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Training the bucking/"dirty" horse for dressage...experiences?

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  • Training the bucking/"dirty" horse for dressage...experiences?

    Hi all,

    Before I start, I'm not trying to start a heated discussion here, just genuinely looking for some advice.

    I have a new ride that I have known for some time, who I would like some advice on training wise if possible. The horse in question is a 6yo, who I knew at 4yo when it was broken in. As a breaker/greenie the horse was very quiet, albeit a bit lazy by nature - however with gentle persistence she was at about a rough training level - not refined whatsoever, but the basics were there. She never had any real issues under saddle - when I say lazy, she didn't like the whip being used behind the leg and would get snaky about it. Whip on the shoulder was fine, and just "tickling" behind the leg was ok. She only ever truly bucked once, and would occasionally give a mild hump or two in protest to the whip before going on as asked. She has always been brilliant to ride out on trails alone or in company, in traffic or not.
    Now somewhere along the line with a different, fairly inexperienced rider, the mare learned to buck, and I mean BUCK! Not always, only as a resistance to going forward when a bit tired.

    I have ridden her twice recently - the first time I lunged her first, including a lot of canter to see if she misbehaved then too. Nothing. Perfect in fact. I rode at walk and trot only and she was fine, if feeling a little green and rusty. Good transitions, I didn't ride with a whip and was able to use voice to back up my forward aids.
    The next time I rode I didn't lunge first, and therefore hadn't established the "forward" before getting on. Again I just rode at walk and trot, only about 10 minutes or so, doing transitions and changes of rein and gradually increasing the amount of steady inside leg contact and being extremely careful not to kick or nudge in my rising trot. She was a little more difficult to get a decent rhythm on but again quite well behaved, and even forward enough at times to try and break into canter - however I corrected this as I wanted to try canter for the first time from a better session of trot work.

    Now, very importantly before you make any judgments as to the reason for the bucking/ "dirty streak" as it has been called before:
    All veterinary causes have been ruled out. (she also is not a touchy "mare-y mare" type...in fact, she's more like a stubborn gelding type in her nature).
    However the mare is by a stallion infamous for imprinting his progeny with a very, very dirty streak. They are talented, but they are not easy at all - as best described by many people I know who have worked with numbers of his progeny, "you can NOT bully them because they WILL serve it back 10 times as hard". Basically what people have told me (and what I had already ascertained about her from my knowledge of her as a younger horse without knowing of the other progeny's traits) is that the trainer needs to find a way to work WITH them and work around the dirty-ness they all seem to have. This is how she was broken in, and is the reason she was going kindly back then. It seems that this isn't how things were approached further on down the track, however. (as for the stallion, I kid you not, there are several specific traits on the ground this line carries that they can be recognised by).

    So my question to you all is, what are some strategies I can employ so I can ask her to work "with" me, without her throwing back a "MAKE ME!"? (For example, if I wanted her to canter or keep cantering and backed it up with a whip aid that had to be increased due to no response, I'm pretty sure she'd buck, and I'm not sure I could ride it out to win the argument - and even if I did, winning the argument THAT time would be pointless, because these horses are the type that will just be worse NEXT time if treated that way).

    I intend to stay out of the arena as much as possible and do a lot of her work out on a trail or in a large field as she gets less bored and cranky out and about and is pretty reliable otherwise. I feel confident that I can get her doing basic walk/trot/canter work in the arena once the basics are further re-established, however I'm not sure how to go about things once it is time to start putting the pressure on a little and expecting her to accept my leg and seat when I say, "now, please". I don't believe she will buck unless I get insistent with her, but how do I go about things when she starts to say no, as they all do at some point?

    Sorry if I'm not making complete sense with the airing of my thoughts but I really want to do this right because if I can get her on my side properly, she will be a brilliant horse to ride. There is no rush whatsoever to get her going quickly....I just want to make sure I am doing things the best way possible. At this stage I am looking to establish a plan for her and then treat her pretty much as a horse being broken in and learning everything for the first time, so any ideas or experiences you have that may help me come up with something that will work for her would be dearly appreciated!

    Blog posts, updates & videos tweeted to all my followers on Twitter!www.OnceUponADressageDream.com ~ www.twitter.com/dressageblog

  • #2
    I have one of those! She has never bucked hard but given the opportunity for that to work as an evasaion she probably would have. Lord knows she did everything else as an evasion: jumping away from the mounting block, pops (small bucks), cow kicking, just plain planting the feet and refusing to move, spooking..............it has taken her 3 years to get a work ethic. She was started at 4/we slowly plugged along/is actually a pleasant horse to ride 75% of the time now though she still has "her days" when she reverts. We just worked until she got a bit fussy and then she had to do just a little bit more past that point so she didn't get the idea she got to quit doing that......but before it escalated into an all out war........which happened if pushed TOO hard. We tried to find that fine line with stopping being a reward for doing a little more than she was happy with before the battle became a war.
    Providence Farm


    • #3
      'Some of them are like that'

      A lot of horses are very very easy to break, and very hard to train. Others are the opposite, horrible when first backed and easy later. If a horse is really tough and doesn't want to respond to his rider, he's probably best off being with a strong rider who can get him into the habit of being obedient. Otherwise he is not likely to have a long and happy life.

      Some bucking and naughtiness is pretty expected, though. It's not at all unusual.


      • Original Poster

        Camohn, you hit the two key words - "work ethic"! That's exactly how I would describe it. I think your suggestion about extending things gradually would work in her case.

        Slc2 - this horse would not get very far with a strong rider. A battle of wills is exactly what this line of horses cannot handle, they need tact not strength, which is why I'm looking for some ideas on developing such tactful strategies.

        I don't mind a playful little kick out here and there but a flat out no is what I'd like to avoid...but you're right, most greenies will throw something at us at some stage

        I've been doing a lot of riding in group training situations in my job since last year which has given me the idea of trying this approach with her - basically playing follow the leader, or doing work in pairs so she is encouraged by the other horse to keep going but is habituated to what I am doing and asking of her with my aids without really having a chance to think about whether she's going to say no or not.

        These tricky horses are so frustrating....but hell, they are a steep learning curve. I'm really looking forwards to working with her, I know I can learn a lot from training a horse like this
        Blog posts, updates & videos tweeted to all my followers on Twitter!www.OnceUponADressageDream.com ~ www.twitter.com/dressageblog


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cat - OnceUponADressageDream View Post
          So my question to you all is, what are some strategies I can employ so I can ask her to work "with" me, without her throwing back a "MAKE ME!"? (For example, if I wanted her to canter or keep cantering and backed it up with a whip aid that had to be increased due to no response, I'm pretty sure she'd buck, and I'm not sure I could ride it out to win the argument - and even if I did, winning the argument THAT time would be pointless, because these horses are the type that will just be worse NEXT time if treated that way).
          I have one of these, and recently here had a lengthy discussion about him after he'd finally manage to throw me. I was/am in the same exact position you describe above. I was wanting him to begin cantering in the ring, and he was throwing tantrums. I had experimented with using whip strongly to back up my leg, and though I rode through his bucking into canter - I didn't exactly buck him out, and all I ended up doing was making him sneaky and resentful of the whip. To which he finally exploded one sunny day - when I absolutely wasn't expecting it - and off I came.

          what made me really angry is that I knew better than to take a whip to him, he's a smart and sensitive horse that doesn't suffer 'abuse' of any kind. When he's at his worst, thats when he needs the softest and most clever handler, not force.

          I believe, and people may laugh, but I believe that horses do things for a reason. When my horse bucks, I believe he is at the last straw of telling me something isn't kosher. My believe is that horses only refuse a request, or "act badly" for only a handful of reasons: they don't understand, they are in pain, they have no confidence, they physically can't comply with your request at the moment. In other words, I don't believe in flat out 'no', there is always a 'because', and the 'because' is a perfectly good reason for the horse.

          After all of the helpful advice I got here, I decided (since I was grounded from riding for 10 days anyhow due to concussion) to teach him voice commands for wtc on the longe. He did extraordinarily well - until - I introduced side reins. We did w/t for several days in side reins and he was lovely, then I finally asked for canter and he completely unraveled. Legs scattering in every direction, confused and terrorized. We pushed through to canter in the end, and started getting better at it in later days.

          Apparently, my pony is quite unbalanced. Much more so than I initially acknowledged, though he's better to one side, he doesn't 'feel' awkward. His canter loose in the paddocks has always been rather strung out as well, but I always shrugged it off as laziness. Now I'm putting the pieces together.

          We've advanced to w/t/c on the longe with a rider (no side reins), an instructor who helps me has ridden him 2x, I get on tomorrow. The drama on the longe has been minimal. There is no cowboy kicking or whipping going on any longer. He still sulks but is more confident.

          in the meanwhile, I've been taking breaks with him and teaching him to ground drive in preparation for driving a cart. Now that I'm spending so much time long lining him, I'm seeing just how crooked he really is. It makes me think that he's genuinely uncomfortable cantering in a smaller area (we can canter on the trail just dandy) and my being unbalanced and fearful and gripping isn't making matters any better.

          though my horse is quite 'dirty' and sneaky, I don't believe its for the sake of being so. I think he's fed up. Read my long discussion, tons of great great advice in there: http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=219164
          Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


          • #6
            I had one of these in my younger days although I don't know what he was like when he was first under saddle. He was given to me because the owner got bucked off every time she rode him. I'm afraid the only thing that worked was sitting through the tantrums and driving him forward. Once he realized he wasn't going to dislodge me he quit trying and learned that it wasn't worth the effort. I doubt I could do it now but back then what it took was what I like to call "bootcamp finesse". A quiet (as much a possible), no nonsence seat and (pardon the pun) "stick-to-it-ness".
            Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!


            • #7
              Set her up for success.

              If she does well after an initial lunge warm up, do that every ride for a while.

              If she offers the canter out of a less than perfect trot, accept it instead of correcting her. More precision can come later.

              Also, I think there is a difference between a strong rider who would not be intimidated by her bucking and would cheerfully and non-agressively but persistently ask again and again, and a strong rider who would try to bully her.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Cat - OnceUponADressageDream View Post
                Before I start, I'm not trying to start a heated discussion here, just Now, very importantly before you make any judgments as to the reason for the bucking/ "dirty streak" as it has been called before:
                All veterinary causes have been ruled out. (she also is not a touchy "mare-y mare" type...in fact, she's more like a stubborn gelding type in her nature).
                You may be absolutely right and there may not be any veterinary cause for this behavior. But you can NEVER rule it out completely. Human medical doctors, with all of their expensive, sophisticated diagonostic tools can sometimes miss the cause of a problem. Veterinarians do not have anywhere near the diagnostic tools or specialized expertise that medical doctors do.

                So with that in mind, I tell you the story of my sister's horse. He started bucking when he was 6 or 7 years old. Unpredictably, out of the blue. You never knew when or where. Violent RODEO-type bucking. She never allowed him to "get away with it." She always worked him through it (even after he dumped her which was often.)

                She had the vet, chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc. Many saddle fitters--many saddles. Nutritional analysis. You name it. Every time she tried something, it seemed to work for a while. But sooner or later, out of the blue, he would start bucking again.

                At 8 years old, one day she found him in his paddock with blood dripping from his mouth. She had the vet who thought that it was an abcessed tooth. Sent him to the vet school hospital where he was diagonosed with a cancerous tumor in his jaw. He had bone cancer which had metasticized. She had him humanely destroyed.

                I don't know at what point you give up when you cannot solve a problem or find its cause. All I have learned is that you can never totally rule out veterinary problems when it comes to this type of behavior and it is possible that you will never find the cause and, even if you do, there may be no way to fix it.
                "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


                • #9
                  You haven't really given any examples of why you think she's 'dirty' or has a 'streak' . Maybe you are too influenced by the reputation of the stallion?.

                  Maybe she's just like any other young horse who decides at some point to test the boundaries.

                  Forget you heard that rumour and ride her like you would any other horse-forward out of resistance and through the bucks to the other side of the resistance- and if that is too intimidating, get someone else to ride her for a bit.

                  I'm just saying keep an open mind about the horse. You have already decided how she will react to normal training.


                  • #10
                    IMO, life is too short and there are many, many good horses out there. This mare sounds like a serious accident just waiting to happen.

                    I also don't buy into the reasoning that you can't "fight" with a horse like this. But I do know that if you choose to fight, you better "win".

                    As a kid with a big ego I worked several "dirty" horses. I was able to out smart and out power them. Not abusive handling, but I made it really hard for the horse to make the wrong choice. I patted myself on the back for turning them into "good" horses. But, you know what? That "dirty" streak was still there and in the right situation it will return.

                    Just my opinion, of course, but the time invested in that kind of a horse could be time invested in 3 or 4 good horses.
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                    • #11
                      I honestly won't ride one anymore that I think can get me off. I have to take a good hard look at my riding skills and desire when I take on such a project. If I think the horse can buck hard enough to get me off (I can sit a fairly big buck), then it does neither the horse or I any good for me to ride it. What that means is I can't afford to get hurt. It also means that if the horse gets me off, I have set back his training yet again.

                      The training scenario you describe is pretty common. The horse at 3, 4, 5 is submissive, not strong willed yet and not secure in her body enough to buck. At 5,6, 7 the hormones kick in, the horse is stronger, the horse is more secure in her body and more secure in its knowledge that she doesn't like what's going on on her back. The horse has only been ridden professionally and now decides she doesn't like the amateur ride.

                      I really caution inexperienced riders from buying young horses for this reason. Nothing is confirmed and bad behavior can come up instantly. It isn't always physical, but it could be.

                      So, if I decide I need to work on the bucking, I will typically handle it from the ground, so I can see (rather than feel!) what provokes it. I will usually be in a roundpen, with the horse in sidereins. If the horse can't handle that, I have found the hole in the education. If that all goes well, I move to long lining which can really desensitize the horse to things moving around her body. If the whip is the culprit, I start the horse over, teaching her what the whip means, from the ground.

                      When it's time to ride, I might bring in a stronger rider who works with bucking horses.

                      I don't buy the scenario that the horse is "fine" on the trails. Maybe, temporarily. Jean Froissard taught me a long time ago that "if the horse is not trained in the arena, it will not be trained on the trails."


                      • #12
                        This is just what I would do personally knowing my skills as a rider (or lack thereof), but if I honestly knew I couldn't stay on through these episodes, I wouldn't ride this horse, for two reasons: A) I'm a chicken and I like my spine intact, and B) I'd be afraid that I'd just contribute to the problem by confirming in this horse's mind that she could avoid work by dislodging the rider. Even if she didn't throw any fits, I'd be so careful to ride tactfully that I'd actually become conflict-avoidant and nobody would end up benefitting from the situation. It would be different if I thought I could stay on through the episodes and help her learn that they arent effective at getting her out of stuff she doesn't want to do. I was in a situation like this once with a "dirty streak" horse -- same forwardness problem and everything -- and tactful turned into defensive and conflict-avoidant, even though the horse never got me off -- the threat of putting myself in a situation I couldn't ride through was enough to cause bad changes in my riding, without things ever reaching the level of getting dumped, AND it's what helped turn me into the chicken I am today.

                        But like I said, I'm a Big Bird-sized chicken and I tend to err on the side of avoiding getting bucked off.


                        • #13
                          Would you mind saying who that sire is? Want to make a mental note to avoid him when I'm looking

                          Good luck -- I have no experience with your particular issue, so will shut up
                          "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht


                          • #14
                            Wow, some good advice, here. I agree with meupatdoes and egontoast, very much. You do need to forget whatever line of thought you are creating about her propensity for bucking. She's young and trying it, that's all. That's all I would give her. Whatever evasions she is coming up with, you HAVE to ride through them, and find a way to work calmly without bullying her. You can't train a horse if you can be dislodged, physically, or, if you can be disuaded, emotionally. You just have to push past that and ask for the work. If its too much for her, find the things she can succeed at, and don't set her up for failure, keep her slow and learning slowly, and succeeding.

                            I would, now that she was in my hands, take her back to the beginining and do alot of in hand work, up at her shoulder. This really teaches a horse to keep their eye on you, to respond to your body language, and you can take them through some good lateral movements as well as develop their strength, bending and topline, all on the ground, stepping under themselves, moving away from the whip against them, giving to your hand. Now that she's 6, she will begin to have the mind for focusing.
                            Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                            • #15
                              I rode a horse like that recently for about a year. It first started when he would get excited but as he matured he would use this to try and stop working. He was also very sensative but very lazy too..about the same age as the mare your talking about. I tried tapping him on the shoulder when his neck would start to go down to buck and ride forward etc but then he would get nervous and seemed to make the situation worse as he would get very worried. He was also very clastorphobic when it came to going on the bit. SO I took him back to basics (he was at training level when I started to ride him though did not fully understand what a good relationship withthe hand was all about) and did a ton of stretching, which he was not good at to begin with,lol. Some days thats all we did. I also did a lot of in hand work lunging productively etc which seemed to help as well. When he went back to his owner he was schooling high 2nd level and doing a great job of it. But I could see in the wrong hands the behavior could come back. This horse was also very talented but personality wise I dont know if dressage is his calling..he just didnt like having to work that hard!!!lol A lot of times to make progress with him the following day I had to be content just doing basic review work and lots of stretching. The training plan sometimes had to change depending on his mood and attitude that day.
                              It\'s not the color of the ribbon that counts,but the color of the ride.
                              Oh My!


                              • #16
                                If I read your post correctly, the horse hasn't bucked or been "dirty" yet. You just think she will based on the sire's rep. Hmmm ...

                                Well, in addition to suggesting you reframe your thoughts because your anticipation could make it happen, I'd say just take it slow. If you ask her to do something and she starts getting bunchy, back off a little, do something easy and then ask again. But don't quit until she's done (or at least tried to do) what you asked.

                                That way you won't be making her do something. You'll just be showing her it's easier to do what you want than to not do it. You know ... make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult. (Thank you, Mr. Hunt.) And doing what you want can become her idea.

                                re: the keep cantering thing -- make it a point to ask for the down transition before she does it and gradually build from there. 10 strides of canter with no argument are better than 20 strides with a pissing match.
                                "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                                the best day in ten years,
                                you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."


                                • #17
                                  Hmm, well, this all depends upon your comfort level = )

                                  The horse obviously needs a firm hand, but that doesn't have to mean bullying. It means you're always consistent and promptly let her know when she's doing what you want and when she's not doing what you want. You have to have excellent timing, and you need to not be afraid to get after her a bit and let her know what is NOT acceptable. Put her in situations where she's likely to succeed (as others have said), and gradually test her limits. But don't let her have an inch when she tests you. Again, this doesn't have to be bullying if you can think one step ahead of her. If you feel her even THINK about getting naughty, do something to break it up and/or immediately correct. Then you only have to apply smaller corrections or "distractions" that shouldn't bother her as much. She will feel less rebellious (if that's what she's doing) once she knows what's expected of her.

                                  Also, ground work is a wonderful wonderful thing. Some serious work from the ground (where it's harder for you to get hurt) can really put the right working attitude on one. Can you longline and do you have access to a round pen? Even time in sidereins in a surcingle can really get one to focus and get in "work" mode if you're not comfortable longlining. 15 minutes of this before you ride or a double workout (broken up by some rest) can also be very good.

                                  You sound like you're not actually afraid of her and trust your ability to stay with her, so maybe you just need to change your mindset a little. Obviously it's challenging to reformulate your training program online = ) so you'll have to be flexible and figure out what works best for both of you.
                                  Again, I'd suggest ground work and consistency. And don't be too afraid to scold her, just figure out what level of that she can accept without losing it. You may need to have one little "fight" to avoid a big battle of wills later.

                                  Also, from your posts it sounds like she hasn't done anything bad just yet, so keep on doing what you're doing and don't fret so much? You don't have to ride with a whip right now if she objects to it. My horse still gets very nervous with a crop (previous bad "training"), so I just don't use one very often. He doesn't need it, and I don't either.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by mp View Post
                                    You know ... make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult. (Thank you, Mr. Hunt.) And doing what you want can become her idea.

                                    re: the keep cantering thing -- make it a point to ask for the down transition before she does it and gradually build from there. 10 strides of canter with no argument are better than 20 strides with a pissing match.
                                    Great advice, mp.

                                    Regarding the canter...I think it was Bill Dorrance has great thoughts on getting the horse happy and willing to canter regarding using the concept of the "trot teeter"...which does away with the need for a crop/whip. It really works.

                                    It also can do wonders to take a young horse on an outdoor hack with a quiet senior horse. They are more eager to move out and the older horse sets the pace. Always ask for the downward transition right before they fall out of it.


                                    • #19
                                      Is he bucking at the canter or at the canter depart? We had an OTTB in (actually bought him because no one could ride his buck). Had his back adjusted several times; it was really out. But, he still thought it was going to hurt. Cued for canter depart just before a cross rail. He was so busy thinking about jumping, it worked the buck right out of him. Took only a week for him to realize it wasn't going to hurt.

                                      Also have a cold back quarter horse that was really tough. Clinton Anderson's methods worked really well with him. Old owner (PSG dressage trainer) couldn't believe how well behaved he was. Worth the investment...he can do anything...polo, 3 day, hunting, (even barrel raced).


                                      • #20
                                        I have two of these though one doesn't have a horrible buck but will either bolt (which I can contain) or rear/buck if the wills are tested and not handled with tact. Both are actually ponies which adds to the challenge of staying on through one of their temper tantrums.

                                        Pony A is a 14.1 hand mare who definitely does not like to be told what to do. If someone comes at her with the approach that YOU WILL DO THIS....hee, hee, hee.....well they're in for a long afternoon. She is easily crooked, has balance issues and until recently also had strength/stamina issues. So, what I did was start her in conditioning work as well as arena work. This mare came to me from having been used for driving and competing in CDEs. Her ground work was all there. Riding/backing was not a big deal but bending, balance and relaxation were HUGE DEALS. I learned pretty quickly what she did and did not like. Most exercises I start out with at the walk. She has a big resistance to stepping into the left rein. Whether walking, trotting or cantering (which I've approached with care and always focusing on her balance and straightness) I will ask her to step into the left rein or anything else she resents and when she gives me even a little bit of what I'm asking for I praise huge and big. I will then move on to something she likes for a bit and then come back. Getting into a battle with his mare is a no win situation; so, with this approach gradually asking for more (and for longer periods of time) we've been able to make progress. I also subscribe to the idea that the wrong response will just begat harder work. Making such things black and white has helped. There are times though that I can tell from her mood/over all tension that simply working on relaxation and coming through the back on straight lines and using my corners is all that's going to be accomplished that day or we go for a trail ride. She's made huge strides but I know that everytime I present her with something new and I don't set it up the right way I will be (and am) reminded of just how stubborn she can be. We had a great ride today so not every day is a battle and she does work with me not against me if I focus on staying very relaxed especially in my forearms. She's very intuitive and feeds off of my moods.

                                        Pony B is 13 hands and has a truly dirty, nasty buck. He was given to me for free because no one else could get on him and ride him safely. He would usually throw a fit during the tacking up period -explosive, violent stuff. We eventually worked through that but...... he has bucked me off 3 times in one year. The first time was in the warm-up at a show and I elected to bail because I didn't want anyone else hurt or to mess up their rides. I landed on my feet and promptly got back on. Thought this would end the issue. Well a few months later he decided that rearing and bucking while being mounted was the way to go. He was right because I cannot sit through those episodes especially when he begins before I ever fully sit in the saddle. So I have someone hold him every time I mount. It will be another year before I try to mount without someone holding him (prior to the third dumping episode I was mounting without someone in front of him). Once under saddle he usually can be worked without issue but I am very careful not to trap him or try to force him into a position. He gets claustrophobic and I can tell that someone before me must have hung on to the right rein. I am now able to work first level with him without huge resistances on his part; however, I can tell when he is one huge tense ball of a powder keg. When he's like that I will lunge him first. I'm not always sure what gets him so tense - if it's a sound, a smell or an action. If I can catch or feel it quickly I can change the subject and get him to work through it. If I don't though he does start a huge bucking fit which as long as I'm not in the process of mounting I've successfully ridden through but prefer not to even have to. So again, like with the mare, I do a lot of walk preparation with him to see where the sticky points might be. Then in the other gaits I have a better idea of just how much with my seat and leg I'll be able to ask without provoking him. Both ponies have to be ridden up through the shoulders paying very close attention to straightness and both longitudinal and lateral suppleness and balance. If either become insecure with their lack of balance I'm either in for a battle or am toasted. I think these two are defensive and don't like to be forced in to an uncomfortable situation more so than possessing a bad work ethic. The 13 hand stinker however was taught by several professionals that a huge fit would end the work session and tack would be removed. That's the wonderful legacy I have to work with. Yet once I really get them going and focused on their work they are absolutely great and their scores reflect that.

                                        Good luck.............I know at 46 the landings are getting harder and harder and yet I"m the only test dummy on the place. I continue with these two because of the amazing gaits and talent they have. They're worth it but boy I do need to invest in a jacuzzi or something of that sort (even if I don't come off) because they're both mentally demanding rides. Mostly because I have to work so hard to stay relaxed
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