses there have been donated and are older horses with LOTS of miles.
I am applying for a barn management/training position at a dude ranch in north central Washington state. I was taken aback when the owner told me that they "tie knots in the reins and play follow the leader. The girls riding this morning had quite a bit of experience and were trying to get our horses to back, sidepass and collect, and I had to calmly ask them to drop the reins and let the horses be because we love them just like they are."
If this horse came from a similar situation, he's stopping to smell the poop every time because he wasn't corrected when he did it on the trail, and it's become habit. Use whatever you need within reason to get him past it. Don't let him argue over it with you for 30 mins. If you have to, get down, get ahold of his face, and literally walk him through it without letting his face drop. Walk him around it and keep your attention-grabbing tactics aggressive enough to where he's not going to take his eyes off you. Eventually he'll be more focused on you than on that poop! ; )
He is actually doing so much better. I think it's the consistency. Before I got on, I worked with him for about 10 minutes just with the mounting block. He sometimes moves when you're getting on and he has to be perfectly still for the kids. i just did step up step down step up step down step up sit and step down over and over. He got it perfect at the end.
I did lots of walking and trotting and we have weave poles (like pole bending ones) in the ring so we did those a lot and that helped immensely. He really seemed to like it even though I was asking for tight turns.
He stayed on the rail much better with minimal steering. The trainer was so happy when i showed her that i could trot all the way around with no reins. we cantered and he was good. we worked over poles and a raised pole about 4 inches off the ground and for his first time "jumping" he barely noticed it. he trotted over it straight when i was at the buckle.
We also rode bareback- mainly to make sure i could move around and go backwards and be an idiot and he wouldn't freak if the kids did it. He was perfect. I purposely put myself off balance while walking and he immediately stopped and put his head up so i wouldn't fall. i couldn't ask for a better response.
as far as i know, he was a trail horse since he was three- a woman owned him and just mucked around on trails. he's quite bombproof. we were playing with him one day when i was on bareback with a halter and lead and my friend jumped out of a bush and yelled to see what he would do. he stared at her like she was nuts and then turned to nibble on my boot.
westonsma, I am in total agreement with you. I hate riding in anything but a snaffle. i don't think it's necessary.
he remembered our lesson from the other day with the poop and i could see the wheels turning as we passed it. he was like, do i stop and get punished or move and ignore it. hmmm. ok, i don't like getting punished. :) love ponies!
I wouldn't use the inside rein so much. What you should do, to help yourself carry your hands better, is to bridge the reins. You won't have as much control but it will cause you to use your leg more. I know he doesn't respond well the leg, but it's all practice practice practice. Hold the dressage whip you're using to the inside both directions and tap him while you squeeze/kick him with your inside leg. Together, he should start to realize what you want without interfering with his mouth.
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