Help with a stronger bit!
I ride my older QH mare in the arena with just a plain snaffle. However, when some of my barn buddies and I trail ride, we like to race through the fields. I definately have the fastest horse, but she doesn't like to stop. I changed her "trail bit: to a twisted snaffle, but it didn't help that much. I also have a tie-down on her as she throws her head. I have tried someone else's Dr. Bristol and it did nothing. Any recommendation?
A stronger bit is NEVER the answer. That's just getting stronger, not smarter. A harsher bit is a "good excuse" for bad hands and not enough knowledge.
My suggestions? Get rid of the twisted wire bit and the Dr. Bristol (those are just torture devices in my opinion) and ditch the tie down. Those are just band-aids and quick fixes, and neither work in the long run. They just damage the relationship between horse and human and it never fixes the problem. You need to work on lateral flexion and using ONE REIN to stop your horse.
Consider saddle fit, saddle placement, shimming, physical issues, your riding position, is she unconfident, are you pushing her past thresholds, soooo many things can cause issues like the ones you are having.
i have to agree with spirithorse %100, is this the same older qh marethat is pregnant?
I agree that working on your one rein stop will probably be the most helpful to you.
I used to ride my gelding in a softer arena bit and a much harsher trail bit because he got so excited when we ran that he didn't want to stop. It was in fact effective, but for the last two years he has been working arena and trail in a plain loose ring snaffle. The big difference was that he got a lot more work on suppling and softening side to side.
I got the Level I parelli video series and worked on a lot of that with him. One thing that I learned from Parelli was how to turn the halter/lead into a natural hackamore. At first, he has you ride with the lead on loose like you use when leading, so you only have direct control from one side at a time. - That was awesome for reinforcing the use of the one rein/ emergency stop.
For long term successul results, spend a little extra time in the arena working on suppling and practicing stopping from a canter with one rein. Once your horse is soft enough, you can pull her head around, and she will kind of bend or circle into a stop. Once she gets the idea, practice it on the trail a lot from a trot. When she gets it from the trot on the trail, then do it from the canter. It really works pretty well. :)
Try and go out on trails a lot more often so when she gets out she doesn't get so excited. For a while can you go out by yourself so she doesn't have to race against the other horses?
Start off by walking around, doing lots of halts to get her to listen to you. When she is responsive and will stop for you from walk, start trotting and get her to walk. Do the same thing that you did for the walk to halt, except it's just a faster gait. When she is responsive and stops easily from a trot to a walk, try a canter to a trot and eventually a gallop to a canter. You shouldn't try and go to the next gait before you have the previous downpat.
Hope it works for you!
She's completely supple and will flex fine. She's a perfect pushbutton horse in the arena and on the trail as long as we're not racing. She's voice command trained, but it is hard to hear apparently when galloping.
[quote="Spirithorse"]A stronger bit is NEVER the answer. That's just getting stronger, not smarter. A harsher bit is a "good excuse" for bad hands and not enough knowledge.
I would have to agree 100% as well. Going to a stronger bit only gives the horse a 'harder' mouth. I ride a horse that basically does the same thing. However, I DO NOT allow her to out & out gallop on the trail unless I am in full control. Meaning, I always have any horse on the trail in a standing martingale adjusted so that the length of the martingale follows the neckline (loose enough to give some freedom, yet snug enough to prevent a head toss). Also, when a horse is at a full gallop (fun, fun, fun) they tend to lower their head. Once the head is perpendicular to the body, they take control of the ride. The solution to that is to shorten your reins and ride with your hands higher in the air to prevent the dropping of the head, thus having a more collective gallop at the same speed. When you are transitioning down from the gallop, sit up & deep into your saddle, keeping your hands up out of the mane. Try it and enjoy your gallop through the fields!
If the above adjustments and precautions don't work and you do find yourself in a full gallop and decide to use one rein to slow your horse, be sure to do it very gradually. That's what we always intend to do but sometimes in the anxiety of the moment someone will pull too hard. I saw someone's horse lose its balance and fall because of that. A bad spill because of the speed.
She more than likely tosses her head because she's enjoying the run and doesn't want to stop. My old mare was also difficult to stop when we're doing cross country, but I circled her and she would come back to a canter and slow down. Can you circle after you're done racing? Or are you on an inclosed trail? If circling's possible, it's your best friend. If I couldn't circle, I would just give a line of strong one reined half halts while holding the other rein (not pulling it, but a good hold). This is essentially a one reined stop, without the circling aspect. Could I suggest a running martingale instead of a tie down? A running martingale attatches to the reins, so the horse has more of an elastic feel when he tosses his head instead of a dead constriction like in the tie down.
I know what you mean about the different bits not working when you're racing. When I did cross country, after the course it wouldn't matter what bit I had in her mouth, the only thing that could stop her was circling. I, btw, used to use a twist when jumping and doing cross country. She would drag to fences with a regular bit, but as soon as I put a twist in her mouth she became light (for good reason). This gave me the chance to train her to come up from my leg an seat, and if she didn't listen to that, apply it with a half halt which would make her come up. I soon could jump her with my regular bit, and she was softer than she had been with the twist.
I'm sorry but I would never use a tie-down while trail riding. I have heard of horses drowning in water crossings with a tie down on. We ride in all different terrains (we horse camp) mountains, plains and lakes. The tie-down also interfers with the ability to go up and down steep terrain IMO. I have taught my mare the word "easy" meaning slow down. I don't have to pull on her mouth to get her to slow. The twisted metal bit is way to harsh, toss it. Take advise from the above posters and work on control before you start racing. It takes awhile, but if you can't do a one rein stop at high speed you shouldn't be going that fast, work up to it.
Just a note, I never allow my horse to run back to the barn/horsetrailer. Its a bad habit and hard to break. If she is going to gallop its going to be away from the barn or very far away from it.
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