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.
Last edited by AQHSam; 02-08-2012 at 05:43 PM.