Loose rein or constant contact for the spooky horse? - Page 3
 
 

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Loose rein or constant contact for the spooky horse?

This is a discussion on Loose rein or constant contact for the spooky horse? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Soft hands rider spooky horse calm
  • Tieght reins to control a spook in a hprse

 
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    06-07-2010, 02:01 AM
  #21
Green Broke
On most horses, I go on a loose, loose rein. But I have found with my Foxtrotter, if I let her go on a totally loose rein at the beginning of a ride, she is all looky-lou, and if I ride with just a slight amount of contact and give her a little leg (just enough to keep her mind occupied) she is more confident and less likely to spook. By the end of the ride, she is relaxed enough to go on a totally loose rein. On my regular trail horse, my Mustang, we are always on a loose rein. I ride western.

On the rare occasion a horse spooks, I usually have too much slack to make contact pulling straight back, but both my horses neck rein so I just spin them around (disengaging the hindquarters) and we are good to go again!

I am lucky enough never to have been on a true bolter that I couldn't stop (so far!).
     
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    06-07-2010, 03:19 PM
  #22
Green Broke
Like a lot of you, with a truly spooky horse , I will maintain just enough contact that it reassures the horse that I am there for it. Not tight, but not overly loose either. After each spook, and quiet correction and then back to the loose contact. Eventually the spooks become milder and faster at regaining the horses composure. Then, before you know it the horse is on a looser rein. Of course prior to taking her out, I worked with her to get her soft laterally so to have control if she did spook. Took a bit of time as like most spooky horses, she was very bracey and tense through the neck.

This is what I did with a little over reactive mare that my friend (it was her horse) called "the run away bride". She'd spook big, buck and run for the hills before she even had a clue what scared her.

It worked well with her and fortunately I do not ride spooky horses on a regular basis. My two are quite calm and sensible, both will turn and face what is of concern to them. With them, of course, trail riding I'm on a looser rein.

As some one once put it to me, with these spookier horses, give them the opportunity to choose the right response. If they don't, correct , gently according to the action, and give them the opportunity again to make the right choice. This worked with that little mare very well. Just be sure that you are staying cool, calm and collected otherwise your reaction will only confirm to the horse that yes something indeed is very scarey. My friend has a tendency to shriek with any unexpected movement, so of course that can be a bit of a problem especially with a reactive horse.

Sorry , I kind of went on and on.
     
    06-10-2010, 01:36 PM
  #23
Weanling
When a rider keeps their horse on a tight rein (whether it's English or Western), I think there's potential for a disaster if that horse trips, spooks, etc. Chances are that a nervous rider isn't actually asking anything OF their horse, they just think they have more "control" by keeping a tight rein. What they don't realize is that their tension flows right down the reins into the horse. I use split reins, so there's no "dropping the reins" for me, but most of the time on my own horse they are quite loose and relaxed and I allow him to pick his way through rocks or fallen-tree areas.

The sorrel TWH my boyfriend owns (which I also ride frequently) is also one that I mostly ride in a relaxed rein BUT not as relaxed/long as with my own. He can be a bit of an airhead when the footing gets tricky, so I take up a bit more contact in those sections just to keep his attention. Otherwise, it's more like "step over rocks, step over rocks. . .ooh, look, a bird!" at which point he totally forgets about where he is putting his feet.

I know a guy who likes to ride his horse "on the bit" on trail all the time - well, he says his horse is "collected" and "on the bit," but basically he just uses a WonderBit and keeps the horse's chin in his chest the whole ride. The horse tends to be on the sensitive and quirky side to begin with, and I think the guy is one of those who kind of likes being seen as having this big, black "fire-breathing monster" because it somehow proves what a great rider he is.:roll: Apparently, it works, because most of the people at the barn think the horse is crazy; he fidgets and prances and spins and jigs any time we're standing together as a group and the behavior is never corrected.

I've take that same horse out on trail solo and with others (with the owner's permission, of course!) and kept him on a much lighter contact and using a different (Robart's Walking Horse) bit. That "fire breathing monster horse" was quiet and well-mannered. At one point, my cell phone rang and I halted to answer it. . .the horse stood quietly, on a loose rein, and waited patiently until I got off the phone. Then I took up light contact again, and we were on our way. When we ran into a couple of hikers, the horse balked a bit. . .but rather than haul on his mouth and try to "control" him, I relaxed my own body and put my hands forward a bit. Like I said. . .he's a sensitive horse. . .and when he felt the reins relax rather than tense up, he relaxed as well.

Of course, the owner still insists that his horse needs to be "on the bit" at all times. . .and he still seems to enjoy having a "fire breathing monster." Oh well. . .
     
    06-10-2010, 08:01 PM
  #24
Green Broke
Good for you Jolly! But the other part of the equation to me is that you are a calm and capable rider. That horse saw you as a leader and you gave it the opportunity to choose the right answer. Love that when it all connects!

Your story reminded me of a person that I took out on a trail ride. Apparently no one ever would and her husband loves to trail ride, so I volunteered to take them both along with one of my friends and one of their boarders. It only took 10 minutes to see why people would ditch her. She had that poor horse so choked up on the bit that it couldn't balance itself going up and down the varying terrains. Tried to tell her to give it it's head a bit for balance but she just shrieked about it taking off with her. Couldn't have been further from the truth. Horse had a calm eye and was trying it's darnedest to keep them both upright! Not to mention is wasn't about to leave the herd. Hopefully she will stick to the arena, she simply isn't cut out for trail riding. Way too tense and nervous.
     
    06-12-2010, 02:38 PM
  #25
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkamile    
Hopefully she will stick to the arena, she simply isn't cut out for trail riding. Way too tense and nervous.
Yep - I know people like that, too. A friend of mine has a friend who is very much an "arena rider." And, she's apparently a good rider in that element. . .but my friend took this girl out for a trail ride while she was in town visiting, and the arena-rider was white-knuckled every time they went down a hill. And this is southwestern Ohio. . .we're not exactly talking about big, steep, tricky hills. According to my friend, even the horse seemed confused about what the big deal was. . .
     
    06-12-2010, 11:03 PM
  #26
Foal
I am almost exactly the opposite...In the field I can get almost whatever I want from my horses, But in an arena I just feel...boxed in. Maybe because I started outside? I'm way too laid back for arena work. I don't care as much exactly where their legs go and all, I'd rather have a calm, sensible horse than one that is high-strung and knows what to do in an arena.
     
    06-12-2010, 11:40 PM
  #27
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilovemyarab    
I am almost exactly the opposite...In the field I can get almost whatever I want from my horses, But in an arena I just feel...boxed in. Maybe because I started outside? I'm way too laid back for arena work. I don't care as much exactly where their legs go and all, I'd rather have a calm, sensible horse than one that is high-strung and knows what to do in an arena.
I can understand where you're coming from. I spent many years riding in arenas, and that was fine. But deep down, I'm a trail rider, loving the ever changing scenery and terrain. My girl T was a halter horse and then used as a brood mare and lesson horse. In the arena she was honest and always tried to comply with what I asked of her. But once out of the arena, she was truly magnificent! Her energy level is unwavering and she is sure and steady.

After tasting this on the trail, riding in the arena seemed flat to me. Whatever I could do in the arena, I could do on the trail, and seemed to have more of a purpose.

When I brought the horses home, it was only trail riding as I do not have an arena. Walka was saddle trained on the trail. He couldn't be more sure footed, and he's never known the even ground of an arena.

I have since purchased a very large round pen, to use for those occasions when time will not allow me to ride down the trail. And wouldn't you know it, but Walka just shuts down energy wise and mentally. I have often wondered if it is because he doesn't get going in circles ect...without a practical purpose. But then, I remember that maybe horses don't think like us and it is probably a reflection of my boredom, not his. LOL!
     
    06-12-2010, 11:49 PM
  #28
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkamile    
I have since purchased a very large round pen, to use for those occasions when time will not allow me to ride down the trail. And wouldn't you know it, but Walka just shuts down energy wise and mentally. I have often wondered if it is because he doesn't get going in circles ect...without a practical purpose. But then, I remember that maybe horses don't think like us and it is probably a reflection of my boredom, not his. LOL!
I do think it is the horse. Our mares are all cow/trail girls and they are the same way...on the rare occaision that they are in a ring, they'll do what you want, but you can tell their heart is not in it.
     
    06-12-2010, 11:51 PM
  #29
Green Broke
Yes that's it exactly! I guess I'm well matched than with my two!
     
    06-13-2010, 03:43 AM
  #30
Trained
Quote:
When a rider keeps their horse on a tight rein (whether it's English or Western), I think there's potential for a disaster if that horse trips, spooks, etc.
What possible disaster? The beauty in contact is that it can be dropped in a second - But it is much harder to pick up a contact if it is needed. I see more danger in having no contact and therefore not much influence if the horse decides to bolt or something similar - It is not much fun fumbling for your reins while your horse is hightailing it.

If I am on a known spooky horse, I have a soft, elastic contact. If they are constantly tense, I will often do a little leg yeilding or bending to get the attention back on me.

On my horses I know, I also know their reactions, and how I handle them - These I give a loose rein.
     

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