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Where to begin to lighten western trained QH on the forehand?

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  • Where to begin to lighten western trained QH on the forehand?

    Please give me some basic suggestions to help my QH lighten up on the forehand or direct me to resources. She is not built very downhill - I think her conformation is fairly conducive to dressage work. Right now she is very heavy on the thick snaffle I am using - I can barely slow her down etc. She is responsive to the leg aids though. I don't know that much about her except that she was trained primarily for western pleasure and thus to carry her head low. She probably has not been on a snaffle for a long time. She is well behaved just not very responsive to my hands and leans quite heavily into them often trying to drop her head. Thanks!

  • #2
    Most Western horses I've ridden are reined to drop their head lower with pressure on the rein. She could just be mistaking your normal contact for a cue to drop even lower. Try riding her with almost no contact or even a loop in the rein and get her very forward off your legs. Then as she is going along try some half halts with your seat not hands to try to rock her weight more behind. As she learns to carry herself (and it may be very slow going at first) start picking your contact back up but very slowly and let her get accustomed to it by degrees. She may always have a tendency to drop rather than carry.

    Comment


    • #3
      My current horse was trained to put her head between her knees and hobble along. BAD western training. And she is an OTTB, I can only imagine what it took to do that to her.
      I tried a lot of things, but in the end it was the simplest that worked. I let go of her mouth, sat back, put leg on (which was apparently new) and urged her to go forward, forward, forward.
      It was not an even progress. I tried to praise her for going forward and was often rewarded by her sticking her head between her knees. She also flinched when I spoke so she had to learn to be praised.
      Eventually the rear end kicked in, she started to relax and the head came up, a millimeter at a time, to a normal relaxed carriage.
      THEN I was able to start teaching her what I wanted her to learn.
      I think the TB in her wanted to go forward, but the previous training methods used had to be harsh.
      Your QH might not be as forward as an OTTB, but if the training methods were correct and not harsh you can teach her forward and then teach new things.

      Edited to add: it was worth it, she has awesome gaits.
      Nina's Story
      Epona Comm on FB

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thank you - I think she is misataking the cue and dropping more. She is already forward off my legs though! How will I stop her and steer her without contact? Sorry - only have a lowish level of dressage understanding. I appreciate the help!

        Comment


        • #5
          Where to begin
          on the lunge line - this is about re-educating the horse & it is much easier to get the pressure/release correct with a ground person, eg, you + horse on lunge, or you as rider + trainer (helps if trainer is experienced with western trained horses & is able to anticipate where horse will go next).

          she is very heavy on the thick snaffle I am using - I can barely slow her down etc.
          teach her whoa & go on the lunge line - when her response to voice commands is established, she will respond to the same u/s, it really helps with re-training when you are able to offer her more than one aid for the same desired response.

          Once she is nice & forward on the lunge line & clearly understands the desired responses, introduce (elastic) side reins: to start these are set just to support the contact she is offering, then gradually shortened (for only moments initially) to encourage the head carriage you desire.

          All this time you are building the muscles she needs to carry herself in the new "english" way, so in the beginning, you only lunge for 10 min, with walk breaks to reward any tries (so the whole session may be 15 - 20 min, depending).

          If you have access to a large round pen, you can also use that.

          If you have no experience lunging or free-lunging (in the round pen), then contact a trainer - body position (& timing) is so important & it's not easliy learned from books.

          She probably has not been on a snaffle for a long time.
          Try to find out the number of rides she's had - is she non-responsive due to general confusion about the aids, or is she offering resistance or is she trying to say No it's this way???

          There is a green horse thread on this forum that has some very good responses from trainers that start horses - you treat them very differently than a horse that has a clear understanding of the aids.

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          • #6
            Right now she is very heavy on the thick snaffle I am using - I can barely slow her down etc. She is responsive to the leg aids though. I don't know that much about her except that she was trained primarily for western pleasure and thus to carry her head low. She probably has not been on a snaffle for a long time. She is well behaved just not very responsive to my hands and leans quite heavily into them often trying to drop her head.
            Do you have a video you can post? It would help to actually see the horse going...

            This doesn't actually sound like a western pleasure trained horse - wp horses are overly soft to the bit, and will stay behind the contact no matter how much of a feel you take, even with a snaffle. And they stop, heck they slam on the brakes.

            However if she does have a decent amount of wp training the first basic thing you should know is that contact plus leg means to drop her head and shorten her stride. WP horses are ridden almost completely off your seat, you only bump the bit for head position.
            It's a hard transition to make. I'd leave her face alone, at this point you'll only confuse the issue, start asking her to long trotting (ie western term for a working trot) and keep sitting. Once she feels forward and steady then start posting, don't be surprised if she tries to stop.
            Turning is easy, just look where you're going and let your body follow, sit into your inside seatbone and she should follow.

            Introduce new cues slowly, inside leg and inside rein are a foreign concept and sometimes can really irritate a western trained horse.

            Comment


            • #7
              Right now she is very heavy on the thick snaffle I am using - I can barely slow her down etc.
              One other thing, she's probably never had a thick snaffle in her mouth, that's not something you see typically. The snaffle she was started in was most likely something like this http://www.rods.com/Black-Training-O...rade,2237.html
              She may simply not know what to do with the bit you are using.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Amberkez View Post
                One other thing, she's probably never had a thick snaffle in her mouth, that's not something you see typically. The snaffle she was started in was most likely something like this http://www.rods.com/Black-Training-O...rade,2237.html
                She may simply not know what to do with the bit you are using.
                You guys are all very helpful! wow! I think I do notice that sometimes she turns when I think I have not cued her but I probably just shifted my weight to speak to someone in the ring or next to it! I have only had her for a week and I am learning all this. She does seem very sensitive to my leg cues - it just confuses me that she is not sensitive to my hands but it may just be we are using a different language! I think you may be right about the thick snaffle. I will change it for something more like in your link.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Glad to help =) I have my western horses and I have my dressage horses and my hunter horses and my halter horses lol so I know it can sometimes be a challenge but in my book a good horse is a good horse, sometimes they might just need a little time and help to get there!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I second what Alto says. They can figure out alot on the lunge line with side reins without a rider fussing with them. I was riding a QH rope horse who had been getting frustrated making the transition. I started lungeing him as a part of his program and he really figured out contact and steping more underneath himself on the line. Once that clicked his frustration was alot less under saddle.
                    Dawn

                    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If the hands are soft enough you can train contact on a WP horse just as quickly as any other horse new to dressage...

                      Horses are very quick to trust the hand again if it is a forward hand.
                      ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                      http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I second what Alto says. They can figure out alot on the lunge line with side reins without a rider fussing with them. I was riding a QH rope horse who had been getting frustrated making the transition. I started lungeing him as a part of his program and he really figured out contact and steping more underneath himself on the line. Once that clicked his frustration was alot less under saddle.
                        I completely agree that most everything can be figured out easier with ground work than with rider confusion however if this horse really does have significant western pleasure training even lunging towards a forward frame will be a challenge, whereas under saddle she has probably already been 'trotted out' at some point.
                        I'm not sure if you've ever seen a pleasure horse worked on the line? But there are sometimes some pretty nasty ways to make sure they never want to move forward. I once saw a lady take super thin baling wire, wrap it around a horse's nose , run it through a snaffle bit, and then run it through the girth and proceed to lunge the horse. Every time the horse went to move forward he hit that baling wire.
                        Western pleasure is one of the aspects of horses that can go from a very sophisticated level of training to downright inhumane, and I'm sad to say but the horses that most people get for a good bargain are the ones that encountered bad training methods.
                        It would still be good to see a video. I'm always interested when people try to retrain pleasure horses.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
                          If the hands are soft enough you can train contact on a WP horse just as quickly as any other horse new to dressage...

                          Horses are very quick to trust the hand again if it is a forward hand.
                          Good point - I think I was taking too much contact to start with because I was misunderstanding her. I am going to start over with very little contact and work up gradually.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Amberkez View Post
                            I completely agree that most everything can be figured out easier with ground work than with rider confusion however if this horse really does have significant western pleasure training even lunging towards a forward frame will be a challenge, whereas under saddle she has probably already been 'trotted out' at some point.
                            I'm not sure if you've ever seen a pleasure horse worked on the line? But there are sometimes some pretty nasty ways to make sure they never want to move forward. I once saw a lady take super thin baling wire, wrap it around a horse's nose , run it through a snaffle bit, and then run it through the girth and proceed to lunge the horse. Every time the horse went to move forward he hit that baling wire.
                            Western pleasure is one of the aspects of horses that can go from a very sophisticated level of training to downright inhumane, and I'm sad to say but the horses that most people get for a good bargain are the ones that encountered bad training methods.
                            It would still be good to see a video. I'm always interested when people try to retrain pleasure horses.
                            I did lunge her once and she was forward but a little confused - in one direction she would stop and turn to go the other way. Again, as a first try, I probably did not have it all set up perfectly. I used a snaffle bridle with the lunge run through the bit over the poll and clipped to the other side. Just wanted to find out if she knew how to lunge at all and she did seem to know except the changing direction issue. I have a little video my dh took of our 2nd ride I may try to post. (A little embarrassed as I am just gettting back into riding after years off raising kids...) Cheers!

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