These people I know asked me to work with their paint mare, so I obliged. She's got lots of problems, mostly she's just nervous about the world, which I can handle. We've been working on that for sometime now, and she's doing great. She wasn't broken, or even really handled until she was four (she's now 6), which I think is where quite a few of her problems come from. I've been riding her, mostly getting her back into shape, but also working on flexibility, moving off my leg, things like that. She's been coming along very nicely.
Anyway, back to my problem. Today I decided to lunge her so we could start working on her headset, since she runs around with her nose in the air like a pig. Her owner said she had been in side reins when I started with her, so I naturally didn't think there would be any problem. When I started with her, we basically started from the beginning, doing ground work to establishing me as the boss and what not, and I had problems with her rearing during lunging and our other groundwork that we resolved. Anyway today I warmed her up on the lunge line- no side reins. No problem. I brought her in and put on the side reins on the last hole, nice and loose, so she could get used to them again, she was fine. I backed up to start her walking and she reared straight up and flipped. I had no idea where that came from. She got up right away, and I let her stand there and calm down, she decided on her own it was ok to take a few steps and then remembered about the side reins and flipped again. She did it one more time, I finally walked up to her and led her a few steps to show it was ok, (which was scary, and maybe not the best idea) then removed them, put her away, made sure she was all right, fed, and left.
I was too frightened and shaken to do much else.
What did I do wrong, and how do I fix it?
Let me first say that I use side reins and have nothing against there use.
Keep the mare out of the dual side reins for now and slow down the lesson and get her relaxed.
Now put a heavy halter on her and an old drag rope that she can walk around her pen(with you watching her during the day ) and let her step on it and feel the pull.
This is usually what is done with the babies but she more than likely never got it.
After about a week throw the saddle on her and put her on a small pen and take that same rope and tie only to one side of the saddle (rear ring) and over time bring her neck around just a little and let her get use to it.
Leave her tied like that for about 5 minutes at a time and until she kind of accept it.
Stay with her and switch sides.
Do that for a week and build up to about 10 minutes or so.
Go slow and keep the mare calm.
Remember the saying
"You can't have vertical flexion until you have lateral flexion".
If you've been riding her she should know what contact is, so that shouldn't of been the problem. She most likely tried to get some release and paniced when she found she couldn't due to the double reins.
I'm not a fan of leaving a lead rope hanging off them, but I know it's often done. Please supervise this as marecare has stated.
I use side reins as well once in awhile, the only problem I see sometime is people end up with the horse working behind the vertical to get away from the pressure.
I don't have pictures of me doing this from the ground, but if she freaks with the rope tied to the saddle D ring you can get her flexing on the ground and then under saddle.
Not critqueing your post Marecare, just offering options.
Here's under saddle:
I really dont like the idea of a lead dragging. My mare has never had that kind of "training" shes pretty smart thought, when she steps on a lead she just kind of stands there and I lift her leg up. Doing this can lead to a broken halter or lead at the least. she migth scare herself more and you'll be worse off.
I wouldnt work with side reins if that is a horses reaction. You can teach the same thing while riding. Some horses go their whole lives without them and turn out fine lol.
A friend of mine had an aunt who was lunging a horse, who was trained with side reins (for years) she just freaked out, jumped the fence, ran down the hill and got hit by a car.
I understand completely what you are saying and you also have a very nice lateral flex going with your horses there.
This is what is really needed and if a person can just sit in the saddle and ask for this but most people are too busy or get bored and give up.
the drag rope just reminds the horse that they are not completely free and to listen to the rope.
The flipping problem just comes from the horse feeling closed in with nowhere to go.
So the training starts with the flex.
I do the same thing as Marecare but usually not the rope dragging thing although I have done that. I have never used side reins but I like to tie a horses head around. They can't flip ovwer if their head is tied around because they can't line up their spine to rear. Don't pull her head too far around at first. Sometimes I will tie the rein to a stirrup so there is a more natural pull and release on them. Pull the stirrup to about the middle of the shoulder and tie a quick release knot then let go of the stirrup and step away. She may get kind of troubled over it but let her figure it out. Make sure that what ever you do with her you put your safety first.
Thanks for all the replies!
She's done toe touches before like in the picture.
She actually loves them! She knows the drill, and loves to sniff my boot toe. It's precious. >.<
Anyway, I'll definitely try tying her just to one side first. Hopefully it'll work because I think side reins are a great to for teaching a horse to go round and drive from their hind end. Once we get all her little bugs sorted out I think she'll be a great little H/J mare!
Thanks so much again!
There is another way also to go about this is you know how to ground drive.
Work her with the long lines and if she starts to brace and throw her head just release a little and drive forward.
Driving will get a horse ready for side reins also.
If she has the bend down then it might be worth a try.
I do know how, but based on her history of rearing, and today's display I'd rather not be behind her in case she were to flip again. I know I wouldn't be close to get completely squished, but I envision flying hooves. I don't think I'll risk it just yet. I feel like this whole rearing nonsense is a habit she discovered could get her out of things she didn't want to do. (She WAY spoiled) When I run through the day with her owner about what we did and what problems there were and how I corrected it, after saying what the problem was her owners response always is, "Oh, that's because she doesn't like ____" whatever we did that day. So I get the feeling that they would do something with her, she would rear, they'd say "Oh, I guess she doesn't want to do it." and then be done.
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