Rescued Horse "Retraining" - The Horse Forum
 11Likes
  • 1 Post By Sharpie
  • 4 Post By Cherie
  • 2 Post By swimminchikin
  • 2 Post By loosie
  • 2 Post By loosie
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 77
• Horses: 1
Rescued Horse "Retraining"

Hey guys!

So I was wondering if you guys could offer some opinions/thoughts to help me work through some things with my horse, Max. Just some background for you.. I started riding English in May 2013 - at that time I only had lessons once a week and I wasn't happy with either of the barns I tried so around December I stopped going. I volunteered with a rescue group since October 2013 - this included taking care of 4 horses twice a week in the evening (feeding, blanketing, turn out, grooming, and occasional Western riding). And since August of this year I've been taking English lessons twice a week at a more "serious" barn.

In February 2014 my mom adopted a horse (Max, 10 years old) that the rescue had recently gotten from a kill buy auction. Looking back, yes I could agree that my mom and I were probably too inexperienced, but we are boarding at a barn with very knowledgable people and they have shown us the ropes along the way. They stay in the pasture 24/7, except for feeding. From what we know, he was probably ridden Western but he has not objected to riding English.

Max no longer shows any dangerous behavior (mainly he would run us over if he wanted to get out of the stall or something, but this is totally resolved now) and he does have good manners, but there are still "issues" I have come across. Not saying I expected to have a perfect horse, just some things I want to work on with him.

Additionally, he has recently had the vet and dentist (and of course farrier) out, so I truly don't think any of these problems are stemming from a medical issue.

Please, do not judge me for any mistakes I've made in the past or for being uneducated. I have learned so much since beginning to ride and I'm reaching out now in the hopes of expanding my knowledge.

Okay, so here's the things I am working on, and how I've been approaching it so far.

1. If I try to use my legs to steer, he doesn't react at all. I don't think he understands what I'm asking. So I've been reinforcing moving away from pressure from the ground (especially behind the girth -- I usually have to exaggerate and get closer to his hip) and I am hoping it will at some point transfer to under saddle. Do I just continue doing this for a while, or what?

2. He also does not like direct reining at all. I have been using a mechanical hackamore with him and neck reining (which he knows how to do very well), but I really would like to get him to direct rein. I use a french link eggbutt snaffle when I try direct reining. He does great at a walk, but when trotting he throws his head up in the air and sometimes won't move away from the gate in the ring when we get to that end. I know I could probably use a standing martingale, but I feel like that's just a "bandaid". And when cantering, he canters nearly with his nose to the ground. Is this possibly an old western pleasure habit? He has never, ever bucked so I really don't think it's that.

For this, I have been using the bit when we ride, but neck reining or direct reining with very loose reins. Is there something else I should be doing, or do I need to just give him more time?


3. I would really love to be able to trail ride by ourselves at some point in the future. (Please realize I'm not trying to make this horse perfect overnight... Just trying to plan everything out to eventually have a ..more perfect horse. ) Max used to be pretty herd bound, but he's better with that. He's just a very nervous horse by nature and the one time I tried to ride away from the barn (with someone on the ground), he bolted twice and after that, I made the stupid decision of getting off and walking back. This wasn't long after we got him, so now I feel confident I could ride it out but I don't necessarily want to throw him back into that situation.

I am planning on riding away from the barn, VERY gradually, to fix this. That day he bolted we were only a few minutes (walking) away from the barn, so I was thinking of just doing stuff right in front of the barn (across the road) for a little while, then just walking as far as we can get without him getting super nervous, and increasing that distance over time. Does this sound like a good plan? I've also been riding in a closed off pasture occasionally to acclimate him to riding in open space - and he does great, sometimes better than in the ring. (Side note - I've also been on two trail rides with another horse, one recently after we got him and one last month. He did better last month, but still was pretty anxious and just wanted to canter. He was also drenched in sweat when we got back - he sweats like mad when he's nervous. Will this get better by just repeatedly trail riding with another horse?)

4. I'm not very happy with his trot. He takes super quick, short steps. Usually by the end of our ride I can get a slower pace but we usually can't keep it for very long as he will stop. How do I get him to take bigger steps? When I lunge him, I can see that his hind hooves just don't track up very far. As far as slowing down the trot, I've been doing lots of walk-trot-walk transitions and circling and figure 8s. I also slow down my posting.

And another side note.. He does not lunge well - he is hard to make move out in a circle to begin and usually won't continue walking, but then other times I can't get him to stop trotting/cantering. If I can get him trotting then he'll move out on a circle nicely. But when I try to stop by stepping into his space/turning my body to be in front of his head, looking him in the eye, and "sending waves" through the lunge line he generally just keeps going. Tips? Am I doing something wrong?

5. He also has an issue with standing still. If I put him in the cross ties he does okay, but he moves around - forward, back, and side to side. He also will NOT stand still when getting a bath, but he is not a fan of the water hose at all so that is just something he needs to be desensitized to.

I used to be very much a perfectionist and I would just get super frustrated that I couldn't "fix" these things within like a week. Now, obviously, I realize how impractical that is and I am MUCH more patient. I think I am better with really reading the horse and adapting to work better with the individual horse.

Okay, wow, sorry for that novel. These are just a bunch of things I've had on my mind for a while. I've done hours of research online but I really would just like to hear from people specifically on my situation. It can be a challenge sometimes to pick and choose a few relevant tips out of a ton of articles. THANK YOU to anyone that read all of this! Also, if videos would be helpful, I do not have any at this time but I should be able to get some next week (starting 12/15). I think just consistent training and more time will help most (if not all) of this, but I like to have a set plan when I go and I want to make sure I'm doing what I should be.

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." -Winston Churchill
"Strong legs, soft hands, steady mind." (Unknown)
mcfarawayland is offline  
post #2 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 06:39 AM
Green Broke
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
Posts: 2,515
• Horses: 2
"...there are still "issues" I have come across. Not saying I expected to have a perfect horse, just some things I want to work on with him."

And so there will be, as long as you have horses! :)

"1. If I try to use my legs to steer, he doesn't react at all. I don't think he understands what I'm asking. So I've been reinforcing moving away from pressure from the ground."

Yes, starting and practicing that from the ground is a great help. Move his shoulder, then his hip, and then his whole body side to side. Get him to the point where all you have to do is LOOK at that 'button' and he moves it for you. Part of this is installing this button as an 'option' and a trained behavior in his brain- if, like my horse, he was never taught lateral movement and pivots on the fore and hind, he has to learn what you want, how to do it himself, and then how to do that with a rider under saddle. Make this training a quick 5 minute thing you do every day. In the field. In his stall. In the arena/roundpen, while tacking up, etc. Install the buttons, use them all the time, and don't take 'no' for an answer. Make obeying them habit and then he will obey them habitually.

"2. ...I use a french link eggbutt snaffle when I try direct reining. He does great at a walk, but when trotting he throws his head up in the air and sometimes won't move away from the gate in the ring... when cantering, he canters nearly with his nose to the ground."

If he's not bucking, then I wouldn't worry too much, part of it may be training, but some is also breeding. I am betting two things a) your hands are not great at a trot either, which doesn't help him, and b) he doesn't trust contact from previous experience. Be patient. Be very, very patient, consistent, and keep him moving forward. You should not be pulling back to get the contact, but rather pushing him forward into it. If he's had bad experienes and "knows" that bit contact will hurt and/or means to slow down, it will take time to retrain and reteach him otherwise. Especially if you accidentally pull on his mouth unintentionally and confirm his distrust, loose reins except for sudden, and to him unexpected pressure is worse than constant light pressure. If you want him in a bit rather than a hack, you need to ride and train him in a bit rather than a hack. I like a french link, but maybe he doesn't- try seeing if another bit makes him happier.

"3. ... I was thinking of just doing stuff right in front of the barn (across the road) for a little while, then just walking as far as we can get without him getting super nervous, and increasing that distance over time. Does this sound like a good plan?"

Yes, so long as it's not a busy road. But be careful. Do NOT turn around and go home when he gets nervous, or you teach him that if he's nervous, then he should turn around and go home. Either work him and go home before he gets nervous, or make going away from home good (nice, easy walking) and going towards home/being at home hard (circles, serpentines, trot poles, etc). Keep riding out with friends, and then use trails he's seen with other horses as your first ones when he's solo.

"4. I'm not very happy with his trot.... He does not lunge well"

I'd bet money he's strung out and heavy on the forehand (not stepping under himself) this goes hand in hand with head tossing and being hollow backed. He's probably not in terribly good fitness either. Check tack fit, but MOST horses without good training come this way. As you get him to move forward well and accept contact (if you continue working english) or to carry himself properly (western) this will improve. He's unbalanced and it feels awful. It's also common and almost normal given the training most horses have.

I am also willing to bet that him not stopping on the lunge is user/human error just as confidently. Can you get a couple of lessons on how to work a horse on a line from someone who is really good? There's a feel to it that is nearly impossible to teach except in person. Rather than looking at his head, choose a spot about a third forward of the circle from where he is, and TAKE it. Turn towards it, lean into it, walk towards it, block it with a whip, and own that spot so your horse cannot come through there. If your horse gets there before you, you are going way too slow. I don't know anything about 'waves' of energy, but I know this works on horses on a line, in a pen, and at pasture. If I 'own' this space energetically enough, my horse will first slow, then stop, then turn away, and then move off a different direction on the continuum of how determinedly 'mine' that random spot I choose to occupy is.

"5. He also has an issue with standing still. If I put him in the cross ties he does okay, but he moves around - forward, back, and side to side. He also will NOT stand still when getting a bath, but he is not a fan of the water hose at all so that is just something he needs to be desensitized to."

Training issue for you. The two usual schools of thought are that if they don't want to stand still, then they can work their hind-ends off and then be given another chance (typically lunging circles or lots of turns on the fore and hind), or option two: don't let them move at all. Each time they think about it, correct them and put them where it should be. This may result in a horsie temper tantrum once or twice, but it's what it took for my guy to "get" it. So long as they are where they should be, leave them alone, but EVERY single time they move a hoof out of place, you have to put them back firmly.

All of this takes time. Think months to years if you're an amateur trainer like me (much quicker for the pros, of course). And that's okay because YOU are learning a ton too. When one of you (horse or human) is an expert, it goes much quicker, but when you're both learning and making mistakes you will confuse each other and muddy the waters on a regular basis. You can still get there, it just won't be fast.
mcfarawayland likes this.
Sharpie is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 77
• Horses: 1
Thank you so much for your response! Lots of good things to think about and use... Part of the problem I'm having is that I went to college in August (only about an hour away) so I am not able to consistently get up there and work with him... But winter break starts at the end of this week and you can bet I'll be up there almost every day! Same goes for summer break. So I know it'll probably take a lot longer to fix these things with not being able to be consistent but I think we can do it.

I especially really liked this bit, and will be putting it to use every day
"...he has to learn what you want, how to do it himself, and then how to do that with a rider under saddle. Make this training a quick 5 minute thing you do every day."

I have thought about trying another bit, but I'm not quite sure what to get him... We also tried him in a D ring snaffle for the first few times I rode before we got our own stuff -- same problem as the current bit. Suggestions? He is very sensitive to any pressure on the reins so I really want the bit to be as mild as possible. I could certainly ask to try the D ring snaffle again.

No, it's not really a busy road. It only leads up to this boarding place for dogs and it comes off of a fairly private road. Okay, I really like that idea. He tends to not stop trotting if he gets nervous so I think we will do our best just to get a relaxed walk when moving away from the barn.

I definitely agree that he's heavy on the forehand... I do also have a hard time getting him to canter because he ends up in this super fast trot and can't get balanced enough to canter. I would also agree that he's not in good shape, considering he doesn't get worked regularly. I am hoping to teach my mom to lunge (once I have it down better, or rather have someone else teach her) so that even if she doesn't want to ride yet (she does not have a lot of confidence at all and more prefers to just hang out with him) he can still be W/T/C-ing on a regular basis. I am sure he needs to muscle up more.

Yeah, it probably is something I'm doing wrong. When we first got him, he seemed to get really confused when lunging (this was with other people lunging him) so I'm also not sure that he ever had solid training with this. He absolutely would NOT turn to go the other direction in the beginning but he's getting better with that.

I really like this, too:
"Rather than looking at his head, choose a spot about a third forward of the circle from where he is, and TAKE it. Turn towards it, lean into it, walk towards it, block it with a whip, and own that spot so your horse cannot come through there."

I'll definitely see about calling back the lady we had helping us in the beginning. (I would consider her a trainer, but not professionally - she is a friend of the barn owner that's been with horses for a very long time)

As far as cross tying, I think making him stand still would be the better choice as the barn aisles are pretty narrow so I would have to take him outside, and I think by that point he won't connect it with his behavior in the cross ties. But for bathing, I like the idea of doing a quick little lunging.

I've had a running list of "problems" going on my phone, so now I'm gonna add in these solutions so I will have it right there at the barn with me. Thank you so much!

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." -Winston Churchill
"Strong legs, soft hands, steady mind." (Unknown)
mcfarawayland is offline  
post #4 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 06:28 PM
Trained
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 6,024
• Horses: 0
I think you need to start further back in his training. I think he needs to first learn how to 'follow his nose'. Before you start teaching him to follow his nose with a snaffle bit, make sure he has had his teeth done. Having bad teeth can be so uncomfortable for a horse that you cannot teach them anything with a bit in their mouth.

There are several ways to teach a horse to follow its nose. One is to check his head around slightly in a round pen. We do this with a stock saddle and check the horse to the back girth with a full cheek snaffle and an elastic link in the check rein. That is not always possible or a good idea for a novice that is not a trainer, so there are alternative ways to do this.

A way to do this on a gentle horse that is safe for anyone is to use a 'full cheek' snaffle with a lightweight long lead-rope that can be attached to one side at a time. You can snap it to the right ring and gently pull the horse around to the right with the rope rein. When the horse has the idea, you can stand on the horse's left side, reach across his back with the long rein in your hand, drop the rein so that it comes around his rump just above his hocks and pull him around in a circle with the rein.

Once he has decided to follow his nose easily to the right, snap the long rope to his left bit ring and repeat the process to the left.

Once he has that down, he should be ready to ground drive. There is just no way that prepares a horse better for riding and teaches a horse t follow its nose better than driving it from the ground with a pair of long lines. A horse is just not going to ride any better than it drives.

Here is a cheap full cheek snaffle that works very well for green horses and cannot be pulled all the way through a horse's mouth. Jeffers Equine : 5" 3-Piece Full Cheek with Lozenge Horse Bit | Jeffers Pet

I would not get on this horse until he knows how to follow his nose. You are literally letting him carry you where he will and hoping for the best with little or no control. So far he has been kind to you and has only carried you home. This is going to turn him into a full blown spoiled, barn-sour dangerous horse if he gets more practice carrying you where he pleases when he does not want to go somewhere. Even riding him in a ring is going to spoil him more by just letting him run to the gate.

You should either try what I have explained to you or get some professional help. If you keep trying to do things that you are not an experienced enough rider to do well, he is well on his way to becoming badly spoiled.

visit us at www.wolferanch.com
Cherie is offline  
post #5 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 07:11 PM
Foal
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 216
• Horses: 0
You may want to check his diet as well. That can play a big part in energy levels.
loosie and mcfarawayland like this.
swimminchikin is online now  
post #6 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 09:37 PM
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 21,753
• Horses: 0
Hi, it sounds like you're doing well & have some good ideas & understanding for where to go, IMO. Sounds like your horse is a generally nervy character, and I'd also look carefully into diet & nutrition regarding that. For eg. excess potassium & deficient magnesium are 2 very common causes of excessive 'nervousness'. gravelproofhoof.org is one place to find more info on Mg, although it's more about physical health benefits than mental.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcfarawayland View Post
1. If I try to use my legs to steer, he doesn't react at all. I don't think he understands what I'm asking. So I've been reinforcing moving away from pressure from the ground (especially behind the girth -- I usually have to exaggerate and get closer to his hip) and I am hoping it will at some point transfer to under saddle. Do I just continue doing this for a while, or what?
Yes, sounds good to me! You want to teach him to 'yield'(respond softly with understanding, not react away or resist) to fingertip & other 'pressure' wherever you direct it. So starting on the ground, teach him to yield his forehand or hindquarters away from you. Yes, you may need to 'exaggerate' to make things obvious to him to begin with, such as yielding his hind end with your fingers way back, but you 'refine' it as he gets good at it, until your fingers are about where your foot would be when ridden.

Also you will also be reinforcing his yielding with rein pressure, so you've got that as another 'cue' in conjunction with legs, to turn him, until he's good at doing it just from legs. **As you also say he is good at neck reining but not direct reins, I'd start out reinforcing the legs with Western rein cues, rather than trying to teach different things at once.

Quote:
2. He also does not like direct reining at all. I have been using a mechanical hackamore with him and neck reining (which he knows how to do very well), but I really would like to get him to direct rein. I use a french link eggbutt snaffle when I try direct reining. He does great at a walk, but when trotting he throws his head up in the air and sometimes won't move away from the gate in the ring when we get to that end. I know I could probably use a standing martingale, but I feel like that's just a "bandaid". And when cantering, he canters nearly with his nose to the ground. Is this possibly an old western pleasure habit?
I'd personally ditch the mechanical hack & stick to a real one - bosal, or rope halter, or if he's good with it, a curb bit, for 'western'. A bit, or 'sidepull' bitless will be clearer for English. BUT ignoring the levers & attaching the reins where the chinstrap attaches will give you a direct 'sidepull' with the mechanical hack. I agree with your sentiments about a martingale & don't advise that either. 'Bandaid' is one thing too, but they often make matters worse by causing a horse(who maybe doesn't understand, or is worried too) to resist further - gives them something to fight against. If you do try a martingale though, I'd avoid the running ones, and use a straight 'tie down', that allows him relative freedom of movement, except to the degree that he can put his nose right up & 'evade' bit pressure.

Sounds like he maybe just hasn't been taught well. How does he go on the ground, w/t/c with a snaffle? I'd ensure he *yielded* reliably on the ground to direct rein cues first up close, then I'd start 'ground driving'. I don't advise lunging with a bit & 'contact' - too much constant pressure & your 'cues' will be 'stronger' and likely not so consistent, if you're not very experienced/careful with it.

Both on the ground and then in the saddle, I would ensure he was really good at the walk, before I asked for a trot, really good at the trot before cantering.

Yes, I reckon the cantering with his nose on the ground is probably due to western training. Showies like this exaggerated low head thing. Sounds like you've got a way to go before you're up to 'correcting' that if you want. He's learned that is the 'right' way to do it, that's what 'works'. You just need to, as fairly & clearly as possible, teach him this no longer works. Eg. he will feel pressure in that position, but not when carrying his head in a more natural(& comfortable for him) position. *For that one, I do feel a 'bandaid' of an 'overcheck' or 'grazing rein' can be helpful to begin with, especially when re-teaching from the ground.

Quote:
For this, I have been using the bit when we ride, but neck reining or direct reining with very loose reins. Is there something else I should be doing, or do I need to just give him more time?
Yeah, I'd forget 'contact' until he's good at yielding basically first, but 'very loose' may be too much, exacerbate any inconsistency in your cues with a snaffle/direct cue, so I'd 'set neutral' at a *slightly* loose rein.

If you want to teach him English & he's only western trained, then I think it's helpful, at least to begin(for both of you, if you're a learner too), to differentiate with equipment & aids quite clearly. Eg. don't try to mix them up yet. Use only Western gear & signals & loose rein when you want Western, the snaffle or sidepull, and shorter reins & direct rein cues when you want English. 'Exaggerate' differences & clarity of cues to teach, and 'refine' or start mixing things up only once the horse 'gets' it.

Quote:
Max used to be pretty herd bound, but he's better with that. He's just a very nervous horse by nature and the one time I tried to ride away from the barn (with someone on the ground), he bolted twice and after that, I made the stupid decision of getting off and walking back.
Firstly, that wasn't at all a 'stupid decision' IMO. Primarily because safety is of utmost importance - best to get off than stay on 'for training's sake' if the horse is feeling 'dangerous' But it sounds like your horse could have been reacting in fear, so it was all just too much for him - not a good thing to try to push further anyway. Always remember too, that horses learn from *instant* reinforcement/consequences. That he was nervous & bolted, but you obviously managed to get control to stop before dismounting(you didn't say you fell off in his blind panic), then took him back home, to his 'comfort zone' sounds like a good thing to me.

I do however, work to minimise reactivity, not the least for safety's sake. But as mentioned, by the time they're in that 'state of mind', it's gone beyond a 'learning' state of mind. So I agree that it is indeed a good move that you work *gradually* as you've suggested. So get things going well at home first. He needs to learn to understand & trust you to be in control first. You need to become his respected leader, so he can trust you to keep him safe when the rest of his herd aren't around.

So yes, I teach horses to go out confidently with gradual desensitisation, 'approach & retreat', to 'stretch' their comfort zone without sending them over the edge. This is effectively the same approach as I use to get a horse comfortable with anything 'scary'.

I find wherever the horse's 'comfort zone' *starts* to fray. Eg. he might start getting worried at the idea of just walking out the property gate. So I wouldn't ask for much more than that, ensure I turn around before it gets up into actual fear, until with repetition, he's blase, no longer concerned about going in & out that gate. *I'd also include lots of positive reinforcement too, be that treats, a nice patch of grass, a paddock mate camped outside the gate... to help change the association from Bad to Good. Do whatever you can to motivate him to WANT to go there! Then just work in 'baby steps' to 'stretch' that comfort zone further. Yes, it sounds tedious, and can well be, to begin with, but I have found that if you work in such a way, the horse gains trust in you to look after him quickly & be in control of 'dangerous' situations, and it soon progresses quicker & quicker - it's usually only the early training that may be tedious.

Quote:
(Side note - I've also been on two trail rides with another horse, one recently after we got him and one last month. He did better last month, but still was pretty anxious and just wanted to canter. He was also drenched in sweat when we got back - he sweats like mad when he's nervous.
Yeah I was also going to suggest that you go out with other horses to begin with if possible, before going alone, but as with above, it sounds like it was just too much for him for that stage. Short, easy rides or outings first, that don't get him 'in a tizz'.

Quote:
How do I get him to take bigger steps?
Sounds like you need to get the basics before you start asking for 'refinement' such as that.

Quote:
When I lunge him, I can see that his hind hooves just don't track up very far.
Could be hurting, or otherwise needing a chiro adjustment or such?

Quote:
And another side note.. He does not lunge well - he is hard to make move out in a circle to begin and usually won't continue walking, but then other times I can't get him to stop trotting/cantering. If I can get him trotting then he'll move out on a circle nicely. But when I try to stop by stepping into his space/turning my body to be in front of his head, looking him in the eye, and "sending waves" through the lunge line he generally just keeps going. Tips? Am I doing something wrong?
Has he been taught? Have you had someone experienced at lunging ask him for it, to see if the problem isn't what you're doing? There are also different styles of lunging. Assuming you're sure you're doing everything 'right', I'd just assume he hasn't been taught. Lunging is just like any other yielding/leading/driving, but at a distance. I teach a horse to yield with up close, hands on signals/pressure to begin with, teach them to respond to the same with a hand/whip/stick, that the 'gesture' comes before actual 'pressure', so they're reliable about going forward/faster when 'pressure' is behind them, slow/stop from pressure in front(or on rein/halter), yield the forehand away when I direct it anywhere from poll to shoulder, yield the HQ away(& 'face up') when pressure is anywhere from rump to behind the drive line. Then I just gradually increase the distance until they're 'lunging'.

Quote:
5. He also has an issue with standing still. If I put him in the cross ties he does okay, but he moves around - forward, back, and side to side. He also will NOT stand still when getting a bath,
Perhaps he's never been desensitised to being restrained, and perhaps he's been tied up & had scary things happen, such as being 'bathed', so he further associates being trapped in this way with 'danger', so he CAN'T stand calmly. As a horse's first line of defense is to escape, nervousness tends to lead them to NEED to move their feet.

So I firstly wouldn't tie him up to 'do stuff' to him. I use gradual desensitisation again, to get them confident with being in the tie area, then with being 'tied' without firm pressure(eg. long rope round a rail, Tie Ring, etc). Remember, *instant* reinforcement, so if you take him out, back to his 'comfort zone' when he's antsy, that's what's being reinforced. Do what it takes - whether it's working VERY gradually to begin, offering a feed or other Good and distracting things... to get him 'practicing' & being reinforced for the Right behaviour as much as possible. Once you get it, then you can start putting a cue on it too

*Ed to add... I wouldn't be lunging a horse for exercise generally - hard on their joints doing lots of circles. I keep that for training.
Sharpie and mcfarawayland like this.
loosie is online now  
post #7 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 09:48 PM
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 21,753
• Horses: 0
^Looks like you guys responded while I was - thought I'd get in first before you Cherie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie View Post
There is just no way that prepares a horse better for riding and teaches a horse t follow its nose better than driving it from the ground with a pair of long lines. A horse is just not going to ride any better than it drives.
Just thought that bit deserves repeating. I had started many horses before I really learned about 'ground driving'(the stockman I originally learned from thought it was pointless unless you were training a cart horse!), and when I started using it for 'normal' training... well, I now teach every horse to ground drive before 'backing' them. It's a great step, to 'narrow the divide' between groundwork & riding.
loosie is online now  
post #8 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 77
• Horses: 1
Okay... Wow. I just typed out this whole long response and accidentally sent the browser back so I lost everything. UGH!

Cherie: Thank you so much. I had never thought about going back farther to that, but I like the idea. I think he would do pretty well with following his nose on the ground as I used to pull the lead rope (with a regular halter) over his back and get him to touch his nose to his side - though admittedly I haven't done that in some time. So I'll use that as a starting point. Can I not use the current bit we have (eggbutt french link snaffle) for this? I've also never ground driven so I will be enlisting someone else's help for that.. I love the idea though.

Quote:
I would not get on this horse until he knows how to follow his nose. You are literally letting him carry you where he will and hoping for the best with little or no control.
I hadn't thought about it this way, but yep that's pretty much true. I also should emphasize that we rarely have gone away from the barn - maybe four times. And we mainly work in the ring rather than the pasture. The pasture is fenced in so I think it's a nice in between step from the ring to the open space away from the barn. I am able to do figure 8's and circles in the ring but not as well as I would like. I will say he has come a long way from when we got him (if you can believe it lol) but the way he is now is just not good enough. I feel like we owe it to our horses to bring out their best -- for one, in case you ever had to sell them. And of course for ourselves.

I'll definitely take a look at his diet and see if there's not something better out there.

Loosie: Thanks for your response! So many things in there that I will definitely put to good use. As far as separating English and Western (and only neck reining while teaching him to steer by my legs), do I have to get "solid" with one thing before I can move to the next? I would like to work English one day, with direct reining only and not working on the legs, and then the next day (or whenever) work Western and work on steering with my legs. But would that be confusing for him?

I'll also look into getting a good rope halter to use for Western riding. My mom would like to go trail riding with him, and even in the ring prefers Western riding. She doesn't really ride right now, long story. She is not very experienced so I really don't think she should use the hackamore. This is also why I'm not just abandoning the Western riding and completely "converting" him to English.

Quote:
BUT ignoring the levers & attaching the reins where the chinstrap attaches will give you a direct 'sidepull' with the mechanical hack.
Wow I never thought of this! I will definitely try this. Is this really more effective than riding in a flat halter, though? I'm not sure he will be very responsive but I'll give it a try.

Quote:
How does he go on the ground, w/t/c with a snaffle?
Do you mean while lunging? If so, I honestly haven't in a while but he does go okay with his head at a normal position (maybe a little high). I also remembered that when my trainer free lunged him, he cantered with his nose down on the ground. We have checked the saddle fit previously but I'm sure it's worth checking again. As I said to Cherie, I definitely will try ground driving (with someone else).

Quote:
For that one, I do feel a 'bandaid' of an 'overcheck' or 'grazing rein' can be helpful to begin with, especially when re-teaching from the ground.
I also like this idea. How would you go about asking him to pick his head up with the regular reins? I usually pick my hands up slightly and use pressure, with the intention of releasing as soon as his head moves up at all, but he thinks I want him to slow down or stop.

Quote:
That he was nervous & bolted, but you obviously managed to get control to stop before dismounting...then took him back home, to his 'comfort zone' sounds like a good thing to me.
Good point, hadn't thought about it this way. You are correct that I didn't fall off.

Quote:
I find wherever the horse's 'comfort zone' *starts* to fray. Eg. He might start getting worried at the idea of just walking out the property gate.
So for this, would it better to start from the ground just leading him out? I have ridden him directly in front of the barn once (it's a very small road in front, so not far at all) and he was very anxious and kept trotting without me asking for it. I worked through it by circling and not necessarily forcing him to walk, but just making him work. Would it be better to just start from the ground? He has been on quite a few walks out front (we made a point to walk him back to where he bolted) and from what I remember he is much more calm.

I have had other people lunge him, but that was mainly in the beginning when he would just have days where we was super "hot". The trainer lunged him once (also in the beginning). From what I remember he did well, but he would only stop by turning in and walking towards you. I know some people think that's perfectly fine but I would rather he stop where he is. He has a tendency to get pushy and in your space if you're not constantly checking it, so I would rather reinforce that he stay out rather than walk into my space. That's also why it's so hard to turn him in the other direction -- he will turn facing you and either makes it hard for you to get on his other side. So basically I've decided I need to get someone out to, 1) make sure I know how to lunge properly and 2) see what the best he can do is, since I'm probably not bringing out his very best yet.

Thanks so much for the replies! I used to get very frustrated when I couldn't immediately "fix" these issues and ended up not going to the barn very often. I obviously know how irrational that is now, lol. I look forward to working on these things with him through the ideas that you guys have brought up!

ETA: The hackamore I currently have has a chain under the chin. Is that necessary or can I swap it out for a leather strap? It looks like this one: https://www.smartpakequine.com/english-hackamore-4412p

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." -Winston Churchill
"Strong legs, soft hands, steady mind." (Unknown)
mcfarawayland is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 12-07-2014, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 77
• Horses: 1
As far as getting a rope halter goes, is something like this all I need? We actually have one right now, but it's super stiff and thin and I just don't like it. Mustang Rope Halter with Lead - Statelinetack.com

What kind of reins can you use with that? Just something made of rope would be fine but I don't understand how you attach it.

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." -Winston Churchill
"Strong legs, soft hands, steady mind." (Unknown)
mcfarawayland is offline  
post #10 of 10 Old 12-08-2014, 12:46 AM
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 21,753
• Horses: 0
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcfarawayland View Post
I had never thought about going back farther to that, but I like the idea.
One basic principle I work on, is that you start at the start with ANY horse, because if you don't know what he's learned, you don't know what 'holes' there may be in the training, and it could be something really fundamental. So starting with the very basics, it may just be a matter of running through them quickly & confirming his understanding. But if you find 'sticking points' you can work where he's at, before asking for more 'difficult' stuff.

Quote:
I would like to work English one day, with direct reining only and not working on the legs, and then the next day (or whenever) work Western and work on steering with my legs. But would that be confusing for him?
Sounds fine to me. It's just about being clear & consistent, and making it as easy as possible for the horse to get answers Right. I more meant I wouldn't go trying to teach him to direct rein in a bosal or such, until he's solidly understanding those different cues in 'English' gear at least.

Quote:
Wow I never thought of this! I will definitely try this. Is this really more effective than riding in a flat halter, though? I'm not sure he will be very responsive but I'll give it a try.
No, I wouldn't imagine it would be any different to riding in a flat halter with 'side pull' reins.

While I personally love my rope halters & the narrow rope can give more 'bite' when used with any force, I aim to avoid/minimise any pain/strong discomfort in training, so don't have a problem *training* a horse to *yield* & be responsive in any halter.

Quote:
Do you mean while lunging?
Close up yielding & ground driving mostly. I wouldn't lunge with a bit or try to 'direct rein' there.

Quote:
How would you go about asking him to pick his head up with the regular reins? I usually pick my hands up slightly and use pressure, with the intention of releasing as soon as his head moves up at all, but he thinks I want him to slow down or stop.
I'd use the reins to 'block' him dropping his head too low, rather than waiting for him to do it & then asking him up. When he thinks you're asking him to slow, keep the light pressure on until he raises his head slightly. 'Slow' isn't the answer that works.

Quote:
he was very anxious and kept trotting without me asking for it. I worked through it by circling and not necessarily forcing him to walk, but just making him work. Would it be better to just start from the ground? He has been on quite a few walks out front (we made a point to walk him back to where he bolted) and from what I remember he is much more calm.
Yeah, can depend on the horse, but they're often more confident with a person on the round, rather than having to 'lead the way' with someone on their back. But sounds like there is a lot of ground training that's best done anyway, before I'd be riding much at all, so definitely in this case.
Sharpie and mcfarawayland like this.
loosie is online now  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.



User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
"Firguring out"/preparing for a recently rescued foster horse? Wallaby Horse Training 5 06-03-2012 02:51 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome