How do you avoid banging your knees on trees? - Page 3

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How do you avoid banging your knees on trees?

This is a discussion on How do you avoid banging your knees on trees? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    02-08-2012, 04:43 PM
Green Broke
Not to steal the thread but similar situation, what would you do? I have a green 5 year old that likes to run into the rear end of his buddy to stop. I say he is green even though he was started two years ago but I don't get much time on him. Anyway, the first time he did it, his buddy stopped to poop. I tried to turn him away which caused my knee to go up his buddy's butt. O.O I ended up with a nice, big greenish spot on my knee. I couldn't turn him into the other horse because that's where he was going. Any suggestions?
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    02-08-2012, 06:07 PM
I don't know what to tell you but I'm sure you know that your horse's habit is going to get him kicked sooner or later.
    02-08-2012, 06:39 PM

I have a butt-rider horse also. One reason he rides butts is because he really steps out nicely and his walking calmly pace is faster than a lot of other horses we ride with.

The other reason is he has a pretty small bubble and doesn't mind other horses near him.

But, regardless, it is not safe. Especially on hilly terrain. If the horse in front of us has a screw-up we don't have time to prevent us from joining the train wreck.

What he was doing is walking close enough to wipe his nose on the other horse causing me to have to keep "correcting him" by tugging on the bit. Ick. Nag nag nag and he ignored ignored ignored. If I stopped him to create distance he would walk out fast to catch up.

Here is what I have been doing to train him to maintain a safe distance betwen him and the horse in front of us. We rode on Saturday and I saw a 110% improvement in Sam's tailgating. He is still not perfect, but I know it is working.

In the round pen (or arena) I have been working on gait slow down and I use "easy" as my spoken voice (instead of whoa). I rein him in until I feel his gait shift down (carspeak) and say "eaaaaassssyyyy." As soon as I feel his pace slow, I release the tension in the reins. If he picks back up, tension on reins. Just like a car, I am trying to shift him down only one speed at a time. Fast trot (we don't lope) to slow trot. Slow trot to jog. Jog to normal walk, normal walk to sloooowww walk. By kicking down only one gait at a time, it was easier (I think) for him to understand easy. Plus, I don't want him to stop, just slow down..

(Keep in mind everyone, I'm a novice. I'm describing what I feel and do. I'm sure there are better horsey technical terms).

I also reinforced whoa and backs. I would say Whoa (whoa means stop NOW) and pull back on reins to stop. As soon as all four legs stopped, I pulled him into a back for at least 2-3 steps. This truly reinforced the stop of forward motion.

Now, back to the trail on Saturday.... A little correction on the bit caused him to slow down, which is half my battle for preventing tailgating. I visualized a safe distance between us and the front horse and if he started past it, I slowed him down. It is easier to slow down before you are on the tail of the horse in front of you.

I also asked to lead a few times, where Sam could progress at his natural walking speed. I don't want to cause him to lose that gait, it is a comfortable and ground covering walk.

Be fair to your horse, who, like Sam, may have a small bubble and tolerate other horses close nearby. If the horse behind you is riding his tail, you may find it harder to slow your horse down and give way.

I probably practiced the gait transition for two weeks within 3 to 4 training sessions a week at 15-20 minutes per session.
    02-08-2012, 09:28 PM
Oh the nose up the butt horses. Gotta love them! The guy I was riding was constantly trying to get up on the other horse's rear and I was fighting him back a lot. He seems like he was one of those horses used in a string you see in vacation areas where they walk nose to tail and the riders are really just passengers.
My trainer told me that she's seen riders get kicked because their horse got too close to another horse. Other horse kicks, misses your horse, but nails your leg.
    02-08-2012, 10:54 PM
Originally Posted by mildot    
I now realize most of you assume trail riding is done only at a walk.

Sticking your feet or hands out at a trot or canter is a sure fire way to end up with broken or dislocated limbs.
I love to trot and canter out on the trail! But only in safe areas. If I am having to doge trees I don't feel it's a safe area to trot/canter/gallop.

I did swerve to miss a tree once while cantering up a hill. When I ducked the saddle rolled over and I was doing some kind of monkey circus trick riding on the horse's side. Three lessons came out of that incident.

1. Only go fast areas relatively free of obstacles
2. Always check your cinch periodically during a ride and
3. A breast collar can save your saddle from rolling under the horse. Thank God my horse had a breast collar on or I might have been under the horse's belly instead of on his side.
    02-08-2012, 11:02 PM
A breast collar can save your saddle from rolling under the horse. Thank God my horse had a breast collar on or I might have been under the horse's belly instead of on his side.
I'll admit I used to think breast collars only served the purpose of looking cool. But I can see after reading several stories like yours that they do in fact serve a purpose. It's just one of those pieces of tack you hope you won't ever need, like in your case! Wow, scary stuff!
    02-09-2012, 12:21 AM
Originally Posted by Heelsdown    
I'll admit I used to think breast collars only served the purpose of looking cool. But I can see after reading several stories like yours that they do in fact serve a purpose. It's just one of those pieces of tack you hope you won't ever need, like in your case! Wow, scary stuff!
I feel like I am doing a community service to point that out because before that incident I really didn't know a breast collar could save your saddle from rolling under the horse. Most people tell you they are only for going up hills and if you ride on the flat you don't need them.

Now I feel they are like a seat-belt for my saddle! 99% of the time they just look cool, but in an emergency they really could save your life. I mean, I really think about what would have happened if the saddle had rolled under. I probably would have rolled under too. And got run over.

I ended up dropping off and was bruised but fine. My horse even came back and stood by me until I was able to get up. He had a reputation for running home but he earned brownie points that day.
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    02-09-2012, 06:18 AM
All right it seems I made some incorrect assumptions.

But still the thought of sticking my arms or legs straight out to push on immovable objects while on a moving animal just gives me the willies.

Where I trail ride it's a mix of wooded trails and open spaces. I'll do a nice working or extended trot in the wooded sections so long as I have some fwd visibility (relatively straight section of trail). Other sections get walked.

Even at a walk I'd be leery of pushing off a tree for fear that a limb may get caught on something while Dobbin keeps going.

I'd rather just leg yield, turn, or stop the horse.

And believe me I know how painful it is to hit something with your knee while passing by on a horse. Happened at a walk in an arena when I got too close to one of the fence posts.
    02-09-2012, 09:40 AM
I think the idea of speed is relative to your trail environment. I naturally assumed the OP was picking her way through an overgrown forest on an incline. That is what I am used to. Last week I commented how refreshing it is to have an actual trail.

I use the push off technique but we are basically considering the placement of each foot maticulously.

To go any faster I better have a 4foot wide path fully clear of obstacles at which point my knees are safe.

Great discussion!!
    02-09-2012, 11:54 AM
Trails with good footings, brush is back away from the trail, I have no problem moving along at a faster speed. In fact I enjoy the higher speed canter, weaving through the forest.

But when the trails get icy or steep or over grown with brush, We usually slow down

I don't enjoy banging a knee on a tree even at a walk. And I'm definitely not going to put a foot out and push off a tree at a canter. I'm sure the tree would remain where it was and I'd be on the dirt.

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