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  1. #1
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    Default Leaning on the bit/hands

    I've recently started to ride an 18.0hh black Hanoverian gelding. He's a dream to ride for the most part, until he starts to pull and lean. I'm basically jockey size, 5'3" and 110lbs. He can easily pull me over his neck and out of the saddle. He uses his size and weight to lean on the bit, and my hands. He goes in a crank cavesson, which I personally don't like, but his owner has for him. The noseband is very wide and easy to lean into. I've ridden him before, but that was almost a year ago, and I used a different bridle then. Pretty sure it was a simple hunter bridle. I don't remember him leaning on me this much last year. He also does this with everyone who rides him. Any suggestions?
    "One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
    "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"



  2. #2
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    There were two threads recently on the same subject. Browse a bit, and you'll get tons of suggestions.
    I rode an old school heavy bone 18h hano when I was in highschool. I have a photo if me holding him ringside and from poll to muzzle he was the same length as me from shoulder to crotch.... And I'm 5'9" so I hear you on that big head!
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  3. #3
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    As this is quite a basic training issue, I suspect the best thing would be to develop your core strength and the independence of your hand and leg aids and work on effective half halts (not a judgement on your riding ability, just an acknowledgement that fitness really is key in these circumstances). You should never ever be in a position where you can be pulled out of the saddle, and if this genuinely is happening then something's wrong somewhere.

    Do understand that a tug-of-war only works if both parties are tugging! Your size and his has nothing to do with it... I've known much smaller riders (including me!) on similar horses and it really is just about long, hard, patient training. Put your leg ON when he wants to root and drive him forward with your seat, and don't hold his head. If you get him truly in front of your leg then you can start developing a steady, following contact.

    As an aside, I don't understand your point about the noseband... the cavesson should be independent from the bit and reins, so I'm not getting how it's possible to lean into it. However, if it's really restricting his jaw that could be worsening his tendency to lean.
    Proud COTH lurker since 2001.


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalila View Post
    I've recently started to ride an 18.0hh black Hanoverian gelding. He's a dream to ride for the most part, until he starts to pull and lean.
    You need to find the cause of the pulling-leaning. Is it because after a while he gets bored? tired?

    When you figure out why he is doing it, change your training approach. Do shorter sessions, find new exercices, concentrate on fitness, listening to the leg sessions, etc.

    Or what you do is uneffective to correct the situation so he plays his tricks everytime?

    What do you do when he starts pulling and leaning?

    He goes in a crank cavesson, which I personally don't like, but his owner has for him. The noseband is very wide and easy to lean into.
    I doubt it has nothing to do with the cavesson.

    I've ridden him before, but that was almost a year ago, and I used a different bridle then. Pretty sure it was a simple hunter bridle. I don't remember him leaning on me this much last year. He also does this with everyone who rides him. Any suggestions?
    You rode him a year ago. Lots of things can happen in a year...like bad riding for a year.

    And you say that he does that with everyone who rides him? How many people is that? What is their level? What do they do to correct the situation? Is this a school horse? What is your trainer doing to correct the situation?

    I think the problem comes from all the riding and certainly not the cavesson in this situation.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    There were two threads recently on the same subject. Browse a bit, and you'll get tons of suggestions.
    I rode an old school heavy bone 18h hano when I was in highschool. I have a photo if me holding him ringside and from poll to muzzle he was the same length as me from shoulder to crotch.... And I'm 5'9" so I hear you on that big head!
    I'll do a little browsing then. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost_at_C View Post
    As this is quite a basic training issue, I suspect the best thing would be to develop your core strength and the independence of your hand and leg aids and work on effective half halts (not a judgement on your riding ability, just an acknowledgement that fitness really is key in these circumstances). You should never ever be in a position where you can be pulled out of the saddle, and if this genuinely is happening then something's wrong somewhere.

    Do understand that a tug-of-war only works if both parties are tugging! Your size and his has nothing to do with it... I've known much smaller riders (including me!) on similar horses and it really is just about long, hard, patient training. Put your leg ON when he wants to root and drive him forward with your seat, and don't hold his head. If you get him truly in front of your leg then you can start developing a steady, following contact.

    As an aside, I don't understand your point about the noseband... the cavesson should be independent from the bit and reins, so I'm not getting how it's possible to lean into it. However, if it's really restricting his jaw that could be worsening his tendency to lean.
    He's never actually pulled me out of the saddle, it just feels like he wants to or will if he got the chance.

    Quote Originally Posted by alibi_18 View Post
    You need to find the cause of the pulling-leaning. Is it because after a while he gets bored? tired?

    When you figure out why he is doing it, change your training approach. Do shorter sessions, find new exercices, concentrate on fitness, listening to the leg sessions, etc.

    Or what you do is uneffective to correct the situation so he plays his tricks everytime?

    What do you do when he starts pulling and leaning?



    I doubt it has nothing to do with the cavesson.



    You rode him a year ago. Lots of things can happen in a year...like bad riding for a year.

    And you say that he does that with everyone who rides him? How many people is that? What is their level? What do they do to correct the situation? Is this a school horse? What is your trainer doing to correct the situation?

    I think the problem comes from all the riding and certainly not the cavesson in this situation.
    He hasn't been ridden for a quite a long time. He's supposed to be a school horse, but most people don't want to ride him because they are either intimidated by his size, or they aren't advanced enough. He's also a sales horse.

    He just likes to throw his weight around because he knows he can. He isn't mean about it, he just likes to pull tricks. Usually I use my outside rein and outside leg on him when he starts to pull/lean. I use my inside if he starts to counterbend at all. He likes to throw his outside shoulder out before he starts to pull/lean.

    Three other lesson students, and both trainers. They are all intermediate/advanced. Both trainers however, always get him going well after dealing with it once or twice at the beginning of the ride. My trainer told me to use my outside rein, outside leg to correct him as he throws his shoulder out beforehand.
    "One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
    "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"



  6. #6
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    Sounds like he has lost strength in his hind from not being ridden in awhile, so he is very heavy on the forehand to compensate.

    I've gone through the same thing with my OTTB when he was off for awhile. What worked with my guy was lots of transitions - particularly trot>halt>trot. In the beginning, I did make him back or sometimes used a slight pulley rein when he got really heavy.


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  7. #7
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    I agree with Juxtapose. Here's a good training exercise:

    Whenever he starts to lean on your hands, bring him back to a walk and then begin again. If he leans in the walk, bring him to a complete halt before walking off again. This works for a couple of reasons--first, the transitions will strengthen him so that he can be responsible for his own weight. Second, it is a good correction since it takes less effort to just keep going than it does to transition down and back up again, so the horse learns that if he wants to keep going then he needs to carry himself. It may take many, many repetitions, but he'll get it as long as YOU are not pulling back.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


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  8. #8
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    Simple halt-trot transitions will get him off your hands, Be sure that your body is doing the halting before your hands though.

    But keep in mind that while these will get him off your hands, and encourage him to carry from behind, they are tiring, and if he is not very fit, after two or three he may be unhappy.

    No problem with the crank cavesson if you don't crank it. No one will notice if you let it be a wee bit loose.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  9. #9
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    a horse that is heavy in front isn't using his hind end properly.

    so you need to activate his hind end (using a half halt, circle, etc) and also be sure you arent pulling. so be sure to have a soft follwing contact and if he starts to lean, activate then give.. also think about asking him to come up in front by using your front line.


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbm View Post
    a horse that is heavy in front isn't using his hind end properly.

    so you need to activate his hind end (using a half halt, circle, etc) and also be sure you arent pulling. so be sure to have a soft follwing contact and if he starts to lean, activate then give.. also think about asking him to come up in front by using your front line.
    A couple of thoughts.

    Sometimes a good approach is to go back to the old principle of "making what's right easy and what's wrong hard." Just how you want to do that will vary from school to school. Half halts, working the bit, transitions, etc. are one way to do it. Bit movement with the fingers can make the horse uncomfortable and encourage him to not "pull." But this takes timing and "finesse" by the rider.

    Using the leg is another approach that might be worthwhile. A horse with vigorous forward movement is somewhat less likely to be a "leaner." Adding some task to that movement (circles, serpentines, bending poles, spiral in-spiral out, etc.) gives the horse something to think about. That can also help get them off your hand.

    I've got a coming four year old who gets heavy when I "slack off" or allow him to "slack off." So we really work on being "forward." But this is work for him and he'll get heavy when he gets fatigued. So periodically I give him a break with some "patience training." We move to a quiet place in the arena and just stop for a few minutes. As soon as I think he's settled down and caught his breath we'll do some more work.

    Perhaps there should be some distinctions drawn between the young horse that might lean because they are not strong or are still learning and the older horse that is leaning because they've found it to be an effective evasion tactic.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  11. #11
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    I just wonder why it is that you're riding him. Not being critical, but asking a serious question. Is it for him to teach you something, or is he the only one available, or are you the best rider at his barn to work on this issue with him?
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guilherme View Post

    Perhaps there should be some distinctions drawn between the young horse that might lean because they are not strong or are still learning and the older horse that is leaning because they've found it to be an effective evasion tactic.

    G.
    of course. but in general a heavy front end = a non active hind end.

    you need to absolutely take into consideration the horse/the rider etc.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
    Whenever he starts to lean on your hands, bring him back to a walk and then begin again.
    my trainer would say never walk a horse that is trying to evade work. it teaches them that evading gets rewarded.

    you would only walk after they have stopped leaning.



  14. #14
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    Using a transition to rebalance only works if the horse knows how to properly use himself in a transition and it is quite possible that a "heavy" horse does not.

    Halt halts and correctly done would be my answer but do you have a trainer that can show you how to work on them along with suppling the horse?

    Using figures can also help and corners Most usually you just need to adjust how you use the reins. If the horse can lean he wilL!
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
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  15. #15
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    I think I read all the posts, but didn't see anything about what level of training this horse has. I'd be doing haunches in/out each time the horse starts to lean, regardless of gait, if the horse knows how to do them. Straighten as soon as the horse lightens. Because the horse does this with everyone, I'm going to assume the riders' seats aren't the issue, though stiffness and incorrect seats can cause some horses to lean, too.


    My obliques are sore from doing this over and over on a horse who wanted to lean, but got much lighter for me!
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbm View Post
    my trainer would say never walk a horse that is trying to evade work. it teaches them that evading gets rewarded.

    you would only walk after they have stopped leaning.
    I would disagree with this. Walking and giving a long rein sure, but if the horse is ignoring the half halt and getting low/heavy abruptly transitioning to walk with the poll raised, walking a few steps for a few steps, then sending them right back to a forward trot is an excellent way to reinforce the half halt. It is essentially an extension of the HH. If they respond nicely to the half halt then it ends there but if they ignore it or try to hang I quickly ask for a downward. It's not done in a rough way by any means, but the correction should be sharp/very clear.

    I agree with Netg - lateral work will be your best friend with this horse. My horse was very similar when I started with him and I essentially never roe him in a straight line. The lateral work will really get the hind end working and underneath you.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellspotted View Post
    I just wonder why it is that you're riding him. Not being critical, but asking a serious question. Is it for him to teach you something, or is he the only one available, or are you the best rider at his barn to work on this issue with him?
    I'm a working student at my barn, and I'm riding him because he doesn't really have a rider to consistently work him. He's been sitting for a while, and it's not good for him. Also, I've been riding hunters and want to get into eventing. So he's kinda helping me with my "hunter's lean". I have a strong core, it's just I haven't really had a reason to use it until now.

    Quote Originally Posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
    Using a transition to rebalance only works if the horse knows how to properly use himself in a transition and it is quite possible that a "heavy" horse does not.

    Halt halts and correctly done would be my answer but do you have a trainer that can show you how to work on them along with suppling the horse?

    Using figures can also help and corners Most usually you just need to adjust how you use the reins. If the horse can lean he wilL!
    Yes, I have a trainer to help me.

    In response to questions about his training, he has solid training through 2nd level, with some third level training. He sustained an injury to his shoulder however with one of his previous owners. It required surgery, and now he is somewhat "short" on that side when he uses that shoulder.
    "One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
    "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"



  18. #18
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    Something else to consider.

    The crank is good - it's highly padded and comfy to horses unless it is *cranked*. In addition to his lack of strength from hanging around, you might want to consider the bit. Is it really thick and easy to hang on? Maybe he needs a thinner bit that isn't that easy to lean on. Perhaps judicious use of whip and/or spur may be in order to convince him to carry himself? You must rule out whether he's acting this way because he has to (because of his injury) or because he wants to. If he simply wants to, try riding him FORWARD FORWARD FORWARD when he hangs. Then go back to a working gait. Every time he hangs, refresh the energy with a forward walk, trot or canter then half-halt to keep the energy. Relax the work when he maintains the energy himself. Keep in mind he might get tired easily being so big and out of work - so be fair. Good luck!
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  19. #19
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    If he's fit, decently trained, and not in discomfort, then you may want to keep two things in mind:

    1. Self-carriage is not something that all are horses are able to achieve. However, even if you have to carry him around the arena it doesn't mean you won't be able to learn, have fun, and even show successfully.

    2. Many modern warmbloods are incredibly powerful animals and it simply takes great physical strength to ride them... especially in a snaffle. Unfortunately this horse doesn't sound like he'll ever reach 4th level (the level at which most people start riding in a double), so you may want to start working out.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by J-Lu View Post
    Something else to consider.

    The crank is good - it's highly padded and comfy to horses unless it is *cranked*. In addition to his lack of strength from hanging around, you might want to consider the bit. Is it really thick and easy to hang on? Maybe he needs a thinner bit that isn't that easy to lean on. Perhaps judicious use of whip and/or spur may be in order to convince him to carry himself? You must rule out whether he's acting this way because he has to (because of his injury) or because he wants to. If he simply wants to, try riding him FORWARD FORWARD FORWARD when he hangs. Then go back to a working gait. Every time he hangs, refresh the energy with a forward walk, trot or canter then half-halt to keep the energy. Relax the work when he maintains the energy himself. Keep in mind he might get tired easily being so big and out of work - so be fair. Good luck!
    The bit I'm pretty sure is some sort of Myler comfort snaffle. I'm not a big bit aficionado so I'm not completely sure. At the least it's something very similar to it. It's not fat bit by any means.

    Quote Originally Posted by TickleFight View Post
    If he's fit, decently trained, and not in discomfort, then you may want to keep two things in mind:

    1. Self-carriage is not something that all are horses are able to achieve. However, even if you have to carry him around the arena it doesn't mean you won't be able to learn, have fun, and even show successfully.

    2. Many modern warmbloods are incredibly powerful animals and it simply takes great physical strength to ride them... especially in a snaffle. Unfortunately this horse doesn't sound like he'll ever reach 4th level (the level at which most people start riding in a double), so you may want to start working out.
    I do workout. Every day in fact. Cardio, weight lifting and stretching.
    "One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
    "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"



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