I feel like my riding is a hot mess. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 41 Old 10-04-2020, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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Question I feel like my riding is a hot mess.

Hi! I have been riding for 12 months total, group lesson only, 1 hour a week. I have been cantering 4 months after starting riding, and currently I'm doing jumps at a trot. Every time I come to my lesson, I get a different horse. Every horse seems to have their own problems and because of this, lessons can be frustrating.


Sometimes, I ride this horse who I have a lot of trouble controlling in the canter. Once we start cantering, he bombs around the arena, cutting off other horses, getting super close to them, and completely ignoring any cues I give. What's worse is that today we had a substitute coach who kept egging me on to go faster, and the horse was just going crazy-- cutting corners, not listening to turns, not slowing down or stopping when I asked. I don't know how to deal with a horse like this. I know it's my fault, not the horse's. Another (much more experienced) rider rode him three weeks ago in my lesson, before she switched to a different class, and he was completely different with her-- he was listening, he was calm, so I know he's capable of this. Where am I mistaken? I feel like with him, I'm not collected, I'm out of control. But I don't know what being in control means. I don't know what to do to be in control.



This same horse also causes me problems during grooming and tacking. He will be very cooperative when I let him eat while I groom him, but if I tie him up in his stall, he becomes very salty. He'll paw at the ground and refuse to pick his hooves up (I've tried so many things: horse cookies, pinching/twisting the chestnut, getting him to move around a bit to throw him off balance, leaning into him). If I manage to get a hoof up, I'll be able to hold it for two seconds before he angrily slams it down on the ground. The school expects the horses to be tied up during grooming and tacking (I have no idea why this is necessary), but I've given up on this after a stablehand "helped" me by punching this horse in the barrel to get him to cooperate. What should I do?



Secondly, I tend to end up most often on stubborn and very lazy horses. In particular, ones that don't like to turn when I ask them to (they prefer to follow their friends). When turning, I rely on my outside leg primarily, and if that isn't working, I add the inside rein, and press the crop into the shoulder, but for some reason nothing happens. These same horses also cut corners, especially during the canter, and no amount of leg and rein seems to help. I know I should start doing little pulls on the outside rein before the corners when we're cantering, but the horse seems to take it as a cue to slow down, and we end up falling apart into the trot again.



I do have the following issues as a rider. I have a tendency to lean forward in my trot (I get anxious about hurting the horse while I post, so I had previously thought leaning forward means I have a softer landing). I also tend to stick my elbows out, and sometimes my hands are in the wrong position (too high or too low). I'm working hard to correct these issues, and remind myself throughout each lesson to fix these things, but I don't know if they are what causes the above undesirable behaviour in the horses I ride.



Finally, I'm not sure how much crop use is too much, and how much rein use is too much. The substitute coach kept telling me to use more crop, whereas my regular coach has gotten mad at me for this and has threatened to take the crop away. I also tend to rely too much on reins instead of leg when cantering, and I don't know how to correct this.



Sorry this is long. Thank you for reading if you got this far. I don't get much opportunity to ask for help during and after the lesson.
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post #2 of 41 Old 10-04-2020, 09:35 PM
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First of all, one hour group lessons for 12 months isn't much !! Add to that a different horse every lesson, and some of them not listening to cues,,,equals frustration, no wonder you're feeling frustrated. If it's not an option at that barn, is there another that allows private lessons and can provide you the same horse at least some of the time ?

What I've learned that helps when a horse won't move off my leg (not legs as in go, but leg as in a lateral move as in getting too close to other horses or cutting corners, or just leaking out of the straight path that I want) is to lift the rein opposite of the way I want him to move. I learned this technique from a Julie Goodnight video and it's worked for me. Lift,up-down-up-down in conjunction to my leg on and my weight slightly shifted in the saddle to the side that I want him to go toward. keep the rein close to or even touching his neck, but don't let your hand go across midline --its not a neck reining move. It has worked for me without requiring 'teaching', and could be subtle enough that the instructor doesn't notice or scold you for it (not that they should,,,but .... ) Re: the weight shift---while standing with equal weight on each foot, very slightly move your shoulders over in one direction and notice how much you feel the weight change in that foot. It does the same thing to your seat bone/hip in the saddle. Don't lean enough to effect your balance, just a slight change will be felt by the horse. Imagine carrying a backpack,,what is the natural response to rebalance it if it goes over to one side? ...to move yourself under it to get it back in balance ....horses respond the same, they naturally will shift their selves to that side (MOST of the time, there's always that oddball exception)
The above can also help with getting the turn that you want, add that weight shift to your leg and rein. If you know and the horse knows how to do hindquarter yields, you can also steer like steering a boat--get the direction you want by steering the backend , and that effects the front end. I would only try this at walk or trot,,,can't remember for sure if it's effected by what lead the horse is in, so before trying it at canter, ask someone more knowledgable than me. Also, for getting the turns that you want, be sure you are looking in the direction you want, and make sure your body is turning from shoulders down to and including hips,,,not just leg on. I sometimes make a somewhat jerky move with the hips and a bump on the rein to say 'Hey!, I really do mean turn right , right now' and that has worked with a horse that was ignoring softer cues. They seem to 'hear' the hips better than leg, shoulders, waist , in my experience. It was a little difficult for me to do at first, something about being in the saddle made it feel strange to me, but it did work and I added it to my arsenal of techniques to use when needed.
I fault your instructors in good measure for not helping you with these things and allowing your frustration to continue. Example, if you're having any of these issues at walk or trot, they shouldn't be asking you to canter. Higher gaits magnify problems.
For a horse that won't let you pick up , or hold up a foot....be as annoying as a younger sibling to an older sibling...don't get stronger on the chestnut, just be persistent, and (hard to do) keep an 'I will do this' attitude. Pinch the chestnut (not too hard) and either hold until he finally lifts the foot, or pinch-release-pinch-release untill he's annoyed enough to lift it. I wouldn't advise leaning into him to try to unbalance him at all. When he slams it back down, remain calm, fight your own annoyance feeling (hard to do), and rinse and repeat the process untill he finally allows you to hold it. Praise him when he does. Also, while pinching the chestnut with one hand, slide the other hand from a few inches above the foot down to nearly the foot with a feeling of 'I'm going to lift the foot with this leg when he picks it up'.
Unfortunately , lessons horses get burned out and can be very stubborn and 'lazy', I can sympathize with them. Whereas you get a different horse every lesson, they get a different, often beginner-unbalanced, hard handed student. Who can blame them for some of their behavior?
I wouldn't use the outside rein to avoid him cutting corners, for the reason you mentioned. I'd add weight shift and lifting the rein as described above to keep him from cutting corners, plus your focus.
Elbows out and hands high is the classic, natural response to an uncomfortable trot or being unbalanced at the trot. However, it only makes things worse, in my personal experience. Have they taught you a correct seat of alignment of ears, shoulders,hips, back of heels, with heels even with or slightly lower than toes? Also, I learned from one of my instructors that when I think I'm sitting straight, I'm not, I felt like I was leaning way too far back when she finally said I was straight. Felt really awkward until I got accustomed to it. So if you already feel like you are leaning forward, I think you may be reallllly leaning forward. I've never heard that leaning forward softens the down portion of posting trot, but I do end up slightly , barely more forward in posting trot than in sitting trot, not saying that's correct, just saying that's me, and the same instructor never asked me to correct that. Also, for me, I find it more difficult to give leg cues when posting. Will they allow you to do some sitting trot ? As to hurting the horse, unless you are outright plopping back down, your probably NOT hurting him. It should be a controlled down with a soft landing, but I've not seen very many people plopping down hard, even beginner posters.
It's ridiculous that you don't get to even ask for help during or after the lesson. I think you could find a better lesson situation. I hope you can.
Hope some of what I said will be helpful to you.
Keep up the good work and update on your progress, please.
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post #3 of 41 Old 10-04-2020, 11:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytrees11 View Post
Hi! I have been riding for 12 months total, group lesson only, 1 hour a week. I have been cantering 4 months after starting riding, and currently I'm doing jumps at a trot. Every time I come to my lesson, I get a different horse. Every horse seems to have their own problems and because of this, lessons can be frustrating.
Have you requested sticking to one or two horses, until you are comfortable with them, and then trying different horses?


Quote:
Sometimes, I ride this horse who I have a lot of trouble controlling in the canter. Once we start cantering, he bombs around the arena, cutting off other horses, getting super close to them, and completely ignoring any cues I give. What's worse is that today we had a substitute coach who kept egging me on to go faster, and the horse was just going crazy-- cutting corners, not listening to turns, not slowing down or stopping when I asked. I don't know how to deal with a horse like this. I know it's my fault, not the horse's. Another (much more experienced) rider rode him three weeks ago in my lesson, before she switched to a different class, and he was completely different with her-- he was listening, he was calm, so I know he's capable of this. Where am I mistaken? I feel like with him, I'm not collected, I'm out of control. But I don't know what being in control means. I don't know what to do to be in control.
You should not be riding this horse if you do not have the tools in your toolbox to know what to do to re-grain control. I will generally use circles to rate the speed of a canter, and really emphasize my lower leg to push the horse's belly out, and have them soften through the bridle.

If you don't feel comfortable on this horse, you shouldn't be riding it - nor should the instructor be watching you struggle with this horse and not intervening with techniques to try, or getting on themselves to show you how.


Quote:
This same horse also causes me problems during grooming and tacking. He will be very cooperative when I let him eat while I groom him, but if I tie him up in his stall, he becomes very salty. He'll paw at the ground and refuse to pick his hooves up (I've tried so many things: horse cookies, pinching/twisting the chestnut, getting him to move around a bit to throw him off balance, leaning into him). If I manage to get a hoof up, I'll be able to hold it for two seconds before he angrily slams it down on the ground. The school expects the horses to be tied up during grooming and tacking (I have no idea why this is necessary), but I've given up on this after a stablehand "helped" me by punching this horse in the barrel to get him to cooperate. What should I do?
It's not your horse, so it shouldn't be your problem - but the horse has your number and is doing what he/she wants. If you don't have the experience to fix this problem by yourself, then don't try - again, you shouldn't be stuck with this horse.

If this was your horse, I fully agree with the stablehand - I wouldn't have punched, but my horses fully know that if they give me problems with their feet, they get smacked in the belly. If he/she isn't lifting her leg, you can take the pick of the hoofpick and press it into the side of their cannon - they will generally quickly lift their leg. If the horse is able to get his foot out of your hand, you need to think ahead and have a better handle on his foot - this comes with confidence. If you ever watch a farrier, they generally can hold onto one leg and not let go of it, even if a horse is jumping around. Even try just saying a firm, nasty "QUIT IT" or "KNOCK IT OFF" - this may be enough. Again, if it were my horse, it would be paired with a solid slap to the belly.



Quote:
Secondly, I tend to end up most often on stubborn and very lazy horses. In particular, ones that don't like to turn when I ask them to (they prefer to follow their friends). When turning, I rely on my outside leg primarily, and if that isn't working, I add the inside rein, and press the crop into the shoulder, but for some reason nothing happens. These same horses also cut corners, especially during the canter, and no amount of leg and rein seems to help. I know I should start doing little pulls on the outside rein before the corners when we're cantering, but the horse seems to take it as a cue to slow down, and we end up falling apart into the trot again.
Managing horses like this comes with experience. Instead of using outside rein, I would be using inside leg on the corners - start with gentle squeezing, up the energy to taps if nothing happens, and continue to add more from there. If something small isn't work, you need to increase the volume of your aid - if you don't have the experience to do so, then the instructor should really be helping you...A theme is appearing here.



[quoteI do have the following issues as a rider. I have a tendency to lean forward in my trot (I get anxious about hurting the horse while I post, so I had previously thought leaning forward means I have a softer landing). I also tend to stick my elbows out, and sometimes my hands are in the wrong position (too high or too low). I'm working hard to correct these issues, and remind myself throughout each lesson to fix these things, but I don't know if they are what causes the above undesirable behaviour in the horses I ride.[/QUOTE]

You won't hurt the horse posting - post properly, it will increase your chances of staying on. Where you focus your weight is where you will go when things go haywire - leaning forward means you will end up on the ground. I don't think these things are causing the issues are having, but I do think your confidence may be.



Quote:
Finally, I'm not sure how much crop use is too much, and how much rein use is too much. The substitute coach kept telling me to use more crop, whereas my regular coach has gotten mad at me for this and has threatened to take the crop away. I also tend to rely too much on reins instead of leg when cantering, and I don't know how to correct this.
Aids (spur, crop, rein) are used on a situation by situation basis, and horse by horse basis. Some horses you have to be quiet and soft on, and some horses need more of a firm touch. Again, this is coming down to your instructor for you not knowing how/when/how often/how hard to use these aids.

IMO - after 48 hours of lessons, give or take, I would expect that you would have some of your own answers to these questions + a relationship with your instructor where you can ask questions, and they will step in when you need help. Without seeing the situation firsthand, I will say this is a failure on the instructors part, because the safety of a lesson student is the number one priority - and that doesn't seem prioritized.
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post #4 of 41 Old 10-04-2020, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mslady254 View Post
First of all, one hour group lessons for 12 months isn't much !! Add to that a different horse every lesson, and some of them not listening to cues,,,equals frustration, no wonder you're feeling frustrated. If it's not an option at that barn, is there another that allows private lessons and can provide you the same horse at least some of the time ?

Thank you so much for your response, I appreciate it! I am currently restricted to this barn only, as I live in a big city (for the next couple years), and this is the only barn accessible by public transit as it's in the city (I don't have a car or access to one currently). The barn gets a lot of riders (kids especially), and each horse ends up in 1-3 lessons per day, so I think it would be difficult for me to get the same horse each time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mslady254 View Post
What I've learned that helps when a horse won't move off my leg (not legs as in go, but leg as in a lateral move as in getting too close to other horses or cutting corners, or just leaking out of the straight path that I want) is to lift the rein opposite of the way I want him to move. I learned this technique from a Julie Goodnight video and it's worked for me.

I found the Julie Goodnight video and watched it. It seems to me like, for example if I'm turning to the left, my right hand draws the outside rein towards the neck, while my left hand opens the rein like an invitation. It sounds like the rein is creating a barrier for the horse, so really both hands are supposed to be participating in the turning? I had only been using one hand at this point. I think I also understood the torso part. The weight shift happens naturally, right? When my chest and hips move towards the direction I want to turn?



Quote:
Originally Posted by mslady254 View Post
For a horse that won't let you pick up , or hold up a foot....be as annoying as a younger sibling to an older sibling...don't get stronger on the chestnut, just be persistent, and (hard to do) keep an 'I will do this' attitude.

This is a good suggestion. The thing I'm worried about is that we have a limited time to groom and tack. Normally I arrive early so it's not an issue, but because of Covid right now, we have time restrictions for how early/late we are allowed to arrive to groom and tack (everything is indoors). So I'm worried I might run out of time with tacking if the horse is trying to fight me on this.


I have tried as you suggested, as a couple of websites I had previously found had written this as a solution, and it works well with other horses at this barn with the same problem. Once they realize I'm not going to go away, they give up. This particular horse, however, has no plans to let me have my way. A stablehand often has to get involved. Is there a reason it's not advisable to let him just eat his hay while I groom and tack him?



Quote:
Originally Posted by mslady254 View Post
Elbows out and hands high is the classic, natural response to an uncomfortable trot or being unbalanced at the trot. However, it only makes things worse, in my personal experience. Have they taught you a correct seat of alignment of ears, shoulders,hips, back of heels, with heels even with or slightly lower than toes? Also, I learned from one of my instructors that when I think I'm sitting straight, I'm not, I felt like I was leaning way too far back when she finally said I was straight. Felt really awkward until I got accustomed to it. So if you already feel like you are leaning forward, I think you may be reallllly leaning forward. I've never heard that leaning forward softens the down portion of posting trot, but I do end up slightly , barely more forward in posting trot than in sitting trot, not saying that's correct, just saying that's me, and the same instructor never asked me to correct that. Also, for me, I find it more difficult to give leg cues when posting. Will they allow you to do some sitting trot ? As to hurting the horse, unless you are outright plopping back down, your probably NOT hurting him. It should be a controlled down with a soft landing, but I've not seen very many people plopping down hard, even beginner posters.
It's ridiculous that you don't get to even ask for help during or after the lesson. I think you could find a better lesson situation. I hope you can.
Hope some of what I said will be helpful to you.
Keep up the good work and update on your progress, please.

We did get told about heels down, and toes in so that the side of the calf is connected to the barrel. Ears, shoulders, hips, no. I'll have to look that up.



We do indeed do sitting trot, and apparently I don't have posture problems then. It's only in the posting trot that my trainer reminds me every class not to lean forward. What do you mean by uncomfortable trot? Does it mean I am too tense? I do get stiff shoulders, so maybe I am tense and the horse can sense this, although I am not sure I understand why it would make him refuse instructions. I think logically I haven't figured out how my torso being tense could affect the horse, since my legs are doing the bulk of the work and my lower body is not tense.



I am able to ask questions sometimes, but we don't get much chance in the ring right after the lesson because the next group will file in. As much as this school has some issues, I am reluctant to quit because I've wanted to ride for over 15 years and finally got the chance. Your response has really helped me, and I appreciate it. I was frustrated after my lesson today because regardless of how much time I've spent in the saddle and also reading about horses on the side, sometimes I wonder if maybe I don't understand horses in a way that experienced people do.
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post #5 of 41 Old 10-05-2020, 08:58 AM
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Is there any way you could, for a couple of weeks, pay extra for a private lesson, and address these issues with an instructor present?
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post #6 of 41 Old 10-05-2020, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ClearDonkey View Post
Have you requested sticking to one or two horses, until you are comfortable with them, and then trying different horses?

I will see if I can make that happen. I do usually end up on one of 3-4 horses, some which have the same issues, so it's not normally this overwhelming. I usually see it as a plus to end up on different horses since it gives me experience with different behaviours, but on the flip side, I have to accommodate these behaviours as a beginner and be able to anticipate them, and on top of that still be able to complete what my trainer requires during the lesson.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ClearDonkey View Post
You should not be riding this horse if you do not have the tools in your toolbox to know what to do to re-grain control. I will generally use circles to rate the speed of a canter, and really emphasize my lower leg to push the horse's belly out, and have them soften through the bridle.

If you don't feel comfortable on this horse, you shouldn't be riding it - nor should the instructor be watching you struggle with this horse and not intervening with techniques to try, or getting on themselves to show you how.

You're right. I'm still learning to use my legs to steer in the canter, as I find I get tense and my knees start to creep up without me noticing. The circles are also hard for me. The horses I get put on have trouble responding to my instructions to turn at the trot, so at the canter this is even harder to do. What do you mean by soften through the bridle? Do you mean not pulling on the reins much?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ClearDonkey View Post
It's not your horse, so it shouldn't be your problem - but the horse has your number and is doing what he/she wants. If you don't have the experience to fix this problem by yourself, then don't try - again, you shouldn't be stuck with this horse.

If this was your horse, I fully agree with the stablehand - I wouldn't have punched, but my horses fully know that if they give me problems with their feet, they get smacked in the belly. If he/she isn't lifting her leg, you can take the pick of the hoofpick and press it into the side of their cannon - they will generally quickly lift their leg. If the horse is able to get his foot out of your hand, you need to think ahead and have a better handle on his foot - this comes with confidence. If you ever watch a farrier, they generally can hold onto one leg and not let go of it, even if a horse is jumping around. Even try just saying a firm, nasty "QUIT IT" or "KNOCK IT OFF" - this may be enough. Again, if it were my horse, it would be paired with a solid slap to the belly.

I didn't punch the horse-- the stablehand did. I was pretty shocked to see that though, since I had assumed that such things would hurt the horse. I think I will do as you suggest and request not to be put on this horse anymore. I do hold pretty firmly when I've got the hoof up, and with any other horse this has worked (normally they yank a bit and then give up), but this horse continues to yank and yank and yank with more force each time until he can rip his hoof out of my hands. Even when I'm taking him for a cooldown walk, he'll frequently stop and try to twist the bridle off his face and jerk the reins out of my hands, and I need to pull with my entire body on the reins for him to go. I don't know why he does this, but it drives me crazy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ClearDonkey View Post
Managing horses like this comes with experience. Instead of using outside rein, I would be using inside leg on the corners - start with gentle squeezing, up the energy to taps if nothing happens, and continue to add more from there. If something small isn't work, you need to increase the volume of your aid - if you don't have the experience to do so, then the instructor should really be helping you...A theme is appearing here.

Aids (spur, crop, rein) are used on a situation by situation basis, and horse by horse basis. Some horses you have to be quiet and soft on, and some horses need more of a firm touch. Again, this is coming down to your instructor for you not knowing how/when/how often/how hard to use these aids.

IMO - after 48 hours of lessons, give or take, I would expect that you would have some of your own answers to these questions + a relationship with your instructor where you can ask questions, and they will step in when you need help. Without seeing the situation firsthand, I will say this is a failure on the instructors part, because the safety of a lesson student is the number one priority - and that doesn't seem prioritized.

Yes, I agree with this. I had thought that maybe I was just a bad rider. When I was cantering on the crazy horse, and he kept cutting other horses off, the instructor would get irritated that my horse and I were getting in the way of others, but surely she could see that the horse was not listening and that I was struggling with him? I felt like I was at fault for not controlling my horse better, but how can I control this horse when he doesn't want to do what I'm asking? Very frustrating.


Thank you for your response. There is a lot for me to think about.
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post #7 of 41 Old 10-05-2020, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by tinytrees11 View Post
I will see if I can make that happen. I do usually end up on one of 3-4 horses, some which have the same issues, so it's not normally this overwhelming. I usually see it as a plus to end up on different horses since it gives me experience with different behaviours, but on the flip side, I have to accommodate these behaviours as a beginner and be able to anticipate them, and on top of that still be able to complete what my trainer requires during the lesson.
There is zero shame of not being able to accommodate all of these horses' behaviors after only a year of riding, especially horses that may or may not be suited as beginner's mounts. Getting on different horses and learning from each is indeed invaluable, but not when it is leaving you frustrated - many people leave the sport because of their introduction to riding being like this.

Something that you could do is occasionally ask to ride a more difficult horse, but in a private lesson rather than group. You will still be getting the experience on the more difficult horse, but I bet this will leave you feeling a lot safer and less frustrated having 100% of the coaches attention and teaching on you.

Quote:
You're right. I'm still learning to use my legs to steer in the canter, as I find I get tense and my knees start to creep up without me noticing. The circles are also hard for me. The horses I get put on have trouble responding to my instructions to turn at the trot, so at the canter this is even harder to do. What do you mean by soften through the bridle? Do you mean not pulling on the reins much?
I will tell you, I have been riding for nearly 15 years, and the canter is the one thing that I still struggle at from time to time still - it is hard for me to "perfect" it, so kudos for you on wanting to learn how to do better and be better.

It is hard to give you solid advice on how to improve these things without knowing exactly what is going on, but if a horse isn't good at the trot, it definitely won't be better at the canter 99% of the time (and the training of this horse falls onto your trainer's shoulders - a beginner shouldn't be riding a horse that resists the basics, like doing a circle!).

Have you done a half-seat at all yet? Where you stand in your stirrups, focus your weight into your heels, and 'sweep' your bum across the seat of the saddle? This is what makes me relax in the canter before having a full-seat (bum fully in saddle), because I can feel the security of my heels and calves on the horse, and I know that the horse isn't being influence by my unconfident seat in the beginning. Here is a video showing the difference, though I wouldn't consider their "half-seat" a true half-seat.


And on the topic of softening through the bridle - I mean that the horse decreases his resistance in the bridle, and becomes supple through the mouth. A way to think of this is that instead of having an argument with the horse, you are instead having a conversation. I encourage you to check out Amelia Newcombe on YouTube - she has great explanations in her videos.


Hopefully others can offer more insight on softening through the bridle, because I am at a loss for words right now (I need more coffee!).


Quote:
I didn't punch the horse-- the stablehand did. I was pretty shocked to see that though, since I had assumed that such things would hurt the horse. I think I will do as you suggest and request not to be put on this horse anymore. I do hold pretty firmly when I've got the hoof up, and with any other horse this has worked (normally they yank a bit and then give up), but this horse continues to yank and yank and yank with more force each time until he can rip his hoof out of my hands. Even when I'm taking him for a cooldown walk, he'll frequently stop and try to twist the bridle off his face and jerk the reins out of my hands, and I need to pull with my entire body on the reins for him to go. I don't know why he does this, but it drives me crazy.
I know you didn't do it :) Remember that horses are 1,000lb animals, and think about what they do to each other in pasture when one horse doesn't respect another. Sometimes firm, quick smacks (not punches!) can quickly resolve an issue. I don't think you should handle this issue, the trainer and stablehands should. If you owned the horse and he began doing the 'yank, yank, yank' of his foot, I would encourage you to yell at him to 'KNOCK IT OFF' and smack his belly. But, since it's not your horse, it's not your problem.

As for him being a jerk while walking...I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Because you are a beginner, you shouldn't have to deal with this, especially without someone more experienced helping you. I will generally carry a driving whip with horses like these, because with a flick of the wrist, you can wrap the whip around their bum and make them go forward. He does this because he is disrespectful and needs corrected, but this shouldn't be your responsibility.


Quote:
Yes, I agree with this. I had thought that maybe I was just a bad rider. When I was cantering on the crazy horse, and he kept cutting other horses off, the instructor would get irritated that my horse and I were getting in the way of others, but surely she could see that the horse was not listening and that I was struggling with him? I felt like I was at fault for not controlling my horse better, but how can I control this horse when he doesn't want to do what I'm asking? Very frustrating.

Thank you for your response. There is a lot for me to think about.
I highly doubt you are a bad rider - especially because you are trying to get better. The next time you are in this situation, I encourage you to ride to the middle of the arena and stop next to your instructor, and tell them you don't know what to do to remedy the situation and need help. Don't be afraid to ask questions, but if your instructor gives you a reason not to ask questions, you need a new instructor.

Remember, the most important thing about horseback riding - you should be enjoying yourself. If you aren't at this barn, there is no shame in switching to a different barn.
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post #8 of 41 Old 10-05-2020, 11:54 AM
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I once had an black Arabian stallion that would not let me pick up his hind feet and would kick at me. Other than that he was a nice horse. I made a loop in a soft rope and laid it on the ground. When he stepped into it I would pull it up behind his pastern and let him kick away. He soon learned to stand quietly and let me pick up the feet.
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post #9 of 41 Old 10-05-2020, 01:20 PM
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Well, it seems like you've already gotten quite a lot of advice! So I'll try not to over complicate things by adding too much, but I might end up doing so regardless because I've read a few things I dont personally agree with. But take whatever advice you feel makes the most sense for you.
First of all, I agree that if you had the opportunity to move to a different barn, I would. It sounds like these horses have gotten really fed up with how often they're being ridden and how much beginner bull**** they have to put up with... but since you can't, we'll work with what we have!
When it comes to your issues with riding... it sounds like people are giving you a lot of really specific advice... my advice is the complete opposite... don't overthink it! All these tips and tricks are more suited to riders who have already gotten really comfortable at the canter and are ready to start micro-managing their movements for a better, more precise ride. This can take years. The canter is fast, obviously, and it takes a lot of time to get to the point where you can even really process and logically consider what you're doing besides the basics of turning and keeping pace in my opinion. My first recommendation would be to ask the coach to split you in groups of two, have half the group stand in the middle while the other half canter on the rail. Makes it a lot easier to think when your space isn't as crowded. Then you can switch off when one group is done. Its difficult to tell exactly whats wrong with that one horse, but I find that horses tend to rush around corners and speed up when the rider is off balance. Its like they're constantly trying to catch themselves, and have to keep running to keep their feet under them, if that makes sense. They lean around corners because they feel you lean and are trying to keep themselves under you (sort of like when you're carrying a heavy bucket and your body drops to that side, the horses body will drop to that side if the heavy weight theyre carrying drops that way) I would just try and keep things as simple as possible for now. Before you canter, take a deep breath, and relax. Don't get nervous or overthink things as it will only make you less balanced and less in control. Be okay with not doing well even before you start, because the horse can feel you worrying and your worrying will keep you from focusing on your job. When you transition, think about sitting up tall and putting your leg back just a bit. The horse can feel the difference even if its just a bit, and if you put your leg too far back it'll make you lean forward. Then when you're cantering, just focus on keeping tall and half-halting as you need. Slowly, as you get more comfortable with these first few steps, you'll be able to integrate more and more advanced stuff. But even with 6 months or a year of cantering, you're likely still too overwhelmed with the speed and chaos of it all to worry about micro managing your reins and legs. I could be wrong, so sorry for assuming, but that's certainly how I felt for a long time. I took group lessons for 8 years!
For posting - just do your best to grip with your knees. When you do, your knees act like a spring, cushioning your body as you drop like the shocks on a bike or car. Also a lot of newer riders make the mistake of over-posting - meaning they rise really high up out of the saddle, which, in turn, means you have to drop a far ways back down which can feel like you're slamming into their back. Let the trot control how much you post. Let the horses body push you out of the saddle naturally, follow the movement by extending your knees with it. Dont try overly hard to get as far out of the saddle as you can. Your knees should never really be fully extended unless your stirrups are too long or the trot is very very bouncy.
For the feet- yeah, I'd agree to do your best and just hold the foot until he relaxes, then reward him by putting the foot back down or rubbing/telling him good job. Please, id really really advise against hitting or yelling at your horse as someone else recommended to do. The reason the horse is pulling away is because he's expecting this and his scared of it. Horses don't yank their feet away to be mean, they do it because they're scared of the person holding their feet, or worried you'll do something sudden like hit them or drop their feet. As prey animals horses feel very vulnerable when you take away theyre ability to escape (their feet and balance) so if the horse is nervous, they won't want you to have their feet. Smacking the horse just makes this worse. He's probably learned to do this because of many different riders punishing him like this when he's already vulnerable without all four feet on the ground. Dont make the situation worse by making him more anxious. If you lose it, just pick it back up in time. I dont like the chestnut squeeze method, and prefer to gently rock their weight off that foot. If the horse is really bad, ill just pick their feet for literally 1 second, then reward them vy putting it back down before they reward themselves by yanking it away from you. Then repeat.
For the pulling - i remember one time I was waiting at a pasture gate for this girl to bring her horse through the gate before i went and got mine. She pulled and pulled this horse, who just planted and yanked his head back. I got frustrated from waiting, went in, took the lead from her and he calmly walked out no problem XD I find when a horse won't lead, it's almost always one or both of 2 things: you're walking ahead of your horse, and the horse doesn't like walking straight toward you, or you're pulling on the horse - horses do not like to be pulled around and would rather resist it than listen. This is exactly what that girl was doing. As soon as I stood beside the horse and stopped dragging him, he was fine. When a horse doesn't want to walk, I make sure I'm standing next to him, then I gently indicate with the reins or lead to walk forward with a light tug. If this doesn't work, I will pull and wiggle the lead at the same time, while still standing beside him, to annoy him into moving. I'll add a whip to the butt if this fails, as someone else said. The SECOND he takes a step forward, I reward by letting the reins go slack and giving him a chance to lead on a loose rein. As I said, horses hate being dragged. They just want to pull away from the overwhelming pressure. So once he's going dont pull. Just let him walk beside you and if he falls behind or stops, ask again until he responds and reward by taking pressure off. Never walk in front of them and never drag/pull continuously.
It sounds like this one horse is probably not suited to you and i agree to ask to change from this horse. However i disagree with other people telling you to ask to just stick to one horse for awhile. It definitely feels nice and its less frustrating but its an essential part of learning especially in the early phases. Ive met riders who got to just ride the same horse over and over again and they got very scared and out of control when put on something new. Its annoying, but essential you learn how to adapt to a new horse, how to learn what a new horse is like quickly and be comfortable in any variety of situations. Its especially good to learn this while you're new to riding, you're in a school where you have access to many horses and not leasing or owning. All the variety will feel like its slowing you down and in a sense it is, but you're always improving the diversity of your skills and learning to perform all sorts of different things (canter, jumps etc) in different scenarios which will make all those skills better in the long run.
Hope this helps!
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post #10 of 41 Old 10-05-2020, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by tinytrees11 View Post
Thank you so much for your response, I appreciate it! I am currently restricted to this barn only, as I live in a big city (for the next couple years), and this is the only barn accessible by public transit as it's in the city (I don't have a car or access to one currently). The barn gets a lot of riders (kids especially), and each horse ends up in 1-3 lessons per day, so I think it would be difficult for me to get the same horse each time.
You might want to ask if they have any horses up for partial lease, if you can afford it. Then you'd for sure have the same horse for each lesson. You'd want it to definitely be a horse you like to work with, though.
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canter , canter problems , lazy horse , new rider , stubborn horse

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