Impatient horse doesn't want to stand - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-10-2019, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Impatient horse doesn't want to stand

My greenie has been doing great for me, but I want to work one thing out before hooking him to a cart. He's very impaitent when asked to halt, and likes to halt for just a few seconds before going forward again.

When I tack up, he stands perfectly still for me and doesn't show any signs of impatience. I don't even tie him to tack up; I just bring him into a field where he stands quietly for me to get his harness on. That's not the issue here.

I always make a point of drilling walk to halt transitions into his head by practicing them like crazy, and boy does he make his displeasure known. If I ask for a halt he'll swish his tail, stick his nose in the air and halt. But usually just for a second. If he takes a step, I tell him to halt again. I only let him walk off when I ask for it.

Now I'm also a very green horse trainer, and I'm not 100% sure if my method of teaching a reliable, extended halt is what's best for him. My expectation is for him to halt on voice command, which he does, and stay that way on a loose rein until I say otherwise. That's the part I'm having trouble with. He just wants to go!

I figure I must be getting somewhere with him because if it's the end of the session, I lunge him beforehand or do in hand work prior to ground driving (when he's already tired) he stops like a pro. But that's not good enough for a driving horse, he needs better brakes, and I'm not sure if I'm installing them right.

I don't know if it's lack of respect, boredom from monotonous practice, or just plain too much energy that's keeping him from stopping and standing while in harness. If only he'd stand as well in harness as he does in a halter!

Any input, observations or advice is welcomed. I'd love to know if there's something I'm doing wrong, or if I'm doing the right thing and I just need to practice it more.
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post #2 of 15 Old 07-10-2019, 11:08 PM
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My BO trains driving horses, and he once said, "'Halt' is the most important gait for a driving horse!" - I can see his point.

Horses don't like to move from the spot they are at, if they are most comfortable there. Something makes him uncomfortable and he's trying to figure out how to improve his comfort. He feels "pressure" when he's standing, so he moves. In my humble opinion, you gotta teach the boy that standing where he's at is the most comfortable spot to be to him. Not only will he get corrected when he moves off without asking, but good things will happen when he's patiently waiting. It might help if you could figure out what about the situation makes him nervous so he wants to move off: Anticipation? Concern? Discomfort?

Horses, unlike music students, do not take well to "drills" as they don't have plans for the future and thus don't see the point. To them, "now" is "it", and when things get boring and repetitive, I can see how he might get fidgety or even frustrated, trying to get out of the situation he was put in. Teach him how you'd like to be taught mathematics, not like dragon nun at Catholic School with the ruler. :)
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post #3 of 15 Old 07-10-2019, 11:30 PM
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If you know he wants to walk off at 3 seconds, ask him to walk on at 2. Make it your decision, not his. Gradually lengthen until he's always waiting for your command. I absolutely would not put him to cart until the halt was 100%.

At the beginning of a session, can you stand with him and just chill? Before doing anything?
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post #4 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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@mmshiro I believe his problem is a mix of anticipation and concern. The closed bridle is new to him, I've been driving him around in increasingly unfamiliar areas, and he absolutely anticipates moving forward again after stopping.

This is a problem that I could solve under saddle by making him want to stand when I ask, but doing that while ground driving sounds like a lot of running. I hate running... I'll have to go back to the round pen for the halt if I'm to go that route, but he always stops great for me 100% of the time in the round pen! I think I can stop the anticipation thing without getting any cardio in, or at least make that anticipation work to my advantage.

I do get your point with the catholic school analogy, but personally I'd rather not be taught mathematics at all!

Do you think that maybe backing up every time I halt him so he learns to anticipate that could help? Kind of like what reining trainers do.
@ApuetsoT I've actually tried telling him to walk off before he starts to do it himself, and that made my problem worse... He'd just anticipate the cue to move forward even sooner.

I have no intention of hitching him until his halt is perfect. I've seen what can happen with ill mannered driving horses.

But I do make it a point to spend time with my horse and chill before and after every work session. He will stand perfectly for me until he's in harness and in a place where he can really move out. He's a very curious boy and I can tell when his mind wanders from the task at hand.

Under saddle, it's the same deal. He's perfect in the round pen, but he gets a glimpse of that big open arena and he just wants to go. His canter to trot transitions are great, and so are his trot to walk. He obeys those cues without question, it's the standing still thing that he objects to so much.
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post #5 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post
@mmshiro I believe his problem is a mix of anticipation and concern. The closed bridle is new to him, I've been driving him around in increasingly unfamiliar areas, and he absolutely anticipates moving forward again after stopping.

Can I ask why you thought you would not get a reaction to such major changes both near introduced at the same time...

Being put in unfamiliar areas where he has concern, obvious anxiety and anticipation then demanding he stand stock still for what seems a eternity to him...a lot to ask of a horse in training imo.

Closed bridle for what?
Why did you take away his ability to see what surrounds him?
By closing off his sight you heightened his response, his need to move on.

Could you try removing the closed bridle, let your horse see and recognize there is no danger, he is safe and not only can hear you he again can see you...big difference in response you might have.
I can't imagine what the animal mentally goes through when you blinker them to tunnel-vision capacity only..
Reintroduce that closed bridle later, after you have that rock solid extended time halt you so want and need.

Maybe your horse still needs to see you, to read your body get vibes of safety not only through the reins but visual he is doing good and is safe.
Possible the horse just isn't ready for all his cues to come via driving-lines and voice, but he needs to see as he concretes his lessons and responses to those lessons in his mind.
Have you considered possibly only one blinker or a more racing style of half-cups so they have some sight but not see the cart behind them if that is your concern.
just a thought.
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post #6 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 08:19 AM
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I would not use backing after a halt for a driving horse; driving horses are not taught to back until proficient driving.

A horse can use backing as an avoidance, and a horse with a cart behind can get in a lot of trouble if it starts backing.

IME walk-halt transitions would be more useful than long periods spend standing, depending on the personality of the horse. There is a good reason that draft types are generally quiet-minded.

Also used to use a training cart, where it is easy to step on and off the back for young horses. I don't remember doing a lot of ground driving before putting the horses to the cart. Maybe a month? Would ground drive them all over the property and up and down the roads. Just really don't remember as it has been a long time since I trained a horse to cart. Often easier to double hitch a young horse with a seasoned driving horse to help them learn.

@greentree has a lot of experience driving hotter horses, maybe she has some useful tips.
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post #7 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 08:29 AM
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I donít normally put the closed bridle on until a few days before hook up. My driving horses get an additional command:Stand. Once they are stopped from Whoa, the command changes to Stand. Donít be impatient, because that is read as frustration by the horse, and may be accompanied by an adrenaline release which means Get out of dodge to the horse.

You still have chains to pull, and tires to pull and drag to pull before hook up, any way. At least, if you were training at my barn, you would.

As soon as you hook any of the new equipment up and ask for walk, we train them to take ONE step, then Whoa. This teaches them that the chains, tires, drag, cart, whatever...STOPS as soon as they do, instead of going faster and making more noise and inciting panic.
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post #8 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by AnitaAnne View Post
I would not use backing after a halt for a driving horse...

A horse can use backing as an avoidance...
I hate it on a riding horse too. I know I've shared this on HF before, but my current riding horse must have had this "installed" by someone before me, and by the time I got her it had absolutely become an evasion. Made for some very dicey moments on the trail where there was not room to back except into the underbrush. Fortunately she was trained out of that quickly.

I don't know anything about training driving horses, but since you mentioned part of the training is off of voice commands- does he stop and stand when you lead him on a long, loose lead? At liberty? I don't know if it makes sense to start there, but seems like it could be an option. Then it would be easy to see if you are getting understanding and relaxation paired with your "whoa" command, and you'd be physically closer to show him more clearly what you're asking with the voice command. I would personally reward that quickly with a good scratch or treat, but I know not everyone likes to work with treats.
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post #9 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 09:34 AM
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I missed the backing part....I wouldnít! A hitched horse that backs uncontrolled jack knifes a four wheeled carriages, then usually rears.

Do you have a barn? I do everything with my horses ground tied. Grooming, hoof trimming, stall cleaning, saddling, harnessing. Standing there just comes naturally. I have always worked horses by myself, so I donít have a header when I hitch. They just stand there because I trust they WILL, as theyíve been doing it all of their lives.

Yeah, at shows it makes some people nervous.....

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post #10 of 15 Old 07-11-2019, 10:20 AM
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I'm with greenttree. Mine have two commands. Halt(Whoa) and Stand. Halt is for a stop when I expect to move forward within a reasonable amount of time. Stand is after Halt and for extended periods. Halt is only used when in harness, under saddle - basically working. Stand can be used at any time. They understand this.

I start mine similar to greentree too. Lots of ground driving. No wheeled attachments until they are solid dragging. NO backing until forward is solid and horse straightens readily.
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