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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, so my BO's horse has some massive issues with contact. My BO also has some issues with hard hands. The two don't mix well! Now yesterday we had a REALLY long trail ride, the BO ended up getting off and the horse went to her son, then me. I watched closely as they both were riding and I made the observation that this horse does not like contact, especially when you use both reins.

When I got on her I gave some rein and I did not use both hands to stop her. She literally immediately calmed down. The BO noticed. So I explained my observation and then explained what I felt like they should do. She was VERY open and actually asked if I would work with her and the horse.

So this horse does not stop with both reins applied, the head just goes up and she begins to get nervous. Her giving from side to side is slightly better but not by much.

I suggested to them that we completely go back to basics, that she learn a one rein stop, and work on giving. AND just give the horse some rein for now. My plan was to go out, bridle the horse and evaluate her giving from the ground first (side to side). Depending on whether or not she passes that test we will work on giving first, or just go on to the one rein stop. Once the ORS is in place well on both sides THEN I planed on slowly adding both reins.

I also wondered about her maybe going into a french link. However I'm not positive it will do much because I think her aversion to the contact is because of the hands that were riding her.

What are your thoughts on my plan, and do you see anything I could include to help this horse?
 

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If I were you. I would bring her way farther then that. I would start her in long lines and do lots of Stopping, turning, back up all of that. My driving horses learn that contact is fine. However a lot of people have heavy hands so the horse learns to lean on them. So we bring them back down for a few weeks and get them soften up again and show the owner how to be nice with their hands. I would also try putting a straight bar. Some horses do not like any thing with a nut cracker action. Also try rolling a fruit roll up on the bit. It will make it more inviting for her and not be so worried.
 

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I think your approach is good. I would get a thick soft bit (a french link will be fine) and work in a small space. The one rein stop is a good corrective technique and you can start it with a halter and lead on the ground. You turn his head to flex and if he dances you follow him and follow the dancing until his stands still and then release the flex.

Although... can correct this all you want, but you will have to correct the riding as well. Someone with 'hands of a butcher' is going to wreck anything you fix and then it will be harder to fix.
 

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Need to check teeth before anything as if has been ridden heavy handed? May have broken teeth, or even bars for that matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The owner doesn't yank and crank, so I'm not worried about anything being broken.. she just doesn't know how to be soft with her hands. She doesn't get the "release" part. I will ask though when the last time she had her teeth checked was.

We did ground work yesterday. Really worked her on yielding both hind and front. She did pretty decent. I'm going to spend a few more days with the halter as even with the halter she leans and gets grumpy about contact.

I was really happy with both horse and owner yesterday. After I worked her I had Owner take her and have her yield front and back. Its very interesting. Owner is very timid.. and way to friendly on the ground. Lets horse kinda just plod along not really listening. We changed that and she wants me to watch her like a hawk :)

I'm really excited with how well this is going and how open the owner is. She wants to fix her mistakes!

I really like the idea of long lining too! I think we will do a few more days of ground work until she is super soft and responsive in the halter and then move on to the bridle.
 

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Try going bitless, how does she respond on the halter? It may just be she has a hard time with the bit. I know a bunch of horses that go better on a bitless bridle, hackamore, or sidepull. It may be worth it to try a variation of everything and see what the horse responds best to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Try going bitless, how does she respond on the halter? It may just be she has a hard time with the bit. I know a bunch of horses that go better on a bitless bridle, hackamore, or sidepull. It may be worth it to try a variation of everything and see what the horse responds best to.
I considered this. However she reacts about the same just in a halter. You touch the lead rope and that head goes up and she starts to "over-react". By the end though yesterday she was more accepting and seemed to understand giving was easier and more comfortable than leaning and pulling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
UPDATE:

Did more ground work today. Really focused on her paying attention to me and staying soft. Towards the beginning she wanted to look everywhere and snort at everything.. I worked her butt a bit, got her yielding butt/shoulder, and stopping when asked. Got her attention pretty quick. Then I toned it down and worked on her bending and giving her body softly in the circle. Got that pretty good at the walk. Had her trot a bit, got her fairly calm there as well but not as soft as walk so we transitioned between trot and walk quite often.

I'm thinking once we get her calm and listening 99.9% of the time I will add some obstacles.. really test her attention span! :lol:
 
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