help me get this horse into shape
Ok, I am working with a quarter horse that I have been leasing for about year now, he's a good horse to build confidence on as I mentioned before. However he is a bit sticky.
Issue #1 is that he's fat I mean that barrel couldn't get any bigger.
Issue#2 he is lazy he's completely unmotivated to do anything except eat.
Issue#3 Lunging him is so frustrating. For a quarter horse you would literally have to put quarters in him. Walks have absolutely no rhythm, this is in the saddle or on the ground. Transitions forget it, only walking and if I nag him enough he'll trot, canter forget it.
Issue#4 Trotting is ok but he starts off nice then gets into a faster trot. When I try to get him to slow down he tosses his head or stops completely.
Issue#5 Steering him when trotting is like steering a motorboat his turns are so wide. Needless to say we end up in corners.
Because of my schedule I can only visit him 2 times a week ( 3 every other week)
Is there a regime I can do to get him semi manageable? This is a great learning experience, however its very frustrating since he's like the only beginner friendly horse they have. However just trying to ride him is a chore I get more of a workout then he does.
Is he an easy keeper? I might start first with getting him slimmed down by cutting back on his feed a little if you can. I am a big fan of free lunging so if you have any place to do that I would. It seems to help my horse with being more motivated. Don't be afraid to get after him just like another horse would, as my trainer tells me, get mean. As for the steering maybe try flexing him on the ground and at a stand still when you're in the saddle. I'm not good enough to flex while moving yet but if you can more power to you.
Also how tall is he? My mare, she's a shorty, has some problems with getting faster. I have to constantly jiggle or move the reins in some way to keep her attention on me. She has a really bad problem of freight training with me when we do anything more than walk. Hope this helps I know i haven't said much.
Here are my thoughts... but of course, without seeing you ride, it's hard to know for sure what's going on.
Issue #1 and Issue #2: Most likely related. Just like people, it's harder to do work when you're overweight. Just slowly work on building up his muscles and reducing his fat, and these will probably get better.
Issue #3: Have you tried a crop to avoid having to nag? I've found often a tap with a crop will wake them up - sometimes just the sound of it is enough to get their attention.
As for rhythm, work to control that with your seat and legs. It'll take time and practice, but the more you do, the better you'll get.
Of course, both of those are for when you're in the saddle. I don't lunge, so I can't help with that.
Issue #4: How are you trying to get him to slow down? If he's throwing his head, it sounds like he's fighting your hands. Try using your seat and legs to ask him to slow down/regulate his rhythm, instead of using your hands.
Issue #5: When I got my horse, he had little steering. Sure, he'd go in the general direction I wanted, but he didn't do straight lines, he didn't do circles, and if we aimed for a point we might come within a few feet of it. If we were lucky.
Three things helped me.
First, starting out with LARGE, very gentle circles, and then working my way smaller over several rides.
Second, doing LOTS of walking all over the place where he had to listen closely to me. Walking figure 8s around barrels, circling jump posts, walking between trees. Anything that didn't involve just following the arena fence. When he got it down walking, it was easier to transfer to the trot.
Third, teaching him to respond to the leg. Once he learned to move off my leg for side passes and leg yields, it became MUCH easier to control where we went, as opposed to relying on the reins.
Good luck. The biggest thing is always patience and consistency. Do you have an instructor to work with?
The owner gave me a crop although I didn't have to use it, I did get some life out of him finally.
They tell me with him I have to pull and release with my hands to get him to slow down. I normally ride with with a lose rein, because most riders there ride with heavy hands. Plus its bad enough when the bit is shoved up their mouths. When I told to shortened them to the length that they wanted, he fights even more and I pretty much expect it.
I am not really sure how to slow him down with my legs and seat, haven't been taught that.
That's a good idea now that I have a crop I can get more lively walks out of him until we work out up to trotting.
Thank you for the tips and suggestions. I can't wait to get started Friday now what I finally have a weekday off.
My horse is about 15 hands... I don't know what is is about these short horses but everyone I've come across has been all go go go. I hope things get better for you!
I liked the suggestions that Shenandoa gave you, and the other poster. Here's mine, and it might be a bit of a repeat, sorry.
It is a cryin' shame that they tore down the round pen, Can you inquire if it can be put up again? I agree that to get real FORWARD out of a horse, you need the freedom of the a round pen or free lunge in an arena. Then I would just move him out around the pen and put so much pressure on him (well, no more than required) and get him to really bust out of his shell. I bet that if a boogey man chased him, he would go like his tail was afire. After a horse does that a couple of times, it's almost as if they have broken out of cement shoes and can move easier.
So, lunging on a line is a waste of time, in my opinion. Better for you, him and his weight loss if you spend the time on his back.
I would get him going forward briskly with that crop. Light leg ask, stronger leg tell, the tap, TAP , TAP! DEMAND and let him burst forward, you NO brake him! YOu ride him forward at whatever speed he goes and don't steer for the first few steps. Just get forward, nothing else. Go with him since he did what you asked. YOu can steer him if he needs it but let him move freely, kind of just "coast" for a bit. After doint this a few times , you should have forward with the light leg only.
You could do an entire ride on only forward. Of course, you do have to steer him enough to not ride into a wall or over a cliff (you are indoors only?)
As for slowing him down when you want to; one way to use your seat only is to slow down YOUR posting (you ARE posting , aren't you?) Anyway, you ask for the forward, he races forward and you go with him , then you just start to post at an artificially slower rythm. This means that you will be out of sync with him and will actually be bumping into his back but your slower rythm will eventually be felt by him and he will match his trot to your posting rythm. Then just coast at that speed for a bit.
You want him to feel that there is FREEDOM when he moves out and peace when he joins your rythm.
Once you have forward and slow down you can work on turning and steering.
I like the idea of doing a lot at the walk.
OH, I almost forgot one good idea I had. I think this horse might be bored, especially if all you are doing is arena work. With him having such a big belly, you can help him there by having him walk and trot over cavalleti . YOu know what those are? He will have to engage his abdominal muscles to lift his feet up and over and this will help lift that sagging belly.
Check the saddle fit, because him dropping his belly down can be trying avoid something painful from the saddle.
Do something to make riding more interesting for him.
Carry a flag on a stick and pretend to joust.
I will write more on steering and turning some other time.
I agree with the "coasting" or "Cruising" around a safe area (arena). Get him in the gait you want, and hold him to it, but don't 'steer' just work on having him stay in the certain gait you want. And I also agree with the "no nagging" part...ask with your leg, kiss to him if the leg doesn't work, than in a rythmic way, tap him with the crop until he makes it into the gait you want. Then back off on the cues, and let him move out. I find that the problem with alot of 'lesson' type horses is that they are SOOOOOO dead to cues...they don't care what you do to them, or how you ride, etc, but they don't respond to pressure like they should. I like a horse who is calm but is like "yes, ma'am I'll trot for you! Oh you want a canter? here you go!!!"
As far as the 'guiding' issue, what type of bit does he use? My recommendation would be to put him in a simple snaffle bit, so you have direct rein pressure ability, and do lots of flexing, and teach him how to stop using a one rein stop technique. That is what you will do when he rushes; give him a stride or two to go back to the gait you wanted, then use one rein to get him to stop, flex him both sides, then get him back in the gait you wanted and resume cruising. As long as he moves in the gait you want him to, leave him alone...he needs to learn to 'self rate' persay, and that will help you be able to actually rate him yourself later on.
TinyLiny, I don't care too much for lunging on a lead line myself and had much better success in the round pen although he wasn't as big as he is now. Thankfully the last time I went out there they were cutting back on the food.
Mom2pride, I've tried the coasting before the only fustrating aspect of it is that they have poles in the middle of the arena and then farther back are some small jumps. When I try to free cruise him he runs into one or more of these objects, either stopping him completely or if they fall over he jumps him. Its a mess.
In fact the more I read what I wrote the more I'm starting to realize is that he needs far more work than I can provide at this time. What's more is that other people ride him and they often or not get him fired up because they want to canter him. This is where the rushing comes in. So I'm thinking what's the point of trying to work with him when others are going to do a complete 180. Its not fair to him and its frustrating to me to unfix the "damage."
So the best thing would be to look elsewhere for a confidence booster horse that is in good shape - they do exist. Also, it is worth bearing in mind that the fat, slow horse may only be safe because it is fat! It could turn into a monster when it is fit. I don't actually think that would be the case with your chap, he sounds to me like the sort of horse who is so amenable that he has been taken into work without being trained and now he is just confused.
Years ago, I bought a Friesian at an auction who was supposedly fully trained. It took me weeks to realise that he must have just had a saddle and bridle slung on him and was such a nice person that he just got on with it. I wondered why he didn't understand any aids at all :lol: and could only canter if the rest of the ride were going full pelt in front of him *and* you turned a corner. :lol: I feel really stupid about it now, but you have to experience it once to recognise it again. :oops:
Also remmber the owners telling me that they sat on him for 45 minutes until he moved. He's stubborn and really likes to test people.
After spending a year with him I realize he needs constant work. He's a good horse because he's "sane" ( won't hurt me) but he's way too dead unless there's a crop.
So the search continues. Another fact I've learned in the horse world is that anything involving horses certianly requires a great deal of patience. Oh well.:-|
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