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Going through water

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  • Going through water

    I wanted some ideas on how to ride this, make it better. I keep forgetting to bring it up with my trainer but forget every time.

    My horse is not scared about water. He goes right in no hesitation, but when he gets in the water it goes from his normal stride, weather trot or canter, to rocketships for legs. I have problems actually balancing on him it is so jarring and he is such a narrow horse. My trainer rode him through once and she looked at me in the middle saying "His stride gets big doesn't it." and that is her understated way of saying bejezus this is huge. I expect some exaggeration in the water, but wow.

    No matter how many times we go through, it hasn't gotten better. Mind we are only doing baby stuff for now, our first beginner novice in February, but I couldn't imagine jumping anything after this. I would like to fix this because undoubtedly if I am unbalanced, I am making him unbalanced and he is a greenie, I do not want to make this difficult for him.

    I have been doing what stirupless work I can but his normal stride is no problem. I suspect the only solution might be going through water 100 more times and even more stirrupless work but any ideas to make this better would be appreciated Thank you!

  • #2
    Have you tried just walking through/around in it? My guess is that he's still worried by it and needs to learn to relax before you add more difficulty.


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by Highflyer View Post
      Have you tried just walking through/around in it? My guess is that he's still worried by it and needs to learn to relax before you add more difficulty.
      We walk through it all the time. I board him at a place about two miles from a place with a water jump and we were walking through it about twice a week for two months straight. I have not been able to go as much recently though.
      He plays in it, sniffs it, than just chills in it.


      • #4
        What no one wants to hear.....time and experience. Keep going through water often. Start slow. As you add more speed and his stride gets big...slow down, half halt or all halt. You need to control NO DIFFERENT then if his stride got too big on dry ground. Same aids....same fix....just takes consistent good riding and experience for him.
        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


        • #5
          I would recommend doing a 20 meter circle with about 1/3 of it in the water and the other 2/3 out of the water. Just canter that circle 20 or so times. Really focus on re-balancing when you're out of the water and try to let him figure himself out in the water. Eventually he will learn to relax and have a more balanced, even canter through it.


          • #6
            This may be hard to tell from in the saddle, so you may need someone to watch and video you to better understand exactly what he's doing in the water when the stride 'gets big'. That will help you understand what is setting him off, so you can address that specifically.

            Is he doing the thing where he is prancing up and down to pull his feet and legs out of the water? It could be he just isn't yet accepting and comfortable of the feel of water on his legs. Since you say he'll chill in the pond, maybe it's just when he's moving faster that he notices.

            Another idea is that the water feels very cold to him when he's running through it. Maybe it's easier to tolerate just standing there - I always feel that water is warmer when I'm down in it, and colder when I'm emerging.

            Anyway, just some general ideas. Look carefully at a video of what he is doing with horse eyes, as it were. And as another poster said above, time and experience may be what is really needed.

            At least he's going in for you with no problems. Counting blessings can help us keep a perspective.


            • #7
              I like flaxenfilly23 's suggestion. Put him in more of a dressage frame and work as you would in an arena, but incorporate a chunk of the water in a circle. Sounds like he just doesn't know what to do with his body in the water, and getting his brain in tune to being in a frame will help him sort it out.


              • #8
                If it's large enough, you could also trot a circle in the water. The curve and your aids will help with balance. Let him get used to the water and balancing while in it.

                You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                • #9
                  I have a gelding who is a pretty big mover, bigger than I'm used to (I typically like the 15.3h TBs) and the first time I took him through water at a trot he just about launched me into space, his trot was so big and swinging. I was also not as in shape as I should have been, so I started doing half-seats in the ring to build up my core. Definitely see if your core needs some work.

                  I figured out pretty quickly he hates getting his belly wet. He was better if I did a 50m circle, half in and half out of the water. I would walk through the water and about 2 steps out from the bank, would start to trot, trot all the way in a circle until reapproach of water, and slow to a walk before stepping in water - rinse and repeat a million times. He always will go into the water no problem if you are walking, but if you are trotting or cantering he prefers to jump in and jump out.

                  Some of them just don't like the water splashing their belly and arms, others don't seem bothered.

                  I will say for a horse like this, be very careful about what water[s] you school. In my experience they tend to be very mistrustful and working in a deep depth will shake their confidence bank more than its' worth. I prefer to keep these horses out of lake/pond water crossings and only work on showing them positive short-depth (4-6 inches max) of water.
                  "i'm a slow learner, it's true."


                  • #10
                    I won't speak to his water reaction since other posters seem to have that covered. For you riding it though, I would recommend doing some work over cavaletti to recreate his big trot. You might have to raise them to get a really comparable response, but that will give you a chance to ride that big gate in a controlled environment, maybe even without stirrups! Keep in mind that cavaletti are a lot of work if he's not used to them, so go easy at first. Hope that helps!


                    • #11
                      Your horse seems to find that it is work to travel through water. You will find the same feel by riding through deep snow, not to be tried bareback. You could try slowing things down by using your seat, and trying to make his stride more forward, and less up and own.
                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                      • #12
                        I agree that raised cavaletti will simulate the movement that he is giving you in the water. Also, think of using your thighs to keep yourself lower to the saddle. As you feel yourself getting launched, lightly squeeze your thighs, then release, as you sit. When I say "release", I don't mean let go and plop, which is what I would do.
                        When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!