I've just started riding a gelding (8, OTTB, 17 hands) for about a couple months now. He has a nice long stride at the walk on the buckle, but has a short, choppy trot - even when lunging. When riding he gets faster and choppier at the trot, but if you even try to take some contact with his mouth, he throws his head up and hollows his back. He also does this on the lunge with side reins, but not without side reins - still choppy, tho. He does the same thing at the walk if you take any contact with his mouth. He has a nice head carriage at the canter and accepts contact readily then, not leaning on my hands or grabbing the bit, just in a nice frame and not speeding up at all. I've tried doing lots of trot, walk transitions just using my seat, lots of circles and patterns, different types of bits - he's going in a french link snaffle at the moment. I have very soft, educated hands, so I don't think that's the problem. He came to me this way and I haven't made any progress with him - His teeth, saddle and back have been checked. He was previously shown jumpers, but I haven't done much with him on that front except crossrails - he throws his head up and rushes the jumps - so I've gone back to lots of flatwork. Is this typical, or should I be expecting more by this point - Any suggestions on exercises to do or what else I can try? I think he might be anticipating cantering or jumping - which he loves - In general, he is a very sweet, athletic horse who tries very hard to please. - P.S. I've been trying to ride him frequently outside the ring, on trails and fields to relax him, too.
Thanks for the suggestions - I don't know what float the teeth had - just know he had it done about 6 months ago. Haven't played around with too many bits (hackamores) because he doesn't seem to be bothered by contact at the canter and the ones I have tried haven't made any difference. Might be the hocks, tho he has been checked - maybe a joint supplement?
Because you have the problem on the lunge with side reins (loose ones I hope) I would suspect pain - so I would have a thorough lameness exam done - with the vet observing the horse while in side reins. Next I would try out different bits to see if that made a difference. And i would also bring in a professional to give me an unbiased assessment of the situation training wise. I would not ask for contact under saddle unless they get it with the side reins first.
my super sensitive OTTB mare was very similar, and still has her moments. I found that she was slightly "hocky" didnt have her hocks done but put her on a joint supplement, also she is SO much better when I really make her go forward, constant leg pressure to urge her forward and through the up/down/choppy motion, that relaxed her a ton. Also something that I found really seemed to calm her was just using a neck-stretcher for a bit. You have to be careful with these with some horses cause some can feel too restrained and get nervous but it really seemed to settle her mind. She was super jiggy/choppy and would invert a lot. The constant poll pressure from the neck stretcher and something gently but constantly telling her where she was supposed to be seemed to really ease her mind. Made a world of a difference, might be worth a shot? I try and alternate using it because I find a lot of people depend on these types of devices whereas I believe they should strictly only be used as an aid. Good-luck!
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