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How Can I Outsmart My Horse?

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  • How Can I Outsmart My Horse?

    I usually ride my horse with a whip, using it maybe half a dozen times per ride, usually just a tap. Yesterday I couldn't find it and just went ahead without it. Well, Miss Smartypants decided there was no reason to pay attention to my leg because there was nothing to back it up. She blew off canter transitions like nobody's business. She had plenty of energy otherwise. I had to get pretty dramatic with her before she decided it was less work to just canter when I asked.

    Of course I plan to ride with the whip next time (I found it), but clearly she knows when I have it and when I don't. Is there anything I can do to keep her as sharp without the whip as she is with it? I do have spurs, but I've been taught that they're for lateral work, not for impulsion.
    Yes, I am crazy. Is that an issue?

  • #2
    Keep the whip on top of the rail or somewhere that you can reach it when you ride. You can even keep multiple whips stashed around the rail. Then when riding without a whip, if the horse ignores your leg, you can just reach over and grab the whip for a reminder session. If the horse thinks that you can pull a whip out of your a$$ at any time, then the sluggish behavior without a whip will stop.
    Good luck.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

    Comment


    • #3
      I've had great luck with Jane Savoie's method of getting my horse to react to my leg, and I don't use a whip at all.

      http://www.janesavoie.com/blog/how-t...ore-energetic/

      I have to reschool this every week or so as he starts tuning me out and forgetting the drill

      Comment


      • #4
        If the horse thinks that you can pull a whip out of your a$$ at any time, then the sluggish behavior without a whip will stop.
        Good advice!

        Comment


        • #5
          Lisa Wilcox also uses a technique that she calls "box him with your calves." When you don't have a whip and want to tune the horse up with your leg, use a light leg aid and if the horse fails to respond then lift both legs out sideways from the hip and then clap them both against his barrel. Boom! Make sure to give him room in the reins when you do this.
          "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

          Comment


          • #6
            You could try "outsmarting" your horse by using your brain instead of violence. You seriously use your whip a dozen times every ride? I am not a fan of physical punishment but also admit it is occasionally successful and necessary. But note that if a physical punishment isn't severe enough to STOP A BEHAVIOR IN ITS TRACKS in one or two applications all you are doing is NAGGING. Nagging is a) abusive, and b) totally ineffective. Beating the living daylights out of a horse once in its life is far more humane than constantly whipping the horse over and over and over on a daily basis. Also possibly effective which nagging never is.
            Course you could also consider thinking about why your horse doesn't seem to enjoy its work. Pain? no paychecks ever? bored out of her mind? your riding skills are um less than sufficient, are confusing, and provide no rewards she understands? I've seen far too many people ineffectively whacking at their horses with whips while simultaneously giving "STOP NOW" signals with their bodies to believe the whip is the answer.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by wendy View Post
              You could try "outsmarting" your horse by using your brain instead of violence. You seriously use your whip a dozen times every ride? and no one thinks beating a horse around the ring on a daily basis means something is seriously wrong? A whip cut once or twice a year for a serious offense, ok, I can accept that. Have you considered figuring out WHY your horse doesn't enjoy her work? ok, most of us humans don't enjoy parts of our work either but we do it to get paychecks and most of us enjoy at least parts of our jobs and don't get beaten daily.
              A whip is used as a training aid in dressage. One taps the horse or presses the horse's side with the whip.

              The whip is not used to "cut" or "beat" a horse. A whip is not to be used as punishment--ever--even for a "serious offense." With all due respect, you should reconsider your own use or abuse of this training aid and not point fingers at others.
              "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

              Comment


              • #8
                Oh seriously, the whip in dressage is an aid to back up the leg... an AID, not a punishment. The OP is saying that the horse is respecting one aid (whip) not another (leg), not that she cuts him with a whip.

                And enjoying work isn't the same as knowing the appropriate response to every aid.

                Another hint- spurs are required in FEI dressage to REFINE aids, not to kick harder Next time you watch an upper level dressage rider, notice they will tap with their whip, tap with the spur- of course there is abuse (as in any discipline!), but the whip and spur are only abusive if they are put in abusive hands.

                Now, using a purely operant conditioning model, you've very carefully trained your horse that the aid she must listen to is not the leg, it is the whip. Nag nag nag with the leg, then tap whip, horse goes, you say good girl. She's learned to ignore your leg and listen to the whip. The behavior you're teaching depends on when you give the reinforcement (the "good girl," the release of pressure, etc).

                So according to Jane, and it makes sense, the secret in correcting being dull off the leg is all in retesting. You don't give them the kick or the slap and then say "good girl" for going, or all you're teaching them is to go when you punish. The reinforcement comes after the behavior you want (forward off of light aids). So light aids- if no response, use some correction. Then come back and light aids again, and only praise if there is the appropriate response.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
                  Lisa Wilcox also uses a technique that she calls "box him with your calves." When you don't have a whip and want to tune the horse up with your leg, use a light leg aid and if the horse fails to respond then lift both legs out sideways from the hip and then clap them both against his barrel. Boom! Make sure to give him room in the reins when you do this.
                  Haha, yes, this can be a good one, especially the first time! They're like, what the heck was that?! Also, I know a lot of saddle seat trainers that will tuck a whip in their back pocket or in their waistband in case they need it. Not sure if you're coordinated enough to grab it quickly, but it can work and surprise your horse because they don't see it behind your back.

                  I'd imagine with proper training you could get your mare to respond better and more promptly even without the whip, but it's really not so terrible to ride with a crop every ride for the time being. To get her more responsive, you may just need to get a bit more demanding when you ask. Ask her for a response, if you don't get it immediately, TELL her she MUST give it. Also, it's okay to give a sharp pop with a spur every now and again. Certainly they are very useful as refining aids, and you can get one spur sour quickly with overuse, but used judiciously and sparingly, a spur to the side can make one go, OH! Time to pay attention I think! That stronger use doesn't ruin them as a refining aid in the future.

                  @ Wendy: WHOA! I think you may have read between the lines a bit more than was necessary... If I'm riding with a crop, I often "use" it more than a dozen times during a ride because I'm using it to reinforce a leg aid (a slight tap or brush on the hip, etc), and I certainly use my leg aids more than a dozen times a ride. I have been in situations where I've really had to use a crop more sharply, but those types of situations are rare for most horses and riders. I do agree with you that nagging is pointless, but just because you're using an aid frequently or lightly doesn't mean you're necessarily nagging.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How can I outsmart my horse?

                    You can't. Horses are smarter than we are. They only work for one hour a day, give or take a few minutes. Usually not seven days a week. Clearly they are smarter than we are.
                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                    ---
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
                      Lisa Wilcox also uses a technique that she calls "box him with your calves." When you don't have a whip and want to tune the horse up with your leg, use a light leg aid and if the horse fails to respond then lift both legs out sideways from the hip and then clap them both against his barrel. Boom! Make sure to give him room in the reins when you do this.
                      This is what I do. I usually carry a whip. But if a horse is blowing me off, I can keep my position better (and be more ready for his reaction) by boxing with my legs than by giving a sharp tap with my whip.

                      OP, two things:

                      First, be sure you're not impeding your horse in any way. The horse I ride most often is an athletic little dude, but he's not gracious about filling in for the rider. If I'm off, he lets me know it. If your horse is like this, then your cues and body position have to be right for her to do what you want.

                      Second, once you're sure you're cueing correctly, use the whisper/shout method. You ask nicely the first time (whisper), if she ignores, you shout. No in between. No begging or entreating through repeated cues.

                      This is how I know who's doing what: If he's blowing me off, he complies immediately when I "shout." If I'm the one who's out of sync, the correction pisses him off.

                      Eqtrainer, you speak the truth.
                      __________________________
                      "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                      the best day in ten years,
                      you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Like many of you, I use the whip as a back-up for leg aids. Maresy tends to be a bit "sticky" when I'm first on her; there's about 10 minutes of "don't wanna!" where she's not ill-behaved, just not listening well. I would say that on an average ride, she gets 1 to 2 taps with the whip at most, and I mean *taps*. I could probably drop the whip after the sticky period is over, with no change in her behavior. It's become my way to tell her she's being unreasonable, and in just about every case, after the tap she's saying, "OK, I'll do it..." and then we have fun.

                        I wouldn't think of *beating* her with it. If I ever got that angry at her, I'd need to walk away.
                        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wendy View Post
                          You could try "outsmarting" your horse by using your brain instead of violence. You seriously use your whip a dozen times every ride? I am not a fan of physical punishment but also admit it is occasionally successful and necessary. But note that if a physical punishment isn't severe enough to STOP A BEHAVIOR IN ITS TRACKS in one or two applications all you are doing is NAGGING. Nagging is a) abusive, and b) totally ineffective. Beating the living daylights out of a horse once in its life is far more humane than constantly whipping the horse over and over and over on a daily basis. Also possibly effective which nagging never is.
                          Course you could also consider thinking about why your horse doesn't seem to enjoy its work. Pain? no paychecks ever? bored out of her mind? your riding skills are um less than sufficient, are confusing, and provide no rewards she understands? I've seen far too many people ineffectively whacking at their horses with whips while simultaneously giving "STOP NOW" signals with their bodies to believe the whip is the answer.
                          wow. didn't you pay attention and read her post? she said she lightly taps with it. she didn't say she beats her horse till it does what she wants. for crying out loud.

                          i think the idea of leaving your whip on the wall/fence is a great idea. i have done that before. it's readily available when you need it.
                          be kind to your horses mouth!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            i've kept the whip on the wall before too and it helps to know it's there if you need it.
                            calf boxing (haha it sounds funny when typed this way) works as long as you allow plenty of room physically for their forward response. i call it goat kicking because people riding horses that look like goats (aka yahoos) go around calf boxing for everything.
                            to be honest i probably reinforce more with my calf than the whip so i can get a quicker correction.
                            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bobblehead View Post
                              I usually ride my horse with a whip, using it maybe half a dozen times per ride, usually just a tap. Yesterday I couldn't find it and just went ahead without it. Well, Miss Smartypants decided there was no reason to pay attention to my leg because there was nothing to back it up. She blew off canter transitions like nobody's business. She had plenty of energy otherwise. I had to get pretty dramatic with her before she decided it was less work to just canter when I asked.

                              Of course I plan to ride with the whip next time (I found it), but clearly she knows when I have it and when I don't. Is there anything I can do to keep her as sharp without the whip as she is with it? I do have spurs, but I've been taught that they're for lateral work, not for impulsion.
                              shouldnt relay on whips or spurs -- to much whipping to get the horse going isnt good
                              to much of spurs isnt good try using your legs and seat
                              look above at my helpful links pages on the sticky

                              dresssgae schooling whiips are not meant to tap or whip a horse but to tickle the horse forwards
                              as the schooling whip should lay across your thighs to his flanks so you push him up from behind
                              you will notice they have a string end and not a fob end

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thank you to all of you who read my post carefully and defended my use of the whip. No, I don't beat her with it. But as with any other horse I've ever ridden, she knows exactly when I've got it and when I don't. When I'm carrying it, she's Little Miss Cooperative. But she is basically lazy, and extremely smart, and if she can figure out how to get out of work, she'll try it.

                                Ambrey, the Jane Savoie method is what I always use. I don't nag with my leg - the whole reason for my question was that I felt like I was doing that yesterday and it's unacceptable. She's usually quite responsive to a light leg aid. She's been in heat the past few days and that could have had something to do with her attitude.

                                It certainly is possible that my hands were restricting her more than I was aware of. In my lesson the day before, my instructor was extremely complimentary about my hands, but as I'm asking her for roundness even in the trot/canter transition now, I do need to keep working on them. I just don't think that they were anywhere rough enough to prevent the canter entirely. This was her favorite lead that I was asking for, and it's always been easy, pretty much think and go.

                                The "whip out of my a$$" idea is my favorite by far! Gotta try it.
                                Yes, I am crazy. Is that an issue?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Bobblehead View Post
                                  Ambrey, the Jane Savoie method is what I always use. I don't nag with my leg - the whole reason for my question was that I felt like I was doing that yesterday and it's unacceptable. She's usually quite responsive to a light leg aid. She's been in heat the past few days and that could have had something to do with her attitude.
                                  From seeing her training videos, I know that she schools this frequently- it's not something she does once and expects the horse to understand. It might not have been clear from the article, but this is something she re-schools every time the horse gets behind the leg, sometimes as part of her warm-up.

                                  I mean, if you want to be able to ride without a whip, you're going to have to train her to take your leg corrections seriously. I don't think there is any way around it.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Honestly, it seems more that the problem may be that the leg aids aren't effective, or that the seat and hand don't allow the horse to go forward - I'm not suggesing dropping the contact or throwing the reins at the horse's head ('fly! fly and be free!') but maintaining the connection, just being sure it's a supple loose contact,, and getting a response to the leg aids...and having a loose, soft seat that allows the horse to go forward and makes him WANT to go forward.

                                    So have a loose, soft following seat, a relaxed leg, a hand that allows the forward motion, and get a reaction to your leg aid. It's really very simple. You use your leg aid. If the horse doesn't speed up, you correct, punish, or whatever you think is the polically correct word. If the rhythm is not steady, it is because the rider isn't keeping it steady. The horse is not 'hitting a stride'.

                                    What if he goes a little forward for a little while? He's not forward enough. He needs to be more forward overall. Get him to a point where he is rolling along, and has some momentum. If he slows down, react - immediately.

                                    The rider needs to feel his way to a steady rhythm, where he has a committment to keeping a certain steady rhythm, and he corrects the horse each time the rythm changes, WHEN it changes, not after it really slows down.

                                    So I think it's not so much the age old debate we hear over and over here ('whack him one!' 'no! no! don't whack him!') but the product of lessons with a good trainer - perhaps more frequent lessons with more feedback, or just a committment on the part of the rider to fine tune his aids and how he reacts to his horse's rhythm.

                                    "whip is meant to tickle the horse forward"

                                    Not really.

                                    "spurs are only used for lateral work, not impulsion"

                                    Not really.

                                    Spurs are used in different ways in different styles of training. Some people put them on if the horse simply will not go. Horsey doesn't respond to leg aids? Put on spurs. Horsey cleans your clock when you try to use your whip? Put on spurs.

                                    Classically, spurs are used for lateral work, for impulsion, for everything, but NOT to poke a horse and make him go faster, when he has no basic obedience to the aids and won't go from your whip or boot, but to allow the rider to give a more subtle aid, just with the spur, lightly, instead of moving his leg more. Classically, the only thing spurs are NOT for is making an unwilling horse go forward. That is done without the spur, and is part of amuch, much more basic type of training...that has to get resolved LONG before the spurs go on the rider's boots. Classically, if the horse doesn't go when you use your leg aid, you use your WHIP, NOT your spurs. Personally? If I have to 'box' the horse with my spurs or both calves, I think it's time to remove the spurs, and get a basic response to a normal leg aid with the whip reinforcing the leg aid.

                                    Where using the spur to make horses go forward when they won't go from a leg aid, it tends to tighten up the stomach muscles and back muscles, as a correction for not going forward, the whip is superior. If a horse doesn't accept the whip, a kind patient approach, such as teaching a few tricks with the whip as a cue, and using clear and gentle aids, will take care of the problem.

                                    The whip is used however it needs to be used. This may be just a touch. Or, on spoiled horses it may have to be used quite firmly. But the hope is that this would be quite rare, and not just a habit that it gets used 'automated', over and over without thinking and without any response, but only in response to what is going on, and effectively, and with as little force as possible at all times, but a readiness and knowledge that knows when to use a firmer aid with the whip.

                                    As the training process goes on and on, and the horse advances, the rider needs the horse to react very quickly to the aids. To do a flying change when asked, the horse has to react completely and quickly to the leg aid. A horse can't do a line of 15 one tempe changes across the diagonal if he requires 10 strides to react to the leg aid. So as the horse gets more advanced, the rider expects a quicker, crisper reaction. If the horse doesn't respond quickly, he may react more than he would with a green or untrained horse. As the training process goes on, the rider challenges the horse more and more...which is to say....what's appropriate to expect of one horse isn't appropriate to expect of another that's further along in his training. But if the rider never expects more, he will never get more.

                                    The problem with using the whip is that it is often used to extremes, either with tiny little taps that can be so conveniently ignored that the horse becomes desensitized to it, or repeated smacks that just cause more problems - tension, anger, fighting back, kicking out, etc.

                                    Even more, the whip being used without the other aids, such as the suppling aids, means the horse simply tosses his head up, kicks out or speeds up for a step or two and then 'coasts' back to a slower speed.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      someone been reaading

                                      anyways - when i said tickle the horse as someone quoted that

                                      please be aware that a dressage whip or schooling whip as i said has a string end not a fob end so therefore the action of the whips is different to a crop or a convential hand held whip

                                      the schooling whips are meant to help you when trianing a horse to keep him straight
                                      as they are surpose to lay across you thigh to his flanks as you open your thumbs
                                      the whip is off the horses body as you close you thumbs the whip is on your horses body

                                      when you ask for an aid with legs -- then you should be asking with the whip at the same time to enforce the command -- ie back it up with the whip
                                      so co ordinatiing your hand and leg -

                                      however a convential whip or crop - is a lot shorter than a dressage whip or schooling whip and has a fob on the end and not a peice of string like the dressage whips do

                                      if the horse was napping then you would smack you horse to back up you legif hes not listening as its short and has a fob then unless you move your arm to hit him on the flanks for doing xyz or neck depending on the situation the crop is shorter so the smack is more of smack or hit depending how one deems it but you would have to take your hand of the contact to smack him on the rump etc in order to do it

                                      where as with a dressage whip you dont have to lose the contact as you willl be opening and closing your hands
                                      and will say most top riders when training a horse use two schooling whips as i do
                                      as this keeps the horse straight and forwards and focused and it makes the horse work form his rear end

                                      so when you ask for an aid with legs it pushes him up from behind at the same time
                                      working him from butt to poll to a relaxed yaw and riding the horse betwen leg and hand
                                      so the horse will be soft in the mouth and light in the leg

                                      most people use one scholing whip relaying on the wall fence or rail as guide to the other side to help keep the horse striaght but in truth the horse is only striaght on the whip hand
                                      as in dressage there is no walls no fence no rails

                                      please take time to read my helpful links pages read all of page one and all links its all relevent to what your trying to do

                                      also go down to the bottom and read how to long rein as this to will help you with your horse
                                      as when training young horses long reining is better for them as this will instill basic commands


                                      http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=178116

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