Out of Control XC - Please Help!
Hi everyone, I'm hoping to get some advice on how to gain some more control in cross country.
My horse was previously neglected, he wasn't abused in the way of violence or anything, he was just left in an agistment paddock with no food, and was dragged out every month or so to win a showjumping competition and go to pony club and jump the highest of everything.
This owner had him from when he was 4 - 10 (although he's more like 12) and she never trained him properly. He is under the impression that he has to gallop cross country as fast as he can, flying over the jumps and scaring the life out of me because I'm so worried he is going to slam into it.
It doesn't make much of a difference whether he is on his own or in a group, but he is a little calmer by himself.
He approaches the jumps okay, head up a little high but otherwise okay, but as soon as he lands he bolts. And I mean bolts.
Trying to do more than one jump in a row is a complete nightmare, but even just one on a circle is absolutely nuts.
But I am completely confident that he isn't doing it to be nasty or get me off, he seems more worried about whether I'm going to kick him on to go faster.
I have been using a dutch gag with pelham roundings on the main and last rings, but I'm none too eager about using a stronger bit, I want him to slow down because I ask him to, not because he has big bit in his mouth. Does a grackle (or figure eight) bridle make any difference? Because I have one I could try out.
Please! Are there any excercises that would help? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thankyou in advance. Oh and here's a picture of what the bit situation is, and just so you know, I only use it for jumping, doing flat I use a french link which he loves. Ignore my stupid facial expression :?
Wow, tough situation. When he bolts, how do you get him back to you? Do you have to do the whole circle thing and bring him back to a halt, or does eventually slow back down to a hand gallop before the next fence? I dare ask, do you just ride out the bolt and keep going?
How much dressage do you do? Do you ride hands first or seat first?
Regardless of what his "intentions" are, he needs to be stopped. It doesn't matter if he does it to be nasty or does it because he's "worried" that you're going to kick him to go faster. It's become a habit now - a dangerous one, as you realize.
Does he only do this in cross country? What about in an arena?
There's been some talk about the one-rein stop in this forum not so long ago, and maybe that's what he needs if he flats fine and jumps around in an arena fine. If he doesn't do those things than you should probably go back and work on those before you go out and try to jump solid objects where there is a lot more potential for accidents with an out of control horse.
To my knowledge a figure eight bridle only stops a horse from excessive chewing on their bit and hanging their mouth open, it won't give you any more control.
Try this to gain control.
Now, you might need to go back to jump and gallop basics. Start trotting small fences until he can do it calmly. Then go to a canter and jump small until he can do it calmly. I set up a jump and do figure eights at trot and canter.
This is just a copy and paste from a post I made on another thread. I just don't feel like retyping it all out again.
If you give your horse something to lean into, he will take it 100% of the time. Especially OTTB's.
That is why you must learn to ride, SEAT into LEGS into HANDS to SOFTEN
Let me ask you, how are you riding your horse right now? Are you riding all hands, face first and totally leaving your seat out of the picture? You cannot do this, regardless if you are doing Dressage or Jumping.
Forget your horses face, and focus on his hind end. Forget your horses face, and focus on getting him off of his forehand. Forget his face and focus on rounding him up into your aids and establishing a rhythm - how do you do this?
Dressage and proper body position to be an effective rider, to make your horse an effective mount.
Let me tell you my experience.
When I first started riding my now OTTB Nelson - he was great out on the trails, great in the Dressage Ring, but when it came to jumping, he was super powerful, very strong and extremely forward.
I remember jumping a small CC fence with him, and by the time I got him back down and under control, we were already clear over on the other side of the CC field. Rediculous.
So, at that time, Dorothy Crowell was coming to my barn for our Local Pony Club to give a Clinic *Dorothy is a CIC**** and CCI**** Eventer, who has represented the U.S.A in the Olympics* so I signed up to ride in her clinic because I wanted and needed help with Nelson's power over fences.
She set up a grid, 3 jumps * I cannot quite recall the striding now * but the first fence was an x rail I believe, to a 3 or 4 stride, to an Oxer, to a 4 or 5 stride and to a verticle.
Nelson and I approached the first fence quiet and at a nice rhythmic pace. The moment he landed from that first fence, he took off. That 3 or 4 stride became a 2 or 3 stride and the 4 or 5 stride became a 3 or 4 stride. I remember I was standing in my irons pulling on his face.
She stopped us and pulled us aside. The first thing she told me was "you give your horse something to lean into, he'll take it" and that is exactly what Nelson did. I pulled on the reins, he said "thank you!" took it and leant into it and was gone.
She taught me Seat Into Legs Into Hands To Soften.
Your seat controls your horses hind end. You establish a rhythm with your seat. You establish impulsion with your seat - you activate that hind end with your seat.
You tense your seat - your horse becomes tense. You relax your seat, your horse relaxes. You slow your seat, your horse slows down to you. You quicken your seat, your horse quickens.
It comes from your seat. You must learn to ride on all 3 points *two seat bones, and crotch*
Remain over his center of gravity. Do not lean forward, do not lean back - remain over his center.
The moment you get what you are asking for from your seat, you activate your legs. Your legs continue that rhythm you've created through your seat, and your legs lift the horses ribs/spine up into your seat.
Your hands come into play lastly. Your outside rein must be there to allow that energy to recyle. You do not want that energy to gush out your horses front end. But they are soft, supple and must be giving at all times.
I was shown this by Dorothy and I immediately had a different horse.
She had me approach the first fence, when I was a stride away, she had me release my arms, sit and close my legs. The moment we landed I had to sit back down, slow my seat down, close my legs and put him in check. Then a stride away, I released my arms and gave him his face.
If he tried to speed up at all, I was to make him to exercises - whether it be figure 8's or serpentines or circles, I had to work on slowing my seat down, lifting his ribs and bring him back down under me.
Then we would repeat the fences.
I can now ride my TB over any course with a rubber snaffle if I chose. My horse comes down to me at all times.
Do you have a coach? You are better off having this shown to you in person, 1 on 1.
Bits wont fix anything - they mute the real problem.
I agree with Allison. Pulley way is the best idea for regaining control. I would never use the one rein stop at any speed above a slow canter. It would unbalance the horse to the point of falling over. At an all out bolt, the pulley rein is the safest.
I recently discovered that using familiar objects in an unfamiliar situation can help with training. In my case, my horse was overly reactive when we were out in the fields. I took him into the ring and did extensive work over ground poles until his mind was focused on what we were doing. I then moved the poles out into the fields and did the same work. It worked fantastic. Maybe you can put some solid cross country style fences in a ring and work him over them in a more organized fashion and get him understanding things differently. Once he's doing it right in the ring, then move him back out into the open.
The one thing that worries me about that video, and maybe it was just the particular horse it was used on, was the fact that the second time she used the pulley stop, I saw the horse balk just a slight bit. If I was doing that at a gallop, that could easily turn into a full on rear. Correct me if I'm wrong Allison or MyBoyPuck, as I've never actually tried this before!
My old horse was like that on show jumping and cross country courses. He was put in to a grackle and I had more control of him with that nose band rather than just a hanovarian.
I think that dressage might help you both. Maybe just cut jumping out of the picture for a few months and have some dressage lessons. That's what I did with my old boy and it helped so much on the cross country course.
My Boy Puck,
A one rein stop and what Allison posted are pretty much the same thing to me. The lady in the video calls it "an emergency stopping rein." Same dif - at least to me.
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