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  1. #1
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    Default Retraining a horse to search for contact

    How would you retrain a horse to search for contact with the bit and your hands?



  2. #2
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    On the longe line with side reins.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  3. #3
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    Ok and then what should one be looking for on the lunge?



  4. #4
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    That the side reins are adjusted evenly on both sides and long enough to allow the horse room to stick his nose out a little bit, and low down so that the correct contact is at the point of the shoulder.

    The handler should take contact on the longe line as though bringing the horse's forehand into the circle, while using the whip to push the haunches forward and with the inside hind leg crossing underneath the horse's body. The horse will learn to relax his top line to create the lateral bend through his body and seek contact with the bit for straightness and balance (not falling in or out on the shoulder.)

    If this does not happen at all, and the horse is extremely inverted and above the bit, then sliding side reins (so called vienna reins) can encourage him to lower his neck and stretch to find the contact.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  5. #5
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    Patience, time, and feel... First make sure you get the mildest bit you can find that is comfortable for the horse. Note that even though thicker the mouth piece, the milder it is in general, you need to make sure that it is not too thick for your horse' conformation.

    Then encourage him to move forward by activating your seat/legs. The moment he attempt to reach forward even for 1 mm, follow his mouth and allow your hands to move forward to maintain that steady contact. You don't want to drop the contact by jamming your hands forward. You don't want to hold them dead fast either. The key is "keep the steady contact while he streches".

    If his hind legs are lazy, you may need to enforce your aids to to push off from behind with your whips. A tab here and there is all you need. You don't want to scare him or make him resentful

    If his jaws and/or poll are locked, you may have to work on lateral first to loosen them up. I found lot of changes of directions on loose and/or long rein works wonder on this. You may need to bend him on both directions at stand still for a few times a little bit. Watch the mane crest to flop. That is what you are looking for.

    It is very likely that as soon as he streches, he will suck back up again. It is common for horses that have not learnt to trust the riders' hands. Simply repeat the exercises. Eventually he will get it.



  6. #6
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    So its all about a steady hold with its mouth and then pushing into the bridle along with lateraly flexion if theres tension/stiffness?



  7. #7
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    Not a steady hold, your hands should be following your horses movement so you have an equal tension at all times. I found that to help establish a steady contact it works to "comb" your reins. You hold them like a western pleasure rider and slide your hand back twords you, then before reaching the end you switch hands, still trying to keep a steady contact. Hope this helps!



  8. #8
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    I'd probably start by bitting and including use of pillar reins and posts.



  9. #9
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    Aug. 25, 2005
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    Exclamation

    First I would learn with the help of an instructor, from a schoolmaster or two, the feel that you are looking for. Every horse is slightly different in feel.

    All of this is dependant on an independent hand and seat.

    Side reins will teach a horse to go forward into the bridle, and to trust the bit, but without the ability to feel the rider will lose that trust.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  10. #10
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    Yes and no.

    If he is stiff on his jaws or poll (or anywhere in his body really), the first priority is to get him more supple and forget about the streching for a second. The horse cannot strech into your hand if he is stiff. That is when the lateral exercises or frequent changes of directions will help.

    Once he is more supple, then, not before, you can start to work on the strechy part. This is where the rider's independent seat and core strength really comes into play. You ask him to push off more from behind, which naturally will encourage him to stretch out more, then your hands "allow" him to stretch by following his mouth. If you follow too much and drop the contact, he might lose his balance and/or get scared. If you don't follow enough, he can not learn to trust riders' hands.

    Depending on your and your horse' balance, to begin with, you may have to ask him to push off just a little bit. If you are too vigorous in your asking, you may pushin him right onto his forehands. Also, be sure to take care of your own balance. When you open your elbow to allow him to stretch, your rest of your body should remain stationary to the horse. If you move around too much, you could unbalance your horse, which makes it more difficult for him to stretch into your hands.



  11. #11
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    I am struggling with this right now, too, for reasons I'd rather not go into. I am also finding that a lot of lateral work helps, but frequent changes of bend are good, too. We do 'squiggles" down the side of the arena, going in and out from the side and changing bend with leg, seat, and rein, every time, every few strides. I am just doing this at the walk, to help maresy stretch and relax. Trot is where our problem is, or my problem with very unsteady hands so OF COURSE she doesn't want to take contact.

    The fine old exercise called "walking the square" is also very helpful, as is a variation where you change directions randomly... do 2 sides heading left, then the next one go right, go left, go right go right and so forth. Keep the line in between each corner as straight as you can. Opening inside rein in the direction you're headed as you turn the corner, with outside leg a little behind the girth to help with bending around the sharp corner. I've seen people do this with turns on the haunches at each corner, but I'm not that advanced so right now it doesn't bother me if her haunches take a few steps sideways in the process of turning.

    She panics in sidereins so I am not trying that for now. I have no idea why, but she is a horse who hates being "closed in" and I suspect the problem is the fact that sidereins restrict her so she cannot just turn and leave -- not that she would, she is very well-mannered, but she does much better when that option is possible. She's fine being lunged without sidereins, though not surprisingly she tends to fall in through the shoulder.

    good luck!



  12. #12
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    Legs, seat, reins. Send the horse forward into your hands. No special equipment needed, except praise and lots of it.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrchloe View Post
    How would you retrain a horse to search for contact with the bit and your hands?
    i would go back to basics and long line the horse 1st so he understands simple commands is striaght forwards and focused then move up into ridden work
    have a look at the sticky aboove for my helpful links pages
    as theres a lot of info on page one read all links as its all relevent then move down the pages to lunging etc also look on the sticky mouthing and bitting link
    which i have posted which is written by thomas 1
    all is relevent and maybe of use to you



  14. #14
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    ^ I think this is the link GLS means:

    http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=223453



  15. #15
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    The trick is to ride the horse that is under your seat, not the horse that is in front of you.

    So you take the little portion of spine between the withers and your cantle, and you push it to your outside thigh.
    You change directions, and push it to your new outside thigh.
    One way to think about it is to keep the nose and hip on one line and push the spine just past that line toward the outside thigh (when on a curve).
    The horse must be responsive to the inside leg.
    He should increase and decrease in speed from seat.

    THAT is what engages a horse.
    Do this long enough with quiet, non interfering hands and he will seek the contact.



  16. #16
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    Mar. 28, 2004
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    Sacramento area
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    A horse will automatically reach forward and down with its head and neck as natural response to improved rhythm, alignment, energy flow and relaxation.

    Channeling the energy so that it flows freely from the horse’s hind legs, straight forward through his spine, through the poll and forward toward the bit into a neutral contact is key.



  17. #17
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    The trick is to ride the horse that is under your seat, not the horse that is in front of you.

    So you take the little portion of spine between the withers and your cantle, and you push it to your outside thigh.
    You change directions, and push it to your new outside thigh.
    One way to think about it is to keep the nose and hip on one line and push the spine just past that line toward the outside thigh (when on a curve).
    The horse must be responsive to the inside leg.
    He should increase and decrease in speed from seat.

    THAT is what engages a horse.
    Do this long enough with quiet, non interfering hands and he will seek the contact.
    there were a couple of very good posts- but this one was the best. It's truly creating the energy from the rear that will make the horse seek the hand. I have recently gone thru and am still going thru the same. Having a soft yet powerful seat that can activate the rear and channel the energy from the rear is the only way to get the horse to seek the hand and eventually find a solid connection. Good luck...
    ps: the lateral work does help to unlock so I would also recommend it and find that it makes the hips more loose and thus helps with the pushing power once you put it all together...
    "the man mite be the head but the woman is the neck and the neck can turn the head any way she wants..." -smart greek woman



  18. #18
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    So is this kind of like "retraining" a hard mouth?



  19. #19
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    The horse that is behind the contact is just as much if not more stiff, if that's what you mean.



  20. #20
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    Its just the methods sound similiar which does make it easier for me to understand .



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