Problem with the Brakes!
My gelding has inconsistant gaits. I have been trying to get him to get him to stick with one kind of trot-- but he will start with a jog so I ask him to speed up, then it is fine for one round around the arena... but then he quickens to something like trotting race horse. Also, at the canter he will have a beautiful medium collected canter and then the next time around the ring I can't get him to stop acting like a race horse! He just gets so out of control for apparently no reason other than being excited.
He has a pretty soft mouth so I try not to use anything other than light contact and soft leg. He is currently being ridden in a eggbutt snaffle. Should I try a slightly more severe bit? When he gets going a little too fast I use half halts (reign and seat) but they really don't seem to work like they should.When he does have a good pace I reward him and talk to him and then let him walk, but his canter usually starts off like that but ends all strung out because I can't get him to stop! I feel like I should try another bit that will give me more control when he gets like this so I don't have to be so rough on his mouth when he starts flying around the ring.
If so, any suggestions on the type of bit or any other thing I can use?
If your horse is young, or green he will be inconsistant; he's just trying to figure everything out.
He may not know what a half halt means, so just practice them at all gaits, and even if he slows down just a bit, tell him good boy; so he learns that it means slow down. When his canter starts to get strung out, do circles; its harder for them to go fast around corners. Just think of keeping a steady rhythm; so in the trot think 1, 2, 1, 2. If you keep a steady rhythm, your horse will be more likely to stay at one pace.
A stronger bit is never the answer. Your bit is just fine.
Circles are a good suggestion. The consistancy of it will calm him down. You could also try bending him with ONE rein when he gets faster. Run your hand down your inside rein and slowly bend his head around until he slows down some, then release and praise him. When you use one rein, the horse has to disengage his hind quarters, crossing his hind legs underneath him, and that takes his power away. Using 2 reins to try to stop a horse will not work.
Interesting advise/suggestions. My young mare has the same problem. Inconsistent in gaits. Getting better in the round pen. Harder out on trails. She also wants to do a fast running walk through the trails and I am having a hard time getting her to just slow down and "enjoy the scenery" so to speak. She's all about getting there!
Eggbutt snaffle is fine. It's a nice gentle bit that most horses do well with. I would stay on a large circle with this horse. The natural bend of a circle should keep him better between your aids which should help keep him balanced so he's not always trying to speed up to catch his balance. Maybe work a little more toward quality instead of quantity. While on the circle, get a nice balanced walk going before picking up the trot. The instant the trot starts to fall apart, go back to walk and put him back together before trotting again. Make every step he takes count.
In addition to the half-halt and circling advice, I would add--let him go. Give him his head for awhile, assuming that he does not bolt when you do so. Allow him to carry on for a time without you tugging him back; with no contact. Then attempt, slowly and slightly, to gather him back up. Don't force it, but ask him to give to you. It'll take some trial and error, and many repetitions, but he may eventually grasp the point.
I couldn't think of anything to add that hasn't already been said. I agree; once in awhile, let him go .
and, use the cirlce to slow him. Think of it kind of as peeling off. You have a larger cicle that you are working on (the whole arena, perhaps) , and when he starts rushing, you just make the circle a lot smaller and wait for him to ease up. When you feel him change in speed and attitude, allow him to come out of the circle and trot forward in whatever direction you are facing, no matter if it's a continuation of the direction you were going before. Just open the door and let him choose the speed, I mean let him choose to go the easy trot that you are asking, and if he chooses to speed up, you peel off into the smaller circle until he chooses to slow down, then straighten out and go forward. Again and agina.
I love 1/2 halts, I don't think of them as brakes, it's the clutch. A good rider rides from transition to transition. A great rider rides from 1/2 halt to 1/2 halt.
Legacy has this same problem. Not so much with the trot but a lot at the canter. I use big circles and make her bend when she takes off. I also use a lot of inside leg and pick up her inside shoulder for the entire circle or whenever I hit a corner. It seem to help her from dropping her shoulder and barreling through the bit. when that happens it's a chore getting her back.
I also agree, let him go. If it's an option that is. The beginning of a show week I lunge consistently, ride for two days and then the day before clean up and prep we go 15 minutes down the road and I run her. I let her have her head and we run, walk, trot, speed trot, canter collected and uncollected and after all that we run run run run. My only rule for running is no head high crap. Level head and run. I think it helps taking a break once in a while after heavy work getting ready.
If they arent listening I would be using Smaller circles as they have to get there balance and use this until they do listen to the half halt... Lots of transitions between paces and within the pace using your rise to control as much as possible, and when they ignore you put them on a smaller circle - they will soon figure out that it is easier to listen....
Make sure that you really soften (Though keep a constant contact) when they do listen and be really consistant when you ride....
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