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How Come He Won't MOVE With Leg Pressure!
I'm training a horse for a friend, but he's a bit green. My friend plans to use him in the summer for lessons and this camp she's running, but this horse, Geo, is very spooky and has a few...*problems*. You see, he has a 'good way' and a 'bad way'. When we enter the arena, we go to the right most of the time. I ride him around a bit, do a few circles, get him bending and supple. We walk, trot, canter, and to a few figure-8s and stuff. He responds to leg pressure very well this way, and if I wanted to, I could drop the reins and just control him with my legs and/or voice.
But then I turn him around and it's almost as if he forgets EVERYTHING. He'll walk away from the rail and not respond to leg pressure at ALL. He'll be straight as a stick and not bend, and he'll jump to the side if he hears so much as a door creaking in the wind or snow sliding off the roof (we have an indoor arena). I can walk him and he'll be ok, but I have to keep his reins a LOT tighter than normal. I can trot him around, and after a bit he'll be ok, but it takes a bit of effort. And then I ask Geo for a canter.
Geo's canter when going this way is a WRECK. When I ask him, I turn his head to the rail and kick him (gently!) with my inside leg. He usually takes up the wrong lead, unless we're coming out of or going into a corner. This is very frustrating! Once I get him to get the right lead, his canter is fast and controllable. I lift weights, and he's STILL got so much resistance on the bit that I can't bring him down to a slower canter. He canters sideways, with his head against the rail and his butt sticking into the middle of the arena. His circles are messy, and I don't put any wrong resistance. I turn him in a circle the best I can, but his sideways-ness messes the circles up.
Geo is 8 years old, and has had 4-5 years of off-and-on training. He learns quickly and is like a big puppy dog. He has a really good memory, but when he canters that way (see above for details), it's almost like he's forgotten everything he's ever been taught. His trainers (including me) have all worked together to make sure he's not being trained different ways. He's a bit spooky, and is sometimes more spooky than normal. But I can get him calmed down and un-spooky-ish if I walk him around the arena a few times.
Could someone try and help me by giving me advice on how to handle this? I've been working with him for three or four weeks now, and I've only improved his 'good way' canter by slowing it down and rounding out the circles and closing distance between the rail and him. Please, please, PLEASE help me! I have to have him 'finished' enough for partially-experienced 8-12 year olds to ride him in lessons and camps this summer, so I don't have as much time as I want. Please help!
If he's that night and day, it might not be an actual training issue. Maybe he has some pain or tightness in his stiff side which makes him not want to move laterally that direction? Maybe his one eye is off and is causing the spookiness? Will he yield to you during ground work? Just throwing it all out there to see if anything sticks.
Assuming that he is physically sound then I would never ride him in his "good" direction unti9ll he was good in the "bad" direction.
It's posts like these that make me glad I will never have to send my kids to a summer camp. To me, a lesson horse is an older horse that has been very well trained but it seems that more and more it is a horse that is just barely gentle enough not to kill someone right off.
And what camp are you sending him to? Why on earth would you want an 8 year old that's probably never seen a horse before on him if you can't ride him capably? This horse is not and will not be ready for that and asking him to do that is going to either get someone hurt or set him back in his training so far it'll take 3 times as long to bring him back...or both.
I think his owner needs to rethink what she's doing with this horse. Either send him to a professional trainer or give you a REASONABLE amount of time to make him ready.
Kevin I feel if you got to come on here and ask for advice you shouldn't be training horse in the first place
What chance do most horses have anyway with the level of the trainers??
Why are you using your inside leg to turn him?
Honestly, I wouldn't be riding him. I'd have him vet checked for issues, particularly his sight. Given the all clear I'd have an equine chiro check him out or at the very least an equine massage therapist. It sounds like a pain response.
Once all that was done I'd check saddle and bridle fit. Once that was done, I'd be going back to basics. Lunge, lunge, lunge. Ground drive. Lunge some more. Once he's lunging and driving both directions, then I'd get on him and go from there.
Everybody can stand to learn something. There is no final answer when it comes to horses.
I agree to a point. If you stop asking questions, you stop learning. I think the OP could get this horse past it's issue, but not on a deadline like she has, or the purpose really. I think the OP would do better with someone in person, helping her with the horse - eyes on the ground so to speak. For him to be trusted with small children on him when he's not even sure of himself, he needs more than a couple months of riding. I won't knock a novice trained horse if the novice took their time, asked questions, and cared about doing it right for the horse though.
That being said, a teen-trained horse will probably not be as useful as an adult trained horse. I'm sorry, adults have a better grasp on common sense, no offence intended to any younger owners here, but kids don't always think things through and wind up in a bad position or hurt. That's where the "eyes on the ground" come in, IMO.
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