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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2005
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    2,596

    Default Help! Horse curls neck under...

    Hi all...

    My coming four year old filly curls her neck under (she's way too flexible) when I start to take a feel of her mouth. She is my first attempt at training from the beginning (I usually do retrains on pushy/domineering horses). She is moving off my leg well for a horse that is greener than spring grass, and I can't push her too much more because she runs and gets very unbalanced. I've been working on moving forward and straight, as well as forward on circles and large serpentines. Unfortunately, when I touch her mouth she curls under. It's like rollkur without contact!

    I have gone through quite a few bits, as she was really unhappy in the first few I tried. She's going in a somewhat fat bean link loose ring right now. She lunges well in it and reaches into contact with the side reins...I admit I am at a loss. There is no one within 100 miles that is capable of helping me with this, so I may be SOL until my instructor gets back from Florida.

    Does anyone have exercises and/or bit suggestions? I have access to a nice roundpen and indoor arena.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep. 18, 2003
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    4,410

    Default

    NB: I am not a trainer; I am not a particularly skilled rider, nor do I pretend to be one on the internet. So take this advice with a 50# block of salt ...

    My horse can go full blast with his nose on his chest. With him, it has nothing to do with the bit. It's just his way to avoid lifting his back and really coming through. My instructor has me raise my hands slightly until he comes up and then drive him forward. The key with him is to catch him before he really curls up, then it's just a slight correction.

    I'm sure more learned people can give you the mechanics of why this might (or might not) work for you.
    __________________________
    "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
    the best day in ten years,
    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 8, 2007
    Posts
    29

    Default

    I'm not a trainer. And I have never dealt with a horse that curls. But I was watching a lesson a number of years ago and one horse had the tendency to curl and get behind the bit and yet be in front of the leg. So the judge/instructor tightened the throat latch. This discouraged the horse from curling. Seemed like a fairly easy fix that worked well.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2005
    Location
    Northeast
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    9,899

    Smile

    Keep your hand light, keep sending her forward, work on transitions, not using your hands, do bend changes, lots of serpentines (which are bend changes), and think forward, forward forward.

    right now she is "hiding", from your hand, so be sure to keep it light. Don't obsess with round. It will come as her back strengthens.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2004
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    7,536

    Default

    this is common with young horses.... just ignore it and keep a light *following* even contact with the horses mouth and keep working the bottom of the training scale -> forward/ rhythm/relaxation... and the horse will build the strength to carry herself more correctly.

    and fwiw, i am no trainer however i am training a mare that used to curl like crazy - now she rarely curls and stays nice and up and open all the time
    patient and dont try to fix it ... just let her grown /build strength.

    also be sure that the contact is *even* in both hands..... give on the heavier rein...

    training a youngster from scratch is a totally different thing

    have fun and dont get too frustrated.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2005
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    2,596

    Default

    Thanks guys. I shall plod along then. I don't even want her round! Nose poked way out would be preferable to this I think. It seems easier to get the stubborn horse to give in the jaw then to get Angel to reach into contact. Ah, the shortcomings in my riding experience...

    On the bright side I know that if something is wrong it's my fault. She doesn't know enough to have previous bad habits. I think it does make things easier in a way because once she makes the connection it's made the way I do it and not the way someone else does it. Oh well. My current goal is a beginner novice event in a year and a half. I think I can manage that even at our current pace!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2001
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    3,962

    Default

    just don't throw your contact away thinking that will prevent her from curling - wherever she puts her mouth, you have to follow with your contact. transitions ridden well will help.

    many people are afraid that if they take a contact on a curler, it will cause them to curl even more - don't think that way, just keep riding the horse to the contact and eventually she will start to gt stronger and use herself properly



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2003
    Location
    US
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    1,966

    Default

    I agree with what some of the others have said. The horse is looking to evade the bit, and if she continues to find release by curling, that's what she'll do. That's why you need to keep the same contact when she curls. You can even add pressure until you feel her push back against your hand.

    Once she figures out that curling no longer works as an evasion, she'll give it up.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 31, 2003
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    18,472

    Default

    IMO, your idea of how contact occurs is faulty. My proof, as it were, is that your horse will reach out onto the end of the rein in side reins but not when you are on her.

    Ideally, you do not "take contact" or "take a feel of her mouth". What you do instead, is you put the reins at an appropriate length and then you ride her onto the end of the rein. You do this by riding her back and withers up, giving her rear end somewhere to push to. She will find your hand.

    You need to ride her like you were the side reins.. a passive hand. Repeat those words because they are sooooo important! A passive hand!

    A merely green horse can be very different than a retrain.

    In the big scheme of things, a horse that is taught to reach to the end of the rein has it all over those who have been pulled back on to the bit. For you, it will define you becoming a rider who understands how to make any horse get on the aids with relative ease. What a great skill to have, no?!!
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2001
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    8,542

    Default

    She lunges well in it and reaches into contact with the side reins
    There is your key to the problem. Think about that. What do sidereins do? They are there, they never pull back, the horse goes to them by being driven from behind. They are steady, even and constant.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2005
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EqTrainer View Post
    For you, it will define you becoming a rider who understands how to make any horse get on the aids with relative ease. What a great skill to have, no?!!
    If only I already had it! Oh well, I guess everyone starts not knowing.

    So if I'm understanding everyone, be soft with my hands and continue to ride her forward to them? I think I can manage that. I swear she gets better each ride. Amazingly, once she gets something she gets it. No need to drill over and over. Regardless, this endeavor is something of an adventure for me and I hope to not screw my poor girl up in the process.



  12. #12
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    Jan. 31, 2003
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    Default

    Mmmmm... rather than soft, think passive. A hand that neither gives nor pulls. Soft too easily becomes a hand that the horse can move by pulling on the bit. Later on it will feel soft to you, and IMO that is why people define it as soft. But that's not really it.

    CdK has some nice definitions of a passive hand in some of his books and so does Mary Wanless. The ability to have a passive hand comes at least partially from your ability to ride with your seat/legs and core first, hands last.

    Use your hands as you need to, to steer initially and to keep her on track. The other potential issue is that people are afraid to use them enough on a baby, and baby never even learns what an opening rein is. Not so hard to fix later but so easy to teach when young.

    Just don't use them to get her to "give" to the bit or to "get round".

    Post back when she reaches out onto the end of the rein (and when it happens, use your voice and tell her she is a good girl but DO NOT GIVE! Just be!) and tell us how cool it was.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 28, 2008
    Location
    MI via NC via CA
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    Default

    I'm not a professional trainer, but I agree w/ egontoast (and everyone else). But I think egon brought up a great point. I would have suggested lunging forward in elastic sidereins if you hadn't stated that she goes well this way.

    Try riding with a short crop or stick between your thumbs, it helps your hands follow the horse when walking and cantering, and keeps you from taking more with one rein or the other.

    Also, I think the advice to not overly worry about it is good too. As long as she's not evading the contact and still has impulsion, it probably doesn't need a quick fix, just building balance and strength and better habits over a few months.
    "Bold Words was classier than all his competition. Straighter knees and a slim, elegant neck." -Nan Mooney My Racing Heart



  14. #14
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    Oct. 14, 2005
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    Default

    Oh it definitely doesn't need a quick fix, but if I can do something to prevent it I want to, you know? I have plenty of time, and since she's just for me I don't really have a schedule or anything. At the same time I don't want to do something that is counterproductive.

    Is steady hands a better way to think? Sounds like it. At this point I just want to introduce contact so that she gets comfortable with some weight in her mouth (that doesn't sound right, but hopefully you know what I mean). That seems to be the intuitive step on the way to a working contact. We have gotten past the "rein pressure ALWAYS means stop" phase. Now if I close my hands and kind of stiffen my body and legs she stops, but if I keep myself fluid and use leg and some contact she stays forward but curls a bit. This horse training thing is easier than I thought it would be, but there is still plenty that I'm learning. I seem to be on the right track though.



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