My horse crow hops help!!!
I have a big Appaloosa gelding that is about 14 years old and every since I have had him he crow hops when you lope him or when you run faster. To me it feels like he is bucking, but my husband said it is a crow hop. I would like to know how to get him out of doing that.
It's not the easiest thing to fix but with time they usually settle down.
Have you of course checked the saddle, etc..?
I've had 2 horses so far that did it quite often (my current arab mare being one of them) Im pretty sure it was a testing thing with both of them & once after awhile they realized that i wasnt gonna stop trying to run them they gave up.
If he starts to do it, immediately pull his head around & turn him in circles until he stops (this could take awhile lol)
Do it everytime & when he stops make him run again. Trust me! You'll know the difference between a crow hop & a buck when you feel it! lol
Push him through it...ie, increase your leg cues and make sure you mean FOWARD!
He may be one of those who have gotten away with putting up fits, and the rider slowed down (reinforcement of the behavior). Make sure he knows you mean for him to work, and he will eventually realize it's not work the effort to throw those bucks in there.
That said, I too second ruling out pain, or ill tack fit, but while I don't ever discount pain/discomfort as an issue, I think sometimes it's an easy 'out' for the horse when we right away jump to the conclusion that he must be hurting...he might be, but then again, he may just be feeling good, or just plain doesn't want to do what you are asking, and is seeing what he can do to get you TO stop asking.
I agree with what everyone has said, but I think a good way to tell if it is an ill-fitting saddle or uncomfortable blanket is to make him lope with it on in a round pen, or at the end of the lunge line. Hmm, if it doesn't seem to bother him then, the only thing that is changeing the situation is if you were on his back.
This sort of problem tends to come from pain &/or fear. So first & foremost, rule out pain/discomfort. Saddle fit is the biggest general issue, as it's very common for saddles to be restrictive, too narrow, too long, etc & when the horse tries to collect himself for a canter, this body shape change can make the saddle more uncomfortable. I'd also want to rule out other back issues too. Fear may have come from his initial training being too rushed or such, that they never got him confident cantering under saddle so even if he is so now, the associated 'habit' has remained. If you suspect there may still be some fear in it now, I'd go back & ensure he's comfortable cantering under saddle without a rider first, before building very gradually up to the point of cantering under a rider, ensuring he's truly confident with everything along the way before progressing further.
You don't say how long you've had him, but trouble is, the longer he's been doing it, the harder/longer it will be to change the behaviour, as the more established it's become, as part of a pattern. I would suggest something such as ruffian's advice - do what it takes to make that behaviour difficult & uncomfortable for him before trying again. Over & over. It could take a fair bit of repetition for him to finally start a canter without crowhopping - might take until he becomes tired - but I would budget for the first few sessions being able to spend as long as it takes to get it to happen before you quit. Ensure that when he does do the Right thing, you reinforce it instantly, negatively, by removing pressure, quit asking him to work, and preferrably(IMO) positively as well, with a reward.
After he's cottoned on to the idea that going straight into a canter is what works for him, then it should be much quicker for you to work through the hops & get what you want from him. But you will have to be utterly consistent & persistent. It will likely take quite a lot of repetition over a lot of sessions for him to start to become solid - depending on how long this behaviour has been allowed to go on.
Thanks for all your responses. I have had him for almost 2 years now and when I got him he was skin and bones, after putting on a little weight I would ride him and he loves to run, he would not crow hop then, but after he put on weight he started crow hopping. I would stop him and start again and he wouldn't do it usually after the first time each time I rode him. Now he does it every time he gets to cantering. Usually he gets into cantering then he does it. I will get his spine checked for alinement for sure. The tack seems like it is a good fit and I take him to the vet regularly and nothing seems to be wrong.
I would suspect then that it is a current pain issue and that the likeliest cause is that his saddle is not so well fitting as you believe. Sounds likely it became too tight for him when he put on weight. Rigid saddles should be checked for fit & adjusted or changed when necessary at least every 6 months or so, as horses & saddles can both change shape with the seasons & over time. Balance International have a lot of great info on their site regarding saddle fit if you look them up.
is crow hopping the same thing as pig rooting? sounds like the same thing but i'm not too sure.
Do you ever lunge your horse before riding? I suppose I'm probably a bit extreme about it because I do it everytime I ride, but I always lunge my horses before I ride, even if it is just a few rounds at each gait. It gives me an idea what their mindset is, and if they havn't had a chance to run around outside that day and get some energy out by their own devices, they can toss a buck or two on the lunge and "get it out of their system". It also helps "prep" them for the riding session that is coming (for instance, if I'm going to use ground poles, I'll lunge them over a couple without a rider first). I'm not saying to lunge your horse into the ground by any means, just enough to get an idea where his head is (is he listening to your cues and responding nicely, is he distracted, etc). Once they go smoothly, without a hitch, I get on. The only time I push them hard on the lunge line is if they buck a ton: they keep going until they can show me they are listening completely (then I usually don't ride, but will do other ground work). I can always tell when I'm in for a silly-horse ride this way and prepare myself accordingly, lol.
My mare used to do it because of attitude.. she would kick out the arena boards lol I would just use a crop and give a smack when she did it and if she fought and did it again she got another smack. Not too hard just to say it's wrong and not to do it again. It took about a two weeks and she hasn't done it since in 5 years.
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