Hard-mouth, dead sides, retraining?
Okay, so, I have a horse, who was trained poorly. I want to retrain him so he is light on the mouth and sides and responds better to signals. The problem is, I have heard this is hard, and don't know where to start.
I don't want to have to yank on his mouth to get him to turn or do what I want. He is a very athletic horse, and I want to do so many things with him. But I can't. I have tried riding him in just a halter, and use the smallest amout of pressure I can, then gradually get stronger. I thought that it would make him realize he could respond to the light pressure if he wanted and he had a choice, and was thinking he would pick it becuase it was more comfortable.
Any suggestions, ideas, comments are appreciated. Thanks!
Get him in a snaffle. For this sort of think, I like a full cheek, but it depends on what your horse likes.
You can even start from the ground. Ask him to yield to yield on the ground then get the same thing in the saddle. Your doing the right think in increasing pressure when he doesnt respond, just be careful it doesn't become nagging. Make sure your polite 'ask' is very differant from your 'demand'
Thanks for the advice!
Why do you say he was trained wrong?
I just went through this with my mare. You're going to need a lot of patience. Just keep asking nicely and increasing pressure like you are. Just make sure you are 100% consistent in cues.
It took a fair amount of time before it clicked in with my mare that she can respond to small pressure and she doesn't have to be hauled around, but once she did it was so worth all the frustrating moments of waiting for a response to little pressure.
I would think that maybe working on the lunge and having really good voice cues might help. My mare always was really good for voice cues and I think that helped immensely when it came to her learning that she can whoa without my whole body weight hanging on her face.
I'm currently retraining a horse that fits your description as well. We're doing lots of ground work- voice commands and yielding to small amounts of pressure. When it comes time to get in the saddle I'm going to use a full cheek snaffle (the full cheek part puts pressure on the sides of the mouth instead of just relying on the mouthpiece alone). But ground work is important because it lays the foundation for riding. If he respects me on the ground then that will help make the transition easier on both of us. Keep us updated!
Describe how he acts as a 'poorly trained' horse. Is he not responding simply because he doesn't know what you're asking? Don't assume he is poorly trained, because it might be that hasn't even been taught the things you're asking of him.
Teach him to yield to pressure from the ground first and foremost. Work with his mouth in a mild bit (full-cheek is a wonderful suggestion), asking him to turn and back up with his nose in, just like you want him to do in the saddle. Also teach him to move away from pressure on his sides and haunches. Once he learns to respect and understand your cues, he will listen to you in the saddle.
I know he was poorly trained becuase he was rushed on a lot of stuff, yanked around way harder than necessary and constintly kicked in the sides. And if none of that made him go, the crop was brought out.
I know he was confused, becuase I was reading a book and it basically said never kick the horse, only squeeze with your legs, but all the rough riding cowboys around here think the only way to make a horse go is kick the crap out of him. In the book, it said the horse took it as punishment.
I thought this guy was a good horse trainer, just showed how little we both knew.
Well then the only way to teach him the new tricks would be to UNDO what they've done... like I said before, just get some good solid groundwork in and slowly but surely he'll come around. From the ground, use your arm as you would use your leg to teach him to move away from pressure.
I hate that 'cowboys' think rough-riding makes them look tough. Makes them look stupid, in my opinion. Flailing around on a horse that is probably confused and scared... what men.
Thanks for the encouregment Snookeys!
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