On a thread posted by
), this comment was made:
...yes, drive her forward when she barges down on the rein, or, if she curls up behind the bit. but, if you use the reins to sort of 'pop' her a bit in the mouth to say, "Hey!, lift your head!" , do it with one rein much more than the other.
really, all snaffle work should be done with one rein being much more dominant than the other. never with both reins equal.
yes. I agree. but, very likely one rein is 'speaking' at a time.
or, at least the hrose is 'listening to' one rein at a time. and when both reins are pulled hard, the horse's likely reaction will be to just push back, freeze , tighten up. dialogue over.
The thread is in the dressage sub-forum, and my goals and purposes are too remote to dressage for it to be of any value for me to discuss things there. Heck, I view the reins as the communication line of last resort, rather than a constant.
In some situations, I agree that a snaffle is best used side to side. For example, if slowing a strong horse in a snaffle, it is often more effective to wiggle the bit side-to-side rather than pull back on both reins because A) a steady pull back allows the horse to brace, and B) if the horse has the bit in his teeth, then the side to side motion may break it free.
And it may be that for DRESSAGE, or for English riding where constant contact is desired, then a side to side motion - which is what using one rein stronger than the other creates - is needed. Don't ride that way normally, so don't know.
However, I often ride a snaffle one-handed. If neck reining, as I was taught by the Cavalry manual, then it would create uneven pressure on the bit as well, although one handed.
However, for a stop, I often do light bumps straight back - the dreaded Two Rein Stop. As I explained it to my DIL the other day, you 'annoy the horse into stopping
' - just keep a bump-bump-bump going, not too hard, until the horse slows. Then stop the bumps, but start them up again if further slowing is needed. Before long, a lot of horses will slow and stop based on rotating your wrist to generate the 'bump'.
Now, the question raised on the thread was:
...Anyways, she'll go round in trot but then she'll shove her head down pulling at my hands as if she thinks I want her to stretch or something?!
Does anyone have any ideas as to how I can keep her head and neck up more and stop her pulling her head down?...
Bandit and Mia would both do that. I think it is often quite different from 'rounding' and from 'seeking contact', particularly since I've had them both do it bitless. So as a non-dressage rider, here is my theory on what I've seen with Mia and Bandit:
First, how does the horse's back REALLY work?
As a lever.
The spring in the front are the muscles of the thoracic sling, which can lift the front of a horse higher. They cannot ROUND the back. Nothing can, really. But they can lift the front.
I ride Bandit and Mia at around 25% of their body weight, and I notice the behavior MyTyPony discusses most frequently when they are tired. My THEORY is the motion forward and down represents the horse trying to stretch and relax the muscles of the thoracic sling - releasing tension from the spring in the diagram.
It is tiring enough to move a rider forward. If you need to LIFT the rider, and the rider weighs 25% of your weight, that is a lot more work to do. And a horse who isn't used to it will tire. And do what I do with tired muscles - stretch them.
What has worked well with Mia and Bandit - both ridden without constant contact, and thus it may not apply to dressage - is to ask them to keep the work up a little longer. How? By urging forward, but then using my one hand to lift the reins, bring the head up and back some. Both reins, an even pull up and back. As the head lifts, ease pressure on the reins and urge the horse's body to move underneath its head. Do that for a minute. Maybe two.
Then quit. Let the horse stretch out however he or she wants, walking. "Relax. You've earned it!
" Find something else to do for 5 minutes, then maybe ask for another good effort. For a minute. Then End of Lesson.
When my back gets tired doing pull-ups, trying to do more risks injury and destroys my balance. Not to mention discourages me when I fail.
If it comes near the end of a trail ride, I may dismount and walk my horse home. If we are too far away, then dismount, walk, and try to find a little grass somewhere in the desert so my horse can chill and eat, head down, with a loose saddle and no rider.
As I get back into running and doing pull-ups, I limit myself. I get too discouraged if I spend the night to sore to sleep. I mentioned on yet another thread that much horse misbehavior isn't the horse disrespecting us, but rooted in our disrespect for the horse. If my horse is getting tired and sore, my asking for still more is going to discourage him. It might "...culminate in the grand catastrophe of restiveness...
If we understand the horse is an animal and not a machine, and if we value his mind as much as his body, and his willing spirit maybe even MORE, then our respect for his efforts requires us to sometimes ask for a LITTLE more, then quit. With lots of praise for how hard he has worked for us.
I think we too often discount a horse's fear. And discount his weariness at hauling our butts. And in Bandit's case, I'm thinking I've discounted how sore his feet sometimes got on our trails. And then we blame the horse for not "respecting us", when we first failed to show respect to the horse!
OK. Rant off. At least in the riding I do, an even pull using one hand on the reins works fine. Of course, I also don't worry about a horse being 'straight' while turning. My goal is for my horse to move under me the way he moves without me. I view myself as a hindrance to be removed from the equation, not a teacher to explain how my incredibly graceful and agile horse could move even better. Because I haven't seen any horses move more athletically, more balanced and more powerfully under a rider than without.
Certainly someone like myself, who also wants to simplify his riding, is best off freeing up my horses movement rather than correcting it...because I've seen
him move without me! If I could restore that, I'd be a genius.