Having trouble with leads, headset, and squeezing
I own a 7 y/o OTTB. I want to do things like hunters with her once I get these two issues down.
She picks up her left lead no matter what. I can't get her right lead and in the end we both end up frustrated! She's just so stiff on that shoulder. I've tried things like turning her to the wall and kicking and i've also tried leaning on the outside and going from a walk to a canter. These sometimes work but i need something more effective and better than that... and something possible prettier. I've even tried flying lead changes just so she can get used to being on that lead! Once shes on the right lead shes fine... it's just getting to it.. that's the hard part. Suggestions?
Also, she holds her head up annoyingly high. She's in no frame at all. I just started trying this thing where I alternate squeezing the reins with my hands It works sometimes but it's not really effective. I figure if I can get her in a frame, it might help with the leads. Any suggestions?
Last thing, She refers to my legs as the gas pedal. If I touch her with my heel to push her over to one side, she just goes faster. She's EXTREMELY sensitive about my legs and if i make any movements to her sides, she goes. I just want her to soften up everywhere and not be so sensitive to my legs and realize that my legs dont always mean go.
any help would be awesome!!!
Here's an answer for the lead changing. This helps with Blu. My 4-H leader from a while back had us do this with my past Appy:
Start with medium to large circles to the left. Go around about two or three times. Them as your horse is comfortable and maybe becoming bored, pull her to the right into a small medium circle. She should go a little off balance forcing her to change leads...
This might not be the greatest but it worked for us. lol. Let me know how everything goes for you.
lead changes isn't one of my problems... but thanks.
But that's what you said. She never picks up her right lead.........
I feel stupid now.
Sara- from what you are saying it sounds to me that you horse may be sore in the back or shoulder. It seems unlikely to me (without seeing the horse to be able to confirm this) that she is acting out as she is only doining it on the one lead. See what a massage therapist or chiroprator have to say befor you proceed with training. Just my two cents, keep us posted how she goes :lol:
I would try draw reins, and whenever you apply pressure on your feet hold her tighter, or tell her easy and she may associate kicking with easy, or not going faster, but you may have problems with that because she's off the track. For her right lead I would keep doing what your doing and suffering through the aggravation, but it will eventually result in better transitions.
If your saddle turns out to fit fine, then try lunging her with side reins, start them out loose the first couple times so she can get used to it, and then start shortening them (the inside rein should be 3 holes shorter). Make sure she can still move her head, the side reins should NEVER be so short she cant stretch down or put her head up if she wants.
Lunge her for about 15 min, walk/trot, and then only ride her for about 20, walk trot. Until she is balanced and using herself properly.
I would suggest just keeping her at walk and trot for now, cantering will come easier and better when she is going consistent and the walk and trot.
Good luck and I hope this helps, if you have any questions or something needs clearing up please feel free to PM me.
OTTBs are definitely a tricky breed, especially those mares. These sound like some basic issues a lot of them have in coming off the track. Like some other posters said, it is possible that she could be sore somewhere ... but knowing OTTBs, it's just as likely her temperament and lack of training outside racing.
First, it sounds like she is sticking her head up in the air to evade the bit. If so, she's making it really hard for you to ask her anything, let alone a canter transition. If you can work on getting her to soften and accept the bit at a walk and trot first, you will be able to collect her and ask for the canter much more easily. If you can get her to relax and accept the bit, she'll allow you to collect her and be more responsive to your aids.
Thoroughbreds have lots of energy and stamina, and your first step will be a long warm-up with lots of walk and trot, figure 8s, serpentines, and circles to get some of the energy out and to get her in a better frame of mind to work. Keep yourself nice and soft, and don't interfere with her right away. The turning exercises (circles, etc) will help her to accept bit pressure as well as get her more relaxed and supple.
Like another poster said, all you need with her may be the slightest pressure of your calf. I have an OTTB mare who I got at 5 years old and have now had for 14 years. She stills requires hardly any leg pressure for transitions. The slightest pressure or shift in weight is all she needs. Thoroughbreds are highly sensitive and respond to the lightest aids.
Once she's relaxed and accepting the bit more, work on getting her collected at the trot. Use half halts while driving lightly with your calves to encourage her to use her hind end and without getting strung out. This will help significantly in asking for canter transitions.
To ask for that sticky right lead, start out by asking for it as you head into the turn. If you are asking from a trot, be sure that you are doing a sitting trot when you ask. Keep her slightly bent to the right in the turn, with her hind end positioned more towards the inside. Slide your outside leg back behind the girth, and use that leg to ask for the canter. When you ask, be sure that you sit up tall and drive with your seat (leaning forward just encourages her to trot faster). Keep a steady, light contact with the reins as you drive with your seat and outside leg.
Hope some of this helps. Your in a tricky spot, but with a lot of patience I'm sure you'll be able to work through it.
What Regarding said...could be soreness, but this does sound like typical ottb behavior. Aside from the riding suggestions (which I agree with) I would teach her to lunge and eventually introduce side reins or running reins (I really prefer running reins because they don't encourage "leaning" on the bit) to let her find her balance (without a rider) and work over her back.
Also, in your warm-ups, really try to keep your reins loose as possible at first: this was implied, but I want to mention it. I actually start my lease tb's warm-up with the approximation of a wp draped rein; just really letting him stretch his neck down as much as he wants as he walks and trots big figures (which I do with just a leading rein). Eventually, I can take up the slack, but starting loose is very important for him, or he goes right back to being hollow and high-headed.
thanks guys! posted a new topic on how she's doing. She's doing SO much better.
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