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tricks for not grabbing

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  • tricks for not grabbing

    I KNOW I am not supposed to grab his face, but that doesn't mean I won't! The new quotes thread reminded me that it is pretty common to want to, which makes me feel a bit better. However, I know that many of you have managed to resist the urge. Someone mentioned grabbing mane, which sounds like a good idea. Any other tips to help when in the moment of an unbalanced tb, who can get going like a freight train? We are working on the half-halt using my seat, and he is responding great at the walk. At the trot though, it is a combination of me needing better timing and him getting a bit amped up at the faster gait. I do have trainers, but can not afford to have them out as frequently as I'd like due to finances, so I need to work things through on my own. I am so close, just need to get past grabbing his little face! Thanks for any tips, guys.

  • #2
    If the horse goes too fast at the trot or gets too strong, ride a circle, do something that involves bending. More frequent riding can help, the rider being very relaxed and calm can help, a little less grain in the diet can help. Horses tend to get quick and strong when they are out of condition too, so regular riding helps there too. The rider's balance can help; often if he is grabbing the horse's mouth it's because something is up with his position that needs to be fixed. If his position and all his 'parts' are properly aligned it goes better.

    Too, it is not clear that one really is 'grabbing' the mouth. If the horse gets very strong and loses his balance, it may seem like you are grabbing his mouth when he really is just losing his balance and chucking his head and neck downward. But that's more an issue for someone on the ground watching and detecting that, and giving you a way to ride where the horse is more balanced with his hind legs underneath him; the horse's hind legs are what 'holds him up' and keeps him from losing his balance, so often the answer to 'getting quick and strong' and losing balance is very counter intuitive - go more forward, but at the same time, catching that energy in the hand and using it to pick the horse up. You should feel like, when you use your leg, the horse pops up in front of you (not leaps off the ground or gets stiff and unnatural, but like his hind legs energy is pushing his forehand very, very slightly up), that's just something it takes time and coaching, to learn to coordinate all that.

    Comment


    • #3
      I remember one person who was given a neck strap, and told to pull on that when necessary.

      The other thing to do is to use your head, do circles, spiral circles, bend changes, focusing on the correctness of the bend and the smoothness of the bend change. You can also do transitions, focusing on the smoothness of the transition. Just don't do so many, so frequently that they make the horse frantic. The same with bend changes. These exercises will help him learn to balance himself, and force you, the hope is, to use yourself.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by slc2 View Post
        If the horse goes too fast at the trot or gets too strong, ride a circle, do something that involves bending. More frequent riding can help, the rider being very relaxed and calm can help, a little less grain in the diet can help. Horses tend to get quick and strong when they are out of condition too, so regular riding helps there too. The rider's balance can help; often if he is grabbing the horse's mouth it's because something is up with his position that needs to be fixed. If his position and all his 'parts' are properly aligned it goes better.

        Too, it is not clear that one really is 'grabbing' the mouth. If the horse gets very strong and loses his balance, it may seem like you are grabbing his mouth when he really is just losing his balance and chucking his head and neck downward. But that's more an issue for someone on the ground watching and detecting that, and giving you a way to ride where the horse is more balanced with his hind legs underneath him; the horse's hind legs are what 'holds him up' and keeps him from losing his balance, so often the answer to 'getting quick and strong' and losing balance is very counter intuitive - go more forward, but at the same time, catching that energy in the hand and using it to pick the horse up. You should feel like, when you use your leg, the horse pops up in front of you (not leaps off the ground or gets stiff and unnatural, but like his hind legs energy is pushing his forehand very, very slightly up), that's just something it takes time and coaching, to learn to coordinate all that.
        Thanks to your recommendations, his grain has been cut significantly. I will think about your second paragraph today when I jump on. He was going beautifully last week. We had the timing great and he was like butter. But then he pulled a shoe and it rained for three days, so he had seven days off. I lost my muscle memory of how I was keeping his *tempo* (can't think of a better word-don't pick on me!) better in check.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
          I remember one person who was given a neck strap, and told to pull on that when necessary.

          The other thing to do is to use your head, do circles, spiral circles, bend changes, focusing on the correctness of the bend and the smoothness of the bend change. You can also do transitions, focusing on the smoothness of the transition. Just don't do so many, so frequently that they make the horse frantic. The same with bend changes. These exercises will help him learn to balance himself, and force you, the hope is, to use yourself.
          You know, I did some transitions, but I think it pisses him off/confuses him more! If that makes sense. I praise him for it, even though I would like a smaller transition within the trot, but then he can get a bit stubborn and resists picking the trot back up. So I agree that transitions can be counterproductive at times. I ended up putting him on a smaller circle yesterday (after a meltdown from him), and it went better. Not sure if it was because of the stern talking-to he got for his tantrum though.

          Comment


          • #6
            If walk is good and trot is a problem do TONS of walk/halt transition then do walk/trot - after 2 steps back to walk. Gradually turn this into walt/trot - 2 steps half halt if no response halt. Then you can make the 2 steps 5 steps and gradually lengthen the # of steps tunil you need a HH or if horse quits listening then a full halt. Repeat til horse listening.

            My Dutch mare hates to stand around so when she "speeds up" we do TONS of halt (square to get her butt underneath herself) and only when HH's are coming through (she listens) is she allowed to trot and canter, etc.
            Now in Kentucky

            Comment


            • #7
              Excellent advice here from all. Bucking straps are your friend. Also, try a neck strap -- perhaps the neck strap from an old standing martingale. Put pressure on that rather than the reins or in conjunction with the reins.

              Sometimes it helps.

              Comment


              • #8
                ditto on the bucking strap. mine is quite long and I ride with my pinky through it. Helps me keep my hands down all the time. or rather not up.
                A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't have a bucking strap, but I don't use the billet straps on my saddle pad, so I pull them forward and use those as anchors if I'm have a 'bad hands' day. Like the OP, I notice that if I miss too many days in the saddle, my 'feel' and comfort level diminish quite a bit until I'm into that first ride again . I think I have bad muscle memory.
                  Btw OP, LOVE your sports psych quote and will borrow it for myself as a reminder. I am the type to prefer embers to the flames, but the new TB mare has flames. I am learning to "be friends with forward" as another COTH member put it. Good luck! Oh,
                  and my TB's 'tude changed dramatically after I treated her for ulcers and put her on alfalfa pellets/flax/vitamin instead of the premade pelleted foods. She'd been getting quite a lot of Ultium and was pretty high. She misses her 'candy' but is keeping good weight and we can now walk from the barn to the arena without doing our 'balloon on a string' impression.
                  Sheri
                  www.onthemuscle.com
                  www.cafepress.com/onthemuscle

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When i have a student that is grabby in the face i usually do one of two things.
                    1. they go on the lunge no reins and work on downward transitions (on the horse that gets quick ) I only intervene if the rider looks like they are going to jump ship. We sing, we tell eachother stories, anything to get the lungs going in and out so the body can relax and melt around the horse
                    2. do exercises in a halter. this is great for the quick horse that is dead to nose pressure because you quickly learn that hanging on the reins gets you nowhere and you have to resort to other means. Lots of pattern helps the horse, but most of the time doesnt cure the rider. I like to do lots of active/retarding leg exercises just on the rail in a halter.

                    Basically hanging on the reins is a symptom, and to eliminate that symptom you have to get to the root cause. The root cause is you are not balanced properly in the saddle and are not bodily aware, and you are riding a sensitive horse. Grabbing mane and bucking straps only helps the symptom, but sadly it will pop up in another form if not remedied.
                    good luck.
                    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                    chaque pas est fait ensemble

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                      Basically hanging on the reins is a symptom, and to eliminate that symptom you have to get to the root cause. The root cause is you are not balanced properly in the saddle and are not bodily aware, and you are riding a sensitive horse. Grabbing mane and bucking straps only helps the symptom, but sadly it will pop up in another form if not remedied.
                      good luck.
                      Awesome point. You're right. It is a symptom of me not having the solid muscle memory of the half halt that I should be using. Although, I do want to point out, for many reasons, that I don't *hang* on the reins. What I do (which is REALLY bad--but I know and am fixing!), is allow reins to get too long, then snatch and let go-snatch and let go. This pisses him off to no end--which I COMPLETELY understand. I am not allowing the reins to slide through my fingers anymore-no way. Riding a forward-thinking horse is new to me and is challenging me in all sorts of ways. But it is making me become a better rider for sure. I am not able to go on the lunge line, but do find that when I get on a circle, and pick a center point to stay on, I am almost lunging myself! It helps to get us back on track in tons of ways (straight and equal, helping him stay balance, etc.). Thanks!
                      Last edited by 2boys; May. 8, 2009, 07:30 PM.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by slpeders View Post
                        Btw OP, LOVE your sports psych quote and will borrow it for myself as a reminder. I am the type to prefer embers to the flames, but the new TB mare has flames. I am learning to "be friends with forward" as another COTH member put it. Good luck! Oh, and my TB's 'tude changed dramatically after I treated her for ulcers and put her on alfalfa pellets/flax/vitamin instead of the premade pelleted foods. She'd been getting quite a lot of Ultium and was pretty high. She misses her 'candy' but is keeping good weight and we can now walk from the barn to the arena without doing our 'balloon on a string' impression.
                        Thanks. Maybe we should start a clique called, "I got myself a tb; what the h#** was I thinking; but I LOVE IT!".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm a big fan of having something to hang onto at moments of need (my old mare was very spooky), in part because I think it provides a psychological crutch - if you know you have something to grab or keep a couple fingers around, you can relax and focus on your overall position and other work.

                          In terms of practicing by yourself (without a lunger - is that a word?) I found it really useful to concentrate on keeping the area from your navel to your knees very relaxed. If you are tense in that area, and the horse rushes forward or turns suddenly, you will not move well with the horse and will have to grab something to keep your balance. If you can keep that area flexible, your seat moves with the horse better. This from a trainer I used to take dressage lessons with. She used to get after me about gripping with my upper leg and she would have me occasionally roll my knees in and out, or lift them off the saddle a few inches and re-drape my leg, to remind me to keep the hips loose. If you lift your knees off the saddle just an inch (out to the sides, not bending the knee and raising it towards the withers ), it also helps settle your seat into a better position and engages your stomach muscles and balances your upper body. It's still something I do once in a while, if I feel like I've gotten discombobulated.

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