Barrel Racer to Jumper
So..recently I've taken an interest in jumping, but it seems none of my horses have done so with me. [Lol] I have many animals including 4 horses, 3 ponies, 1 mule, 1 donkey, 1 llama, 2 alpacas, and 1 camel. Aside from the alpacas, llama, and camel I've tried jsut about every one of the animals over ground poles and cross rails. I started with the horses I work with the most and then just went down the list. I found that my favorite mare, Summer really has no interest or talent in the jumping area. I also found that my 4 year old, Buddy is a very talented jumper, yet very lazy and bull-headed. Then, as a last resort, I tested out the 10 year old buckskin quarter pony, Buttercup. To my surprise, she really enjoyed it and had nice form and just about everything the others did not. She also always has a willing attitude. There's just one problem, she's a trained barrel racer....she does some western pleasure and halter classes, but barrel racing is her passion. I'm sure with tons of work she can slow down, but the problem is she hold her head way high up, and WILL NOT drop it. If you try to make her drop it she gets very upset. I think this is because the people that previously had her would hold her reins very tight because she used to like to take off with her rider. Now, my sister holds her reins tight, too. [She doesn't really know how to ride] It's so ingrained in her head that it has to be up that I can drop the reins and ride [it's taken a few years for her to be trustable enough for me to do that, but I'm the only one that can] and she will keep that thing up sooooo high. I don't know what to do to get her to bring it down. We've gotten new saddles and saddle pads for her, and she rides in a bridle with a snaffle bit, so the tack isn't the problem and shes got no sore spots, had vet inspection, everything. I don't know how well I would place with a horse like that. Lately my sister has only been taking her to contesting shows, where they don't care what your horse looks like, as long as it gets good times. Now, I will be the mares main [probably only] rider, so I can do whatever. She will do what is asked of her, just with her head held high. Any ideas? Also if anybody has any ideas on how to get her to slow down to a suitable speed for jumping it would be very much appreciated.
Go for some really long, leisurely trailrides and let her hold her head wherever she wants. Maybe you'll think of something.
As for her head being up, try a running martingle. The reins go through the rings on it. Your horse may not like it at first, so try them longer and as she gets used to them, make it shorter. She will be able to put her head up, but once it gets to a certain height it will pull her head back down. It is not like a standing martingale as it has some give to it. A standing martingale could also help, it will hold your horses head down but most horses that i ride in one will just pull against it.
There are two different kinds of jumping.. There are jumpers and Hunters. Hunters are are the ones that need to be slow and collected with there heads down looking nice. Jumpers is mainly based on speed and if you knock any rails down. The horse being collected and under control help, obviously, but it will not make you get a lower place in the shows.
Link to a website about a few different martingales
Rainbow Ag Equine Headquarters
I agree. you should go for it. My mare is a barrel horse but loves jumping as well. I think the running martingale is a good idea. Long trail rides are good, and lots of one reining and cirlce work everytime she tries to take off with you.
So I'm going to go against the grain here and say not to use a running martingale, tie-down, or anything else that is going to hold her head in a position for her. Just because you have their head being held somewhere doesn't mean they are going to be using themselves properly and be ready to jump.
Your horse needs to learn how to carry himself and not need to rely on you/your hands or a piece of equipment.
I would suggest a lot of dressage work on her. If you are going to be jumping, this should be obvious though. Let go of her mouth and ride through your seat. I would suggest showing your sister too how to not hang on her mouth so that any work you do with her isn't erased by a heavy-handed rider. What kind of bit are you using?
I would just be working on getting her to stretch and keeping my hands and leg soft. If she starts to speed down, slow her, but don't make a big deal out of it. It doesn't matter if you are running barrels or jumping, she needs to be responsive to you and you need to fix whatever it is that is making her evasive (if you have ruled out saddle/teeth/etc then it is rider/training error).
Just take it slow and act like you have all the time in the world. If you can get her supporting herself and responding without a martingale, you're going to have a much better trained horse on your hands.
I would also try not to tie her head down if you can help it. Martingales tend to help more for use that put their heads up at a moment, like while doing something, not all the time.
If she is used to the contact hopefully she will try to find it. So I would start of riding with short reins, at a walk or a trot, and gradually start letting a little with the reins, and keep her moving with the legs. Maybe turning with an open rein would help, instead of pull her head around. Possibly loose lunging with side reins. They generally look for the contact to try and balance themselves around a circle. She probably needs to build up different muscles so that she can get used to travelling in a different form.
I'm guessing it just takes time. Just like ex-racehorses or and other type of horse learning something new.
Are you riding her in a western bridle? I was having my lesson on this broodmare, who hadn't been ridden in ages. She also kept her head up. She trot, when I'd ask for a jog, she keep her head up, and whenever I asked her to turn with my legs, she'd take that as an aid to speed up.
My instructor got on me and showed me a technique that kept her head down. As soon as she puts her head up, bring your reins back to your hips and wiggle them. Sorry, hard to explain but like lightly pull on one, than the other rein. As soon as she puts her head down, give her lots of rein. And some verbal praise is good too. Make sure she keeps pace though.
I'm not sure if this will help with jumping, but it might slow her down whilst jogging.
Oh no. It was definately not the nut cracker effect. I hate the nut cracker effect and I'd never do anything that could potentially cause a horse harm.
This was what my instructor showed me.
Bring your (split) reins back.
Clench one hand and put more tension in it.
Once Ruby put her head down just a tiny bit, we'd bring the reins forward a bit. When she put her head up, we'd do the clench alternate thing again. She learnt that when she behaved, she'd get lots of rein and cuddles and pats.
It was not the nutcracker effect.
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