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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 5, 2007
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    Default Leaning/heavy on the bit

    I find that some days my gelding is really leaning on the bit - others, he's great. Rider error? Holes in training? We had a pretty successful first show season but I am wondering if, in the rush to get to some shows, we hurried thru some of the basics. (I just started dressage last Nov, bought him from my trainer shortly after - he had some on and off dressage training the previous year.)

    Things will be pretty slow this winter, not sure I will be able to afford much in the way of lessons and want to do right by my boy. My gut says we should go back to the basics - I have this nagging feeling that he didn't get the kind of foundation he should have.

    Thoughts? Book recommendations? Thanks!



  2. #2
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    Aug. 28, 2007
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    Default

    heavy on the bit can mean a lot of things to me.
    hock pain, gap in education (horse or rider not understanding HH), needs more time between workouts, needs more breaks, needs more hill work, rider needs better contact seeking hands, and the list goes on.
    I'd be willing to be his lateral work kinda sucks in those same rides too.

    I think with the lack of lesson funds, and the gut feeling you should go back to basics. I've mentioned on here before that my horses get classical in hand work several times a week, and it helps to keep the cracks in the foundation from happening, and it's a happy place to introduce new things.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  3. #3
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    Default

    It takes two to pull, for starters. Hands should be lightly guiding, like guiding the steering wheel on a motor boat. On the other hand, holes in training can be contributing to his being on the forehand and pulling.

    101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider and Progressive Dressage & Jumping Schooling Exercises (Islay Auty) are great books I always recommend.

    Otherwise...transitions and changes in pace within a gait on a 20m circle, lateral work (leg yields, shoulder-in, etc etc), circles, serpentines, etc etc. Exercises and patterns that encourage him to work from behind and become lighter upfront.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  4. #4
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    Jan. 1, 2008
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    Default

    What are the specifications of the bit you are riding with?



  5. #5
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    Aug. 25, 2005
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    Wink

    A horse that's leaning on the bit, is a horse that simply is not going forward.

    Fixing it can involve a series of exercises, from simply teaching him that when your leg says "Go!", he goes, to transitions within and between the gaits.

    So , yes, it's rider error, as you are tolerating it.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  6. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by merrygoround View Post
    A horse that's leaning on the bit, is a horse that simply is not going forward.
    sometimes true, but not always.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Arathita View Post
    What are the specifications of the bit you are riding with?
    Usually a loose ring french link snaffle.

    When we "hit" the trail, I use a Happy Mouth Jointed two ring bit, which he really works well in. Light, uses his back - everything you'd want . . . I think it, he does it.

    I won't say that doesn't sometimes happen in the french link, because it does, but he doesn't seem to "get it" as easily.

    And there are times in the french link when I feel like I'm really hauling on his face. Granted, I rode for years with no contact at all, so maybe I'm not "hauling" on him.


    It takes two to pull, for starters. Hands should be lightly guiding, like guiding the steering wheel on a motor boat. On the other hand, holes in training can be contributing to his being on the forehand and pulling.
    Totally agree and I am trying really hard to release when he starts to lean. Some days it works, some days it doesn't!



  8. #8
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    Mar. 4, 2007
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    Western Washington
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger Horse View Post


    ... and I am trying really hard to release when he starts to lean. Some days it works, some days it doesn't!
    Vibrate the rein. He won't lean if you don't let him. At your first awareness of him leaning on you, gently vibrate the rein.



  9. #9
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    Nov. 9, 2005
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    uk
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    Default

    read this link
    and read all of page one and all links especialy link 2 on page 1
    http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=178116



  10. #10
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger Horse View Post
    Usually a loose ring french link snaffle.

    When we "hit" the trail, I use a Happy Mouth Jointed two ring bit, which he really works well in. Light, uses his back - everything you'd want . . . I think it, he does it.

    I won't say that doesn't sometimes happen in the french link, because it does, but he doesn't seem to "get it" as easily.

    And there are times in the french link when I feel like I'm really hauling on his face. Granted, I rode for years with no contact at all, so maybe I'm not "hauling" on him.

    Totally agree and I am trying really hard to release when he starts to lean. Some days it works, some days it doesn't!
    So why don't you work him in a double-jointed as opposed to a french link, if he goes better in the preceding bit?

    On a horse where I might feel I am getting heavier, I release all contact. Work on a loose rein until they are carrying themselves a little better, then pick up contact and further refine how they are carrying themselves.

    A little nudge with your heel and a half-halt might lift him up and off your hands, however I find it is typically only a temporary solution - patterns and exercises that get him working from behind, then light hands on contact.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  11. #11
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    Sep. 8, 2007
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    Default

    Rein-back is your best friend. Rein-back to trot transitions are magical, lol.



  12. #12
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    Mar. 16, 2006
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    Default

    When he leans and you release the reins, you are giving him a reward and reinforcing the leaning habit.

    When he starts lugging on the reins, I would instead take him immediately into a lateral movement, such as shoulder-in or leg yield. to make him softer and lighter. If you do this every time he starts to pull, he'll start to learn that pulling isn't acceptable.

    One exercise I find helpful in lightening my horse is leg-yielding along the wall, alternating between head-to-wall and tail-to-wall.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarkspurCO View Post
    When he leans and you release the reins, you are giving him a reward and reinforcing the leaning habit.

    When he starts lugging on the reins, I would instead take him immediately into a lateral movement, such as shoulder-in or leg yield. to make him softer and lighter. If you do this every time he starts to pull, he'll start to learn that pulling isn't acceptable.

    One exercise I find helpful in lightening my horse is leg-yielding along the wall, alternating between head-to-wall and tail-to-wall.
    It does not reinforce the leaning habit to 'drop' a horse for a bit during a session and thus force him to be responsible for himself. Then when he is ready and is carrying himself more appropriately, you can once more pick up the slack in the reins. You are not actually picking up contact though - the horse does that. Better yet, take the horse completely back to the basics and work on a completely loose rein over the course of several sessions so that responsibility for self is firmly established, then slowly start gathering up any slack. He should be working independantly and not dependant on his rider, whose job is simply to guide him. To that end however, the horse has to be taught how to be independant, hence my mention of exercises and patterns that teach and encourage him to learn to be independant and working from behind.

    It isn't about teaching the horse that pulling (which takes two, keep in mind) is not acceptable, but rather it should be about teaching him to be responsible for himself and to carry himself in such a way that he is not on the forehand and dependant on your hand. The lateral exercise is another good idea though.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  14. #14
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    Mar. 13, 2000
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    Default

    A horse that isn't going 'fwd' or heavy in the hand can also be a horse that is quite out of balance. They are just running fwd in response to the leg aid -- and then the rider is confused b/c she feels thrown fwd and the wither is down. Not saying the OP is feeling this, but just want to throw this idea in here.

    The horse who is like this will never get light or heavy or anything until the rider establishes contact (no loose reins!) and sends the horse fwd in shoulder-fore, so that this positioning teaches the horse to shift how he places his hind leg. By this change, the horse learns basic suppleness, esp. laterally. Do small increments of this and rest the horse often. The running onto the wither comes from a stiff horse, and just chasing him more fwd won't solve it, it will actually only reinforce it. Basic lateral work, with small increments, will get this idea across, too. But a horse piling onto his f'hand b/c the rider is thinking 'more fwd to get him light!' is just being trapped and not be given any solutions to how to carry himself better.



  15. #15
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    Unhappy

    Quote Originally Posted by naturalequus View Post
    So why don't you work him in a double-jointed as opposed to a french link, if he goes better in the preceding bit?

    On a horse where I might feel I am getting heavier, I release all contact. Work on a loose rein until they are carrying themselves a little better, then pick up contact and further refine how they are carrying themselves.

    A little nudge with your heel and a half-halt might lift him up and off your hands, however I find it is typically only a temporary solution - patterns and exercises that get him working from behind, then light hands on contact.

    I think the bit I mentioned earlier is actually a type of elevator bit.

    Sounds like most are mentioning patterns and exercises to help solve the problem, along with leg yields. Off to read the links that GLS provided!



  16. #16
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by naturalequus View Post
    It does not reinforce the leaning habit to 'drop' a horse for a bit during a session and thus force him to be responsible for himself.
    My point was simply this: If every time a horse starts to pull the rider immediatly releases the reins, then this will be perceived as a reward to the horse. How are habits formed? By repeated rewards.

    I don't know whether this is applicable to this rider's issue. But as riders we always must be thinking about what we are teaching our horses, whether we mean to or not.



  17. #17
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LarkspurCO View Post
    My point was simply this: If every time a horse starts to pull the rider immediatly releases the reins, then this will be perceived as a reward to the horse. How are habits formed? By repeated rewards.

    I don't know whether this is applicable to this rider's issue. But as riders we always must be thinking about what we are teaching our horses, whether we mean to or not.
    You'll have to re-read what I wrote because what you seem to be understanding from my post was not my intentions. You don't release immediately every time. You release contact and get the horse working better from behind (via patterns and exercises such as lateral work, changes in pace within a gait, transitions, etc). You don't place the horse in the position to pull. Then re-pick up contact later within the session or later within the training period, once the root issue is solved.

    ETA: furthermore, by your theory, we are assuming the horse is seeking release as opposed to contact, hence release being a reward. If that were the case, my thinking is that the horse would simply not lean in the first place (thereby achieving its release). If the horse is far enough along in its training, it should be seeking out contact, not looking for a release from contact. Dropping a horse can force it to have to think for itself and to manage itself responsibly. In my experience, a horse who is finding comfort in depending on the rider's hands as such doesn't like to be 'dropped'. Hence if you drop them and teach them to figure things out for themselves as well as solve the root of the issue - teach the horse to work better from behind (via transitions, changes in pace, lateral work, etc), they are encouraged to work independantly and pick up the slack in the partnership. A rider's hands should be soft and guiding and simply picking up the slack the horse leaves as the horse starts working increasingly from behind. It's not the rider's job to 'hold the horse up' and by doing so, they are enabling the horse to be irresponsible and dependant. Take away the thing the horse is dependant on and the horse has to learn to be independant and self-responsible.

    Simple leg yields and such would work as well because they are movements that force the horse to work more from behind and to pick up the forehand and not lean. They force the horse to work independantly. The approach I mention is just a little different.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  18. #18
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    Default

    larkey matey
    if the neddy hasnt inst in a rounded outline then it will find things harder to do as more than likely on the forehand and there will advade via pulling at the reins perhaps as the horse is uncomfy

    the way to correct that is going back to basics and working the neddy in flat work
    so that horse becomes more balanced and ready for more advance movements such as rein back etc

    horses think we humans are funny things i bet, as ther natural way is to eat and munch with there heads down and on the forehand , then we as humans
    as them to bring there head up and at the same time ask for the reverse
    so the horse is off the forehand lol
    ask to quickly and it confuses the neddy he will hollow up, and raise his head and cross his yaw in an attempt to adavde whats asked



  19. #19
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    Sep. 5, 2007
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    Default Today's ride

    So, I headed to the barn today with a whole different approach. Objective - rhythm & relaxation. Lunged first to warm him up and get him to relax. Mounted once he looked loose and happy.

    I concentrated on keeping myself relaxed and focused on rhythm. I wasn't worried about where his head was, what we "looked" like, just rhythm. I kept my hands very light and giving. The longer we worked, the better he got. Because my hands were giving, he was much lighter in the bridle - duh! he had nothing to lean against!

    We did quite a bit of trot work - both sitting and rising. Sitting usually takes quite a bit of effort on my part - not so much today, we were both so relaxed, it was just about effortless.

    I also found him to be much more responsive - maybe because I wasn't nagging at him - gosh, it seems so obvious now that the best approach with him is probably "less is more".

    Anyway, I am going to keep up with this approach and see where it takes us. So far, so good. Thanks to everyone for the great advice . . . please keep it coming!
    Last edited by Tiger Horse; Sep. 12, 2010 at 03:23 PM. Reason: spelling



  20. #20
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    Working him from the bottom of the Training Scale up - congratulations on such a fabulous ride!!!
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



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