I ran Rusty into a tree - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 09:35 AM
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This is similar to driving the drafts. A well trained driving horse is very light in the bit if trained correctly and brought on in a manner that says you don't need much (verbal cue, tug - keep in mind distance) to get the job done. BUT on the road many that I know and have worked with (myself included) use bits with a mullen mouth and military elbows with 4 settings. In the ring is the most comfortable, least pressure/lightest pressure only if you are signaling. At home working in a space where there is little distraction, no hazzards then reins in the ring. On the road working with a seasoned horse you'll see one or even two down. Put them in a Mardi Gras parade and it is 3 or 4 down. They know WHOA but if they can't hear, are distracted, not listening even a tug gets their attention and says HEY YOU I AM THE BRAIN in this outfit. If, heaven forbid, you have to stop on a dime you have the incentive for them to STOP. I've never used it/had to use it but the one time I needed it; it wasn't what was in the horse's mouth because the owner harnessed, didn't see the need because her very green (NOT road ready) horse was paired with a seasoned, older trainer horse. The young one stepped over the pole and panicked. She took off in a blind run, dragging the older horse and 14 passengers plus the owner (driver) and me. The owner was thrown clear and seriously injured and I was so fortunate to be able to grab the reins. I ran her into a parked car. She totaled it as she went up the side/back and ended up straddling it over the roof. Flattened it. It was that or my choice of oncoming traffic, Stout, 6 strand, 5 foot tall, barbed wire fence or up a train embankment that could have resulted in flipping the vehicle. That horse was under my training. She was no where near ready for going out, much less in a working situation. She had been introduced to that bit. She knew what it meant. She would have at the very least been manageable depending on which hole the reins were in. I had a prior injury (torn rotator cuff ) and was not supposed to be in any position to have reins in my hand at that point. I tore that entire shoulder apart and seriously injured the other side as well. All for the lack of the bit that could have stopped the entire mess before it even happened.

As HLG said - you are a very conscientious rider. You are aware of your hands. You are comfortable in your body and in the saddle. You are soft when you ride. Bitting up for you is insurance. It is not the way you will ride. You may actually find he becomes even softer.

Last edited by QtrBel; 08-06-2019 at 09:42 AM.
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post #12 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 09:52 AM
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I would put a one-rein stop on that horse a.s.a.p. Essentially it is just being able to spin your horse around by grabbing one rein. You start teaching it a standstill. Though I don't think it is nearly as useful for stopping a horse which is bolting, as stopping a bolt before it happens. I've used it to stop a spook-spin-bolt right at the spook part, more than a few times.

I also think you should work on walk to trot and trot to walk transitions a lot on the trail. No cantering at all, until he is very responsive to those transitions. Then start with canter to trot to walk to canter to trot .... he needs to keep listening at any gait.

Brooke is another more whoa than go horse, but she can get excited at the canter on the trail. Sometimes if there's a long straightaway (especially one with some uphill at the end) I just let her run as fast as she wants, which can be flat out, at least for half a minute or so. But I didn't allow this for the first couple of years. I didn't trust her enough.
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Last edited by Avna; 08-06-2019 at 10:03 AM.
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post #13 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 10:53 AM
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We call that spaghetti horse and it seems my family loves those type of horses. When my DD brought Sawyer home she would do this as well. She is a young/green horse and sometimes the excitement of it all was just too much and she did not listen to the bitless bridle. My daughter transitioned to an "S" hack after trying various bits that still did not work. The "S" hack has been great at getting a little more control and teaching Sawyer relief when she gives.
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post #14 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 11:22 AM
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Hmmmm sorry to read this but glad to know I'm not alone. I do wonder if I also need to bit up but just temporarily for my first rides out end of this month. I made up a training schedule and am sticking to it. End of Aug is my first self-assigned 30min schooling followed by 10minutes hack at a trot only (once across the road and on the trail). Will try it in her current bit first. I also been practicing stopping suddenly from a trot and canter in the arena (shes forward but i make sure to push us to get a solid attempt) and it has given my confidence in her stopping power. I dont overdo it as worry about injury. I strongly underestimated her ability to stop on a dime from anything more than a walk o.o obviously I'd not do it on bad footing at ridiculous speed but it gives me more leeway as by the time my brain catches up shes already pounding ground. Shes not spaghetti thank goodness!!!!!!! What a good term. Anyway i will let you know how it goes as i think you and i are the exact same - we need to let them go to get them back. It's something my old instructor also used to say. But until we are happy getting them back we are scared to let them go not because of speed but safety 😞 what a hard circle to break!

I defo prefer a fence compared to a tree though! The fact he ran into it doesn't surprise me at all what a cheeky booger!
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post #15 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by farmpony84 View Post
My oldest horse used to do that to me. I can't tell you how many times we had a perfect trail ride and then suddenly he would go... and go... and the speed would intensify. I would have his nose touching my knee while he ran straight ahead. I would jerk and pull and get mad. My remedy probably won't work for you and it wasn't exactly safe. I would swing my leg out of the saddle as if I were dismounting. He thought he won because I was getting off so he would slow or stop and then I would plant my seat back in the saddle but this time I'd be ready and spin circles without allowing him to stop. I sometimes would spend thirty minutes spinning circles as I went down a trail. I didn't have a trainer back then. I was a know it all teen and there was no horseforum so I figured things out as I went. They may not have been the smartest options but they worked.

I wasn't typing this to give any kind of advice, I just remember going through what you described and I wanted to respond so that you know you aren't the only one this has happened to.

I was never brave enough to run him into an object because I didn't think he would stop.

Trigger. This was Trigger. Still is, but he's listening better these days. We still have to do the cool down circles, and sometimes I do what you did - act like I'm getting out of the saddle. He'll stop every time. I don't always get out of the saddle though.

Conversely, Leroy, whom I sold because he was a pig headed lout, would get set on a single course/direction, and wouldn't stop. It wasn't that he was running away with anyone, he just wouldn't acknowledge any attempts at changing his direction. He'd brace against the bit, wouldn't turn his head, and even keep walking forward with his head snugged up against your leg.

I fully believe he'd have walked off a cliff and killed himself and whoever was on him, he would get so dead set on having his way, no matter the terrain. If he could see a line through the woods, down a mountain, or across a road, he was by God going and it didn't matter where his feet went or that you, the person, couldn't fit under the tree limbs or didn't want to get raked through the honey locust trees, or hit by a bus. He was going straight on.

My daughter 'let' him do it one time with her... and he wasn't paying attention, he was fighting so hard to not go around a tree, that he plowed right into it, headfirst. Skinned his noggin and rung his bell, he hit it so hard.

Didn't change his way of thinking though. That's why I sold him. He was going to get someone hurt with his pig-headed, stubborn fit throwing.
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post #16 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 11:30 AM
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You're a fairly inexperienced rider on a green horse. He seems like a wonderful green horse but that's sometimes worse because you forget they are green. I think this horse needs a LOT more training then he has, I think you'll be able to do a lot of it yourself given your circumstances but this seems to be becoming more and more of an issue. I remember your first post of "he ran off on me!". I would definitely recommend outside help before he's learned that he's in charge, if he hasn't already. Maybe it's not a rear or a buck or a true bolt but this is equally dangerous and WILL become a habit (sounds like maybe it has)
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post #17 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Yogiwick View Post
You're a fairly inexperienced rider on a green horse. He seems like a wonderful green horse but that's sometimes worse because you forget they are green. I think this horse needs a LOT more training then he has, I think you'll be able to do a lot of it yourself given your circumstances but this seems to be becoming more and more of an issue. I remember your first post of "he ran off on me!". I would definitely recommend outside help before he's learned that he's in charge, if he hasn't already. Maybe it's not a rear or a buck or a true bolt but this is equally dangerous and WILL become a habit (sounds like maybe it has)
Yes, I'd love to find a professional to put training on him, but currently, I'm broke, so that's not going to happen.

To be clear, it is not becoming a habit - we had 10 flawless rides between him deciding he wanted to gallop down a hill and not stopping before we were in a tree. And after the tree incident, we had a lovely ride where he listened to each one of my half-halts when I felt him getting a little excited. By the end he was totally quiet and actually lagged behind DD and Harley by quite a bit. He does get quite excited in the first 10 minutes of a ride, but then settles in. This happened within those first 10 minutes.

I'm not saying it was a good idea, and I may just try a full-cheek snaffle on him (since I happen to have one kicking around) to see if it makes a difference. As HLG points out, just the fact that it feels different might get his attention. But we didn't run into the tree at full speed. By the time he put his head in it, we were pretty much at a walk, which is why I thought it was funny that he did it anyway. It would have been easy for him to stop. I was telling him to stop. Comical, really, that he went ahead and put his face in it, but he didn't have a scratch on his face, nor did he hit it hard. Essentially, the trails here are lined with dense forest, so I just turned him into it to remove the temptation of speeding up more. It worked, sort of. But yeah, not the best technique, I agree.

I'll try a different bit and will work on transitions in the arena. Especially at the canter, he does tend to ignore me, but never for long because I have yet to convince him to actually canter all the way around the arena. After 3-5 strides, he's had enough. He's different on a trail though, and gets really excited to explore new places. It's just a matter of putting in lots of miles I think, and I wish I had more time to do that.

Last edited by Acadianartist; 08-06-2019 at 11:53 AM.
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post #18 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 11:58 AM
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The fact that it's happening more then once shows it's becoming a habit, good rides are great but it should be happening never. Quality over quantity, he needs more miles sure, but not letting him do this is more important then anything else, not how to deal with it or getting him out more etc.

Prevention is key, why are you letting him trot if he's going to start to canter? You need to be strong, no it's not fun, but he NEEDS to listen. Strength comes from your core not just your arms. If I have a horse that wants to go I MAKE them walk, if they really want to go this often ends up in us jigging all around, but at least they listen. (and if they want to go that bad you need to consider why). You need the proper tools to hold him back. You really need to be the rider and not the passenger here. Someone riding him would help but he'll just do it again with you so teaching you to be a STRONG rider is more important. This doesn't mean hauling him around, this means fitness/strength and knowing how to use it if you need to. You can be soft and strong, if you genuinely can't hold him then yes, bit him up. Letting a green horse learn a bad habit is extremely difficult to get past. You can't be soft unless you are strong, and you can't teach him to listen to soft if you can't get him to listen to strong! Soft is something you work towards, but you need to be able to back that up otherwise ultimately the horse will do whatever it wants, which might be to listen to you...until it isn't.

It's worth playing with different bits. You don't necessarily need to go crazy. Like I said prevention is the most important part and you haven't explained what happened, it sounded like you let him speed up then couldn't get him to stop? Simply don't let him, YOU pick what you do. And whenever you get the time maybe work on listening at a canter somewhere he wants to go, but make sure you plan that intentionally and are able to get the desired response. He needs to be 100% at a walk before you can expect him to listen at a canter when excited. I think working on the basics is just as important. And I'd look up different emergency stops, it's not just one, and emergency stops aren't about being pretty or nice to the horse, they are often quite the opposite, and it's about regaining control.
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post #19 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 12:05 PM
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Yep, this is a situation where I'd be upping the ante on his bit, too. Put a mechanical hack on him over his regular bridle and use it HARD when he tries to tank off. Or a curb bit, or whatever you want--- but one that will back him off and make him respectful. If he's quiet and obedient the rest of the ride, then the big ol' bit isn't going to be uncomfortable for him so don't feel guilty about it. I would ride a horse like this in a pelham or double bridle, so if he needs it, that curb is there. If not, we ride on the snaffle.

If you want to keep him in a snaffle, would a running martingale help? When does his delightful little trick, where's his head? If his nose is out, a running martingale adjusted a little tighter than normal would also not be a bad idea.

Having seen the aftermath of a horse who spooked a few jumps and headfirsted into a tree and ran a short branch right into his eye and brain, it's not something I'd recommend...

Rusty sounds like a great little horse, but he does need more training before this becomes a habit, escalates in intensity, and one or both of you is hurt. I'd work on him in an arena and put a good one-rein stop on him right now. Not a 'bend your head around and keep going' thing, but a STOP. On a horse who bends his head around but won't turn, I ride in spurs and have no qualms about reaching forward and spurring that outside shoulder until he learns he has to follow his nose and not take off with me. It usually only takes a few tries before the horse realizes his little trick isn't going to work, learns the response I want, and our issues are over. I'd rather really get after a horse a few times than have one that continually does an annoying or dangerous habit and ends up hurting one or both of us. Rusty's 'minor issue' could be a major issue if he ever does it on a trail with a drop-off or on a road with oncoming traffic. It IS an evasion, and it needs to stop.
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Last edited by SilverMaple; 08-06-2019 at 12:13 PM.
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post #20 of 73 Old 08-06-2019, 12:08 PM
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Yeah, I second the playing with different bits idea, but do be careful. It's easy to equate a bigger bit with better brakes. I made that mistake and it was a miserable time for me and the horse both... All I needed was a three piece mouth piece bit (Life saver) with shanks and a properly adjusted curb chain.... and a lot of cool down circles. I also had to recognize very early and quickly the signs of Trigger about to 'get away from me'. Riding narrow, twisty trails with thick growth on either side really curtailed his desire to run off with people, and hauling him away from home, riding him on long rides with nothing to look forward to when we got back to camp, except hay, water, and standing around until we went out again, also helped curtail his problems.

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