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Pony wants to go.

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  • Pony wants to go.

    One of my driving ponies is half Arabian. Long story short, sometimes, not every time but sometimes all she wants to do is run.

    Following some advice from other drivers I have

    1. Given her a vet prescribed dose of Ace on her wild days just so she remembers how to walk quietly.

    2. Let her run. This does not work. She ran for eight miles on back roads before I couldn't take it anymore and stopped her. Half Arabian, she doesn't get tired.

    3. Everytime she goes faster than what I've asked I bring her to complete stop and don't let her go on until all the butt swinging, head tossing and foot stomping stops. If she speeds up again we stop again.

    So far #3 works most of the time. Didn't work today. She jigged all the way home. Sometimes she will be quiet during the whole ride, sometimes jigs out, walks back, completely inconsistent with what she feels like doing. I can't pinpoint if it's the weather, or level of recent exercise, or if she's marish.

    The one thing I have not done is to put a more severe bit on her, which is what my vet wanted me to do. I feel like this is a training issue, not something I want to deal with by brute force.

    So, any other ideas? Or should I just keep plugging on with #3. She's five years right now so young. She was professionally trained, but even the trainer had a rough time getting her to walk.

  • #2
    Rather than making her stop and stand still when she's wanting to go, if you have enough room, work her on circles and figure 8s and short serpentines. When she settles and is moving soft drive straight until she gets antsy again. Repeat the circles and serpentines. This method takes time and patience but not only will she learn that going fast creates tedious work she'll also get much better at nice round circles, bending, flexing, etc.


    • Original Poster

      Duh me!!! That's what I would do with a riding horse but never thought about it while driving. I have tried turning her around and heading in the opposite direction but never just circling.

      I only drive on the road, but we can probably find some spots wide enough to work in circles.



      • #4
        Drove a friend's POA at our club one day driving trial. He was great for the dressage and cones and most of the marathon. At two of the obstacles, one of which we had to go thru twice, T, the pony, tried to bolt. I'm not a trainer by any means and consider myself a permanent advanced beginner, but as you said, the riding instinct kicked in and I was able to steer a bolt into a big circle that spiraled down to a manageable figure 8. As soon as the next horse came by he followed them thru the obstacle without any problems. Driving can sometime get weird!


        • #5
          My guess is you are pullinng back on the reins and contributing to the jig. Looser rein may relax her and she needs to learn to follow the bit so the rein isn't loose because she is following it down and relaxing.


          • #6
            Both posters above give good advice. I would add to this; keep her guessing. Walk to trot, trot to walk, lots of transitions, and transitions within the gait as well, collections, extension, working, etc. Change direction, circles (just dont over to a circle that can get boring too).

            I also agree with china doll about the jigging. If I have enough area and am confident that I will not get hurt or anyone else, I give a jigger their head, remember the half halt is your friend. I also like to do round pen or in an arena double lunging/ground driving while playing with shoulder in/out and hunches in/out.

            It sounds like she needs to learn how to be soft on the bit. I would teach her to work though her back, push with her hind end and come up into the bridle. None of these things happen over night, but if she is currently in front of the vertical and heavy in the hands its going to take a while before her body becomes fit enough to carry her.


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by China Doll View Post
              My guess is you are pullinng back on the reins and contributing to the jig. Looser rein may relax her and she needs to learn to follow the bit so the rein isn't loose because she is following it down and relaxing.
              Nope, I can say with all confidence that I do not pull back on the reins until she begins to jig and I have to hold her back. Understand that I am not talking about a little jig, but if the jig is ignored she goes into a full. blown. gallop. While the gallop does not bother me if I have not asked for it I don't want it.

              I can't keep a loose rein on a runaway. But I don't tighten until I have a runaway.


              • #8
                First of all....I *completely* *utterly* *totally* understand your situation.

                You see, I own the spitting image of your pony - a half Arabian. In his youth he was a driving pony piloted by a very well known whip, shown extensively, won lots, pictures in published magazine, calendars, etc.

                But...he was 1/2 Arab of the halter variety as ancestors, and you couldn't get him to walk to save his soul. With his last dying breath he'd still be doing a jiggy-jog-fast-tempo-tatoo instead of a flat footed walk. His highly qualified and extensively educated breeder /owner whip couldn't for the 9 years she owned and showed him, and then it was my goal for the (now going on 14 years) I've owned him.

                It.just.could.not.be.done.on a permanent level. Partly, just never 100%.

                I don't care who tries to tell you it is all training and then will barage you with every tip and trick in the world - they obviously have never owned this typical type of breeding, so they don't ..and just can't ...understand what you're up against.

                I do. I have been there. I have done that. And I have the top award for over-the-cliff exasperation coupled with 13 years of intense patience ...and over 1,600 competition miles and probably 3,000 more miles of training alone....endeavoring for that forever elusive dream/hope/prayer of just a few strides of flat footed walk with this one pony alone to prove it. I did achieve it, but only with a compromise between us.

                So, here's my advice for you to take, or leave, as you see fit:

                Nothing "standard" will work. When that Arabian brain is switched on, you just can't win. She will outlast you and you will be exhausted long before she even begins to think about being tired. The best you can do is quietly feel around for the dimmer switch to reduce that Arab high intensity light a bit.

                OK. You understand that, right?


                Now, take a deep breath, and mentally pick out the times your pony will walk for you. From and to the barn? Out to the fields? Etc. If she will do that, then that's where you start. Take her for long LONG walks down the road on a lead. Stop periodically and praise her and let her graze...but don't do it often. Maybe once or twice. No more than that. No hand treats either. Grazing is fine however. The majority of your walk on the road together will be silent. Calm. Low key. Leave her alone - just let her walk. She'll mentally start to equate the flat footed walk with being out and about, a job, relaxed, nothing to fret about. Come back to the barn, praise, bathe, praise, turn out. Nothing special - no meals.

                Do this until she has found her 'relax' button - a calm demeanor, steady even stride, easy cadence.

                Now start dressing her in her harness, and gradually start moving back (as you walk) from her head to her shoulder to her flank until you are behind and ground driving. Nothing in your routine will change otherwise. Plan your walks for 3 miles or so. Stop once or twice and offer her some mouthfuls of grass, and stand until they are completely chewed. NO commercial treats. Grass only.

                Do this until she is reliably calm and relaxed from start to finish. Develop a code word especially for instilling that flat footed walk - a word or two that can be stretched out in a low soft calm inducing pitch. Something like "Annnnnnnnnddddd waaaaalllllllkkkkkkkk. Goooooood girrrrrrl" Use it whenever she starts to jiggy-jog. Don't be afraid to go back to square 1 and walk at her head, quietly, silently, until her brain resumes the calm you want.

                Once she is giving you a reliable flat walk, reintroduce the carriage. Go out on the road and walk.

                All the while you are reconditioning her brain to accept a relaxed walk, keep working on your driving in an enclosed area. Do some driven dressage, but keep it gently flowing. Nothing abrupt since that tends to turn the Arab mental spotlight on.

                Best of luck to you. Remember that calm and patience and softness and flowing will be your switch. Mentally she will always be subject to her genetically implanted Arab switch - but you will have implanted a dimmer switch that will help the two of you to at least communicate on a combined level.

                She'll come around to a meeting point - just don't expect that jiggy-jog to ever be fully submerged. Don't fight it. You won't win. Ever. Just develop that dimmer switch, get a good hair color to cover the gray hair you'll get (may I suggest L'Oreal?), find your inner calm voice, and try to smile through it all.

                I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines.


                • #9
                  PS. Ace is fine if you want to use it. It will work as a chemical dimmer switch for the Arab intensity, but only for two hours. Then the cocktail calm fades and that Arab spotlight switches back on, unfazed.

                  You may need a substantial dosage to get the chemical calm you need. Just experiment to find out the cc level that works best.

                  It does help, but really is best used in situations that demand her to be calm - like club drives, public parades, or when you want to take family members - like your mother-in-law - for drives.

                  Use IM in the chest muscle (easier on the pony mentally). It lasts longest this way. Give 20 minutes before the activity, and (if the event extends beyond 2 hours) another dose at 1 hr 45 minutes.


                  • Original Poster

                    gothedistance- you have got her pegged. And not only is she half Arab, but her sire is an SE. (Ansata Sirius is her grandsire) I sold her sire because he was so reactive. Didn't want anyone but me around him. She's much the same way.

                    It's weird though. Some days we can go out and nothing. She can be calm and pleasant. Other days I just want to shoot her. Fortunately I have another driving pony (her dam, who is a Welsh) that is always laid back for when I don't want any drama.

                    2ccs seem to be a good dose for her, and it takes about 30 minutes to take effect.
                    She's been in parades, carried children.......she's just an enigma.

                    Here she is pulling her wagon, I've got a Meadowbrook type cart too.



                    • Original Poster

                      Reading your post again, this is going to be very helpful.

                      I get discouraged because I know she can do it, half or more of the drives we have are fine.

                      Leading her is not a problem. She's got excellent ground manners although she gets a bit jumpy around her face when the blinders go on.

                      Usually but not always it's heading home.

                      One day when we were scheduled to take a friend's child for a ride she was awful until the child got in (which I thought hard about canceling) was perfect while he was with us then back to the jigging. Ugh.

                      But she really is young so at least I have a lot of time to work on it. Thanks. Most people don't get it.


                      • Original Poster

                        Sorry, double post.



                        • #13
                          I'm not really understanding your problem. The pony doesn't want to flat walk and breaks a runs (is it bolting or just cantering?) but when you pull back on the reins is not difficult to stop? How do you normally drive, with a loose rein assuming the pony should know what to do unless told otherwise? Maybe this pony needs to be driven with more contact and direction?


                          • Original Poster

                            She walks fine when she wants to walk. Sometimes she just wants to run plain and simple. I've tried so many ways I can't even list them. When she wants to run she wants to run and that's is. Sometimes it is on the way home and sometimes on the way out. Sometimes in the yard and sometimes on the road.
                            She does not bolt, she just wants to go. Fast. And it's not a canter. It's a flat out hang on to your hat where is the super glue for my butt!!! When she is like this and we are in a safe place I've just let her go. She stretches out her neck and takes off. Seems to love it.

                            When she walks she walks. A lovely walk. (See the pic above) She will walk or trot along like an old draft horse that's been working all day, even when she's fresh. I drive her with light or no contact. When she wants to run the more contact on the reins the harder she fights and jigs. When she gets into a mood any contact at all just increases her frustration. No contact and we're a 747.

                            I don't understand what you don't understand. The problem is when she wants to run and I don't.


                            • Original Poster

                              For the record while I haven't been driving forever, only about 10 years now. And she is the first Arabian I've ever driven.

                              I've had horses for 46 years.

                              And yes, I can always stop her (so far). But it pisses her off! She'll stomp and throw her head and swing her butt around. Tries to turn around and look at me like "why aren't we going?"


                              • #16
                                Wow, I am going to wish you the best on this, though it may take a while. I had a similar issue with a large horse, no Arab in her, but the DANCING made me want to shoot her!!

                                It appeared to me that your horse is ridable from the posts, is that correct? What worked for me and my mare, also young and full of it, was taking her Trail Rding for a week. We have the Cross State Trail Ride a couple times a year, where you ride from 15 to 25 miles a day, changing camps each night. My goal was to just get her walking flat-footed. We could walk fast or slow, but NO JIGGING or we did circles beside the trail. Could be a couple circles to go from jig to walk, could be a LOT of circles when other horses passed us before she went from jig to walk so we could again go forward. It could take me ALL DAY that first couple days, to have her walking flat footed for ANY forward progress to the next camp. We would stop for my leisurely lunch of two granola bars, a shared apple, then be on our way. Crossing streams was a two-fer, learning water crossing with no fuss AND getting drinks. She REALLY "got it" by the afternoon of the second day, and put it in MACH 1 walking gear. We lost the jig someplace out in the Big Woods and had almost no need for circles the rest of the ride week.

                                It was what I would call a "learning process" involving no harshness, though I am sure she got as dizzy as I did on those "angry" circles she did when not allowed to pursue the other horses passing us. I like riding on a loose rein, she was NOT held back, just was only allowed to go forward at a walk and almost no contact. Corrected if she hung on my hands or rooted her head for reins.

                                I would believe she did at least 1/3 more miles with added circles, than other horses covered between the camps. But she figured out that hay and no work was waiting at the end of the daily ride, so she ENJOYED going forward as we went out each day. I am old school, think the wet saddle blankets are a sign of progress, mileage under their hooves HELPS them think and gives them reasons to settle. Ranch horses are good because they have miles under their feet, quickly learn that jigging just makes them MORE tired, but they still have to keep working. Young horse with those miles might STILL have to light out to turn or move some cattle, before getting home that day bone tired. Then horses get to needing a GOOD REASON to act silly, saving energy is a way better idea!

                                My mare DID catch on to walking and we practiced our 3 kinds of walk, even had some trot practice by the end of the week, still on light contact reins, NO pushing to GO FAST or fussing when passed by the speedy riders. By the end of the week, she had really tuned up her "trail walk" and we caught and passed resting riders who had passed us much earlier in the day. I swear the horse smirked when we left them behind! She could cover the ground nicely, we were NOT the last rider in for the day anymore, going almost only walking for that mileage!!

                                Husband was quite amazed that mare was so IMPROVED when we got home, and walk stayed improved when we hitched her to drive. Was she cured of jigging? No not in all settings. She could TELL when WE were excited, like doing Marathon and would sometimes jig a bit until we started on course. She didn't root on the reins or pull, just matched her jig to her partner horse, who HATED her jigging. I expect it pulled the pole and harness a bit on the partner.

                                Mine was 6, almost mature, when we did the Trail Ride week. She had enough brains by then to figure out things, even with her half TB side. They have no quit either, but she wasn't silly or stupid, so we did reach this working agreement on the jigging. Ours also got worse when held back, though she never was wild to run as yours likes to do. We used a curb bit once she got the basics understood with reins, turns, circles under saddle. If I NEEDED to stop her, I could. No ring sided bit was going to work if she got stupid, and if they set their necks, they can be impossible to bend around. Say what you like, a curb gives you more stopping power if you apply it and horse understands the language of leverage, how to GIVE to the bit. She and our other horses are way too big to have charging down the road or trail, lose control of. You can't "MAKE" them do anything with that much horseflesh fighting the snaffle bit! With a curb bit, TRAINING, they "hear" my requests in all situations. I only ever had VERY short shanks on the bit, reins were never below her muzzle in any activity we used her for. All the leverage I ever needed because she and I talked well with the reins, light, soft mouthed, not hanging on my hands ever. She and our other horses have TRAINED mouths, not over-reactive or insensitive mouths when you touch the reins to request things.

                                We just were not making any changes in her, driving down the road, riding down the road, coming home each outing. Round pen stuff is NOT where she gave us the problem, so not helpful. Trail Ride changed the setting and went on for more than a couple days. I increased the daily miles she was used (she WAS FIT when we went), work wasn't really hard, just carrying me along. The ride gave her a REASON to walk forward, look ahead, because food reward was waiting for her at the trailer, at the end of the day. She got TIRED during a day's ride, not painful to her, even when not arguing and jigging. Being tired after a good days work is a lovely thing for training those young horses! Love those wet saddle blankets at the end of the day!!

                                GTD gave great information, having owned what sounds like the exact same horse model! Maybe my wet saddle blanket thinking will help you too. My part Arab horses got the QH side brains, didn't act like yours.


                                • #17
                                  So what you are describing to me I would label bolting. The horse goes forward at a gallop when you are not wanting or expecting it and does not come back to a trot, walk or halt easily. To me that is bolting.

                                  In my book, at this point, this pony is not safe to drive in public or to carry passengers in the vehicle. It needs a lot more arena work, figures and transitions, and if you are not getting it done successfully driving in the arena step back to your long lining. I would probably be using a Wilson bit (4 ring bar bit). Your pony seems to be lacking acceptance of the bridle and submission to your aids, basic steps of the training process. Any time the foundation is shaky go back and repair it.

                                  It sounds like you have an animal that is broke to pull a cart, but not very well trained to drive. How much time was spent long lining before hitching? How much time has been spent schooling in the arena before you ventured out on roads and trails?

                                  With any barn sour horse the advice is the same wether it is a driving horse or riding horse, when you get to the point that it is safe to try to venture out again plan that as only the first 1/3 to 1/2 of your training session. When you get home go back in your arena and go over the schooling routines the horse has been successfully doing until the horse settles. Then end your training session.

                                  I don't use ace to train horses.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Renae View Post
                                    I don't use ace to train horses.
                                    Thanks for that reminder Renae, I meant to mention it in my other post but forgot. I would agree with that sentiment strongly. If I thought I needed to medicate to train or use the animal, it just is not ready to go out. No show or outing is worth doing my horse with medication, to "calm" them a bit.

                                    I would cut horse some slack with age, no brain developed yet. Work at it like a training issue, change the setting or method if needed, like my previous post. If horse CONTINUES with the problem over time and training, then that horse is NOT going to be my driving horse. I can't rely on it, don't trust it, and should NOT be driving such an equine. Equine COULD decide to throw a fit at an unsafe or unexpected time and kill us all! Could be a great riding animal, or it may need to be sold to someone else that likes the horse for their activity such as the Endurance or Competitive Riding that I don't do.

                                    I drive horses because it is fun. I lose the fun if drugs are needed, animal is undendable in any setting. Trust is just not there. You can like or love horse a lot, doesn't mean they are Driving Horse material. Those Driving horses can be far apart, where many are called, but not everyone really makes the cut to finish as Driving animals.


                                    • #19
                                      My advice? Sell the Arabian and buy a Fjord. Immediate fix.

                                      (Just kidding! I know Remudamom loves her Arabians!)
                                      I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


                                      • #20
                                        I dontdrive but one thing about the OPs post jumped out at me - sometimes she *allows* the pony to run. IME with riding horses, if you do not want them to think this is ok, you dont do it, period. Ever. What about when driving, is it the same?
                                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.