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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 25, 2005
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    Default Fussy greenie

    I have a green but not young TB mare (never raced) She goes quietly in side reins and when riding her she is very quiet when going on straight stretches and contact is equal and constant. However if I try to use the bit in any way (steering, straightening etc) she gets very fussy.

    She stays nice and forward, decent rhythm, fairly relaxed.. just fussy. I follow her where ever she sticks her face. This has been going on since I picked up contact about 5 rides ago.

    Suggestions? Do I just keep following her face, I have other bits (she is in a fulmer, no flash or drop, padded regular cavason) could try a flash on loosely to steady the bit. But I don't want to mess with things if just giving her more time will fix this. I have started many a baby but only one other quite this sensitive to bit movement.



  2. #2
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    Bumping as I head out again tomorrow to ride. Perhaps people are as stumped as I



  3. #3
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    Aug. 28, 2007
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    where I'm stumped is "should I keep following her face?" Is she taking her face in a strange direction and getting fussy when you try to straighten her again?

    What I'm guessing is if you let her pick where she's going she can stretch down into contact and be yummy?... so it may be that the degree of turn you are asking for is throwing her off balance enough that she's having to use her neck/head to rebalance. I like that as it means she cares about where her body is, and that balance is important to her.I'd be hopeful that as you introduce collection she will eat that with a spoon.
    5 days on contact is REALLY early to be worried if you ask me. If she was planting her feet, shaking her head and threatening to flip, that would be a different story. Don't start adding gadgets, or tack or changing things up, just enjoy that she's seeking contact and enjoys feeling balanced. She may not be ready and comfortable for you to micromanage that balance just yet. She doesn't know you're there to help yet

    I say let her be yummy into contact, keep your steering at 30m or larger and steer off your seat and leg and see what she does. She may be one of those greenie freaks that rides like a schooled horse from day one.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  4. #4
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    LOL she might be. She isn't bright but once she gets the hang of something WOW does she get it!

    All curves are large and sweeping, no going deep into corners etc. If everything is good she isn't terribly 'round' compared to with side reins where she stretches to find them and bobs around. But she holds the bit nicely and travels in a relaxed manner with good swing and a some energy through her back. Then I touch the mouth to say ANYTHING and we go chompy chompy chompy head down/in/or tip... as soon as I go back to both hands being equal we are happy happy again. But we don't have the schooling yet to be turning much off legs etc. I need some steerage lol.

    She is very much a princess anything that hurts, or might hurt and she is the biggest drama queen, so I wasn't sure if she would like a bit that had no movement in the rings or if it was held a bit for her or something.

    She is such a fun horse and even though she screams hunter (and my hunter friends covet her) I think I want to keep her for me to play dressage with. I am rusty having taken 10 years off of riding (ug training greenies was second nature.. it feels like I have forgotten how long things take) Sadly my trainer is retired and I haven't found anyone I like who is localish yet.

    Thanks so much for the ideas. Its very helpful.



  5. #5
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    I'd put her in something stable. I personally don't reach for a loosening unless I'm having to keep so much "lively fingers"that I'd like some help from a lively bit.
    Make sure when you do use the bit that it's up and open so that it's actingon the corners of the mouth. Chomping is okay as long as its not bringing tension of the neck or a worried eye with it.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  6. #6
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    Apr. 1, 2003
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    Assuming there are no issue with her teeth - the chompy thing sounds like nerves. I'm guessing she isn't certain what you want (on racetrack it's basically a straight line - not certain you put her unser saddle - if a racetrack trainer they may have only worked straight lines for the most part) so start with 20 meter circles and try to use more seat and less reins to get her turning and bending. Use reins more for "blocking" (a shoulder wanting to pop out) and legs with weight for turning.

    I think as she learns to trust you more you'll get less chomping.
    Sandy in Fla.



  7. #7
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    Mar. 28, 2011
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    First and foremost, has she been correctly taught the rein aids? Does she ground drive?

    You don't follow her face. She doesn't dictate that. You give her the parameters, she figures out how to work within them. If you are "following her face" the way I think your description sounds, you are teaching her she makes the decisions. This is just part of being a greenie. We just put my mare back into work after starting her last spring and giving her the winter off. She spent the winter being her own boss. We are now having discussions that when she's with me though, I'm the boss. There are no ifs ands or buts about it. She gets "fussy" when I say "we are going here", but she "wants to go there". She is perfectly aware of her rein aids and what they mean. She's just expressing her distaste of being told what to do at the moment.



  8. #8
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    Jul. 25, 2005
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    Thought I would update (oh and she never made it to the track. She was sold at the local auction as an unstarted 2 year old)

    I ended up doing two things. One I switched her to a double jointed snaffle with a nice thick losenge. That made things immediately better. The other thing was I took a critical look at the saddle and ended up changing the gullet for an ever so slightly narrower one. Different horse.

    Still a bit fussy but now we have much longer moments of nice soft forward contact.

    Ponysize>> She always goes where I point her and is VERY good at stopping off the tiniest of rein aids and body. (as in trot to halt by what feels like thinking) we have loads of obedience. I also like to follow the face as I have ridden to many horses that have learnt they can escape contact by sucking their noses in or by yanking their heads down. IME just riding forward and staying connected to the face at all times (lightly and sympathetically) eliminates these problems. That and its been what every trainer I have ever worked with (when riding a baby) has told me to do



  9. #9
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    May. 16, 2000
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    I'm of Ponysize's mind on this one. It sounds as though your mare is driving the bus and taking you for a ride. You absolutely do have to set parameters. Be fair about them and 100% consistent. And, when you use the reins to bend or turn her, be sure that you are asking her to stay in front of your leg. Rein with no leg/seat is going to feel to the horse like she has run into a barrier. Naturally she will become evasive.
    Charter member of the I-Refuse-to-Relinquish-My-Whip Clique



  10. #10
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    Jul. 30, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aven View Post
    I also like to follow the face as I have ridden to many horses that have learnt they can escape contact by sucking their noses in or by yanking their heads down. IME just riding forward and staying connected to the face at all times (lightly and sympathetically) eliminates these problems. That and its been what every trainer I have ever worked with (when riding a baby) has told me to do
    No help with your problem, as it sounds like you have it well in hand. Just wanted to back you up on this one - it's what I've been taught as well. Green as grass newbies have to first learn that no matter where their face goes, you are going to be there, before they can learn to maintain contact. "Following their face" works very well, as long as you keep your contact soft and consistent, without fighting. Usually once they figure out that you will always be there, you can move on to asking for more and more without resistance.
    If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
    ~ Maya Angelou



  11. #11
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    Tif_Ann, the potential problem with this advice is that too many people interpret it to mean "follow the horse's head no matter where it goes." The rider should follow the forward and back motion of the head and neck which is most evident in the walk and canter but otherwise keep their hands quiet. If a rider's hands are moving around a lot, the horse won't have the confidence to keep its head and neck quiet since the rider's hands are a moving target. Following is good but within limits. Otherwise, the horse is in charge and very likely to take advantage which is what seems to be the case with Aven.
    Charter member of the I-Refuse-to-Relinquish-My-Whip Clique



  12. #12
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    Jan. 12, 2000
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    Proud owner of one Lunar acre! (Campanus Crater, The Moon)
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    I'm not sure she means following as in throwing away, but rather as in softly following. With baby horses, the best thing is a following hand that actually does go side to side, up and down, etc., and maintains a steady connection with the mouth, but one that is very soft and follows where the horse goes. Once they start to grasp the aids a bit better, then you go to directing them.

    It all depends on how you start them. If you are doing the quick hop on like a TB being trained for the track, you have a less educated horse and are putting basics on as you go. Then you do follow everywhere. If you are starting the horse like a dressage horse for the SRS, then you already have a horse with a more educated mouth and body before you ever park your backside in the saddle for that first ride!
    "Relinquish your whip!!"



  13. #13
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    Sep. 21, 2007
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    My young mare used to be very fussy with her face, and it was an indication of her not really having figured out that she needs to give over to me while we ride and pay attention to me, i.e. she has/had busy-brain-syndrome. In case of my mare it also means she's behind my leg, even if the tempo might appear to be ok. We fixed this by going WAY forward, and then working on bringing her back to a nice working trot one little bit at a time, but really focusing on a steady contact and forward, forward, forward. So she has gotten over this, but it took almost a year (she's a determined little thing, and in-between she had 5 months off for an injury, sigh). If someone else hops on her and is "riding her like a baby" i.e. not setting the parameters properly, she has a tendency to go back to being fussy and busy with herself.
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht



  14. #14
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    Mar. 28, 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by suzy View Post
    Tif_Ann, the potential problem with this advice is that too many people interpret it to mean "follow the horse's head no matter where it goes." The rider should follow the forward and back motion of the head and neck which is most evident in the walk and canter but otherwise keep their hands quiet. If a rider's hands are moving around a lot, the horse won't have the confidence to keep its head and neck quiet since the rider's hands are a moving target. Following is good but within limits. Otherwise, the horse is in charge and very likely to take advantage which is what seems to be the case with Aven.
    This. Which is why I kinda wanted her to explain what she meant by "following the face". You follow the motion and contact with your elbows, no matter what you ride, but you don't follow their face, ie head--that also often leads to change in your position, or rather, you letting the horse effect your position, which you do not want a young horse to learn they can take advantage of.



  15. #15
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    I have yet to have a horse learn to take advantage of it. If your horse isn't confirmed in the contact how on earth can they take advantage of anything. You can't set parameters without first setting down the training. Ie you can't expect contact without first training the horse to accept it. (just like you can't get on a baby and expect (demand) half pass)

    I am not new to starting babies. I have started well over 30, and have never had one learn to take advantage of contact that they can't escape Now it did take years to learn how to follow the head where ever it goes. I am not a fan of trying to force the horse not to put its head places. For those who 'set' parameters what do you do if you have a baby that loses its balance and needs to stick its neck way down and out, or one that tries to evade by sucking its nose it? IME following the face and riding forward no matter what for a ride or two solves the issue (as long as there is no tack malfunction/bad fit)

    As I said she is very obedient and tries very hard all the time. She is just the fussiest baby I have worked with. Fixing the saddle and changing the bit seems to have fixed the problem. So she was fussy for a reason. She is such a princess.. stereotypical chestnut tb mare!



  16. #16
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    By setting parameters, I mean that you keep quiet, steady hands that follow the movement of the head forward and back. It's not about coercing the horse into a rigid, unforgiving contact but about riding them energetically forward between your leg and elastic hands and being so consistent in your application of the aids that the horse develops the confidence to seek the bit. At the same time, it's not about letting the horse go wherever it wants willy nilly. Apply tactful and well-timed half halts through your seat and reins to start to teach the horse about connection.

    I second what InsideLeg said. So much rides on keeping the horse really active from behind to encourage them to seek the bit. Horses that are truly forward are like high performance cars with power steering--easy to maneuver. And conversely, horses that aren't truly forward are like large trucks with manual steering.....really, really difficult to manuever.

    To answer your question about having the horse lose its balance and needing to stick its head out to regain it, by all means, give on both reins. Much safer for all involved.
    Charter member of the I-Refuse-to-Relinquish-My-Whip Clique



  17. #17
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    However as I have pointed out steering is not an issue in the slightest. Fussy to me does not mean tricky to steer. It means.. well fussy. And she did seek the bit, as long as my hands weren't doing anything (ie when they felt like the side reins) ETA her head never went side to side, only up/down forward/back.

    However now that I have changed a few things we are 80% seeking contact 20% OMG baby horse



  18. #18
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    Mar. 28, 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by suzy View Post
    By setting parameters, I mean that you keep quiet, steady hands that follow the movement of the head forward and back. It's not about coercing the horse into a rigid, unforgiving contact but about riding them energetically forward between your leg and elastic hands and being so consistent in your application of the aids that the horse develops the confidence to seek the bit. At the same time, it's not about letting the horse go wherever it wants willy nilly. Apply tactful and well-timed half halts through your seat and reins to start to teach the horse about connection.

    I second what InsideLeg said. So much rides on keeping the horse really active from behind to encourage them to seek the bit. Horses that are truly forward are like high performance cars with power steering--easy to maneuver. And conversely, horses that aren't truly forward are like large trucks with manual steering.....really, really difficult to manuever.

    To answer your question about having the horse lose its balance and needing to stick its head out to regain it, by all means, give on both reins. Much safer for all involved.
    Suzy explains everything so nicely.



  19. #19
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    lol but I still don't get how that is different than what I am doing

    The horse is not allowed to go willi nilli where she wants. She is obedient though we are of course working on forward as she would rather stop than go most days. How is riding forward to a contact that is always there different than 'setting' parameters? How do you 'set parameters' on a gaping mouth, or a horse that sticks its head up for 4 strides and then sucks back for two?

    IME its better to gain trust of contact before fiddling with the face, does that make sense? It could be an 'all roads lead to rome' sort of thing. I like to ride forward to a sympathetic contact no matter where that horse tries to put its face. Of course most horses don't try to stick their faces all over the place or be fussy. But when they do I have found that messing with the face only makes it worse. Once they agree to 'hold hands' ie contact being a two way relationship then I start worrying about how straight the horse is and where its carrying its head. Though typically I have never had to worry about where the horse is carrying its head, that always seems to work out just fine whilst working on other things..

    Out of curiousity what would have you done with this horse... Young gelding came from a 'dude ranch' had been rented out and ridden around by yahoos on a long shanked curb. After extensive re education on the longe riders were stuck back on. Now when this horse got worried he could stick his head all over the place expecting his mouth to hurt. If you simply followed his head where ever it went and rode him forward he quit it. If you backed of or fiddled with his face it got worse (ie either it worked as an evasion or he was right you were going to mess with him) How would you 'set parameters' on that? Would you half halt a horse that wasn't forward into contact? What if that made him in those moments turn upside down and hollow? I am honestly curious as every trainer I have ridden with so far (though not for years lol) has had riders ride babies or retrains forward to a contact that is always there but not to 'bump' the horse in the mouth.

    Or are you setting parameters with your seat and legs? Which to me would part of the no matter what you think you will be going FORWARD lol..



  20. #20
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    If they fuss, the most important thing to do is to keep doing exactly what you were doing until they stop fussing and give you an answer.

    Sometimes there is quite a bit of escalation involved in the intervening time (such as when a "please step away from my left leg" turns into "horse throws itself to the left and then backs twice around the area"), but it is important for the rider to remain calmly persistent and wait it out, looking for exactly the moment when the hind legs go one inch to the right and they can let up instantly and give a pat.



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