Whoaing, slowing down & half halting on trail

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Whoaing, slowing down & half halting on trail

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    05-24-2011, 10:15 AM
Whoaing, slowing down & half halting on trail

I have a 20-something yr old Appy. He is nearly perfect :) Rides out alone happily, trailers well. We have been together almost 3.5 yrs. He was a H/J lesson horse and trails too before I got him. He is quiet, calm. I have taken private lessons on him weekly since I got him, including trail lessons, dressage and we recently started jumping. He is lovely on all accounts however I fully admit to always having been nervous about cantering him on the trails. A few years ago, out with a friend, she cantered without warning...he took off and it was a race across the field. I was not nearly as secure a rider back then. I stayed on but it scared me as he clearly wanted to be out in front and he was - it felt like he turned on the turbo engines, LOL. I was able to circle him to the left a bit toward some woods and he finally stopped.

We have been walking and trotting on trails since then and I no longer ride with her ;) I'd say 75% of our riding is alone. We go to parks, trails and roads off of our barn.

In the arena, he is respectful of my half halts and requests for halts. We took 4th in a recent dressage show (out of 8th - our first show!). He was noted as being obedient, calm and willing.

I recently started cantering him on the trails in safe, flat areas with marked, groomed trails - mostly meadow/grassland trails that meander as far as the eye can see. I don't panic anymore, LOL. I am secure in my seat and in 2-point or half seat. He absolutely LOVES it. BUT....

I am having a very hard time getting him to rate back to me to go back to trot or to slow his canter. I think 99% of the problem is he was almost never allowed to canter on the trail. Now that he is, he is saying "Wheeeeeeee!" and he loves it. It is good for him, but it often takes all my might and alot of pulling to get him to go back to trot. He transitions to gallop sometimes. He doesn't buck or throw his head. He clearly just wants some freedom to run. We have been cantering short sets - less than a minute at a time, and when I try to get him back to trot, I sit back, try squeezing my reins at first but that is often ignored so I end up pulling and pulling many strides and eventually he'll trot.

How does one train through this on the trail? My trainer will absolutely go out with me and she is a top level eventer so I know she'll have some suggestions. Is this a fairly normal problem? BTW he is in a Happy Mouth french link snaffle. I hate to bit him higher as I know the problem isn't the bit. He is just ignoring my aids at the canter.

Would love any suggestions and some hope he'll get better. It's a viscious cycle of him wanting and needing to run some, and me letting him. If I knew he would stop easier we'd do it more
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    05-25-2011, 10:22 AM
Just like in the arena. Start with Pre queue and then ask with stronger queues until you get a response.

I start by sitting back on my pockets, then lifting the reins, then a bump and if he ignors that I start see sawing on the reins to get his attention.

After a little training, he will learn to anticipate your request as soon as you sit back on your pockets. But your immediate first goal should be getting him to slow when you bump the reins.

If the sawing on the reins doesn't get results, One rein him into an ever tighting circle, until he is dancing with the sage brush. He will learn that he can continue down the trail at a gentle canter vs coming to stop dancing with bushes IF he just slows on the first bump.

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