Suggestions for getting a better stop and teaching patience for a green horse.
It's pretty much explained in the title. I'm working with a green mare, who has a pretty good foundation on her. Here's her thread for some background information: http://www.horseforum.com/horse-training/zena-lesson-horse-making-suggestions-being-300337/#post3964345
I went out to ride yesterday and she was a total brat with mounting. Normally she's just fine. She would try to walk off, I'd flex her head around until she stood still, but as soon as I released her head she walked off again. I'm pretty sure it was because the BO was driving around with the 'dinner wagon' (a golf cart that she carries the hay in) and she was more concerned about dinner than me. After about 5 minutes of this I put her halter back on and when she walked off without me asking she got to run backwards, across the round pen.
She finally started listening and I got on. Again, the same issue. She wouldn't stop with a normal cue (her stop wasn't great to begin with), so I one-rein stopped her. As soon as I unflexed her she walked off again. So we spent the whole ride learning to stand still and relaxed. As soon as she did it well, I got off and put her up.
My question is, what do I need to do to teach her a solid stop? Usually, I'd cue with my seat, then the bridle, then a one-rein stop. But the owner only wants her to know how to stop from the bridle, without a cue from the seat. She plans to use her for lessons and doesn't want her to be too sensitive.
She is very responsive to the bit to flex and turning. Just not to stop, so I'm sure she's just ignoring me.
I forgot to add, when I tell her to woah on the long line she always comes all the way in to me. I want her to face me, but stay on the outside of the pen. I'm just not sure how to correct that.
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Whoops, here's the thread.
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Regarding the coming in whilst lunging.. I always drive my horse back out at a trot and give him another chance to halt straight.
That's just them testing the boundaries of what is okay and what is not okay. They will be how you accept them to be. If you don't correct something you don't want, then they think it's ok and get confused/frustrated when you don't allow it or get upset with them for it later.
As for the stop.... it's best to use a word, then pair it with the rein cue. Then over time, stop using the word and only use the rein cue.
I think it'd be best to teach all three methods of stop. Someone that knows what they're doing will be able to stop with seat, not a beginner.
First she needs to understand what both reins mean and want to stand still.
For the mounting issue, she's blowing you off. I'd check each step in the mounting process. Can you stand at her side? Can you place your left hand in mane and right hand on the horn? Can you lift your left leg? etc. It doesn't matter why she's moving, just that she is. When you find the point she won't stand, get after her, lunge her a few circles ten give her the opportunity to stand, make sure you really get after her and make her move NOW. If you're riding with a single loop rein, don't put it over her head, by the time you get it over her head and send it out she won't associate the two things together. Within a few minutes she should stand.
I use a similar concept in riding, if i'm on a horse that has no interest in stopping there's no use trying to work on it. I don't focus on that until i've got the horse wanting a rest.
From there I would say "Whoa" (i'd use seat but since this isn't something desired a good stop off of "whoa' is never bad) wait a couple seconds then a one rein stop. Before I EVER pick up on two reins while my horse s moving I get a solid, soft back up. The preparation for this would be a very soft flex.
I'll pick up my reins and just take the slack out, where there is barely any pressure on the horses mouth. Wait until the horse lowers their head and or flexes at the poll and puts a bit of slack in the reins. I'll give back at that moment, give a short rub and repeat. Once the horse gets the concept of giving to both reins consistently i'll get pickier. I want the horse to not put their head lower than their withers or hide behind the bridle by over flexing. If they put their head too low, they'll be pulling on our hands and trying to dump themselves on the forehand later on. By over flexing they're avoiding the pressure. Once I have a soft give there I progress to a step backward. After the horse gives i'll keep that light pressure till I get a step back. Since the horse is just figuring it out, i'll let that softness go for a little bit then put being soft in the bridle and backing together. From there I get pickier about that step backward, I want to feel my horse lifting through the shoulders and have their hocks up underneath themselves when they back.
This will take a few days to get a decent back up where you can move to stopping. If at any point they want to move around during the backing lesson, that's fine, I lope the horse around some then offer that stop again. Don't worry about even more than one step when you're teaching this, one perfect step is much better than even two good steps. Only when the first step is perfect should you ask for two.
Once I get a soft backup, a soft stop is easy. I start at a walk and just take the slack out and wait until the horse stops and backs up a step. If the back up is good the first stop should happen within a few steps. If you have realized you don't have a good backup, point your horse at a fence for her to find that stop. From the walk, progress to the trot then the lope.
To prove a point with my last project horse I got an excellent backup, where I could just lift up my reins and she'd back softly all without ever taking the slack out. She got to this point in about three days but she's smart and I have excellent timing. To prove a point about the backup being the place to teach what two reins are about I loped her down the arena toward her pasture and picked up on my reins. She melted back down to me and stopped, just as soft as could be within a stride. That was the first time I had ever picked up on two reins while she was moving.
The lunging problem is because I suspect you don't have an excellent space bubble established.
You need to be aggressive with her and get her back to you. Don't let her do that crap.
I ride cowhorses all day long. If one doesn't stop, we pull until they do, then immediately turn into the fence and go the other way. Stop, turn into the fence, go the other way. If the horse is running off uncontrollably, then one rein stop.
Making them turn into the fence, or rollback, makes that front end move and directs them the opposite way they are planning to go. To stop, they have to tuck their hind end. They can't do it if they are slamming on their front. It will make an easier, smoother stop.
But notice that you don't see him getting after the mare or getting frustrated with her. His tone of voice never changes, his hands and feet always soft which indicates a calm inner state. This is what you need in order for it to carry over to the horse. Be careful how you think when you train on your horse, lest she learn lessons that you may not want later on.
Thank you for the replies everyone. I have only worked with her a handful of times, so I'm still trying to figure out what she was taught and what she actually learned from it.
I'm not one to tolerate bad ground manners. At all. But she isn't mine, and I don't want to step on the owners toes and her be upset. She didn't strike me as the "ohmegawd don't hit de poneh" type, but you never know.
I did notice that she stops much better from the trot than the walk. Her cues are solid on the ground (walk, te-rot, kiss for lope) except her woah. So I'm thinking of going back to ground work and getting all that absolutely perfect.
She does back up, but it's pretty stiff. They use a martingale on her which I'd rather go without myself. I personally don't think she needs it to be honest.
So, I'll do some extensive ground work and reinforce her voice cues then work on a good back up. I've also used the rolling back into the fence before with other horses, SorrelHorse. I'll try it with her too.
She's very trainable, but she gets distracted easily and she has a fast attitude about everything. I wouldn't call her laid back, that's for sure. But she's never bucked or reared, and she only spooks on place.
I'm excited to work with her again!
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