end of my patience with this nag.
I thought I had bottomless patience with horses, but I found out where the bottom of my barrel is today.
I've been riding this challenging lesson horse (challenging, because he has bad manners and is easily bored, and has an unusually broad selection of Horrible Lesson Horse tricks). I've been riding him all summer, and about 8 lessons ago, he became too much of a PITA for words. He races to the barn. He pokes away from it. He cuts corners, he started trying to run my leg into the rail. He doesn't listen to aids. If I lay a leg on to help steer him, he tries to escalate his speed to avoid the aid, and that includes spontaneously erupting into a trot from a walk (WITHOUT being requested for a trot). If I give him a half-halt, he throws his head up and keeps going to avoid the reins. He runs through his trot. At the gate, he throws his shoulder out, rubbers his neck, and will come to a complete stop with my knee on the rail.
The more you ask of this horse, the more he acts up. He was great when I was just learning some basics, but as soon as we got into something a little more advanced, he became as amusing to deal with as a cranky three year old who missed his nap and is melting down in the middle of the grocery store. I was REALLY glad when I got put on a different lesson horse last month...because that other guy LISTENS when I ask him to do something. I lay a leg on gently, and he moves. I ask him for a walk with my seat, I don't even need to use the reins. I direct him closer to the rail with my inside leg and my outside rein, he goes there. I squeeze him lightly and he trots. He flipping well pays attention.
Lesson Hell Horse, on the other hand, I ask him for ANYTHING and the only response I get is a freaking ARGUMENT. He pokes along, I boot him (because he's not listening to any request that is quieter or more polite than a direct bootheel to the ribs), and he shoots me an angry look. He runs through the trot, the instructor is telling me to give him a half-halt, and I'm laughing because I tried a half-halt AGES ago and he ignored it, and I'm so far beyond half-halting that I feel like I might as well be pulling an anchor up from the bottom of the ocean, I'm using that much muscle on his mouth - and his main response is to toss his head up and get crabby.
No, he doesn't behave like this with EVERYONE - I checked - but I also am pretty sure that the difference between me and Everyone Else is that Everyone Else can ride with a whip. I can't think what else is left. Nothing else I've tried gets his attention - unless it is to provoke him to worse and worse behavior. He's not doing anything actively dangerous - not bucking or rearing - but he's not at all fun, and he is 100% frustrating.
I feel like he's making me a bad rider. I want to learn to ride lightly. I do not want to learn to kick the crap out of a horse to make him move. I do not want to learn to haul hard on a horse's mouth. I do not want to feel like I have to constantly be anticipating the next bout of bad behavior and trying to figure out some way to head it off at the pass. I was TOTALLY bummed today when I found out I was going to have to ride him, because I don't feel like I get anything - other than experience at fighting with a horse - from riding him.
I am so frustrated with this fleabag. I hate to think that there's some horse I just can't ride, but I also feel like I just wasted a lesson. I think I'm going to have to tell the teacher that I don't want to ride him again, because we're pretty much going nowhere. When I was on the other guy, I was getting ready to canter. This stubborn jackass just took me back to square one instead.
"There are no problem horses, just problem riders"
Good rules to live by. Has he been checked for back pain? Have his teeth been floated recently?
Lesson horses can be very difficult. And it gets INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING. They get a whole bag of tricks of how to get out of actually doing work. Have you voiced your concerns to your instructor? Is there a reason Everyone Else gets to ride with a crop except you?
This horse will make you a better rider. Anyone can ride a push button horse.
Why can't you ride with a whip? I think the biggest problem here is that you've given up TRYING to work with this horse. If everyone else can ride him, why can't you? Carry a whip. You don't have to use it... just show it to him. He might surprise you and respond better.
Sounds to me like you are a quiet person who wants to ask softly, and with this horse you are simply annoying him by keeping on 'suggesting' Some horses you have to be a very strong leader and yes that may mean carrying a whip, and it will quite possibly mean using it hard once or twice.
If you keep on and on gently asking they learn to just ignore you and do their own thing, but if you ask nicely once, then back that up with a hefty wack, then you get their attention and they realize that you mean business. THEN you can ride softly for a while until they start to test again, then you have to remind again.
Remember, despite what we think most horses aren't interested in being our perfect partner, they are all about whatever gets them the best reward, this guy sounds like he will reward a less assertive rider by doing just what he wants and ignoring you.
You become a good rider by learning how to deal with all sorts of horses, in the future you may decide that one sort suits you best, but for now you need to learn on different types, they will all teach you different skills,
I mount him and he tries to walk off. I stop him from walking off and he yanks on the reins. I get him walking and he wants to pay attention to anything in the world except for the person on his back. I ask him to trot, and he acts like he doesn't know what I mean. I ask him a little harder, and he explodes into a trot. He cuts the corner in the ring, so I use my leg and rein aids *as instructed*. Then he goes as close as he can to the rail without actually hitting himself.
I cue him into a downward transition with my seat, and he keeps trotting. I back it up with a half-halt, and he trots v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y but he still trots. I have not before seen a non-gaited horse that can actually trot at a walking pace, but he will do it. I plant my seat more firmly and give the reins a pull. He slows to a walk. I reward by releasing the pressure, and he starts to trot again. And yes, I am CERTAIN that I am not inadvertently asking for a trot with my hands, seat, voice, or legs. I halt him out of the trot, we walk for a few strides, he tries to break into the trot again. I pull him back into a walk, and he walks and then starts cutting the corners/riding the rails again.
As I said, I have used these very aids on other horses at this same barn, and there is no communication breakdown. So I'm definitely speaking horse. And this horse has responded to these aids, too, so he definitely knows what they are for. He just doesn't feel like listening to them after a while, and he doesn't.
I believe the instructor knows this is a problem. God knows, she's spent enough time watching him screw with me like this. She's given feedback about what to do, and I follow it, and it usually works no more than one time - after I get him to cooperate with [insert new use of aids here], he decides he doesn't need to pay attention to that either.
So. We're talking about a horse who has decided that he doesn't need to listen to aids. And a rider who is giving pretty consistent aids, and ramping up the intensity of the aids as instructed, which is having the primary effect of making the problem worse, not better, because the horse is STILL not listening to the aids, and is delivering a bad attitude as well. I'm the first to assume that if the horse is not doing something I want him to, it is because I am not asking properly. On this one, because the other horses DO answer, I am pretty sure I am asking properly, and the horse has just decided for whatever reason that he doesn't need to listen.
I do not ride with a crop because I haven't learned to ride with a crop. I am pretty sure the idea is to use the natural aids effectively first, and then back them up with assistance.
I don't want a push-button horse, but I do want a horse that actually listens to what I'm asking for, and one that I don't feel like I'm having to fight and argue with constantly. The other horse I've been riding isn't a mind-reader - he actually has a little too much Go and is prone to trying to erupt into a canter from a walk, and he tries to walk off when I'm mounting, and he's pretty particular about how I ask for a trot - if I don't ask properly, he breaks into a little constrained choppy trot, but if I ask properly, he breaks into a nice big bouncy trot.
I'm fine with needing to fine-tune my requests...but when I'm trotting, and I sink in with my seat and take any pressure off with my legs and pull back on the reins, I want that horse to WALK not to keep on trotting until he feels like stopping. Likewise, when I lay on my outside leg and deliver some pull through the inside rein, I want that horse to bend around my inside leg and start to circle...not to throw his outside shoulder out and move sideways into the rail while slowing to a crawl.
FWIW, I've got no problem at all asserting my dominance over this guy - I'm the only one who rides him who he behaves for at ALL in the cross-ties, and that's because I am on him like a tick and when he starts to cut up, I head that crap right off at the pass.
I'm not meek. :) I ski black diamonds on icy New England mountains, and I am strong, daring, and assertive and not in the least bit uncomfortable with wielding my personal strength or power with other people and animals including horses - but there's only so far that this goes when the audience does the horse equivalent of sticking his fingers in his hears and shouting "LALALALAL I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
Well, I might start looking for another school to train at. You should be enjoying your lessons and not looking at them as a one hour trip through hell. That horse probably dreads his rides with you just as much. Not that you are bad, but because you now have a culture of conflict with him and he picks it up right away and you answer. It's always a tango of two, though that is not saying that you must change your way. If you dont' want to change, you will have to change horses. NO inbetween. He will not change unless you do. No inbetween. You decide.
Either you pick up a crop and start MAKING him listen or you look for a horse that is not so deaf.
YOu can maybe have the so called "come to Jesus " meeting with him.
that means when you get on and he walks off, you pick up one rein and turn him in such a tight circle that he is rapidly disengaged, then as for a slow walk off.
If you ask for a trot and he trots so slow , you crack him one with the crop. Just be ready for a small explosion. If he reacts by big bucks then he is just too much for you. There ARE horse that just plain and simply are too much for you, and me and most anyone.
Only you can really decide that.
But if you decide to find another school, there is no shame in that. Just be aware that there might be some other problem shcool horse there, too.
I wish you luck and I symjpathize. I doubt I would enjoy riding such a horse.
If the horse was acting that way with everyone, then I would be looking for a different place to ride but, as you say, he is only like that with you.
Lesson horses can get very cranky after a summer of new riders banging away on them but if you are the only one who is having a problem, then I would more inclined to think that the problem is you. Now you need to figure out why.
I've owned just one school horse and I would never buy another. Mine would listen to me most the time but when he didn't want to listen he would out hard head me and make my life miserable in the process. He knew every trick in the book and how to jar every bone in my body when he was mad (he was a TWH).
I was told to try a crop on him to make him listen. I used it once and only once, that horse got so pissed at me it wasn't funny. Think it deeply insulted his pride to be touched by a crop and one thing that horse had was a ton of pride. But then he had been a champion show horse prior to being turned into a schooling horse.
That was a bit off topic but my advice is to ask to be schooled on another horse. If the trainer doesn't listen to your request, look for another trainer.
I think you should stay on him & LEARN TO RIDE HIM. Maybe your trainer is putting you on this specific horse for a reason... To work out what he considers your problems. The worst that can happen is you get thru it all & become a ether rider. Just keep your head up, keep thinking positive, & try your best to keep a positive outlook & not just think you cant do it, because chances are you can :)
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