My horse is fine on the trail alone or with two other horses, but add more than that and he "Jigs" the entire time working up quite a lather. It is so uncomfortable that I can't join any of the big rides anymore. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
When my horse jigs, I do circles, back him up, etc.- engage his feet and his mind, so he's not paying attention to all the other horses and what they're doing and he's just paying attention to you. Also, if he's bracing against the bit, wiggle the reins- pull one rein gently and then the other, jigsawing them, I guess. I think of it this way- jigsawing the reins and steadily pulling back on the reins with a horse that's intent on ignoring you or is distracted is like the difference between putting your hand on someone's shoulder to get their attention and poking them.
If possible though, I would do the work before-hand. It's not really a good idea to stop in the middle of a trail ride with a bunch of people and start working with your horse... I don't think that's very fair to them, lol.
Just curious, does the jigging stop when you get out in front of everyone else? When in small groups do you normally lead? I ask because every horse I've had that gets this way is used to being out front and by golly, want out front right this second. How I fix it? Miles and miles of following instead of leading on trail rides. They eventually get it that they can both lead and follow.
Yes, agree with Darrin. Your rides are going to probably suck for awhile but you will get through it and eventually you will have some great rides! Keep his mind working, when he starts getting mentally elevated(starting to jig)snap him out of it by going around a tree, circles, riding along side the group instead of in the group etc. work him, work him, work him. Avoiding the bigger rides isn't going to solve the issue. Gradually work yourself into larger groups.
Thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it. I have tried circling and backing up, and that seems to aggravate him even more, to the point that he rears and starts bucking. I hate having to do that in a large group and ruin it for everyone else. Darrin....yes he is better when he is in front away from the group.
Circling has never worked for me when in groups, horse just gets more frustrated which leads to even a rougher ride. I just tough it out with a rough ride making them do what I want, eventually they get it.
Since I seek out horses with a lot of go and have them conditioned to do distance rides. They just don't tire out and settle down very fast. So I have had to teach mine to go the speed I select and to follow. It is a hard lesson for some horses to learn, especially those with a lot of energy and go.
Spend the time and energy on several rides bringing up the rear. Be the last horse so you don't disturb others in front of you on the ride and yes, you will be fighting the jigging. Keep the horse occupied, If that means lots of lateral or vertical gives, half halts, side passes, circles, dancing with bushes, what ever it takes to keep your horses attention. The more he jigs, the more I work him, when he calms, we just walk and follow the leaders in front. They will learn it is less work to calm down and just follow.
My mare can sometimes be jiggy coming home because she is barn sour. It takes a lot of work and my girl still isn't over it. Some rides are great and other times she seems to have reverted, depending on her energy level. It definitely helps to keep her ridden regularly. I work towards riding with less contact. A loose rein is her signal to walk. If I take up contact, it is like her signal to "go." That's why I believe in the article.
My horse and I ride dressage alot, so when he starts to jig, I usually try to engage his mouth and put him in a frame. I don't think it's the being in the frame that calms him down, but it does give him something to think about.
Take him back to ground school. When he jigs in the arena make him work very hard, circles, serpentines, spirals, backing, and make it very clear that you ask for a walk and expect just that. Give praise with every effort bc he doesn't understand that you expect more obedience than he is currently giving you. You need to win this. I have been retraining the big motor out of my 6yo KMH, and gaited horses hate to walk anywhere, but he does it for me know bc I didn't give up on my picture of the perfect trail horse, one that walks most of the way.