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retraining, rehabbing...

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  • retraining, rehabbing...

    I have been spending the last year rehabbing a rescued TB. She is now healthy and happy and for the most part has confidence in me. She still over reacts sometimes but that may just be her.

    I have a real concern about something that she has obviously been taught. Some (really bad) western pleasure trainers and riders correct horses very harshly with the bit anytime the head comes up above the withers. This mare has been trained that way. Any contact on the reins and she puts her head down to her knees. She is NOT rooting or avoiding, this is a very consistent, obviously learned response to contact.
    Her natural head carriage is very nice and balanced, but the minute I get on her, down goes the head.
    So I am riding her mostly on a loose rein with short periods of contact.
    The only thing I can think of to do is just leave her alone and when she doesn't get corrected for raising her head hopefully she will gradually start to carry herself more naturally.
    If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions on another way to get past this I would love to hear it.
    The thought of starting this horse jumping with her head down around her knees makes me go
    She has been free jumped in a chute, she is careful, has nice form, uses her head and neck and makes 4ft look like no effort and seems to like it.
    Any thoughts?
    Nina's Story
    Epona Comm on FB

  • #2
    I believe I would treat this in the opposite way and actually take the contact and work on pushing her up the hand. Forward trotting using lots of changes of direction but using the legs to bump her head up. Transitions and just short sessions of trot might also work so that she has to use those first few steps to push and her carriage will be a bit more uphill. Use trot poles to get her eye up off the ground. If you never address the issue of the contact then it won't magically go away. Many times it is also a strength issue and it is easier for them to go on the forehand then actually push from behind. Using trails and hills does wonders to help them develop the muscle to carry themselves and the trails naturally help them elevate the head carriage especially if you can trot through some taller grass and get them stepping in behind.
    http://www.benchmarksporthorses.com/

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Jleegriffith View Post
      I believe I would treat this in the opposite way and actually take the contact and work on pushing her up the hand. Forward trotting using lots of changes of direction but using the legs to bump her head up. Transitions and just short sessions of trot might also work so that she has to use those first few steps to push and her carriage will be a bit more uphill. Use trot poles to get her eye up off the ground. If you never address the issue of the contact then it won't magically go away. Many times it is also a strength issue and it is easier for them to go on the forehand then actually push from behind. Using trails and hills does wonders to help them develop the muscle to carry themselves and the trails naturally help them elevate the head carriage especially if you can trot through some taller grass and get them stepping in behind.


      I agree.

      I'm going to emphasize the hills again. Horses have to use their head and neck for balance when negotiating uneven terrain. So it will be harder for her to stay in her false frame. The steeper the hills the more she will have to extend her neck and use herself fully. Going uphill is a great time to work on keeping a light contact.
      http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com

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      • #4
        I wonder how she would react to being longed in side reins, just very loose at first, so she can begin to "reprogram" herself to the status of "contact is OK, I won't be punished" mode.
        Click here before you buy.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by deltawave View Post
          I wonder how she would react to being longed in side reins, just very loose at first, so she can begin to "reprogram" herself to the status of "contact is OK, I won't be punished" mode.
          She is fine in sidereins, all of her issues seem to be associated with riding. She was a rearer, once we got past that and she had seemed so comfortable in sidereins I was a little discouraged to discover this godawful head down to the knees when ridden.

          She also was totally unaccepting of any leg contact. She is over that enough that I can push her forward. I wish I had hills to work her on daily, I can see how that would force her to carry herself more naturally.

          Thanks for the input, I will try pushing through this.

          edited to add:
          DW, I was so sad to read about Gwennie. One of the very special ones indeed.
          Nina's Story
          Epona Comm on FB

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          • #6
            One other random thing I was thinking of is make sure the bit is working for the horse. It sounds so simple but some horses just are that sensitive. I had a rearer who either had his head in the air or on the ground and the nathe made the world of difference because I could push him into something and it was his bit of choice. He could actually touch that bit without having a panic attack and that was a big deal for him.
            http://www.benchmarksporthorses.com/

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Jleegriffith View Post
              One other random thing I was thinking of is make sure the bit is working for the horse. It sounds so simple but some horses just are that sensitive. I had a rearer who either had his head in the air or on the ground and the nathe made the world of difference because I could push him into something and it was his bit of choice. He could actually touch that bit without having a panic attack and that was a big deal for him.
              oh, I left out this part .....she has nerve damage to the bars of her mouth and can't tolerate any bit right now....she is going in an english hackamore which she seems to be fine with except that the sheepskin itches

              I am hoping that when I get her going on a very steady contact with the hackamore I can try a rubber bit, I was thinking an eggbutt mullen mouth. ....otherwise we are obviously not doing any recognized eventing.
              Nina's Story
              Epona Comm on FB

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks, BarbB. Poor mare, nerve damage inside her head as well as elsewhere. How do you think she would be with some good strong cantering, maybe following hounds? Obviously you don't want to fry her brain and you need brakes, but something to get her thinking "racehorse" just a little, wee bit?
                Click here before you buy.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                  Thanks, BarbB. Poor mare, nerve damage inside her head as well as elsewhere. How do you think she would be with some good strong cantering, maybe following hounds? Obviously you don't want to fry her brain and you need brakes, but something to get her thinking "racehorse" just a little, wee bit?
                  That's an idea.....I could have a couple of drinks and be a passenger.

                  I did take her out to the local xc course and just walked her around like a big dog while I gave a lesson. She popped over a log and up and down some banks perfectly calmly.
                  She is accepting of anything that someone hasn't screwed up for her.
                  She has changed hands repeatedly and at least twice as a bolter....but these are the same riders that want her head down between her knees.
                  I would be happy if she would try a bolt.... There is a fence around the course, I may try taking her out with another horse.

                  I won't ride with the hunt here, ....they chase coyotes across the plains and foothills...totally nuts IMHO.
                  Nina's Story
                  Epona Comm on FB

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