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Nice horse with baggage (bit acceptance)

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  • Nice horse with baggage (bit acceptance)

    I just purchased one of my students horses. He's 16.2 draftX. He got a late start at 6 by a bad cowboy (last fall). This guy is a huge mover and a bit nervy. I know this horse scared the heck out of the cowboy because how he moves. They bit him in a twisted double wire snaffle and drawreins. They also attempted to longe him to death to quiet him. These two actions have left him behind the bit and tense and I can't even longe him quiet him because he learned to swing his haunches out badly. I ride everything in a kk or french link. Any advice on a bit that might calm him. I have quiet hands but do need to make corrections at times (swinging haunches out). He had his teeth done this spring. I've used the Dr. Cook bitless with some success but he's strong when he wants to be. I was thinking about the Micklem bridle with a happy mouth bit. This is a neat horse with potential but has much baggage. I take advice willingly

  • #2
    Well if he is strong when he wants to be in a bitless the same will hold true with a bit.


    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


    • #3
      Can you post a picture of him so we can see his neck/throatlatch conformation?

      Otherwise.. if it's not at least partially conformational -

      I would start him all over again and when you ride him, focus on his back being up and swinging and his hind end stepping under and let the front sort itself out, for the most part. I would correct any getting strong/running away (let's face it.. that is the draft horse MO) with a very clear NO! with my hands and a sit down and then go on like it never happened. Once you have a valid half halt, ride from half halt to half halt and keep him in balance so that getting strong/running is not an option.

      You correct haunches swinging around by using both legs to boot the horse forward and to keep him from bouncing between your legs. It is very, very tempting to try to corrrect w/one leg or the other - don't do it, you will have a boomerang effect going on. Also keep in mind that cowboys often try to move the horses rear end around/move their hips around BEFORE they move their shoulder, meaning they line the rear end up w/the front, which is the opposite of what we do, so that is why when I deal with this I just don't even GO there, or give the horse any reason to think that is what I am asking them to do.
      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


      • #4
        horse is only being strong as hes tied down with to much junk
        drew reins twisted bit -- hwo would you go with all that on your head -
        take it off and leave the horse alone and let him heal up a bit, then bring him back into work with a proper fitting bridle and saddle and start working the horse from butt to pole to a relaxed yaw
        as the hands of the pervious person is hanging into the bridle and his head so horse is going to advade big time


        • #5
          "hind quarters swing out to one side"

          Get help from another trainer with this horse. Sounds like the horse is not moving forward properly into the bridle. Correct that swing by pushing the haunches 'back where they belong' with your leg held back, and you will only make him more crooked and less able to do what you want. In dressage one NEVER 'straightens the hind quarter with the leg held back' or 'pushes the hind quarter back to the right position' to straighten a horse.

          "bitless bridle". Get rid of it. It's very harsh and does not teach a correct connection, and it makes horses swing their haunches to one side. I take it you put it on because the horse fights the bit? Get him used to a bit. Longeing can help, as can working with a trainer who can show you how to stretch him down, pick up the contact, stretch him down, pick up the contact, to get him to accept the bit contact in just a ride or two.

          "horse is only being strong because he's tied down with too much junk"

          That's an oversimplification. There is usually a lot more to being strong.

          One is habit. The horse has been trained incorrectly, so he has bad habits. If you're having trouble dealing with that, get help from an instructor who can be there and guide you moment to moment in how exactly to respond to what the horse is doing.

          One is that the horse is fresh. Some horses simply aren't very pleasant to ride until they get worked 5-6 days in a row. If they have some shtank in them, they need work. They need to run around in a big pasture, play with other horses, and be fed less grain and concentrates and supplements usually, too.

          One is that the horse doesn't want to carry himself. If his back and hind quarter are weak, he won't believe he can carry himself. If he's spoiled, and it sounds like he is, he won't willingly offer to carry himself even if he is quite capable. He has simply been allowed to be lazy and bossy, so he won't work. The best thing to do is to get some help. Have some one show you how to use your reins, seat and leg (and the occasional correction) to convince him to carry himself for just a few seconds, you need someone there on the ground to help you with that? Then go for it. Then reward him lavishly, with a break, and praise him to the heavens. Even dismount if that gets the point across. Insist one just ONE brief moment in which he carries himself, then praise, praise praise. Tomorrow, insist on TWO brief moments. The next day, THREE.

          One is that the rider is riding with too short a rein, so the horse can't hold his neck in a comfortable position. If the rider is always tense and tight, the horse will pull.

          One is that the horse is just not allowed to go forward in to a steady but slightly 'buffered' connection, by that I mean though there is a connection, the rider's arms have just a little bit of flexibility, so the horse doesn't feel jammed up.

          If he pulls on one side, the rider just gets a little leg yield feeling, pushes his body over and bends him a little on that side, keeping the connection so there is a 'limit' but right at that limit, the horse is 'finessed' a little bit, and not held hard. A western rider I knew called this 'lawyerin'', lol. He meant instead of fighting the horse, he would very cleverly just divert the horse a little bit, having him do something 'corrective' instead of just fighting with the hand.

          If you were to give away the rrein, and just ride them on the buckle, as so many people do with this type of horse, the horse is on the forehand, and can't balance. Many people feel they've 'solved the problem' when they just make the rein so long the horse can't even get to the end of the reina dn find the bit. It just doesn't help; the horse is too off balance even to be safe in a flat riding arena.

          It's almost as if when the horse gets strong, instead of fixing or setting the hand, the rider just well...'diverts' him, by looking for the cause of the pulling, and correcting that...so...a little leg yield, a little circle, a little bending...no big barrier the horse hits....even though there is a barrier he meets, it's like the barrier is just slightly soft, so he meets a water bed, just very slightly, instead of a brick wall.

          There is a point beyond which that water bed has to become a brick wall, such as when the horse totally bulls through you, but you give him a million chances in the world to work against a water bed instead of a brick wall.

          he DOES need to feel he can't win by pulling you out of the saddle (even a micron) so your position has to be rock solid. You feel as if you just can't be pulled out of the saddle or have your position budge one inch, you're sitting on your seat, not leaned forward, and you don't actually GIVE the rein away, but you don't fix or set your hand either.

          Another is conformation. The horse is a draft cross. Many of these horses have a big, massive neck and shoulder and a small hind quarter with a very steep, narrow croup, quite a few have a surprisingly weak, hollow back that dips down and then takes a hike up to the point of the croup. They are built well for pushing, but not for carrying. If you try to make them 'light' in the bridle, all that does is take the bit away from them and make them crooked, and all the more unable to be light.

          Instead of trying to force these horses 'to be light', the better option is to gradually condition their back and hind quarters, so it does the best job it can at carrying them. Lots of cantering and transitions where the hind leg sweeps forward up under the body, helps to develop the back and hind quarter. It takes time. During that time, you walk a very, very fine line, by not taking the bit away and making them crooked, and not expecting them to feel dainty in your hands, but having a reasonable expectation for the carrying power to very slightly improve over time.

          Some horses can NEVER be really light and soft. They just aren't built to be that way. It's better to accept a little how they are and work them in more of a horizontal position, and not expect them to advance.


          • #6

            I should have said powerful instead of strong. His issue is tension. He breaks at the poll & throat easily (too easy) and his issue is sucking back behind the bit. I really don't think I'll be able to deal with the swinging haunches until I get him relaxed. He takes all corrections in the bit. I've worked out these problems on the lunge with other horses but the bad cowboys taught him to evade the longe whip by swinging his haunches way out. I've calmed him on the lunge put after a few transitions, he gets tense again and starts swinging. "Yes, he's wearing sidereins". I've worked enough poorly started horses to know that tack & bit conditioning can cause them to hold tension. Sometimes a break from the neg. conditioning can get them to give it up and relax. He's really a nice mover. Not pully or strong in the bridle but has learned a bad habit with swinging the haunch with tension. It's the sucking back I need advice on.


            • #7
              Originally posted by dressageraven View Post
              I should have said powerful instead of strong. His issue is tension. He breaks at the poll & throat easily (too easy) and his issue is sucking back behind the bit. I really don't think I'll be able to deal with the swinging haunches until I get him relaxed. He takes all corrections in the bit. I've worked out these problems on the lunge with other horses but the bad cowboys taught him to evade the longe whip by swinging his haunches way out. I've calmed him on the lunge put after a few transitions, he gets tense again and starts swinging. "Yes, he's wearing sidereins". I've worked enough poorly started horses to know that tack & bit conditioning can cause them to hold tension. Sometimes a break from the neg. conditioning can get them to give it up and relax. He's really a nice mover. Not pully or strong in the bridle but has learned a bad habit with swinging the haunch with tension. It's the sucking back I need advice on.
              I was always taught - if sucking back - send them forward.


              • #8
                This isn't about bit acceptance, it is about strength, straightness (strength) and acceptance of going forward. Ride him in something nice like a KK and forget about what he is doing with his head and neck and send him forward. That should help with a lot.
                See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


                • #9
                  I had a horse similar and after trying many bits including solid rubber mullen mouth loose ring I ended up with a HS Eggbutt with I think it was called the dynamic mouth piece. Similar to the kk but a little different angle.
                  Although this was the best bit for this horse it still took a long time to get him forward stretching and relaxed. He went up and down chomping the bit twisting his head for a long time. But this bit I found the best bit for him.
                  Good luck it sounds like this horse is lucky to be in your hands.


                  • #10
                    Long reining or double longe might help with the quarters, and also bit evasion?


                    • #11
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lora View Post
                        I was always taught - if sucking back - send them forward.
                        quite right