View Full Version : Pushing them forward through obstacles when they misbehave?

Nov. 21, 2011, 12:52 PM
Recently I was riding a green mare who decided she didnt want to trot the trot poles and canter through them instead. They were measured out properly so I know the distance between them was correct for trot work. A few steps before the first pole she would try to canter and want to rush through them. She has done plenty of pole work so Im pretty sure this was behavioral and that she knew what she was suppossed to do. After the second time she decided to rush (canter and drag me), I promptly pulled her up hard and made her back up. My reasoning for this was to get her to pay attention to me and stop dragging me. I then went over the poles again and she trotted like I had asked her to and did not try to drag me through them.
There was another rider in the ring who was watching the mare drag me through the poles. After I was finished, she told me that by pulling the mare up and making her back up, all I did was reward her for misbehaving and that I needed to make her go even more forward through the poles. I fully agree that when you have a horse that is acting up (bucking, rearing, etc) you should push them forward, but I dont agree with pushing them even more forward through an obstacle (poles, jumps, etc) when that was the problem in the first place. She told me that if the mare decides to ignore me and canter, then I should make her gallop through them. Is that correct, or was I correct to pull her up and make her back up until she was paying attention.?

Nov. 21, 2011, 01:02 PM
That is possibly the dumbest advice I have ever heard.

Not only would I smile, nod and completely dismiss that advice, I would completely dismiss anything that person says to you in the futures.

Smile, nod, thanks so much and carry on regardless.

Nov. 21, 2011, 01:04 PM
ditto meupatdoes

Nov. 21, 2011, 01:08 PM
Clearly your methods got the horse's attention.
Rushing a horse that wants to rush doesn't seem like it makes sense and with obstacles in the way (even just rails) it sounds dangerous. Trot poles make a horse use it's hindend and back and it's work. Cantering is easier (using momentum rather than muscles) so maybe said mare just needs to build those muscles, all the more reasin to demand a trot.

Nov. 21, 2011, 01:12 PM
Free advice is worth what you pay for it...especially whan you didn't ask for any.

We do NOT push green horses to stumble thru things they are having problems with unless we want to a) hurt them or b) teach them to stop because they are afraid of getting hurt. They CAN and do trip over poles and do considerable harm to themselves. And to you if they go all the way down.

But you do need to polish up your flatwork. The standard technique with greenies is drop back and punt when you cannot make any progress. Go back to a single pole, then add a second and m.a.k.e. her wait using what you taught her on the flat. Add more when she masters that.

I know, that is free advice...but you asked for some.

Nov. 21, 2011, 01:19 PM
Galloping through trotting poles sounds like a good way to break both your necks.

Nov. 21, 2011, 01:59 PM
That's ridiculous advice. You did the right thing. Alternatively, I would walk through them a few times to slow her brain down a bit and make her think about where she is putting her feet...then trot through.

Nov. 21, 2011, 02:10 PM
You probably knew the advice you were given was wrong and came here to confirm that in your own mind.. (I too do that - check to make sure I'm not too terribly off base)

Saying that, and not seeing what actually happened I agree with findeight....

Nov. 21, 2011, 02:32 PM
The green mare I am working with is also learning to jump, do trot poles, do gymnastics, etc., and she has had some of the same issues as your horse. I handled it in a similar fashion to you. Making the mare listen before allowing her to go on is not "rewarding" her IMO. I would never rush a green horse through trot poles, especially if the inclination to rush is already there. That seems very counterproductive (not to mention dangerous) to me.

Nov. 21, 2011, 02:44 PM
Are you two pointing through the poles? When the mare starts to become confused, go back to something confirmed and regain her confidence. I personally would never push her through but I also wouldn't be pulling her up either. If you are two pointing I would try posting and using my post to slower her down by slowing the post its self. Something that you can work on the flat doing first. Good luck, as frustrating as these baby moments can be, it also makes when they "get it" so much more rewarding :)

Nov. 21, 2011, 02:48 PM
I had a TB mare that loved to rush fences and poles alike.

My coach advised me to circle before the fence if she tried to rush.... 20m circle each time you feel her rushing until she gets the idea.
It worked for me...

Nov. 21, 2011, 02:53 PM
Definitely an excellent way to get your neck broke!

I would lose the poles for now and work on adjusting her trot on your own. Make sure you can extend and collect her in the trot and then go back to the poles start with one and when she gets good at that, add another. Take it slow - that's the best thing you can do with a greenie.

Nov. 21, 2011, 03:09 PM
To add - I have found many of the horses over the years of my riding education rush because I created it.

I have been working on establishing my base (lower leg and balance) and "not" jumping ahead of my horse which I think can create some rushing - and staying quiet and calm... Getting better with my eye and not bolting for the long spot....

So far this approach is working and I am having much more relaxed, happy soft horses.

Not saying this is what your are doing, but I have found horses that rush are doing it because we are.

Nov. 21, 2011, 03:38 PM
Not saying this is what your are doing, but I have found horses that rush are doing it because we are.


Nov. 21, 2011, 03:46 PM
Pushing her through it might completely scare her away from it or make her try to jump it. Either way the result will not be what you want.

Mtn trails
Nov. 21, 2011, 04:36 PM
I had a TB mare that loved to rush fences and poles alike.

My coach advised me to circle before the fence if she tried to rush.... 20m circle each time you feel her rushing until she gets the idea.
It worked for me...

My trainer too. If mare starts to get rushy, to turn away and circle. She caught on quickly and stopped rushing but every once in a while will still do it but a circle will settle her back down.

Nov. 21, 2011, 04:45 PM
I had this happen with my mare during a lesson. Because, as Linny said above, it's much easier, and the poles were actually spaced to be cantered later (as a gymnastic line we gradually built up). Trainer had me halt square after the line, make a tight reverse, and come back through at the trot, staying quiet, Quiet, QUIET. Rinse and repeat both directions until mare got quiet, too. Twice through, and we were both ready to proceed with more of the exercise :yes:

Nov. 21, 2011, 05:36 PM
I have a small, agile, spicy mare who can add all day long. She can canter trot poles and look like she was meant to no problemo. If I asked her to go forward over the poles she would probably bounce every other one, squeal in joy, and dump me in the corner.

Nov. 21, 2011, 05:46 PM
Ditto what everyone else has said. Bad advice from your friend.

For rushing (poles or fences), I have had decent luck with alternating between gaits on the way to and between obstacles (works very well in a line).

For example, say you have a five-stride line. I would trot the first element, come down to a walk. Walk the second element (usually a pole or cavalletti). Then trot the first element, come down to a walk, then back up to a trot and trot out of the line. Then canter the first element, come down to a walk, walk the second element. Then canter, come down to a trot and trot out. Then canter the first and second element. Then trot the first, back to a walk, walk out. And so on. Repeat and vary what you do depending on how the horse is responding.

No ripping on their faces or having tantrums. If backing up is warranted because the horse is blowing you off, the backing should be done nicely, not roughly. Just calm transitions between obstacles. This has worked great with my horse to help with rushing in the past...really gets him listening in a nice, cooperative way with no drama. Actually, I think I should start doing it again...he could use a refresher based on his behavior this past weekend!