He's getting bold...and strong
So my horse and I just finally started getting serious about this eventing stuff this year. We've done 4 schooling shows at elementary level which is 2'3" in my area. We're doing okay so far. He's hit or miss in dressage and we've got some improving to do in stadium, but one thing that became very clear at our show yesterday, is that my horse is definitely on board where XC is concerned. At the other shows, he was a little squirrely and spooky, but yesterday, he marched to the start box like he was the destroyer and proceeded to gallop boldly to the first fence (and the subsequent 14) like he was doing a steeple chase. While he normally goes along at a nice rolling canter, I was constantly having to keep him from lowering into a full out gallop when we hit the longer stretches. He came back to be somewhat when I asked, but I can see this quickly turning into a strong horse problem. Before it gets to that, and I'm posting questions about stronger bits, I want to know how you all handled that moment in your horse's early eventing days. While I'm thrilled that he's so bold and into it, but I need him to be still listening to me when we're approaching fences. He got very close to a few of them which made me nervous. I'm thinking run around in fields doing lots of changes of speed at the canter and hand gallop for starters, but all input is greatly appreciated.
Half halts, half halts, and more half halts. Get this horse listening to you.
One thing I heard from someone on this board (MIEventer?) was that a lot of horses learn to slow their pace a bit if you tug on their breastcollar. It might be worth a try!
I think that was eventerdrew....
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I'd love to hear the opinions on this as well. Subbing!
Personally, I would go back to flat work in large fields like your said and do lots of transitions. Maybe school transitions between fences on a xc course? Circles, etc.?
Like I said, can't wait to read knowledgeable replies :)
yep, it was me.
I truly recommend having him learn to respond to the breastcollar. it's an invaluable tool to every rider!
First, teach him what it means. You tug, he needs to stop (from a walk) and back up a few steps. Then move onto making him do it from a trot, then a half halt in the canter. Then he will learn to pick his front end up as you lightly tug on it and it'll give a way better, more correct half halt than through the reins.
Thanks Eventerdrew. I'll give it a try.
no problem! it definitely helped my mare. She's naturally on her forehand and has the same problem as your guy. She's now confidently going Novice with no control issues!
Hmm the breastcollar half halt is an interesting idea...
I have some of the same concerns with my mare. Where jumps are concerned she is all go, the faster the better. I've done lots of dressage work and we only school stadium if she has a controlled, collected canter in between each fence. I went to an eventing camp a couple weeks back and they wouldn't let you jump unless you could canter your horse forward and then ask them to come back and then move out again. A lot of the cross country focus was being able to control their speed at any given time. We've also been doing tons of transitioning work while galloping around our "track". It's helped a lot and she's a lot more responsive. Fortunately my girl doesn't tend to be heavy on the forehand, so I can pick her up pretty easily.
Well, I took him up into the big field today and he quickly became a jerk and wanting to run. I pulled him up, did some one rein stops with him at walk and trot to get him thinking about consequences of being a jerk, and then went back to work. Each time he broke from trot into canter without being asked, I shut him down. He got the idea very quickly and decided to be a good boy trotting. Then we moved onto cantering, and all I had to do was growl at him each time he tried to get strong and he came back to a nice canter. I proceeded to bait him a bit by moving him from canter to hand gallop and back to canter and, while he thought about it a few times, he decided not to take the bait. We ended on a good note and called it a day. I don't have a breast plate yet, but will try that once I get one. I love smart horses!
An exercise I like for working on this is pretty simple and straightforward. Set up a 6 stride line in the arena. Just two, small verticals. Go around a few times until you get a consistent 6 strides in. Then come around and do five strides. Then come back and do 7 strides. Keep adding strides as long as you're not riding backwards. I would work up to trying to get 9 strides in between, and mix it up each time you come around. Do 7 strides, then 5 strides, then 6 strides, then 8 strides, etc.
And a quick note, I define riding backwards as losing power and stride length in the last 4 strides before the jump. No cheating to try and get the number of strides you want! You need ot make the change coming into the line! Get that 8 stride canter 4-5 strides before the first jump, then maintain it. Sounds easier than it actually is sometimes, lol.
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