Worst ride ever... training issues... blah/rant
   

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Worst ride ever... training issues... blah/rant

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    10-31-2011, 01:38 PM
  #1
Super Moderator
Worst ride ever... training issues... blah/rant

Yesterday I tried taking Lacey on this loop trail that I discovered and it was the worst ever.
It was raining (which she hates) so I should probably give her a little credit but she was impossible to control.
Towards the end of the ride I found her bracing her head against my hands and me with my arms completely tight, holding her back. I tried giving her more rein (so she couldn't brace) and relaxing my body more because in analyzing myself I realized that I was super stiff. She did respond well to me loosening up, for about 2 seconds. Then, she made use of the extra rein by starting to trot faster and faster. I was finally able to rein her in from that (we were riding mostly on asphalt and because of the rain, a ORS wouldn't have been ideal) but not without a bunch of head flipping and snorting.
I tried to get her attention by pulling her head around to my foot on each side (that generally works when she gets worked up) but she'd calm down for 2 seconds, then be back to trying to run off with me. I realize that I started doing that too late (I started pulling her head around after she really started trying to run off, I should have started back when she started getting fast) and that's probably a large part of my failure with that method. And, since we're riding in the road, there really wasn't enough room to reliably do that whenever she got fast so sometimes she got away with it, sometimes she didn't.

I don't know. I'm just super frustrated with her. I was riding her in her cross-under bitless bridle thingy but I'm thinking that next time I might put her in her pelham and have a rein for the snaffle and rein for the curb just so that I can get her back under control via the curb, if needed, instead of just relying on her good will.
I'm mad that I have to increase bit power, but what am I going to do? I have no arena so I can't really school her and the trails I have to ride on are so narrow that what can be accomplished on the trail is limited.

I think it's mostly that she really wants to do more than walk (we've been trotting/cantering maybe once every 3 rides and she LOVES running) so she's frustrated and energetic. Her favorite trail riding speed is a fast trot where she's covering ground like crazy, but with riding on asphalt, trotting isn't prime.
     
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    10-31-2011, 02:34 PM
  #2
Green Broke
Get her off the trail, circles and figure 8's around trees and obstacles, make her think. On the trail as soon as she breaks the gait you want, go in a circle, repeat. If she isnt super stubborn she'll get the hint. My appaloosa was stupid stubborn, If I hadnt finally given up and sold him I probably still be in the woods somewhere going in circles.
     
    10-31-2011, 02:59 PM
  #3
Green Broke
Listen, I'm not 100% sold on all of Clinton Anderson's training methods. HOWEVER, you could really use his basic training DVD. I've been watching his OTTB retraining programs--the horse, "Tricky Warrior" was only raced before he bought him to train. As of the last program the horse is not trying to set the pace and actually is a little on the lazy side--still reactive to a whip. THIS is what you want your Appy to do. Trail riding is for horses that listen under saddle. I cringe when I think that your horse may do something stupid and you get hurt--it sounds like you are riding alone--please reconsider that. I have a friend who was working her horse, at home, got thrown and had her hip broken, then dragged herself back to house to call for help. I didn't think I'd ever get hurt when I was thrown and had my arm broken. Check his site out.
     
    10-31-2011, 05:16 PM
  #4
THN
Foal
Sounds like she has a lot of energy and not a lot of release. What kind of pasture time does she get? Do you have a space open enough to lunge or even ride for that matter. Who cares if it's a proper arena your front yard will do. Work on some maneuvers that make her think. Sounds like she's board and just wants to go.

Also, please don't use the curb because you think you need a harsher bit. Go back to a plain old loose-ring or d-ring snaffle and work things out with that.
     
    10-31-2011, 07:24 PM
  #5
Foal
So what bit were you using today? I'm not a fan of needing a curb because eventually the horse will run through that as well.
     
    10-31-2011, 07:34 PM
  #6
Trained
I know how you feel with your horse wanting to run. My TB gets the same way once the temperature gets down to 40 or below. At that point, walking is just not in the cards, at least not until some cantering or trotting has occurred. I also ride alone a lot. Sometimes you just have to meet your horse half way and let them blow off some energy. Do you have anywhere else you can ride that does not involve roads? Sounds like you exercised very good common sense during your frustrating ride and at least got home safe.
     
    10-31-2011, 09:20 PM
  #7
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d    
get her off the trail, circles and figure 8's around trees and obstacles, make her think. On the trail as soon as she breaks the gait you want, go in a circle, repeat. If she isnt super stubborn she'll get the hint. My appaloosa was stupid stubborn, If I hadnt finally given up and sold him I probably still be in the woods somewhere going in circles.
I guess this isn't obvious in my post, but where I ride (this is true for most of Oregon, actually), it's rare that you're riding through a forest and able to actually go off the trail. Most of the areas I ride in (other than roads) are made up of a skinny little hiking trail with tall bushes and other brush, mixed with fir trees, on either side so there really isn't a way to get off the trail at any given time. I would love to have the option of getting off the trail and if I did, boy, I would use it to my advantage!
Yesterday, by the time she was really acting up, we were going past a cemetery that I could easily have used to get her attention back. Only problem? They were having a funeral and I didn't really think they needed the distraction of a crazy horse. Hahaha
I will give the figure 8 idea a try on the paved trail we go on though (it's wider and while I'd have to stop for other people I wouldn't have to worry about cars or anything). A serpentine would probably also help her relax... I will definitely give that a try.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corporal    
Listen, I'm not 100% sold on all of Clinton Anderson's training methods. HOWEVER, you could really use his basic training DVD. I've been watching his OTTB retraining programs--the horse, "Tricky Warrior" was only raced before he bought him to train. As of the last program the horse is not trying to set the pace and actually is a little on the lazy side--still reactive to a whip. THIS is what you want your Appy to do. Trail riding is for horses that listen under saddle. I cringe when I think that your horse may do something stupid and you get hurt--it sounds like you are riding alone--please reconsider that. I have a friend who was working her horse, at home, got thrown and had her hip broken, then dragged herself back to house to call for help. I didn't think I'd ever get hurt when I was thrown and had my arm broken. Check his site out.
I've tried CA methods with her before and they just make her worse. :( Either I'm not doing them right (a possibility) or they really do worry her.
She spent her formative riding years with some people who really pushed her around a lot (I would say "abused" but they didn't starve her or anything, they just bullied her and didn't know how to treat a prey animal) so when she gets in a situation where there's pressure, she generally shuts down completely. And she shuts down when I've done CA stuff with her...so I don't know.
Speaking of shutting down, today when I went out to feed her, she acted very much like she does after she's shut down. Kind of "apologetic" and very needy so I wonder if maybe that's what happened yesterday, just in a different way than she usually shows (usually shutting down = she rears, backs up crazily, bucks, etc).

I appreciate your concern and I would LOVE to be able to ride with other people. I feel unsafe when she's behaving like that and I'm by myself as well. However, I board alone and the only other horses nearby (share Lacey's fence line) aren't ridden much, if ever (I've never seen their owners). I try to stay as safe as possible by riding in areas people pass through on a regular basis and I don't go trail blazing just for funnsies, but I completely understand the concern.

Quote:
Originally Posted by THN    
Sounds like she has a lot of energy and not a lot of release. What kind of pasture time does she get? Do you have a space open enough to lunge or even ride for that matter. Who cares if it's a proper arena your front yard will do. Work on some maneuvers that make her think. Sounds like she's board and just wants to go.

Also, please don't use the curb because you think you need a harsher bit. Go back to a plain old loose-ring or d-ring snaffle and work things out with that.
She has 24/7 turnout on a 3 acre pasture. :)
The thing is that there isn't even flat land I could ride on if I wanted to (I have no issue "creating" a sort of arena where there is none). Her pasture is extremely hilly and it's next to impossible to ride on. I have tried riding on it but the most we can do is just walk from point A to point B which is hardly expending her energy. I've tried trotting up the hills but I'm just not good enough of a rider to stay with her as she lurches through this pothole and that pothole on her way up the hill. Haha I guess I could try that again and work on staying with her becuase that's obviously something I need work on...
My front yard is very marshy when it gets wet so the last time I rode on it, we created all these potholes that have my family wanting to kill me...
I do lunge her quite often, probably 2-4 times a week. That does get a lot of her energy out, but I worry about the impact all that lunging is having on her almost 27 year old joints, you know? And her mind needs a lot of stimulation as well, which the lunging doesn't help with. :/
Part of my problem yesterday was that I hadn't lunged in her a while (she had been ridden in a lesson on Friday but that was only for 45 minutes and the girl was just walking around so no real energy expenditure there) and I just hopped on and expected her to walk. I should have lunged her first or let her run somewhere before expecting her behave well.

The thing is that she can't have a normal snaffle in her mouth. Since she's a gray, she has gray horse melanomas that have take over the corners of her mouth rendering the sides of her mouth senseless. Since snaffles warn using the corners of the mouth, she gets no warning until the bit starts closing in on her tongue which creates all sorts of behavioral issues since she's terrified of the sudden pressure in her mouth (with good reason, I suppose!). So, to be ridden, she has to be in either a bitless bridle, a unbroken curb or a ported -non broken- snaffle. And since ported, non broken, snaffles are pretty expensive (especially to get for a 27 year old horse who usually goes bitless) and hard to come by, I don't have one. But, I do have a ported pelham that I can attach a rein to the snaffle portion and a rein to the curb portion so I can mostly use the snaffle and only use the curb if it's really needed.
I usually ride her bitless, and I was yesterday, but she knows how to evade the bitless-ness if she wants (which she usually doesn't want to) and no amount of retraining is going to cause her to forget what she knows, I think. Usually she's fine bitless but some days she gets a hair up her butt, or something, and decides to not be fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwistedWire    
So what bit were you using today? I'm not a fan of needing a curb because eventually the horse will run through that as well.
I was riding her bitless. And I thoroughly agree with you.
Copy and pasted from last response:

The thing is that she can't have a normal snaffle in her mouth. Since she's a gray, she has gray horse melanomas that have take over the corners of her mouth rendering the sides of her mouth senseless. Since snaffles warn using the corners of the mouth, she gets no warning until the bit starts closing in on her tongue which creates all sorts of behavioral issues since she's terrified of the sudden pressure in her mouth (with good reason, I suppose!). So, to be ridden, she has to be in either a bitless bridle, a unbroken curb or a ported -non broken- snaffle. And since ported, non broken, snaffles are pretty expensive (especially to get for a 27 year old horse who usually goes bitless) and hard to come by, I don't have one. But, I do have a ported pelham that I can attach a rein to the snaffle portion and a rein to the curb portion so I can mostly use the snaffle and only use the curb if it's really needed.
I usually ride her bitless, and I was yesterday, but she knows how to evade the bitless-ness if she wants (which she usually doesn't want to) and no amount of retraining is going to cause her to forget what she knows, I think. Usually she's fine bitless but some days she gets a hair up her butt, or something, and decides to not be fine.

I don't like the idea of riding her in a curb just because either, that's the reason behind the pelham with 2 reins - so that I can choose to use the curb only if it's really needed. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyBoyPuck    
I know how you feel with your horse wanting to run. My TB gets the same way once the temperature gets down to 40 or below. At that point, walking is just not in the cards, at least not until some cantering or trotting has occurred. I also ride alone a lot. Sometimes you just have to meet your horse half way and let them blow off some energy. Do you have anywhere else you can ride that does not involve roads? Sounds like you exercised very good common sense during your frustrating ride and at least got home safe.
I'm glad you get it! :) Well, glad might not be the right word since it stinks, but I'm glad that I'm not alone.
I think my other mistake was that I hadn't lunged her or ridden her in a few days so she had all this pent up energy that I was trying to make her just hold down.
There's this big hill at the beginning of our trail rides (when we're still in the forest) that she really has to work at getting up, maybe next time I want to take her on this loop (which will be soon since I don't want yesterday to become the rule for that route) I'll have her run up it first, then we can walk down and continue on our ride.
To get to any trails we have ride through a neighborhood and on roads. However, there are a few trails that I can go on that don't contact roads. The bummer thing is that Lacey knows those trails backwards and forwards so they don't really mentally stimulate her (which is something she really needs). They are great for running on though.
However, the best one for tiring her out is pretty abandoned and I don't really like taking her up there because who knows who is up there (I have to get off and walk her back down-it's too steep to ride) and because if I got hurt up there, no one would find me for some time, not to be morbid or anything.
Thanks! I tried, I'm just glad neither one of us died.
I mean, she was retired to the pasture for life from ages 10-23 because she was behaving like this on wet pavement (probably worse since the way I heard it, the guy who was riding her was "beating" her to make her go forward), went down, broke her riders leg, and really scraped up her hind legs badly. I figure that she probably reared (since she came to me with a serious rearing problem - it's very very mild now) and flipped but I don't know for sure.




That loop (I was trying the idea of "go in a loop so your horse kinda doesn't know when you're headed for home") goes "pasture, neighborhood, long stretch of woods, large neighborhood, short road, long stretch of walking trail -asphalted-, road, neighborhood, neighborhood, short stretch of woods, road, neighborhood, pasture" if anyone wanted a better mental picture of what we were doing.
Also, that loop does contact with a park. I need to go in there and see if there's space to ride because that could be a viable option for getting a little work under her belt.

Lacey is just "a lot of horse" and at times that can be intimidating. Haha

I really appreciate the advice and support, guys. It's making me feel better and helping me think of how I can do better next time. :)
     
    10-31-2011, 09:34 PM
  #8
Weanling
I have no real advice, I just wanted to say that when she starts going fast and you feel the need to hold her in, start using one rein. When you pull both reins, it just gives her something to brace against and it's going to teach her to brace. Just ride with one rein at a time. It takes two to get in a tug of war, and it actually does help to slow them down a lot.

I don't think this will work since she's so hot, but it's worth a try: whenever my younger horse starts wanting to jig and get fast, I discovered that it really really helps to take her head to one side and sort of walk her on a 45 degree angle down the trail for a few steps. I mean, if I bent her head to the right, I'd put my right leg on and push her butt to the left so she's walking with a bend. After a few steps, I'll let her out again into a normal walk, and I don't know why, but for some reason it really does help and she does calm down after it.

You said she likes to run: do you do a lot of fast stuff with her? I'm wondering if you took her out for a long ride and just made her trot or canter the entire way, no stopping, would that help? Do you think it would teach her to conserve her energy and calm down, or is she just too energetic and would she learn to anticipate it even more?

Anyways, good luck, and stay safe.
     
    10-31-2011, 10:03 PM
  #9
Green Broke
Trail riding is for horses that listen under saddle.

You know, to me trail riding is the "real world" and arenas are for people who like to show or are afraid to leave the arena. Back when horses were used for work, I doubt they spent very much time riding in circles unless the person was wealthy and able to show. But every other horse I bet was expected to work out in the "real world."

My Fox Trotter is very much like Lacey (minus the rearing). Some days she is perfect and awesome, and other days I am lucky I don't get dumped (usually due to spooking, but she also throws in a buck or flying leap now and then).

Maybe if I had an arena I would feel differently, but because I don't, I do ALL my training/riding on the trail.

Maybe I am a big meanie, but so many people are afraid to use a curb and I don't know why. Well, they claim it is for the horse, but isn't control of the horse important for the rider too? I have never seen an english Pelham with a ton or leverage so as long as it doesn't have a cruel mouthpiece it is about the mildest curb you can get. It wouldn't hurt to try it. I use everything from a snaffle to an argentine snaffle/pelham to a regular western curb on my horses. I go back and forth between them. It is a myth that you will ruin your horse in a curb and not be able to go back to a snaffle. I do it all the time.

And unfortunately, short of burning off energy before you turn for home, I really don't have a solution for you. They tend to get better over time with lots and lots of mileage, but at her age she is who she is and will probably not change until she has one foot in the grave. I had a 24 yr old Arabian who was spry and energetic right up until he colicked and died.

So I would chock it up to a rainy, energetic day and work on riding some hills and some controlled speed next time you go out and then ask (see) if you can get her to walk going home. I would not be afraid to try the pelham (but that's just me, I learned to ride in curbs so they don't worry me like other folks seem to worry about them).

And about 50% of the time I ride alone too. Before I met my current best friend I almost always rode alone. Sometimes if the horse is too energetic it's all you can do just to stay on and control the situation as best you can. You can't always shut them down when they get hyper. But in my experience the next ride is usually better.

PS. Something I like to do to play with their mind is when they get hyper going home, turn them around and start heading back out again. Then turn for home again, go a little ways, and go back out again. After a while they don't know if they are coming or going. I don't know how much it helps, but it makes me feel smarter than the horse.


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    11-01-2011, 08:45 PM
  #10
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by pintophile    
I have no real advice, I just wanted to say that when she starts going fast and you feel the need to hold her in, start using one rein.

I don't think this will work since she's so hot, but it's worth a try: whenever my younger horse starts wanting to jig and get fast, I discovered that it really really helps to take her head to one side and sort of walk her on a 45 degree angle down the trail for a few steps. I mean, if I bent her head to the right, I'd put my right leg on and push her butt to the left so she's walking with a bend.

You said she likes to run: do you do a lot of fast stuff with her? I'm wondering if you took her out for a long ride and just made her trot or canter the entire way, no stopping, would that help? Do you think it would teach her to conserve her energy and calm down, or is she just too energetic and would she learn to anticipate it even more?

Anyways, good luck, and stay safe.
I tried that, only using one rein when she starts to pull, today and it worked really well! Good idea.

I've tried bending her sideways before but she just uses it as an opportunity to dance around because "OMG!! Something different is being asked of me!! OMG!!!". Hahaha

I do try to do some fast stuff with her, not a while bunch though. I worry that since she does LOVE to run that she'll run herself so hard that she'll either hurt herself or she'll be sore for days, especially at her age. Making her run and run and run just seems to get her tired but not teach her anything about being less "go-y". She has learned to canter slowly, through me making her run for longer than she wants, which used to be a completely foreign concept so yay for that! Haha

And thanks, I think I need it.

Thanks trailhorserider! I appreciate your view on things. :)



Update:
Today I changed her bit over to the pelham, got separate reins on the snaffle part (which, as it turns out, isn't really a true snaffle since it uses poll pressure, but I can direct rein with it) and the curb part, and set out.
I decided to take her up this giant hill (after the trail head, it's maybe a mile up at a very steep incline, then another mile at less of an incline, then we turn around to go back) because she can trot up and it makes her work really hard since the hill is so steep. So we trotted and cantered up the hill (she was begging to stop by the top, HAH! Take that horse!). Then, once we started heading back, she started being a little jerk. So, thankfully the trail up there is really wide, I tried the figure eight thing and it actually worked quite well. She settled down to like a 6 out of 10 after that so we continued back.
Once we got to the bottom of the hill (I have to get off to go down the really steep part of the hill) and I remounted, she decided that since my dog had gone on ahead, she "needed" to catch up to him. So she started doing her little trotting away with me thing, but since I had the pelham, I just grabbed on both sets of reins and hauled back (I would have done it more gently but she needs a serious wake up call about attempting to run away with me). Of course, she did her little "OMG! Poneh is dying! Make it stop! Ok, you did! Now I will trot off again!" thing so I eventually just sat there and hauled back on her. She flipped her head around and protested quite a bit, but I released as soon as she stopped moving her legs and guess what?
After that, when I told her to walk on, she walked off COMPLETELY calmly, like she hadn't just been throwing a major fit. Like, she was literally being a 2 out of 10.
I let her canter up the next hill because she was completely calm to the base of it, and she even allowed me to check her speed mid-canter when my dog decided that running directly in front of us was a great idea! Then we walked completely calmly through the neighborhood to her pasture, no worries.

It was a really good ride, all in all. I tried to let her run as much as possible and she really enjoyed herself. And even though she had some sassy moments, I was able to control her.
I feel like switching bits was definitely the right choice since there was never a moment where I was out of control, unlike our usual rides where I spend about 90% of the time in control. And of course, I know how to use this bit so it's not like I'm just someone, out there, being all crazy with a bit they don't understand. I'm also using a short set of reins for the snaffle part and a long set for the curb part so that when I'm solely relying of the snaffle part, I'm not connecting with the curb at all.
Hopefully, at some point we'll be able to switch back to bitless or her usual -extremely gentle- curb, but for now the pelham is our new best friend.
She was also salivating really nicely in it which tells me that she liked it.

But anyway, thank you all again for helping me think through that last ride and fixing the things that needed fixing. :)
     

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