Back to Basics. HELP! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-02-2014, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Question Back to Basics. HELP!

Hello there, I happen to start riding a horse 3 years ago. He was fairly green when I started riding him, and a typical stubborn cob. Hes fine when he's being ridden in a group, very responsive. But when he's on his own, he's very bored, and I have to really ask him to work.
I was wondering if any one had any advice on how I could go back and change the way he thinks about being ridden alone. Or any exercises that could help make his mind more active.
I've been travelling and have seen a different side of the horse word, ridden a horse that responses to verbal commands and very little leg. I realise this would be extremely hard work to achieve of my now 9year old boy, but if there was anything I could do to make his mind for active and respond to my leg better, what would be your advice? I've changed his bit to a Waterford Full Cheek, as he tends to lean and grab the bit. I might change it back to a french link snaffle for the purpose of taking back to basics.
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-02-2014, 01:46 AM
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It would help to know where you ride him. Out on the trails or in an arena? Are there any activities that he particularly enjoys? And is he more used to riding in company or on your own?
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-02-2014, 02:14 AM
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you make it sound that he is too old, at nine, to learn very much. This couldn't be further from the truth. Horses are very adaptable, and a smart trainer/rider, with good timing and feel would change up his attitude in an hour or so, very likely.

See, it's probably that he does not see any real reason to work hard when he is alone. when he is with other horses, he is connected to them, and so if they run, he will want to run, too. most horses do.

But, when they are not there, he is without any real desire or reason to move more than necessary. you have to become an important reason .

I know this is why you are asking for excersizes and talking about join up, too. you want to figure out how to change him, but it is really you that has to change first.

when you were travelling, what did you see that was different?
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-02-2014, 03:00 AM Thread Starter
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Hello, thanks for the reply. I've taken your comment its me that needs to change into account, and realise you're probably right. He's probably adapting to my mental attitude, and to change how things are, i do need to take a fresh approach to him and what Im actually saying to him.

Thanks again!!
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-02-2014, 03:26 AM
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Hi & welcome. Cobs are not 'typically stubborn' horses & old horses can indeed learn new tricks(not that 9yo is at all old - it's not far into adulthood). But all animals learn to do what works & quit doing what doesn't work. Perhaps he has learned to persist with his resistance & you'll quit hassling. Perhaps putting in more effort doesn't 'work' for him so there's no motivation to do it.

You don't say whether you work/ride with a trainer or such, but if you want to change his behaviour/attitude & don't know how to go about it, finding experienced help will be important.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-02-2014, 11:28 AM
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If you want him be responsive when riding him alone then you need to do just that. Take him out alone and ride him with purpose to keep his mind on what you are asking of him. Pick him up to a working trot and go somewhere, ride figure eight patterns around trees, ask for leg yeids, occasionally stop him and back up, anything to give him a job and stimulate his mind. Experience on his own and wet saddle blankets is what it take to make a seasoned horse.

The type of bit is irrelevant. I think the saying goes “The bit that works on every horse is a Bit of Knowledge”. If he is not responding to what you are using then step back and take the time to teach him to respond to the bits pressure. Get him soft and responsive to the bits pressure with lateral flexing first, and then vertical softness will follow. In the beginning release when he gives to the pressure rewarding the slightest try and build on this as he improves. Remember the bit is a signal device and not a 3rd stirrup. If it’s over used or improperly used and the horse never gets a release they will become dull and non responsive to the bits signal.

Best of luck.
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post #7 of 8 Old 04-03-2014, 08:30 AM
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I think you have two things going on and 'boredom' is not one of them. Unless a person 'drills' a horse repetitively until the horse 'sours' on doing something, horses actually like 'sameness' and routines.

1) Suitability of the horse for the desired use

I think one of the two things going on is that your horse genetically is not a horse with a naturally high level of energy. Some horses are born with 'big motors' while others are born with a lower level of energy, are more lazy by nature and have a naturally poorer work ethic. You cannot do a whole lot about that. In addition, the 'hotter' horses with the higher energy level are usually also the more sensitive ones with thinner skin.

The downside of the 'hot' horse is that they are usually more reactive and not that suitable for the recreational rider that does not want to be that 'engaged' in the riding process. They also require a higher level of riding and training ability from their rider. So here, we are looking at what we call 'suitability for the rider and the desired use'. I want a lazy, low energy horse for my trail string while I want a more ambitious, more forward horse with more 'inherent ability' for my own personal riding mount. There is an old saying that you cannot make chicken salad out of chicken 'other stuff'. [Insert your word of choice here.]

2) Ineffective riding techniques

I think this rider has not learned how to effectively bring out the best work ethic possible from this horse. Since he changes his demeanor with a group, I think that he is more motivated by the 'herd' than he is by his rider. A rider usually brings out this reluctant attitude (which I would not describe as 'stubbornness'), by 'nagging' at a horse. To ride and train effectively', a rider has to be more demanding and less of a nag. Make fair demands, (that the horse is able to do) and then do not settle for less. But, above all put more pressure on the horse to do the requested job and then leave him alone when he does it. Release of pressure is the only reward a horse needs.

Nagging riders just constantly nag and peck at a horse and that just makes the horse less and less willing and more and more resentful. They just plain quit trying to please because there is little reward in it. [Please remember that petting and praise after stopping a horse only rewards stopping. Also remember that the act of getting out of a horse's mouth and getting your heels out of his ribs is a MUCH more effective reward than the petting anyway.]
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post #8 of 8 Old 04-03-2014, 09:17 AM
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Cherie said it well.

So I will just add some suggestions

- a few lessons with a GOOD instructor who can help you stop nagging, and start requiring instant responses will help.

- he needs to be fit, and to fittened properly. This is a big subject, so I will confine it to advice to work on his fitness so that as you ask for more, he has the strength to give it without injury.

- do you have any hacking routes with some good gallops on them? If you can, start to up the speed of your hacks and get him used to some good all-out gallops. He needs to be fit first though! Go in company at first when you can, he will be happier to go go go with others and will really only be happy to go on his own when he is super fit.

Are you in hunting country? If so, make Autumn Hunting your goal and if you enjoy this you can transition to full hunting. There is nothing that livens a horse up better than hunting.

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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