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Help!! My new mare likes to take a nose dive!!!

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  • Help!! My new mare likes to take a nose dive!!!

    I just purchase a lovely 16.1 appendix mare that is very soft, but likes to take a nose dive every time I try to collect her. What do I do? Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Sounds like she's not ready for collected work!


    • #3
      Originally posted by cajunbelle View Post
      I just purchase a lovely 16.1 appendix mare that is very soft, but likes to take a nose dive every time I try to collect her. What do I do? Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
      What do you mean by "nosedive"? Is she falling on her forehand? Does she trip or stumble?

      Really I don't think I'm qualified to give detailed advice, it sounds to me like you need an instructor. Also am I correct in assuming that you are asking for collection by trying to set her head in a "frame"? In my experience, before you can even begin to ask for collection the horse needs to be working forward off her haunches.

      For "how to do this" details you're going to need someone a lot more experienced than I am. I'm still at the basic strengthening, balance, cadence, and going forward stage myself and I expect to be working on these skills for quite a while before my horse and I move on.
      "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer


      • #4
        What did your mare do for a living before you bought her? If she did western pleasure or hunter under saddle at AQHA shows, she may have been taught to lower her head, every time the bit makes contact.

        Even if not, she may have learned to avoid short reins by grabbing the bit & diving to lengthen them.

        It would help you to know how she was trained in the past, just to see if it is a re-training issue or an avoidance tactic on her part - or something else entirely.

        Sometimes it helps to start at the beginning with a new-to-you horse so you can check to see if the two of you are on the same page on things. I'd probably lounge her in sidereins, keeping her forward & letting her teach herself to accept contact, if that's the issue. Even if she was taught to drop her nose that low for a prior career, she probably wasn't allowed to go forward, so teach her to go forward & she will probably not nosedive.

        She needs to be allowed to go forward to find the contact & get comfortable with that, before trying to collect her. (And if I'm guessing wrong on her prior career & she's already a 2nd level horse, I'd recommend a lesson with a good trainer who can watch what she's doing & give advice, based on what he or she has observed).

        These are guesses - it really helps to know why she's doing it, in order to find a way to stop her from doing it.
        Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.


        • #5
          If she had any spur stop training, she was taught to lower her head whenever you close your legs, as you would in the half-halt for collection. So the more leg or heel you apply, the more she thinks she needs to lower her head. It's not a response to bit contact--she's probably not used to much contact at all. If that's the case, it will be a challenge to get her moving forward and accepting the bit, but it can be done!
          We get a lot of quarter horses in for jumping training that have been spur trained, and eventualy they have a light bulb moment, and they are a lot happier for it! For now, I would just flutter your legs to get her moving and then add your hand when she'll let you. Be patient and she'll start to understand that contact is not a bad thing.


          • #6
            Before you ever begin collection (second level) with a horse you must build the muscle so they can carry themselves. So start with the training scale. Does the horse move FORWARD nicely reaching up from behind without running and while staying relaxed? My guess is no - so start there.

            Once you have that then introduce shoulder fore, leg yield and other lateral work to start building up the muscle so the horse can carry itself - this means the horses butt has to reach underneath itself (think to the girth) while NOT running, then shoulders will start to rise up which is the start of collection.

            At first horse will not be capable of "holding" the "up" - it will go and come. Idea is to give long & low breaks enough for horse to rest their muscles then ask for the "up" again.
            Now in Kentucky


            • Original Poster

              Much thanks for everyones help, I am still very new at this. She needs a ton of work and much more from behind. I only have a picture of her standing still, but you will see what I mean. She is heavy in the front.

              Last edited by cajunbelle; Aug. 29, 2009, 02:51 PM. Reason: make photo bigger


              • #8
                First, does your horse understand contact with the bit or was she used to a loose rein? If the latter, then you must slowly teach her about the bit. I use a gentle lifting rein, as if turning a door knob, and encouraging them to give (turn their head). This isn't a pulling contest, it's a request. Some time a little nudge with the inside leg is needed. You can also do this from the ground by gently lifting the bit while standing facing the horse.

                If the horse does understand contact but is fighting more, be sure to take up contact slowly and not too much. Use walk-halt and trot-walk transitions to teach about more contact. Keep even pressure on the reins and use your core to get the down transitions. You should be able to shorten the reins a little in the transitions. As the horse gains strength you can take up more contact.

                If it's more a matter of the horse fighting "normal" contact be sure to take lots of walk breaks with a loose rein and then slowly bring the horse back into the contact. This teaches them about contact but prevents them from feeling trapped.

                Some horses do learn to dive as a way to fight working. In this case, be sure your core is engaged so they bump against the reins which they learn not to do. I did have one smart one who would dive when I was at the top of a post (the most vulnerable position where you can't really brace well enough to hold them). I stopped that by tapping with the whip or spur. Also saying "no" loudly can help.

                PS: nice looking horse. Good luck.