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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some help thinking this through.

So, my mare used to be gate sour at all gaits. She wasn’t horrible about it but it was a pain to constantly keep her from throwing shoulders out and remind her not to slow down away from gate and not speed up towards the gate.

I tried fixing her through “work at the gate, rest away” but it didn’t really work for her - she would march towards the gate and happily start cantering small circles. She has a lot of energy and endurance so it wasn’t feasible for her.

The way I fixed it is to keep work incredibly varied and dynamic. Trot poles, (very small) jumps, dressage tests. We never just trot aimlessly around, we are always solving some puzzle. And it worked great - for trot and canter. She is absolutely great, forward but responds immediately to half halts, steers just from my seat even when jumping, takes up correct canter immediately just from a light seat nudge.

But her walk is atrocious. She just will not go forward away from the gate. Does beautiful lateral work, turns on haunches and forehand, leg yields. But I didn’t ask her to do them. I asked for simple forward. If it makes a difference, I have no idea where she learned to do those figures. We did some ground work but we never did them under saddle - mainly because I don’t know how to teach them properly. She is most definitely not a former dressage horse, she is a farm mongrel who barely knew how to canter when I got her.

I don’t use a crop with her because she is an absolute drama queen about it. I generally never use any aggressive corrections with her because she responds immeasurably better to being asked nicely. If I raise my voice or get rough with my seat or legs she sort of panics and gets all flustered - and doesn’t learn anything. Also, my personality doesn’t really support physical violence and I don’t feel good for days if I have to resort to it (my youngest dog HAD to be snapped out of her own aggression and nothing else was working - that’s how I know). But I am willing to try a small amount of it if that’s what it takes.

Any (other) ideas?

Thank you for reading.
 

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if it were me, I'd take the unasked for lateral work, and with a positive attitude 'leg yield? great! lets leg yield 10 feet!', "turn on haunches? wonderful!' lets do it 360 degrees ...both directions' , turn on forehand? 'fabulous! lets do it 360 degrees both directions" heck you might end up with a nice spin..lol....then simply ask for forward again. As long as she offers anything other than forward, ask for more of what she offered.

I think pretty soon, she will be glad to go with your idea of forward. The only drawback is IF you don't know how to cue/ask for those movements....If not, then maybe it's time for you to learn, and you and she together to learn them when asked for under saddle. Then you could implement my plan.

After she's done a turn on the haunches, I'd try to ask for forward in whatever direction she is pointing (unless straight out the gate, or straight into a fence or obstacle), she's kind of setting herself up for a rollback maneuver that you can take advantage of. Rollback-sprint off (only you will be walking off)

Good luck! keep us posted on your progress.
 

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yeah, agree with above.



Also, horses do all kinds of manuevers like turn on the haunches without ever being schooled to do so. They are normal, natural movements for horses. We just teach them to do the manuever when we ask, and how we ask.
 

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I tried fixing her through “work at the gate, rest away” but it didn’t really work for her - she would march towards the gate and happily start cantering small circles. She has a lot of energy and endurance so it wasn’t feasible for her.
'Gate sour' is a horse's way of expressing that they don't want to do whatever is asked of them in that place - they aren't enjoying their 'work' and want it to end. So, among other reasons, I don't agree with making 'work' more unpleasant for them for this one either. That you've got 'varied & dynamic', sounds like she is enjoying that, so great - sounds like this has mostly worked for this horse. And if you want to change the *attitude* that is the cause of the 'gate sour', making 'work' in the arena fun & rewarding for her is important.

Does beautiful lateral work, turns on haunches and forehand, leg yields. But I didn’t ask her to do them. I asked for simple forward. If it makes a difference, I have no idea where she learned to do those figures.
Haha! She has known those 'figures' from birth. After all, virtually everything we ask of a horse is natural actions, but just put on cue, sometimes enhanced or exaggerated. So she is just doing them now as an attempted evasion. Ignore them & she will try something else.

So... how does it progress? Obviously, if she's doing well at faster paces, you do get her moving, but is that because you ask her to trot off or some such? Personally, I'd just ask her to walk on, and just keep asking, with that level of 'pressure', regardless what she does, until she eventually takes one step forward, at which time I'd *instantly* release and reward her for that. Rinse & repeat... pretty soon you'll get that step forward quickly, easily, reliably, and you can build on that.

ETA; after reading above, yes, agree with that tactic too, depending on horse's temperament - if that stresses them out more, turns those maneuvers into something unpleasant, then I'd caution doing it.
 

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I need some help thinking this through.

So, my mare used to be gate sour at all gaits. She wasn’t horrible about it but it was a pain to constantly keep her from throwing shoulders out and remind her not to slow down away from gate and not speed up towards the gate.

I tried fixing her through “work at the gate, rest away” but it didn’t really work for her - she would march towards the gate and happily start cantering small circles. She has a lot of energy and endurance so it wasn’t feasible for her.

The way I fixed it is to keep work incredibly varied and dynamic. Trot poles, (very small) jumps, dressage tests. We never just trot aimlessly around, we are always solving some puzzle. And it worked great - for trot and canter. She is absolutely great, forward but responds immediately to half halts, steers just from my seat even when jumping, takes up correct canter immediately just from a light seat nudge.

But her walk is atrocious. She just will not go forward away from the gate. Does beautiful lateral work, turns on haunches and forehand, leg yields. But I didn’t ask her to do them. I asked for simple forward. If it makes a difference, I have no idea where she learned to do those figures. We did some ground work but we never did them under saddle - mainly because I don’t know how to teach them properly. She is most definitely not a former dressage horse, she is a farm mongrel who barely knew how to canter when I got her.

I don’t use a crop with her because she is an absolute drama queen about it. I generally never use any aggressive corrections with her because she responds immeasurably better to being asked nicely. If I raise my voice or get rough with my seat or legs she sort of panics and gets all flustered - and doesn’t learn anything. Also, my personality doesn’t really support physical violence and I don’t feel good for days if I have to resort to it (my youngest dog HAD to be snapped out of her own aggression and nothing else was working - that’s how I know). But I am willing to try a small amount of it if that’s what it takes.

Any (other) ideas?

Thank you for reading.

Think about this: Does the gate even matter?


As in, if I am asking my horse to do something, I don't care if I am next to the gate or at the opposite end away from the gate. I expect my horse to do what I am asking. I will correct my horse the same, if they do not do what I am asking, and the gate has nothing to do with it.


So if your horse will not move forward - that's not a gate problem. That's a moving forward problem. Fix that. Don't worry about the gate.



If your horse did a turn on the haunches when you asked her to do something else, then she's wrong. Period. Correct her immediately. If she's the type that can't tolerate a stern correction, fine, but you still need to correct her.



By allowing her to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, the behavior is going to continue. Or even if you allow her to do what she wants to do even some of the time, the behavior is going to continue. Be CONSISTENT with her and always make sure she is doing what YOU have asked. Not what she has decided to do.



It takes time and repetition to fix a training problem like this. You have a training problem; not a gate problem. Ignore the gate. Focus on your horse listening to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
if it were me, I'd take the unasked for lateral work, and with a positive attitude 'leg yield? great! lets leg yield 10 feet!', "turn on haunches? wonderful!' lets do it 360 degrees ...both directions' , turn on forehand? 'fabulous! lets do it 360 degrees both directions" heck you might end up with a nice spin..lol....then simply ask for forward again. As long as she offers anything other than forward, ask for more of what she offered.

I think pretty soon, she will be glad to go with your idea of forward. The only drawback is IF you don't know how to cue/ask for those movements....If not, then maybe it's time for you to learn, and you and she together to learn them when asked for under saddle. Then you could implement my plan.

After she's done a turn on the haunches, I'd try to ask for forward in whatever direction she is pointing (unless straight out the gate, or straight into a fence or obstacle), she's kind of setting herself up for a rollback maneuver that you can take advantage of. Rollback-sprint off (only you will be walking off)

Good luck! keep us posted on your progress.
That's what I usually do. She carries on for 5 to 10 minutes, I point her at a ground pole at an opportune moment and she gets unstuck. She is fine for the rest of the ride.

I either do that or I make her think I am about to ask her for canter and she immediately gets unstuck but I don't want to overuse that trick so as not to spoil her canter depart - which is beautiful.

Thank you for responding!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So... how does it progress? Obviously, if she's doing well at faster paces, you do get her moving, but is that because you ask her to trot off or some such? Personally, I'd just ask her to walk on, and just keep asking, with that level of 'pressure', regardless what she does, until she eventually takes one step forward, at which time I'd *instantly* release and reward her for that. Rinse & repeat... pretty soon you'll get that step forward quickly, easily, reliably, and you can build on that.

ETA; after reading above, yes, agree with that tactic too, depending on horse's temperament - if that stresses them out more, turns those maneuvers into something unpleasant, then I'd caution doing it.
I either let her do those figures (I match my aids to whatever she's doing - that way at lease we are learning something). If she stops dead, which rarely happens, if ever, I ask for forward and let her do her beloved lateral work. Eventually, (5 to 10 minutes) I feel she is ready and I point her at a ground pole or some other obstacle and she gets unstuck. Works fine for the rest of the ride, even at the walk.

As I said above, I can also let her think of canter and that gets her unstuck immediately but I only use that if I have to start working properly immediately (during a jumping lesson, rain front moving in, it's getting dark - that sort of thing)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Think about this: Does the gate even matter?


As in, if I am asking my horse to do something, I don't care if I am next to the gate or at the opposite end away from the gate. I expect my horse to do what I am asking. I will correct my horse the same, if they do not do what I am asking, and the gate has nothing to do with it.


So if your horse will not move forward - that's not a gate problem. That's a moving forward problem. Fix that. Don't worry about the gate.



If your horse did a turn on the haunches when you asked her to do something else, then she's wrong. Period. Correct her immediately. If she's the type that can't tolerate a stern correction, fine, but you still need to correct her.



By allowing her to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, the behavior is going to continue. Or even if you allow her to do what she wants to do even some of the time, the behavior is going to continue. Be CONSISTENT with her and always make sure she is doing what YOU have asked. Not what she has decided to do.



It takes time and repetition to fix a training problem like this. You have a training problem; not a gate problem. Ignore the gate. Focus on your horse listening to you.
Yes, I think I will have to get a bit sterner with her. I was hoping her forward would translate into walk from her trot and canter but it doesn't seem to be happening. I do have some tricks how to get her unstuck, mainly to do with making her think we are about to start proper work. Also, she walks fine on the rail, it's the middle of the school that this happens in.

All in all, I guess you are right, I have to correct her. I will need to come up with a correction which I don't have to repeat a million times but which doesn't get her flustered. Any suggestions? I ride with spurs but never use them for forward, only for lateral work. She is fine with them so maybe I can try using them for forward until she gets the point?

Thank you
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just a bit of a clarification, if I make a loud correction with my legs, she gets unstuck but I sort of avoided that, I don't like riding like a yahoo. I guess sometimes it's whats needed. I'll try doing that consistently.
 

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I would remove the spurs. That may be why she is flustered. You may not be as clear with them as you think.


As far as a horse getting 'flustered' . . . they might show some of that when you change up their world a bit. If you used to sort of go with her evasions (turning, rotating, going sideways, etc), and you allowed her to do them, even adding your 'cues', then she will expect that.


If you decide to stop that, since it isn't working for YOU, then being firm WILL make her flustered, of course. That's becuase it is departing from her expectation. You would be flustered too, if this happened to you. But, the point is, go THROUGH that, to the other side. You just be very clear about what you want, ignore her emotional reaction (don't add to it) and keep directing her forward. She can have an opinion on this, it's ok, but she does need to follow your directions, promptly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I would remove the spurs. That may be why she is flustered. You may not be as clear with them as you think.


As far as a horse getting 'flustered' . . . they might show some of that when you change up their world a bit. If you used to sort of go with her evasions (turning, rotating, going sideways, etc), and you allowed her to do them, even adding your 'cues', then she will expect that.


If you decide to stop that, since it isn't working for YOU, then being firm WILL make her flustered, of course. That's becuase it is departing from her expectation. You would be flustered too, if this happened to you. But, the point is, go THROUGH that, to the other side. You just be very clear about what you want, ignore her emotional reaction (don't add to it) and keep directing her forward. She can have an opinion on this, it's ok, but she does need to follow your directions, promptly.
Thanks, I will try it. I rarely use the spurs, maybe once every few rides - when she ignores the bend ask. My feet are slightly below her stomach so I cannot really use them by accident.
 

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Agree with what Tiny said. And yes, if you're using spurs & she's 'flustered' about the basics, I'd probably avoid them till she's good otherwise.

I either let her do those figures (I match my aids to whatever she's doing - that way at lease we are learning something).
Yeah I think adding 'aids' to something a horse is already doing is one good way to associate that 'cue' with the behaviour. BUT if you are actively asking her to go forward & she does something else, as an evasive tactic, it's the Wrong Answer. So I wouldn't change my aid, but keep asking for forward, regardless what she's doing, until she gives me forward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
A bit of an update: We have been working on our walk and it's coming along nicely. I am not too sure what it is that I am doing but she is much better.

One thing I did change is to work on the rail to start off with (she walks fine on the rail, nice and forward) and only tackle the middle of the arena after going around the rail once or twice. It seems to put her in work mode.

Another thing I am doing is to walk on a completely loose rein in the begging. I only steer using my seat for the first ten minutes. She is actually amazing at it - I can do all sorts of things just with my seat. She is particularly good at turns of forehand and haunches, and leg yield (I didn't even know you could do leg yield without contact).

I am also starting off with a plan rather than just walking aimlessly. So, I will do a turn on haunches at C and leg yield at quarter line...that sort of thing.

Basically, once I focus her on work, she works but starting off at a walk in the middle of the arena wasn't convincing her that we are working. And she doesn't like contact right at the beginning. Works fine if I start trotting straight away but I will work on her accepting contact immediately as soon as I get a solid forward walk from the get go.



Thank you everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, I think I’ve figured it out - it’s my fault of course.

I figured it out by watching this video:


You see, what I kept doing is when she did unasked for lateral work - I would stop for a few seconds to regroup. I trained my horse to look for release of pressure at walk by giving her a rest. I don’t do any lateral work on the rail so she knew she wouldn’t get to stop there. It’s always the rider.

Anyhow, what I think I will do is ask for trot every time her shoulder peeps out even slightly. I’ll keep this thread updated, it might help someone in the future.
 
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