New to horses...need some advice
I have a 10 year old TWH gelding that I got about 4-5 monthes ago, I work with him 1-2 times a week for about 3 hours each time, and he is a very good horse, well trained and bomproof. So far he is more curious about me skeet shooting about 20 feet away outside the pasture, has walked up to several bonfires to investigate and loves to follow the tractor. BUT...lately he has started getting into it with the other horse(a 11 yo QH gelding) over the feed, and although I know they need to work their own issues out, I have gotten into the habit of stepping between them when he charges to scare the QH off, and he stops and goes away. My question is this, my wife says that I am getting set up to get hurt, but if he listens when I say NO loudly and cut him off, and he never "argues" with me, is my way wrong? Also, he is in a snaffle right now, and doesn't always listen to the bit, so I'm thinking of switching him to this and maybe a curb strap/chain to get more responsiveness out of him:
Tyler Magnus 3 Piece Thumb Port Roller Bit | NRS - National Roper Supply - Western Wear, tack, team ropes, horse tack, team roping ropes, bits...
I definetly don't want to hurt him, or get anything that is more of a "torture device", but I have read that curb-like bits get more collection and response out of a horse. Also, the previous owner said he is very opposed to curb bits, but is ok with jointed, could this new bit bother him?
As for feeding time, if you are feeding them in the field you need to let them hash it out. Just space their feed dishes far enough that when he charges the other horse, it can go on over and eat his feed. They'll go back and fourth a few times but if the other horse is docile, he'll just scoot away and head over to the other feed dish. Years ago I had 3 dishes out for 2 horses so they could play their stupid musical dishes game. Now I can feed in the field and no one really bothers each other. One mare will go and pin her ears and shift her but to show she's alpha witch but it only lasts a moment. (every time I feed).
As for the bit, I would get a bit that is specific to the breed. He's gaited and probably isn't shuffling right in the snaffle. I don't think you need quite that port though. Maybe more like this:
SS Walking Horse Bit 5 Inch Mouth - Statelinetack.com
Feeding time: I make it a rule never to fool around with my horses during this time. I go in, they wait patiently, I feed, I leave. I will feed according to the herd pecking order to keep individuals from fighting. Other than that, they're on their own. If I were to have an individual that gets bullied during this time, I would simply set up a different feeding arrangement, or take them from that herd.
The survival instinct comes out very strongly with some individuals when food is set out, and while you've had success to this point, I'm inclined to do what your wife says and let them work it out their own...or do what I said, and change how you feed.
Besides...what would be worse? Getting hurt by the horse, or having your wife tell you, "I told you so!" as you wake up in the hospital? :lol:
The bit: Oh, boy. Here we go again. What exactly is going on with the snaffle bit that you're having troubles with? When? Where? How often? What are your riding goals? Do you have an instructor? How long have you been riding?
While I agree breed specific bits are good, I was warned by the previous owner that curb bits, or any non-jointed bit, will make him rear and throw a fit, just not something he is into. She said he has been trained on jointed bits and doesn't like the hard bar on other types of bits. His issue I am having is that he wants to go where he wants to, and when I walk him in a circle to get his attention, he pulls "thru" the bit, and continues to go where he wants. So, I have a feeling he may need something with more "correction" to it, with my goal being to work with him and keep his mouth soft, and be able to get an instant response from him and do more of his neck reining and not need as much direct reining. Now that it is warm again I can get out and work him more than twice a week.
And as far as feeding goes, we feed in two spots about 20-30 foot apart, and they do bounce back and forth. Just annoys me that he is a bit of a bully, but I guess that I can't train herd instinct out of him, just gotta let him be the alpha. Although I do like him instantly responding to my voice for those instances when it's me he is annoyed at and not his pasture mate :mrgreen:
I agree with Farmpony - feed them far enough apart that it's not worth the effort to leave his own feed. If there is a quantity or supplement issue - use feed bags.
Does he need a bit designed to help him gait? I would talk with someone who knows TWH's.
Horses can stop or slowdown one of two ways. Youngsters, ill conformed individuals, out of shape individuals, ones with injuries and disease and the like, stop by using their front end. It's very harsh, heavy, as the front legs are designed as pillars, the feet dig into the ground, then they pop, then they dig in again and so on.
The other way, horses with uphill conformation, horses that have been shown how to use their bodies effectively, horses with natural self-carriage and the like, stop by using their haunches. They transfer weight rearward and coil the hind leg, which is structured like a spring. In this manner they absorb the shock of the transition. They can simply slide, or they can sit and turn and head off in another direction.
As a gaited horse, you have a secondary issue. To gait a horse has to tighten the back and hollow. A horse in this position can't engage their haunches. It's the main reason why people then go for the shanked bits...to try and get that control and steering back that they lose from the horse having to be hollow to gait.
Mercedes, I appreciate the info in your post, so if I read right you are saying that he WOULD do good in this bit, was kinda confused. Also, it's more of a habit of holding his head VERY low when riding, and he does stop without issue, it's that when he doesn't want to stop he will keep going and ignore the bit. As I said earlier, I don't want to hurt him, I have read posts on other threads about triangle bits, but I think this bit combined with a curb chain or strap will get him yeilding to a pressure he can't ignore, and focus on my leg and neck cues. I want him to be a good trail horse, and to respond to light pressure and non-bit cues, just need something for those stubborn-as-a-mule days, and he has alot. Also, he does gait without any issue, just VERY hard headed, and I think needs more pressure to respond to. And as others have posted, a bit is only as harsh as the user, and I am not a fan of using a bit as a club :lol:
Paul, that bit is made for someone who knows how to use it. It can be very severe in uneducated hands - as any bit can be. If you want to move to a shanked bit, that has some of the attributes of a joined mouth but has limitations to the extent that it will collapse, then consider a shanked bit with a Billy Allen mouth such as the one I've used for over a dozen years.
Farmpony and Mercedes gave you some good advise but unless you have an understanding of what they mean - not just understanding the words but having a feel for the horse, it will never work for you. I would strongly suggest getting some professional help to start with - not just someone who "knows" horses because they've had them their whole life, but a real trainer. Someone who can get you started in understanding what Mercedes is saying and to understand your horse.
All the advise and good intentions will mean nothing if you don't understand the principles.
iridehorses, I understand what Mercedes was saying, I was confused as to whether she agreed with the bit or not. Also, my point was, it has nothing to do with HOW he stops nor his confirmation, it is his hard headedness and being unwilling to pay attention to the bit, when he wants to stop he will, as with the direction changes, if he wants to go there he will, otherwise he will go where he wants to. And as far as my wife and FIL just "knowing" horses, that is not the case. My FIL owned a ranch for 10 years and trained horses of all ages, and has been training horses for over 30 years. The reason I came here for advice, is that he thinks he is just hard headed and that if the bit he has works part of the time, work with him more and don't change the bit. My point is, if he is not listening due to training that is one thing, but he does, when he wants to, but the bit may be too easy for him to ignore.
I know a bit, or any tack for that matter, is not a crutch for bad training. But in my case training and confirmation and movement and other problems mentioned are not the issue, he simply does not care sometimes about the bit, as if he doesn't even have it on. Just looking for something he will respect more, and so far everyone keeps showing me bits that are solid bars, and it's frustrating when I have said several times that my horse WILL NOT tolerate this kind of bit, gaited bit or not. Guess I will stick to my snaffle, didn't mean to ruffle feathers or get a bunch of sarcasm about how only a trainer knows horses and everyone else is an idiot.
That 'hard headedness' is in fact directly related to what his 'body' is doing, and not what he's thinking between his ears. He has the positional advantage over you because you do not have control of his haunches. You do not have those haunches underneath him when he's gaiting.
It then becomes very easy for him to just pop his head up, which tightens the back and totally blocks the haunches from coming through and thus switching himself to the forehand where you now lose steering and control like I explained above.
The key to your problem is to learn how to get control of those haunches and keep control even when he has to tighten and hollow to gait. When you've done that, he will go where you point him even if he really doesn't want to.
Whether you go to a typical gaiting horse bit or not will depend entirely on how educated you want to be about horses and your riding goals. Gaited horses can be ridden in snaffles and simple bits like that, but there is a reason you don't see it often. It's a lot of hard work, takes someone who fully understands equine biomechanics, AND can execute in saddle.
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