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Getting Horse to walk

2073 Views 18 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  tinyliny
Hello new member here.
Just recently started trying to ride, (60 YO)
I took basic riding lessons last year and did ok, Horses were 1 step below the trail riding places, meaning they were very easy to handle.
I recently purchased a Kentucky mountain paso fino mix. Watched video of him walking on trails and road side with traffic.
First tried riding with a snaffle full cheek. when I got on he just stood until i clucked and put a little pressure on sides, he walked about 2 steps then took off at a moderate Gate for about 50 feet then he started loping. All apparently all on his on, or I am doing something to make him increase speed. My question is, how or what do you normally do to initiate a walk and Maintain it? I am positive it is something I am doing wrong. Unfortunately I do not have the confidence to ride him at a fast pace at this time.
Is there something I should be looking for from my end?
Sorry for asking such a basic traing question but I don't know what to do right now. More lessons as soon as I can of course.

Thank you for the understanding and help
Dennis
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First off, congratulations on getting your new horse :)

Do you have a good instructor who can work with you on this? There are quite a few things that you could be doing wrong and only someone present with you will be able to evaluate and help you correct what you are doing. They will also be able to help you make your riding more effective in the future, so that eventually you can correctly ride all paces. It is possible that this horse has been trained to respond quickly to leg and seat. Did you release your leg after he walked forward? Maybe he is fresh or spooked? How many days per week is he worked and how much?
 

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For a first horse, this one may be a bit of a challenge. I mean, that paso finos are generally very sensitive horses. and Kentucky Mt. horses are also generallly a very forward horse. So, you've got, perhaps, a pretty energetic mix there.


More than likely, when the horse started to gait, you tensed up and possibly gripped tight and upward with your lower leg, and maybe hunched forward. These are all things that will encourage a hrose to want to go faster.



Have you ridden gaited horses before? The first time I rode a gaited horse, a Rocky Mt., when he started to move forward and gait, it was a bit disconcerting. I mean, his head was bobbing, and his feet were going lickety split and making a lot of clatter on the ground, and his ears were eagerly pricked forward. I think I probably clamped down on the reins, thinking he was just picking up steam for a bolt. But, when I got used to it, I became able to give my hands forward, lean back in the saddle and not get excited, and it helped him settle into a nice, steady gait.


I hope you can find someone there to give you some in person help. It's too much to do on your own.
 

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Agree with @tinyliny that you need some in-person help.

Gaited horses are often ridden with a deep seat, with the rider sitting straight up or leaning slightly back. So if you're sitting too deep, you may be asking the horse to go faster.
 

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What you learn when riding one horse is not 100 percent transferable to another. But it does give you a start on trying to develop communication with a new horse. You simply need to understand that you may be required to experiment in altering your cues in various ways.

As tinyliny pointed out, you probably tensed your muscles in reaction to your horse’s movements. This, in turn, caused the horse to increase its speed. You might be more relaxed developing your communication in a pen or arena where you don’t need to worry about where the horse will go.

As a general rule, cues should be temporary – like pushing and releasing a button. Then, theoretically, a horse should continue at the pace requested as long as you are following the movements of its body with your own. If you feel the horse beginning to fall out of the pace requested, you should re-cue. It is easier to get a horse to continue in a gait than to take it again once it falls out, so the re-cue is often less intense.

Many people discontinue taking lessons when they purchase a horse. But this is a time when the knowledge of an experienced trainer can prove very useful. Experience with a wide variety of horses provides one with more “tools” to choose from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies
First, I am pretty sure I am tensing up, when I finally get him to stop I can feel the tension releasing from me, I feel my legs get longer and just hang.
Not sure how to solve the tension maybe just trust the horse and relax?
Trainer said she would come by but due to Daily storms she hasn't made it yet.
My next questions may be easier. How do you sit deep but not too deep? I was trained to sit deep and a little back to initiate a stop.
And I noticed on the videos of the my horse being ridden that the rider was keeping reins tight while walking and at a very fast gate, I have always ridden with loose reins and could get a W T C.
Only work with him on ground maybe 2 times a week, can't get him to lunge, he just stands there looking at me even when I put pressure on his shoulder area, I have gotten him to give his Hind qtrs and give me both eyes and working on neck flexion,
Try to ride right now 1 time a week, feel off 2 times last week due to loose saddle; bad fit on new saddle, I was out of commission for a week after that, but I did get back on and try again,LOL.
I do appreciate any help from all of you. I will not give up and and quit just because I have some fear. This is my issue not the horses, some way I am giving him wrong/mixed cues.
Thank you
 

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Good for you for challenging yourself to work through the difficulties. Just make sure you get there as efficiently as possible, with an instructor rather than by trial and error. You owe it to the horse that has to be patient with your learning curve.

You don't "trust the horse", ever, because it is not imperative for the horse to watch out for you. You have to trust your skills to handle whatever you encounter while in the saddle, which in turn relaxes you, which in turn lets the horse trust that you are a worthy leader who takes the safety of your mini herd seriously. However, things will still happen where the horse reacts first and asks questions later - you cannot trust the horse to act in a way that your safety and comfort are paramount.

You get that confidence by working your edge, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone for brief periods of time before returning to safety, and then expanding that envelope. It'll take how long it takes. The more stupid risks you take to accelerate beyond your and your horse's natural pace, the higher the risk of suffering substantial setbacks.
 

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To relax when you're tensed up, try singing! When a horse speeds up unexpectedly, we often hold our breath. Singing will prevent you from doing that. With a lesson horse, you can be somewhat passive as a rider since they know their job so well. That is not the case on your own horse so you will have to become an active rider, and quick! Otherwise your horse will take on the role of a leader, and that does not end well. Have a plan before you ride that day. If you are planning on walking, give a gentle squeeze and only cluck if the horse doesn't respond (whisper first! don't yell until you need to). A lot of people train a horse to trot/job when you cluck. A kissing sound is for canter/lope. We just squeeze our legs to ask for a walk.

When walking, try to anticipate any forward momentum from the horse so you can slow them down before they speed up and launch into another gate. Practice a lot of transitions and turns. Walk, stop, back, stop. Count to five, then walk forward again. Put up cones, do patterns. It might seem silly, especially if you plan on doing trails rather than arena drills, but this is how you make sure all your cues are understood clearly. It can take time before you start to speak the same language. Your horse is just as lost as you are right now.

Sitting "too" deep is hard for me to understand without seeing you ride, or even knowing if it's English or Western. Watching videos is really not going to help you much here. Glad your trainer is coming soon because even the most experienced rider can always benefit from having eyes on the ground! Think of it, even Olympic riders have coaches. It's not something you ever outgrow. But for what you want to do, the occasional lesson might be enough.

Loose reins are used by Western riders, but their horses respond to neck reining and other cues. English riders generally ride with full contact. This only matters because you need to know how your horse was ridden before. Also, some horses have a preference. My insecure mare who was trained Western but is now ridden English has learned to look for contact (short reins), and is lost without that constant tension letting her know I'm there to support her. That does not mean pulling, just enough tension that you feel the horse, and they feel your hands. Which also means you have to have very quiet hands if you're going to ride like this. They should follow the movement of the horse's head somewhat. They should be low, and close together. It sounds like your lessons were on a horse that just knew its job so you could ride on very loose reins. That may not be the case for your horse.

Congrats, and good luck! There are quite a few of us older riders in here, so please let us know how your journey is going!
 

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Oh, and lunging has to be taught too. If you can't lunge him, you can still do ground work. Lead him around patterns, back him up between cones, ask for a pivot on the haunches, or from the hindquarters. This is all good work while you get to know each other. You may discovers he has buttons you didn't know were there, and teach him a few new things. There are games you can play with him on a lead line, or at liberty if you want to try that eventually. It's all very good bonding time, which is something many skip over in my humble opinion. But it can be the very best part of horse ownership!
 

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Horses for courses and all that stuff.


Best answer I can give you is that you find a reputable dealer in your area that will take this horse of your hands and find you something more suitable for your needs and your experience level. A good solid quarter horse would be far better for you and the horse you have would be more suited to a rider with experience of that breed type and temperament.
Once you have the right horse you can find a trainer to work with you both
 

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You might ask the previous owner what cues he used. Not every one uses standard cues, and the horse only knows what he has been taught. Not sure if gaited horses have different standard cues. The horse I've got now arrived having been ridden in a bosal for most purposes and with a snaffle bit as an emergency brake. I didn't know that until after our first ride. He slammed on the brakes every time I started taking slack out of the reins! Not a big deal to retrain once I knew where he was coming from.

Relaxing: It has always been an issue for me. What I'm finding helps me is slouching. Getting "on my pockets" with a loose back. If I focus on doing that, then the rest follows. Singing didn't work for me. My Arabian mare figured out I sang when I was nervous, so my singing became a cue for her to get nervous! But for me, I cannot slouch on my jeans pockets and stay tense in the rest of my body. Having something POSITIVE to do helps me far more than trying to NOT tense up.

If the horse has been trained for tight reins, he can be retrained for loose reins. You just have to insist on it. If the horse gets too fast, turn him. If need be, stop him entirely, then start over right away - no rest. In essence, you are saying, "That isn't the right choice. Let's try again!"

The section below comes from a book by Tom Roberts called "Horse Control - The Young Horse". Every horse owner is forced to also be a horse trainer, and this is the best advice on training I've come across.

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Few people who set out to train and educate a young horse give any thought to the great difficulties that face the horse.

How many of us setting out to teach him have given serious thought or study of HOW to teach him: how to establish a system of signals or aids that most riders grow up with and accept as being natural, but of which the horse has no knowledge whatsoever?

I am going to ask you a question, and before you read on I would like you to answer it clearly – to yourself.

Question: “Why does a horse stop or go slower if you pull on the reins?” If you answer, “Because it hurts the mouth,” I am sorry to have to break the news to you – you have failed.

But no, I'll give you another chance: “Why do you jump up instantly if you sit on an upturned tack or drawing pin?”

If you answer again: “Because it hurts” - you really do need to read every word in this book!

The horse stops – and you jump up – not just because it hurts, but to stop it hurting. By no means the same thing.

And there isn't any doubt: if jumping up didn't stop the pain, you would try doing something else. So, too, eventually, does the horse. These are not trick questions. If you really believe in and act on the answer you gave to the first, then you think that all you have to do is to hurt your horse's mouth and he will stop.

On the contrary, the important thing is to let him know – to teach him – how, by doing what you want of him, he can avoid any pain, irritation, inconvenience and discomfort the bit (or whip or spur) might otherwise cause. Good trainers do everything they possibly can to avoid hurting the horse or even letting him hurt himself. Our real goal should be never to have to hurt our horse.

Reward and punishment is often cited as the secret of successful horse training and undoubtedly both rewards and punishments have their place. But – we should seldom, if ever, resort to punishment when teaching our horse anything new.

Punishment, when we use it, should be reserved for exceptional occasions. Don't think “Reward and Punishment.”

Encourage and discourage is a better guide, as it drops the term “punishment.” When riding a young horse we alternate from encourage to discourage very frequently and quite often change from discourage to encourage several times in a matter of seconds.

But the term “discourage” still has the drawback that it can include punishment; and we should discard any term that could include punishment as a normal training procedure. Punishment and teaching are “divorced.”

It is to avoid using any expression that could possibly include punishment as a normal teaching procedure that I suggest you think in the terms:

“That will profit you – that will profit you not.”

These terms mean exactly – exactly – what they say.

“To Profit” is to benefit or gain: to be better off. The profit to the horse can be any reward or encouragement the trainer may think his pupil should receive – and it must, of course, be available to give.

“To Profit Not” means that the horse will gain or benefit not at all. Just that. It certainly does not mean that he will suffer a loss or be worse off – as he would be if he were punished.

This is what is so important about these expressions – and why I use them. By no stretch of the imagination can “Profit you not” be construed as punishment.

It consists of withholding any gain, reward, encouragement and profit. That, and only that.

Quiet Persistence

“It will profit you not” means that the horse will not be encouraged to follow a line of conduct other than what we have in mind for him. We withhold any gain – which means we quietly continue with our demands, whatever they may be.

We persist. We quietly persist with our demands.

This gentle discouragement of “quiet persistence” is something that horses seem to find irresistible. Whenever you are in doubt as to what course to follow, mounted or dismounted, revert to “Quiet Persistence.” Your quiet persistence is the real “That will profit you not.” It discourages the horse without punishing him.

Punishment does have its place in the training scheme, with some horses more clearly than with others – but even then it should be used only occasionally. Do not revert to punishment when you are trying to teach the horse something new. It upsets the horse and destroys the calmness so essential to his taking-in a new lesson. So punishments are “out” when teaching any new lesson.

End of Lesson

End of Lesson is the best, most effective and most convenient of all rewards and encouragements.

What End of Lesson means:

When teaching a horse almost anything at all – no matter what it is, “End of Lesson” means a pause, a break, a rest for a while – or even, on some occasions, completely finishing the work for the day at the moment the horse has made or is making progress in a lesson.

At the very instant of the action that constitutes progress, the teacher ends the lesson – for a while, at least.

Ending a lesson constitutes a reward, an encouragement, an incentive to the horse to try to follow and understand what is being taught to him.

The End-of-Lesson procedure is probably the most important procedure in the scheme of horse training. We use the End-of-Lesson technique from the first day our young horse is yarded and continue using it to the last day of his schooling.

End-of-Lesson is always available for use.

Because it is easy for the horse to understand, it keeps him calm and so leads to the greatest progress. When the horse is calm, the most permanent impressions are made on his mind.

End-of-Lesson is of equal value to the trainer. It keeps him looking for and recognising progress as the horse tries first one thing and then another. He looks for progress to encourage – rather than “stupidity” to punish.

“Old Hat”

“Old Hat” is another expression I will repeatedly use to indicate the horse's attitude to a previous experience. He (I pretend) says: “Old Hat!” whenever he is asked to do, again, something he has already proved to be not objectionable.

The “Old Hat” technique is literally used in hundreds of ways – as you will read later on. It means we do something (or get the horse to do something) new – and then before anything can go wrong or he becomes upset, we “End-the-Lesson.”

Next time he is in a similar position, he remembers nothing unpleasant resulted from the first occasion, and he remains calm. A few repetitions and he accepts it (whatever it is) as “Old Hat.”

An instance: we separate a foal from its dam for a few moments. Before the foal has time to become very excited at finding itself alone, we put them together again. Tomorrow or on some other occasion, we separate them again and once more put them together after a short period. We do this several times and after a while the foal ceases to worry. “It's 'Old Hat' - nothing to worry about, we'll get together again later on!” seems to be the reaction.

This is a characteristic of the horse. Recognize it and keep it in mind. From it we learn to repeat lessons rather than to prolong them – particularly if what we are doing or getting the horse to do is exciting or frightening to him.

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Every time you ride your own horse, you are training him. It never stops. You train him for things you like, or to stop doing things you dislike. If there was only one principle I could choose, it would be "This will profit you. This will profit you not." It requires you to start thinking like a horse - what will make HIM feel right. What does HE consider 'profit'? To a horse, "profit" can mean, "I go do this with my friends". It can include running. Or stopping. It can include mounting up and heading out with other horses. It can mean "My rider is happy and relaxes and lets me relax too!"

Too often, people think of using "rewards" as "give the horse a treat". But if you can figure out things the HORSE enjoys, then the reward can mean a short run for an energetic horse. Or stopping, patting the neck to tell him it is OK, and letting him grab a few bites of grass. The reward - the profit - can simply be the harmony that exists between horse and rider.
 

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Some people think of sitting deep as leaning back or trying to push one’s seat bones into the horse’s back. Instead of this, I recommend releasing any tension that may be blocking the pull of gravity. If you release any unnecessary tension in the muscles of your crotch and legs, your seat should settle deeply into the saddle and your legs wrap snugly against your horse’s sides without any muscular effort on your part. Doing so should prevent creating any unnecessary tension in your horse’s muscles.

Many people talk about sitting deep in the saddle when asking for a stop. This often results in riders trying to poke their seat bones into the horse’s back. Think of how uncomfortable this would be for a horse. Instead of this, I teach rider’s to let their seat bones follow the motions of their horse’s back. I tell riders to think of their hips being attached to their horse’s hind legs. When a horse is walking, this should give the rider the sensation that he or she is walking. When the rider wants to stop, I tell them that their main cue is simply to stop walking. If the horse has become accustomed to the rider moving with them, the horse then begins adjusting to changes in the rider’s movements. The first and easiest test of this is to stop the horse simply by stopping the movements of your hips.

I would not recommend leaning back when stopping. This throws the rider off balance. Instead, a rider might tilt his pelvis, tucking his hips beneath his torso while still remaining balanced. This action is usually reserved for more emphatic stops while applying legs to ask a horse to stop with its weight centered more towards the rear.

Some horses have been trained to lean on the bit and go faster when a rider tightens the reins. This may be what you are seeing in the videos. I prefer a horse to maintain its own balance rather than depending on the rider to “hold him up” while he is leaning forward.

If your stirrups are adjusted properly and your legs are hanging beneath you, much of your weight should be below the horse’s back with an equal amount on either side. If you work on relaxation and balance, you should not fall off even without a girth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, I rode him tonight.
Went fairly well, I tried to relax more but still caught myself tensing up.
Had my wife video and I noticed upper body pretty wobbly and heels were up.
I was able to get some turns and a little weaving between trees.
He spooked once and jumped sideways but no harm done.
I am sure the problem is just with me, he still didn't want to walk but kept getting into his easy gait with the occasional canter.
All in all I feel much better.
Thanks again for the support
 

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Well, I rode him tonight.
Went fairly well, I tried to relax more but still caught myself tensing up.
Had my wife video and I noticed upper body pretty wobbly and heels were up.
I was able to get some turns and a little weaving between trees.
He spooked once and jumped sideways but no harm done.
I am sure the problem is just with me, he still didn't want to walk but kept getting into his easy gait with the occasional canter.
All in all I feel much better.
Thanks again for the support
Keep at it! It can take a long time before you and your horse really start to communicate. It took me a good year to figure out my mare, and another to really be able to ride effectively at a walk, trot and canter. We're still progressing. Videos and photos can indeed be helpful for improving position. In my head, I always look much better than in reality :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks again for the Polite posts,
I could tell by video that my balance is terrible, not as tense but still too much.
Not sure how to get balance right other than ride and be aware, I try to stop a lot and analyse my overall position so maybe that will help.
Thanks TXhorseman that information is where I think I am completely lacking, when I stop I push feet slightly forward and tilt belly button up, sometimes he stops sometime he doesn't.
I will try and UL a video but I'm tech challaenged.
 

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When thinking of balancing on a horse, think of how you balance when you stand. Five centuries before the birth of Christ, a Greek general by the name of Xenophon wrote that riders should sit on a horse as though standing with feet apart and legs slightly bent as opposed to sitting in a chair. A horse just happens to be between the rider's legs.

This is still good advice. Think of how much more quickly you can react to changing situations when you are standing than you can when you are sitting. Most modern furniture and even automobiles entice us to sit with bad posture. This bad posture often transfers to how riders sit on horses. Because the rider is not balanced, the horse must change its balance to compensate for the rider. This often leads to unnecessary tension in the horse's muscles. This tension subsequently makes the horse less sensitive to a rider's cues. The rider, then, intensifies his cues resulting in even more tension in the horse's muscles. Even if the horse responds to the cues, the horse cannot move as smoothly and effortlessly as when everything is done with less tension.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update Finally;
Found a trainer less than a mile from the house.
She came down and I walked her through my process of catching and tacking up.
All of that was ok, then she asked me to get on and let her watch me ride.
Well I got on and clucked and he took off at his Gait and wouldn't stop until he got to fence.
She asked me to get off and let her try. She did get him to walk but it was really still legged like he wanted to explode.
When she got off she told me I have not been doing anything wrong that:
1. He was disrespectful and was testing us
2. He was either green broke with very little saddle time or
3. He was poorly trained and he did what he wanted
Previous owner just said he was too much horse for her.
she is confident he just needs ground work and a lot of saddle time
she is going to train mostly on trails as this is what I want to use him for.
30 days $450.00 and I supply feed

Thanks for all the suggestions and help and I will post updates as I get them
 
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