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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody!

I have posted a few lead change questions, but I have another one *sigh*

For those of you who haven't read my past threads, here is the incredibly shortened version of my problem: for about two years (not constantly working on this) my horse has been kicking out when asked for a lead change. He still changes, just kicks out. He is very much capable of doing it without the kick, because about half of the time he does it correctly. He has seen a chiro, had some things that needed to be tweeked, but is now good to go.

My trainer says that since he has been doing this for such a long time, the lead change is basically trained with the kick, so we have to re-train him. When he kicks out, she has me pop him with the crop on the butt and canter on. Do you guys agree with this? I am a HUGE push over, I hate smacking him, but it seems like it's what has to be done. After he gets tapped, the next time he usually does it without the kick. Sometimes he will even tuck his butt as if to say "don't hit me I won't kick, please Mom!" :lol:

The one thing I hate about this is that sometimes he will freak and take off and get very unbalanced (when I say take off, I don't mean he runs away with me) and my trainer wants me to sit down and PULL ON HIS FACE until he stops. I can handle hitting him, but frankly, I really don't like pulling on his face that hard (another thing I'm keeping in the back of my mind is that his teeth need to be done and will be done by the end of this month, so perhaps that is why it is taking so much to get him to stop) I have owned him for about four years, and have always ridden him in a simple d-ring snaffle, we usually only have these problems when his teeth are bothering him.

So after my novel, my question is: Is it ok to hit him when he kicks out? It seems like it is helping and I don't see much of another way to fix it. And what do you have to say about the whole "pull on his face until he stops" deal?

Thanks and cookies to you if you got through this! =]
 

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My horse when first learning the changes did a flying leap through the air, while kicking out and changing. He would usually get about 5 feet of air and travel about 20 feet forward in one leap.
I don't think that smaking him will reduce the kick anymore, it's just going to make him kick harder, and i don't think that reefing on his face will do much either.
How my horse got "fixed" was every time he leaped through and/or kicked out in the change, he was calmly brought to a halt, the previous lead was picked up and the change asked for again.
You must not punish, but correct the horse.
He now has his changes quiet, on the aid and correct.

Good luck!
 

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I think I would fire the trainer because he doesn't think about things from the horses point of view. You are hitting the horse with a whip then you yank on his face for going too fast. Why would a horse respond positively to that? I have no problem hitting a horse if it will accomplish what I need it to accomplish. As far as the lead changes I would do alot of them untill the kick became unneeded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks for the advice! Glad to know we aren't the only ones! I think your way sounds great, but our only problem is he sucks back when he is about to kick (sometimes) so by bringing him to a halt is giving him what he wants. I always try to convince my trainer to let me halt him, but she insists otherwise...

Ah, you gotta love your trainers...

Kevishorses, I'm sorry I explained that part badly, I don't do both at the same time, and the brisk canter happens occasionally. But yes, I do agree, sometimes my barn sees things differently. But I love my trainer ;)
 

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so by bringing him to a halt is giving him what he wants.
This is a human interpertation based on assigning human emotions and thinking, on an animal that doesn't like a human.

It is your job to position the horse so he CAN respond to what you want. I only ever had 1 coach ( and that was after I got to GP) and learned a lot from that one man. Patience will win out and if position "A" does not work then do position "B".

It is not unusual for a horse to leap or jump when first asked but 99% of the time that response diminishes if the rider didn't make a big deal out of it.

My suggestion is to go back to just trot/canter---walk/canter transitions until they are done smoothly then quietly ask for a change when the horse is in a counter canter position (esp if a slight corner is involved).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the suggestion, that could really help! When you say if you don't make a big deal out of it, the action goes away, I wish that was the case for us...

If you don't do anything, he continues to do it. By me not making a big deal out of it, we have continued to have this problem for a LONG time. And believe me, I am in no way saying my horse is bad, stubborn, etc. I just think either we haven't gotten the concept or him.

I'm not trying to be stubborn by saying this, but unfortuneately it does seem like tapping him helps. Just last lesson after a few taps he started to understand, and as soon as he did it without the kick he got tons of kisses and hugs, along with a relaxed walk around the ring.

But I will mention all of these ideas to my trainer :]
 

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If you want to whack him then fine but don't yank on his mouth when he speeds up.
 

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Maybe I am a little dense but I fail to see how having his teeth done is going to stop you from yanking on his mouth. My point is that if you use your crop behind your leg to get him to stop kicking at the lead change then if he moves forward too fast you pull on his face then you will confuse him and create many more problems. So if you use the crop and he speeds up pull him around in a bit of a circle to slow him down. Not a small circle as big as you can do with where you ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Maybe I'm the dense one :lol: My thought is that right now, his teeth are sharp/sore, and USUALLY when this happens to us, he takes more to stop/slow down. He just takes more. Maybe I'm imagining it but that's how I see it.

As for the circle, I couldn't agree more. Usually, I pull and sit down, as everyone screams at me, but the circle would be much more efficient. I'm surprised I didn't think of that. Oh, and the hit and pull isn't one after another. Usually he will speed up, I'll do a half halt, ask again WITHOUT the crop, and if he speeds up again, THEN comes the pull. But yes, I would rather the circle.
 

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Usually he will speed up, I'll do a half halt, ask again WITHOUT the crop, and if he speeds up again, THEN comes the pull. But yes, I would rather the circle.

The pull is a last resort method that is not needed for a horse that is just not out of control.

I repeat ....it is YOUR job to ride him into position not pull him into position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Good news! We had a promising ride today! Four out of six of our lead changes were without a kick, and the other two just earned him a little tap, nothing huge. The last lead change, was...interesting? Not sure if that is the word. Lets just say I didn't want to bring him down to a lower gait, so we cantered quite a few laps around the ring, until at last we were collected/balanced enough to get a change without a kick, but we got it =] I was very pleased with our ride today, he was all around better in every area, so hopefully this will continue *fingers crossed* Not sure why we always have fabulous rides on our own, but in lessons we just suck. Who knows? Oh well...

Thanks for the advice everyone! I would still love to hear your ideas!
 

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I might not going to be much help because I agree with what the others have said. But what is funny for me is that I just started learning lead changes yesterday. Mee and my horse are both not experienced with lead changes so the 2 we finally did get were decent.
 

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My horse is solid on changes and is extremely sensitive to leg aids. Meaning? Some days he tells me my leg aid is too noisy by doing a lead change that resembles a buck. I take note to quiet my cue, AFTER, I correct the buck/kick.

I do not smack him, I let him know he has to accept my aid. I take my outside rein and outside leg and disengage his hip to the inside off my leg cue. We go back to the original circle and try again. Leg aids can be very annoying to horses especially if spurs where used hard and before the horse had a cue to start with. Unfortunately for you, once a horse has developed a justified reason to evade leg aids (Pain) it is one of the hardest to fix.

I totally agree that you should go back to transitions. I would suggest you get your leg aids solid and LIGHT. I would also use as little leg aid as possible with the lead change, you may find your horse will comply with your rein and weight aids alone. Go to a place where he can do it without complaining. Then if you feel you need to, add leg back very slowly.
 

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I certainly don't agree with smacking the horse in the rear. I think going back to the basics of walk trot and trot to canter around cones is a good start. I wouldn't allow the horse to advance any more than this routine until he has it mastered. I think he is giving you what he has learned and reprimanding him for that will only make him frustrated. Then yanking on his face to get him to slow down would be even more frustrating. I have heard many trainers state that it's not that the horse is being bad or wrong, it's the rider that is not communicating their want clear enough. This is my philosophy too.

Good luck, I would suggest contacting other trainers that will work with you and your horse in a re-training kind of method without the crop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the advice everyone!

When you say make your leg aids as quiet as possible, it makes sense, but for some reason that doesn't seem to work on my boy. Usually, if I don't give a strong cue, he won't even change, but it's definitely worth another try.

If I don't use the crop, I don't really get my point across is the problem. Where a growl works with other horses, a tap gets his attention. I tried not pulling on his face, just a neutral reaction, so I will just make a habit of not pulling, that we can all agree on :wink: I have been trying all of your suggestions, and he already has his transitions near perfect, but I will add those to our riding routine. Unfortuneately, I think this kicking habit has gotten to the point where I might just have to get tough, as much as I hate it. I have been getting poitive reactions, he has been getting the changes, so along with your other suggestions I will continue to try the tap for a little bit, and if we begin to get negative reactions I will quit.

Usually I'm not consistent with the tap since I hate using it, so maybe now that I'm being consistent with it it is now helping. Who knows? All we can do is try, but if by the end of the summer and for some reason we don't have our changes, we will most likely go to another trainer; not because mine isn't good, she's wonderful, but maybe someone else looking at our problem will help.

Thanks again!
 

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Hmmm. I would think that riding him forward will reduce the tendancy to kick out. I agree with everyone that thought the hitting was wrong - you have to time the smack perfectly so that the horse associates it with the kick not the change. I would suggest for the brisk canter the horse offers that you should just calmly bring the horse to a halt, even if it takes a circle or 2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the info! I am taking a dressage lesson today, I think we will both benefit, and not just in lead changes. The past two weeks have been encouraging, we have been getting the changes! YAY! Still a little difficulty, but we're getting there!
 

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I know you've had the chiro out to come look at him... but have you gotten anything xrayed?

How long has he been trained to do changes? And were they smooth up until about 2 years ago when he started kicking out? When I'm teaching a horse to do a change, I don't make a big deal about leaping in the air, kicking out, etc. Some horses just do that at first. If they continue I'll correct it. If he was getting nice smooth changes and THEN started kicking out, I'm thinking that there's probably pain somewhere that wasn't (or can't) be taken care of with a chiro.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
He just turned eight, and he has been asked to do changes since he was about 5 or sixish. He never did do them smoothly, and about a year ago the vet checked him, too. He also just got his yearly check ups on Friday, so everything seems to be good. The more I think about it, the more I get the feeling he needs dressage work. His right changes are beautiful if he is straight, and he is unbalanced to the left. This leads me to believe we need flat work. We are currently working on that, and today showed a big improvment. =] I'll try to keep this thread updated...
 
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