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post #1 of 19 Old 03-11-2019, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Question help me help an evil boy

I have been working with Alvin, a very naughty fjord who has been sitting for far too long. I've been riding him bareback in a halter, mostly because he is literally too big for all of the saddles and bits available but also because I want him to listen to me and not a bit etc.. just a personal thing.
when we are riding and in sync, it is stellar - he listens to my legs and my shoulders and I hardly have to ask him to trot and stop and go on the diagonal etc etc etc and it's a dream! BUT.... when he doesn't want to listen, it is SO obvious. I try to keep our work on the lighter side and incorperate new things so he doesn't get bored and can work on his balance. in the past week or so, we've been able to canter and I really think he likes it! unfortunately he now knows, after not budging on it for so long, that he can run with me on him. for so long, when I've gotten unbalanced on him (really only when he pulls a sharp turn - no bucking for him) and fallen on his neck, he stops dead in his tracks. but I rode him this weekend, and IMMEDIATELY he walked straight out of the arena doors and had NO reaction to me kicking him or pulling on the rein. I brought him back in - I had to fight him on that - and closed the doors. I mounted him from the ground and before I had gotten on him square he took off cantering. he is so big that my only option was to try to slow him down and steer him. we cantered a lot, only because he WOULD not trot - he needed to run.
while I'm sure that part of the reason he and everybody else is so goofy right now is because of the warmer temperatures creeping through Iowa, I would really love to work on his listening skills and his manners. we are getting better and better every day, working slowly on communicating and having fun. BUT.... does anyone have some tips on working with TERRIBLE listeners?? he is such a beautiful little boy and I have so much fun riding him; he is my good friend and I want to help him become a better boy!
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post #2 of 19 Old 03-11-2019, 11:53 PM
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Well, each horse is an individual, but three things stood out from your post: "disobedient" in the tag list, and "terrible listener" in the original post, topped off by "evil" in the thread title. This implies some sort of plan on the horse's part to inconvenience you. Fact, however, is that the horse's only goal is to make things convenient for him, irrespective of your feelings about it. So it's your responsibility to create the conditions for a win-win situation: what you want is the best option for the horse as well. That implies (a) making requests simple enough so that he has a chance to figure out what you want, (b) making requests consistently so he recognizes your aid, (c) giving him the best deal you can, but seeing the job through, and (d) making the wrong thing expensive and the right thing rewarding, no matter how slight and tentative the attempt. When I say "expensive", I'm really working with the metaphor that you have to find your horse's "currency".

Right now, it seems as though you are not able to see the job through, assuming that Alvin (what a name for that horse!) should understand what you want. However, you did say that he sat around for a long time, and that is a time for untraining him. Have you got an inventory of the skills he still has cold, which are tentative, and which are non-existent? If things don't go as planned, you should always have something to fall back on that you know he'll ace, so you can finish on a high note before retreating, regrouping, and rethinking.

"Getting the job done" doesn't always look pretty, and it's risky if you don't catch the split second when to release the pressure, but without it, you are desensitizing him to whatever cues you planned on using. Maybe it's time to get a second pair of eyes on the ground with you?
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post #3 of 19 Old 03-12-2019, 12:07 AM
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The first thing that came to mind when I read your post was excuses, excuses, excuses, and blaming the horse. You need to take some responsibility.

It also sounds like you are trying to soften the blow by saying that he is so great x times about x BUT...!!!
You need to take off your rose-colored glasses.

He does what he does because he can. He can because you don't stop him.

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Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
I've been riding him bareback in a halter, mostly because he is literally too big for all of the saddles and bits available
"Literally too big"? Drafts can find saddles and bits, yet you can't find them for your Fjord?

I do ride bareback from time to time, but that is not something I do day in and day out. There is a reason for saddles. There is a reason why saddles disperse the weight. There is a reason why saddles have a gullet/channel. Having all your not-as-well-dispersed, unbalanced weight on his spine probably gets uncomfortable after a while, which could contribute to him acting up.

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Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
but also because I want him to listen to me and not a bit etc.. just a personal thing.
If the horse isn't listening, then the horse isn't listening. It doesn't matter what you have on their head. Nothing changes that fact.

What kind of halter are you riding in, such as a flat or rope?

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Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
but I rode him this weekend, and IMMEDIATELY he walked straight out of the arena doors and had NO reaction to me kicking him or pulling on the rein
You should not be or have to be kicking and pulling. This is a lack of feel and finesse.

How often do you kick and pull to try to make him listen? You aren't going to out-kick or out-pull a horse. You may be making him dull.

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Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
I mounted him from the ground and before I had gotten on him square he took off cantering. he is so big that my only option was to try to slow him down and steer him. we cantered a lot, only because he WOULD not trot - he needed to run.
He was not going to die. He did not *need* to run. That is also an excuse.

I am a little confused. Were you partially on him or were you already on him trying to make him stand square?
Regardless, I would have hopped off and aggressively gotten after him. If you knew he would not listen, why try to ride it out? That sets the horse up to fail.

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Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
while I'm sure that part of the reason he and everybody else is so goofy right now is because of the warmer temperatures creeping through Iowa, I would really love to work on his listening skills and his manners. we are getting better and better every day, working slowly on communicating and having fun. BUT.... does anyone have some tips on working with TERRIBLE listeners?? he is such a beautiful little boy and I have so much fun riding him; he is my good friend and I want to help him become a better boy!
Again, you are blaming the horse but trying to soften the blow.

Horses aren't "terrible" listeners. Horses that don't listen get shown why they should have listened. That little ear pin turns into a bite.
He doesn't listen because you don't demand his attention.

How is his health?
Is his back sore from the constant bareback?
What is he eating?
How much exercise is he getting?

This is most likely a training problem; however, I would work on trying to find a good fitting saddle.

If you aren't already, you move him into a rope halter, as flat halters have more surface area to lean on.

Restart on the ground first. Work with him on his ground manners and teach him some respect, as it often carries over when under saddle. Make sure he knows how to stand, move out, yield his hindquarters, his forequarters, back up, flex, etc.

It doesn't sound like he is getting any real punishment for hauling off. It is clear that trying to stop him under saddle or running him doesn't stop his behavior. You need to get after him when he takes off - from the ground if necessary.
Carry a whip. As soon as he starts to take off, slide your hand down as if you were to ask him to flex and hop off simultaneously. That'll disengage his hindquarters. Back him up for a few seconds - hard and aggressively. Use the whip on his chest if necessary. Let him stop, catch his breath, and think. Get back on him as if nothing happened, but ask nothing of him. If he doesn't want to walk off, just sit on him, and let him stand on a loose rein. If he walks, let him walk aimlessly on a loose rein. If he starts to trot or canter without you asking, ask him to walk. The slightest, little slowing or giving on his part, you need to give the reins back.

-

Edit:
Grammar fixes, minor wording adjustments, and added sentence.

Last edited by Meraki; 03-12-2019 at 12:21 AM.
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post #4 of 19 Old 03-12-2019, 12:26 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
Well, each horse is an individual, but three things stood out from your post: "disobedient" in the tag list, and "terrible listener" in the original post, topped off by "evil" in the thread title. This implies some sort of plan on the horse's part to inconvenience you. Fact, however, is that the horse's only goal is to make things convenient for him, irrespective of your feelings about it. So it's your responsibility to create the conditions for a win-win situation: what you want is the best option for the horse as well. That implies (a) making requests simple enough so that he has a chance to figure out what you want, (b) making requests consistently so he recognizes your aid, (c) giving him the best deal you can, but seeing the job through, and (d) making the wrong thing expensive and the right thing rewarding, no matter how slight and tentative the attempt. When I say "expensive", I'm really working with the metaphor that you have to find your horse's "currency".

Right now, it seems as though you are not able to see the job through, assuming that Alvin (what a name for that horse!) should understand what you want. However, you did say that he sat around for a long time, and that is a time for untraining him. Have you got an inventory of the skills he still has cold, which are tentative, and which are non-existent? If things don't go as planned, you should always have something to fall back on that you know he'll ace, so you can finish on a high note before retreating, regrouping, and rethinking.

"Getting the job done" doesn't always look pretty, and it's risky if you don't catch the split second when to release the pressure, but without it, you are desensitizing him to whatever cues you planned on using. Maybe it's time to get a second pair of eyes on the ground with you?
I apologize for the tone of my post - I'm certainly aware that he doesn't do what he does out of malice or because he wants to be difficult. I didn't mean to come off as if I think of myself as his boss, or that he is something that needs to be broken, so I am sorry if it seemed that way! but he is ... a jerk. he has a big personality, and he bites, and he is bored, and he has a hard time doing anything that I ask of him when I am not letting him do whatever he wants to do, which is usually eat.

I believe before he came to this barn in (I think?) November, he was, prior to being a pasture pet, a therapy horse at a different local barn. he is usually very laid-back and slow, so I believe they gave him about a month of training to get him used to a weight on his back and then they lunged him for a few months with kids riding him. but, because he is who he is, he got bored, and his mind started to... wander, and he started to bite and get mean when he didn't want to do something.

there were no/very few actual horse trainers around, and I suppose they didn't have the resources to work with him and get him to a place where he was safe with young people. so, all that is to say: his skillset is pretty much walk, trot, canter, trot, walk, stop. he is surprisingly touchy and, like I said, listens to my legs when it seems like he wants to, but I worry about what makes him stop listening. when he starts to fight me - usually a very short-lived event, but very frequent - I stop him, pet him, and walk him in a specific pattern that lets him get out some wiggles and feel me ask him to move. I've also learned to stop on a good note, regardless of how short that may make a lesson w him.

I would love to work with another, more experienced trainer with him, but unfortunately the trainer I work with now on another horse only does dressage, and very little basic-level stuff. I am sure, though, that my boss would be helpful, too, but she's usually pretty busy and I'd be lucky if she had a free hour for me. I'll definitely try to get her expertise when I can, though! thank you for your advice :^)
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Last edited by loosie; 03-12-2019 at 02:12 AM. Reason: paragraphs are your friend!
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post #5 of 19 Old 03-12-2019, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
The first thing that came to mind when I read your post was excuses, excuses, excuses, and blaming the horse. You need to take some responsibility.
man the first thing that comes to my mind right now is what do you think I am doing? I am working with an ornery horse. a big, mouthy fjord who needs more training than what he has now, which I am seeking out - to me that feels responsible, at least moreso than me continuing to do what obviously is not working.

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Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
"Literally too big"? Drafts can find saddles and bits, yet you can't find them for your Fjord?
living in a rural area slims my pickings, and I am not well-versed enough in tack to know what is the best and what will work and what will not. of course I can find them for my fjord, but currently, at the barn, there is not a saddle that is wide enough for his back, and there is not a bridle that is wide enough for his head, and there is not a bit that is wide enough for his mouth. perhaps somewhere deep in the tack room there is something for his face but I don't want to go digging in what isn't mine and, again, I don't know enough to know what is the best for him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
I do ride bareback from time to time, but that is not something I do day in and day out. There is a reason for saddles. There is a reason why saddles disperse the weight. There is a reason why saddles have a gullet/channel. Having all your not-as-well-dispersed, unbalanced weight on his spine probably gets uncomfortable after a while, which could contribute to him acting up.
this is something I have considered for sure - but again, the best saddle option I have right now would, I'm sure, pinch his back and make him more uncomfortable than he would be with my loose weight on a bareback pad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
What kind of halter are you riding in, such as a flat or rope?
I have been using his draft-sized halter, which fits around his head pretty well. it is a little bit loose around the nose perhaps but, again, better than a too-tight bridle.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
You should not be or have to be kicking and pulling. This is a lack of feel and finesse.
How often do you kick and pull to try to make him listen? You aren't going to out-kick or out-pull a horse. You may be making him dull.
more often than not, he responds to my legs, and obviously I use more pressure when I need more. I suppose I should have explained that I immediately hopped off of him when he left the arena, because I knew that he wouldn't listen to me in that moment if I were on his back.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
He was not going to die. He did not *need* to run. That is also an excuse.
I am a little confused. Were you partially on him or were you already on him trying to make him stand square?
Regardless, I would have hopped off and aggressively gotten after him. If you knew he would not listen, why try to ride it out? That sets the horse up to fail.
I was partially on him - I mount him from the ground because he does better with that than with the mounting blocks, I assume because of some old therapy horse trauma that I haven't even begun to work on. I'm really the only one who rides him, and I can get on him from the ground, so that's a problem for later.... but anyways, I had my right leg all the way on him and I was just about square on his back when he started to go. his initial movement is actually what bounced me on all the way and got me to a place where I could hold on and start to ask him to do what I wanted him to do. I'm completely aware that I should have taken a different path, but I honestly did not want to try to dismount a thousand pound clumsy beast. After a minute I was able to ask him to slow to a hard stop, but again, it's hard to judge a situation like that in the moment. I just didn't want him to step on my bones and break them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
Horses aren't "terrible" listeners. Horses that don't listen get shown why they should have listened. That little ear pin turns into a bite.
He doesn't listen because you don't demand his attention.
how do I do this, is what I am literally asking? how do I show him how to listen when he loses focus so quickly in the first place?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
How is his health?
Is his back sore from the constant bareback?
What is he eating?
How much exercise is he getting?
he is healthy but fat from sitting in a pasture for so long. he doesn't show any signs of discomfort during riding or after riding, and he doesn't seem lame in the pasture at all. he eats from a round bale in a drylot with several other horses throughout the day and we feed him a serving of regular performance grain, and if I ride him before I feed him I give him a hanful of oats with his performance. I usually ride him two or three times a week - I try to give him a bit of rest so he doesn't get bored but I don't let him get antsy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
If you aren't already, you move him into a rope halter, as flat halters have more surface area to lean on.
I would like to do this - the problem is finding a good rope sidepull that is big enough for him and within my budget, as well as something that is sturdy due to his little oral fixation. please let me know if you have any good suggestions, I would appreciate that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
Restart on the ground first. Work with him on his ground manners and teach him some respect, as it often carries over when under saddle. Make sure he knows how to stand, move out, yield his hindquarters, his forequarters, back up, flex, etc.
I do think part of our problem is my own lack of training - I have kind of just been doing what works and not doing what doesn't work. he does do very well in liberty training, and if we work for a while he seems to hang on to my verbal cues and acknowledge them better with more time in the arena. if you have any suggestions for training resources, again, please let me know of any of those!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meraki View Post
It doesn't sound like he is getting any real punishment for hauling off. It is clear that trying to stop him under saddle or running him doesn't stop his behavior. You need to get after him when he takes off - from the ground if necessary.
Carry a whip. As soon as he starts to take off, slide your hand down as if you were to ask him to flex and hop off simultaneously. That'll disengage his hindquarters. Back him up for a few seconds - hard and aggressively. Use the whip on his chest if necessary. Let him stop, catch his breath, and think. Get back on him as if nothing happened, but ask nothing of him. If he doesn't want to walk off, just sit on him, and let him stand on a loose rein. If he walks, let him walk aimlessly on a loose rein. If he starts to trot or canter without you asking, ask him to walk. The slightest, little slowing or giving on his part, you need to give the reins back.
would you mind elaborating ont his a little more? I would like to know what this does in his little brain. and I am worried that it might still make him think it's okay to wander away from me, if that makes sense.
thank you for your comments, and I apologize for the length of this dissertation!
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post #6 of 19 Old 03-12-2019, 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
I suppose I should have explained that I immediately hopped off of him when he left the arena, because I knew that he wouldn't listen to me in that moment if I were on his back.
Is that it? Then what did you do? If all you did was simply slide off his back, then that is teaching him that walking off is the right answer, because getting off is release to him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
how do I do this, is what I am literally asking? how do I show him how to listen when he loses focus so quickly in the first place?
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
obviously I use more pressure when I need more
^^^ That's how. You demand a horse to listen to you by increasing the pressure when he says, "NO!" You cannot have empty threats, be soft, and/or beg when your horse says no. A very simple "pay attention before I show you why you should have paid attention."

Keep in mind that "no" is very different from "I don't know". The behavior is often similar, but should not be treated the same way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
he is healthy but fat from sitting in a pasture for so long. he eats from a round bale in a drylot with several other horses throughout the day and we feed him a serving of regular performance grain, and if I ride him before I feed him I give him a hanful of oats with his performance. I usually ride him two or three times a week - I try to give him a bit of rest so he doesn't get bored but I don't let him get antsy.
How big it the dry lot?
What is "performance grain" exactly? What is "a serving"? Unless he is a hard keeper, he doesn't really sound like he needs a bunch of grain. An excess of grain can cause a horse to be hyper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
if you have any suggestions for training resources, again, please let me know of any of those!
Although you live in a rural area, you have internet. That is good enough to get you started. There are many videos and articles online that you can read for a start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
would you mind elaborating ont his a little more? I would like to know what this does in his little brain. and I am worried that it might still make him think it's okay to wander away from me, if that makes sense.
Disclaimer: I don't completely understand what you are asking, so please excuse me if this isn't what you are asking.

Horses learn through the release of pressure. Horses learn by making the right thing easy/ier and the wrong thing hard/er.

When he walks/hauls off and you do nothing but pull on the reins or simply slide off, that is "easy" for him and/or what he wants. He thinks is it okay to ignore his rider. Obviously, pulling on the reins doesn't work. He ignores all your under-saddle cues. However, you can't simply just slide off ever time he walks/hauls off with no repercussions. When I suggest sliding off, it is to regain control, as you'll have better control on the ground than on his back. It isn't a "let's ditch."

A little trade secret:
People often believe that you must always ride out whatever the horse is doing because if you dismount, it means you give release to the horse, and the horse "wins."
That isn't totally true.
If you dismount and do nothing, then yes, you are giving release and the horse "wins."
However, if you dismount to regain control, and you act as soon as your feet hit the ground, then that is not giving the horse release.

By sliding off, shutting him down, and aggressively getting after him, you are teaching him that if he tries to make it hard for you, you are going to make it hard for him. You are going to make it very unpleasant for him whenever he tries to haul off. Again, timing is key. You have to do it long enough so he gets the message, but not so long that he forgets the lesson. "Every seven seconds is a new day to a horse", as they say.

Getting back on and giving him no direction is his release. Of course, if he tries to haul off again, you just rinse and repeat. However, if he just stands there, let him stand on a loose rein. Teach him that standing and/or being calm is good and easy. If he wants to aimlessly wander around, if possible, let him on a loose rein. Aimlessly walking around is better than trying to haul off.

Keep in mind that that is only for when he tries to 0-100 bolt. This isn't really for whenever he gets a little antsy, prancy, wanting to trot, nervous, etc....

-

Edit:
Grammar and coding fixes and wording adjustment.
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Last edited by Meraki; 03-12-2019 at 01:43 AM.
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-12-2019, 03:12 AM
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I’ve just skimmed over this, so sorry if I give advice that was already given. From what I did read, it sounds like this horse needs to learn respect and needs to go back to basics.

I think working on groundwork would benifit both of you. You need to learn how to properly communicate with this horse by laying down clear boundaries and then clarify your signals. Not only when you are in the arena, but also whenever your handling or near him. If he walks into your radius, then you back him up and make him wait for 15 sec. if he pushes you aside in the stall, then you make him move away from you. If he moves to nip you, then you pop him in the jowl and go about your business as if It never happened. Once you’ve established some respect, then you can start with some exercises you can find on youtube. I like to start with desensitization, backing up, then moving the haunches and the shoulders etc. The main motive is to use the smallest possible pressure and have him respond. You start there, then move gradually to a pressure he responds to. This not only helps him see you as a leader, but will also help you break down and refine your riding aids.

In a previous post, you mentioned this horse doesn’t seem to know much undersaddle and ‘tunes you out’. If he is greener, then I’d take it slow and break down the basics at the walk, but until you are 100% confident he understands everything. You can mix up different exercises, introduce poles or obstacles to make things more interesting for him.I’d also work in small sessions designed for success, so that you can give him a positive outcome.

I’d also look for a bridle/bit or use something stronger than a regular halter for riding, even a rope halter as someone else suggested. There are lots available online. A regular halter is not designed to provide clear pressure and release. I’ve used a halter for bareback riding as well, but that has been after the horse is well versed undersaddle, responding to mainly my seat and leg. If you are unsure of what size bit your horse would take, then you can measure. All you need is a piece of string tied to something that can’t slip through the horse’s mouth and a marker. Put the string horizontally in the mouth and mark where the other side of the string ends. Then, measure the length marked. As for the type of bit, it does really vary, but most horses work alright in a snaffle or french link, which are both mild bits.
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post #8 of 19 Old 03-12-2019, 03:45 AM
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Fjord horses are notorious for being willful, and having such short, massively powerful necks, they can get away with it, too!


I think that you should look into putting him into a bit. It will make is so that you can 'shout' if needed. If your hands are educated, you will also be able to 'whisper', so communication will be just fine.


This will also help you to utilitze bending him into a stop when he does speed up and get away with you.


I agree that if the horse starts to move off when you are in the process of mounting, to not mount up. To go back to getting him to stand properly. One approach to that is what was described early, basically getting after him and making move and disengage his hind. I'm not sure about that . .. but I've heard it recommended before.
I'd look at some videos online for training a horse to stand politely for mounting.


I wouldn't jump off unless you are ready to deal with this immediately on the ground by making his feet move briskly, or you feel your life is in danger




The long and the short of it is that the horse is young, been unused for a long time, spring is coming. Put that together and you've got a lot of power to deal with. One day you'll love having that power.
But, I agree that getting him to view you as important, and your authority as believable, via groundwork , will be the best place to start.


I'm sorry not to go into specifics, but there is just a ton of stuff out there, and here, in specifics.
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post #9 of 19 Old 03-12-2019, 04:28 AM
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When i read your title i was expecting a horse that was attacking people! This is NOT an evil horse, it is a horse that has learned he can use his strength to do what he pleases.

Riding in a halter is all very well and good if you have a horse that is compliant and has a good work ethic. This horse does not.

You need to have some form of control and this has to be either a bit or a hackamore of some description.

I wouldn't think that riding bareback would be making his back sore but you are lacking in balance so cannot be consistent with your aids.

I cannot believe that you do not have a bridle available that would fit the horse. If the throatlash or browband are to small, leave them off. As for a bit, I doubt he is over wide in his mouth.

Who does the horse belong to? It is up to them to provide tack to fit him.
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post #10 of 19 Old 03-12-2019, 07:33 AM
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Hi & welcome to the forum!

Firstly, just for your future ref, altho it sounds like you got the idea already now... don't forget, we only have your written words to go on, so when you say he's 'evil' & 'naughty', that does give us a certain feel about your 'mindset', so careful how you word things, if that's not what you mean, so you don't get/give irrelevant ideas.

Horses aren't 'naughty' or such, they just learn to do what works for them & quit doing what doesn't work. So along with making stuff clear to him, you need to find *effective* ways of making what you don't want difficult/unpleasant for him, but also ensuring that he 'wins' when he does as you ask - make it worth his while.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkvc View Post
I've been riding him bareback in a halter, mostly because he is literally too big for all of the saddles and bits available but also because I want him to listen to me and not a bit etc.. just a personal thing.
As for no saddle, if you're a decent, not too big rider or doing long, hard rides, shouldn't be a problem riding bareback, so long as it doesn't effect your ability to control him effectively. If he knows he can unbalance you & make you ineffective because of it, then it's a prob!

As to riding in a halter, i get your 'personal thing' but remember, a bit or whatever else you use is just a tool, to help teach the horse to listen to *you*. It's not either-or. Bit like those who say 'the dog should just Obey YOU, not do it for treats, they're forgetting that a dog will also do what works for them, and they will learn from either aversive(punishment/pressure) or rewards, what works & what doesn't - the treats, or bit or whatever are just tools, that can be used well or badly, but the animal doesn't listen to them rather than the handler.

Personally, I like to start horses in a halter, and progress to a bit only after they're 'listening' reliably in a halter, so I can then use the bit without any real pressure. BUT if he has already learned that he's stronger than you with a halter, that you can't make him do anything he doesn't want to, you need to find a way of *effectively* controlling him, or else you're just further training him to do as he pleases. So, as he's already learned that a flat halter isn't something he needs to listen to, you could go to a rope one(you can spend a few $$ buying about 6m of quality yacht braid rope & find the instrucs online to make your own, custom fit for him) but I'm thinking now he's learned to resist, you probably need to start with a bit or something... sharper.

Quote:
when we are riding and in sync, it is stellar - he listens to my legs and my shoulders and I hardly have to ask him to trot and stop and go on the diagonal etc
So, I don't like to assume what the horse does or doesn't know(so often a horse is 'disobedient' because they just haven't been taught clearly or effectively or reliably how to do something), but it sounds to me as if he has learned leg & riding aids well in the past, but - whether recent with you or in the past - he's also learned that he doesn't have to do it if he doesn't want. So the issue is, you need to motivate him to *want* to listen & play your games, and also make it unpleasant/difficult/not work for him when he doesn't.

He's not being 'naughty', just doing what works for him. Put yourself in his shoes - would you do a boring, drudgy job for no/little reward? Think about his *motivation & attitudes* towards what you want of him, what he wants for himself. How can you change THOSE, so the Right behaviours will happen without much effort?

Quote:
and IMMEDIATELY he walked straight out of the arena doors and had NO reaction to me kicking him or pulling on the rein. I brought him back in - I had to fight him on that - and closed the doors. I mounted him from the ground and before I had gotten on him square he took off cantering.
So first thing first, I'd not ride this horse outside a safe area such as an arena yet, and I would not be cantering yet, until he's reliable - without a 'fight' - at a walk & trot. He knows he's bigger than you, so you need to find ways to get him to WANT to do as you ask. Reward based training works really well, be that treats, scratchies, whatever the horse really likes. And it sounds like you need to start with standing still for mounting.

I'd also *teach* a 'one rein stop', starting on the ground. You need to teach, not try to force, esp with a horse like this, as you can't (safely at least) make them bend, certainly not make them relax when they get there. So teach this, first on the ground, and you can then take one rein for control to bend him a bit when you're mounting. Then start practicing mounted while still. Then at a walk.... etc.

BUT.... does anyone have some tips on working with TERRIBLE listeners?? he is such a beautiful little boy [/QUOTE]

Break things down & get good at 'the basics' and short, easy stuff first. And rewarding Good Stuff, rather than just reinforcing with release of 'pressure'. And I've found very often with horses who 'don't listen' it's because I haven't been listening to them enough. Sometimes I get on 'auto pilot' and don't notice the small things, that let you know where a horse is really at... until it becomes bigger.
mmshiro and rmissildine like this.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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