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Advice for slowing down / collecting a strong mare?

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  • Advice for slowing down / collecting a strong mare?

    Hi everyone,

    I am beginning to school my mare again after a few months of unsoundness (long story and unrelated, but she's been cleared by her vet to start schooling & jumping again.) I'm taking arena work and schooling her somewhat slow, but she's loving jumping and being in the arena again and getting really strong. My lower back is actually pretty sore from keeping such a tight rein / pulling back.. any advice on that as well?

    For instance today I did a canter pole with her, and had a lot of trouble bringing her back down to trot/walk. She just wants to go fast! Any tips on downward transitions, and keeping a calm, collected gait? She normally goes in a pelham with a converter, but I've also tried a waterford D ring 2 or 3 times. Same thing no matter what bit. TIA!!

  • #2
    It takes two to pull, which means that you need to stop pulling because what you're doing is not fair to her. Start with what she can do while remaining calm, and then when she gets too far out of her comfort zone bring her back inside.

    Calm, patient schooling using turns and circles instead of hands to rate her would be the first step, and then when she can stay calm small jumps on a circle, and then when she's good at that on to the next step.

    Comment


    • #3
      Let go and don't pull. Use your body and voice not just the reins. Think about sinking into your saddle and staying quiet. Get her more responsive to that before asking hard questions.

      Comment


      • #4
        It sounds as though you are hand/bit riding her. You need to work with an instructor who can teach you to use your body, and help you to educate her to the seat. Most horses originally understand listening to the body but tune us out when don't use our bodies correctly.

        Get you flat work sorted out now.
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          Shoulder-in was the advice I got from Anne Kurscinski when I posed this question to her at a clinic with Q&A and it changed my life forever.
          Power to the People

          Comment


          • #6
            An eventer opinion here, but I was taught to let them get it out. Your horse is fresh and excited.

            During warm up let her canter or go faster than normal, whatever she wants, than ask her politely to slow down with a half halt. She says no, you just go "okay than" and keep going. There should be no fight at all, just a polite ask, and if no response, keep going. It may seem like they will not stop but eventually they do. As long as its not unsafe of course!

            No point fighting a 1000 lb horse, and eventually they realize that they are trained horses and to stop this silliness.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Sswor View Post
              Shoulder-in was the advice I got from Anne Kurscinski when I posed this question to her at a clinic with Q&A and it changed my life forever.
              Thank you! Can you explain more about shoulder-in?

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by jazz8899 View Post
                An eventer opinion here, but I was taught to let them get it out. Your horse is fresh and excited.

                During warm up let her canter or go faster than normal, whatever she wants, than ask her politely to slow down with a half halt. She says no, you just go "okay than" and keep going. There should be no fight at all, just a polite ask, and if no response, keep going. It may seem like they will not stop but eventually they do. As long as its not unsafe of course!

                No point fighting a 1000 lb horse, and eventually they realize that they are trained horses and to stop this silliness.
                I definitely see what you mean in regards to letting her get her energy out - but say I ask her to slow, and she doesn't, wouldn't letting her keep going tell her that she doesn't have to listen to me/be disobedient?

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by kande04 View Post
                  It takes two to pull, which means that you need to stop pulling because what you're doing is not fair to her. Start with what she can do while remaining calm, and then when she gets too far out of her comfort zone bring her back inside.

                  Calm, patient schooling using turns and circles instead of hands to rate her would be the first step, and then when she can stay calm small jumps on a circle, and then when she's good at that on to the next step.
                  Thank you for your input! I've been doing a little of what you've been saying - I haven't been jumping her, just using canter poles. She does do much much better in our smaller arena, rather than our competition-size arena. You're saying work with her from the bottom up, or say when she doesn't get too strong, and then move forward slowly?

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by jump4it View Post
                    Let go and don't pull. Use your body and voice not just the reins. Think about sinking into your saddle and staying quiet. Get her more responsive to that before asking hard questions.
                    Thank you for your input! I use voice commands as well, but I think when she doesn't slow when I ask, I get nervous and tense up and pull. You're saying don't pull as much, keep a deep seat and lean back, and stay calm until she slows?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Lots of good advice here - let go, let go, let go - especially of a horse that leans! If you lean on her, she’s going to lean on you - and she will never be the soft, light horse you want. And work really hard on using your seat and body, instead of your hands. You should barely have to use your hands at all - they are a guide, nothing more.

                      How are you half-halting? Also, do you have a one-rein stop? When I restarted my TB, my Trainer had to remind me to really change the way I was half-halting. She taught me to lift one rein, then the other, in a rhythmical way, like “one, two, three” - and then let go, even if I didn’t get a response. Then ask again, “one, two, three” and let go. And we also instilled a one-rein stop, so that I could disengage his hind end if I felt like he wasn’t listening to my seat or my half-halt. My horse now stops off of my seat, and a verbal “whoa,” but I like having the one-rein stop in my toolbox and still use it if I feel like he’s getting away from me. Also agree about letting her get some energy out - physically and mentally. When my horse is fresh, we trot lots of bow ties and serpentines and circles - and if he needs to canter a little, we canter, and he eventually settles in :-)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You need to use more leg. If this doesn't make sense to you, you need to find someone who can help you learn the feeling It's an invaluable skill once you get the hang of it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jazz8899 View Post
                          An eventer opinion here, but I was taught to let them get it out. Your horse is fresh and excited.

                          During warm up let her canter or go faster than normal, whatever she wants, than ask her politely to slow down with a half halt. She says no, you just go "okay than" and keep going. There should be no fight at all, just a polite ask, and if no response, keep going. It may seem like they will not stop but eventually they do. As long as its not unsafe of course!

                          No point fighting a 1000 lb horse, and eventually they realize that they are trained horses and to stop this silliness.
                          Just keep in mind that some horses will not get tired easily so you may be in for quite a ride. When I first got him, I took my OTTB out to a big field. Thought I'd let him "get it out" by doing a hand gallop around the field. I figured that once he got a little tired, I'd ask him to go a bit more then let him walk. Wrong. After we'd circled this field (did I say it's very large?) 12 times, I was getting pretty beat. He was breathing like a dragon and ready to do the same again. The only time he's really been tired was after a four hour hunt and even then, he didn't show it until the end.

                          I agree with not pulling. A agree with learning a one rein stop. When my horse is fresh we do a lot of transitions, a lot of lateral work and try to keep him calm and listening. When my OTTB got strong and fresh at fences, my trainer had me walk to the fences with a loopy rein, holding onto a neck strap. We taught him to come in calm and slow and I was NEVER to pull back. If you don't ride with a neck strap, I highly recommend one. It's a great tool.

                          One of the reasons your horse may be getting strong and pulling is that she's getting tired and unbalanced. You need to help her be strong enough to stay collected. Think about lateral work, spirals in/out, shoulder in, trot poles (more than one to keep her focused), and breaks to walk on a long rein.
                          Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                          EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Bogie View Post

                            Just keep in mind that some horses will not get tired easily so you may be in for quite a ride. When I first got him, I took my OTTB out to a big field. Thought I'd let him "get it out" by doing a hand gallop around the field. I figured that once he got a little tired, I'd ask him to go a bit more then let him walk. Wrong. After we'd circled this field (did I say it's very large?) 12 times, I was getting pretty beat. He was breathing like a dragon and ready to do the same again. The only time he's really been tired was after a four hour hunt and even then, he didn't show it until the end.

                            I agree with not pulling. A agree with learning a one rein stop. When my horse is fresh we do a lot of transitions, a lot of lateral work and try to keep him calm and listening. When my OTTB got strong and fresh at fences, my trainer had me walk to the fences with a loopy rein, holding onto a neck strap. We taught him to come in calm and slow and I was NEVER to pull back. If you don't ride with a neck strap, I highly recommend one. It's a great tool.

                            One of the reasons your horse may be getting strong and pulling is that she's getting tired and unbalanced. You need to help her be strong enough to stay collected. Think about lateral work, spirals in/out, shoulder in, trot poles (more than one to keep her focused), and breaks to walk on a long rein.
                            Great info!! Thank you for your input

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bogie View Post

                              Just keep in mind that some horses will not get tired easily so you may be in for quite a ride. When I first got him, I took my OTTB out to a big field. Thought I'd let him "get it out" by doing a hand gallop around the field. I figured that once he got a little tired, I'd ask him to go a bit more then let him walk. Wrong. After we'd circled this field (did I say it's very large?) 12 times, I was getting pretty beat. He was breathing like a dragon and ready to do the same again. The only time he's really been tired was after a four hour hunt and even then, he didn't show it until the end.
                              Hence the only if its safe comment. I did something similar and it took about felt like an hour to get him to figure it out. He figured it out though and I've never really had that problem since.

                              I lounge before I go into big fields now with new guys, haha.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Some things can’t be fixed on the net, this is one of them.

                                There is no single cause for a strong horse. It could be anything from freshness to winter horse syndrome to holes in tne basic training to a well meaning but uneducated rider unable or unaware how to execute basic training techniques to discomfort/pain.

                                Theres also too much we don’t know about the horse and the situation. For example how much turnout, how often do you ride and for how long, what was the unsoundness, what diagnostics did vet do like x ray and ultrasound of what body parts and do you have anybody knowledgeable and experienced person working with you who can teach you leg yields and half halts? Somebody who really does care and who is honest about what you need to do?

                                Will say the Pelham with converter is not a particularly good bit choice for anything but a beginner level rider not able to handle two reins on a very safe and well trained horse with no inclination to go too fast or get strong. Because it doesn’t work as designed or do much of anything with a single rein and converter. It’s supposed to work on both leverage with the curb rein and without (as a snaffle) with the seperate snaffle rein. With a converter, you lose both the curb action and the direct connection to the snaffle so it’s no wonder the mare can just ignore you and blow through it. But a strong bit is no answer, you need to learn to use the rest of your body and all the aids properly, not just pull the reins and mare needs to learn to accept it.

                                Dont take this personally, we’ve all been there, it is how you learn. Share more with us, keep and open mind and maybe we can help you learn how to proceed here.
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by ChloeSimpy View Post

                                  I definitely see what you mean in regards to letting her get her energy out - but say I ask her to slow, and she doesn't, wouldn't letting her keep going tell her that she doesn't have to listen to me/be disobedient?
                                  If you ask and she fights you she is not listening anyway. It's a conversation you should be having with them. After I think they got their oats out I usually just squeeze the rein once every time we go around the arena to see if they are listening yet. I'm not confronting them and not actually asking them to slow down until I know they will, just checking to see if we are on the same page.

                                  I mentioned this was warm up earlier but didn't really go into that. I still do a full ride after that, and that's probably what cements it with them. We aren't just ending when they are done having fun and we are still going to work, even if I am very tired myself after all that cantering, haha.

                                  And I agree with Bogie. Neck straps are amazing, especially with the strong or sensitive horse.



                                  Comment


                                  • #18


                                    Start at the walk and make sure she's calm and steady doing all kinds of patterns at the walk. Aim for a steady line and a steady rhythm, both on contact and on a loose rein.

                                    Then go on to trot and if she tries to rush off then very gently turn her onto a circle and just keep going around on the circle until she calms down enough so you can give the reins completely without her speeding up. You'll also be looking for a steady line and a steady rhythm in the trot.

                                    Use smaller circles if big ones don't work, but don't keep her on the same circle for more than a few rounds because you don't want to cause repetitive stress injuries. So if you need to stay on smaller circles be sure to change direction often.

                                    Once she's dead calm at trot then do the same at canter. Then when you can canter on a loose rein or on contact and she'll stay calm and steady, set up one cross rail next to your circle. Trot her around the circle and when she's calm just ease her off the circle so she takes the jump, and then right back on the circle. Only take the jump when she's calm. If she gets fussed up then get back on the circle and get her calm again.

                                    When you can do it calmly in trot, then try it the same way in canter. When she can stay calm over one jump you can add another.

                                    By the time you work through all that you'll have a very good idea of how to get and keep your horse calm just by gently bringing her onto a circle whenever she gets fussed up. It can take some time, but it'll cure the pulling/leaning issue.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by kande04 View Post

                                      Start at the walk and make sure she's calm and steady doing all kinds of patterns at the walk. Aim for a steady line and a steady rhythm, both on contact and on a loose rein.

                                      Then go on to trot and if she tries to rush off then very gently turn her onto a circle and just keep going around on the circle until she calms down enough so you can give the reins completely without her speeding up. You'll also be looking for a steady line and a steady rhythm in the trot.

                                      Use smaller circles if big ones don't work, but don't keep her on the same circle for more than a few rounds because you don't want to cause repetitive stress injuries. So if you need to stay on smaller circles be sure to change direction often.

                                      Once she's dead calm at trot then do the same at canter. Then when you can canter on a loose rein or on contact and she'll stay calm and steady, set up one cross rail next to your circle. Trot her around the circle and when she's calm just ease her off the circle so she takes the jump, and then right back on the circle. Only take the jump when she's calm. If she gets fussed up then get back on the circle and get her calm again.

                                      When you can do it calmly in trot, then try it the same way in canter. When she can stay calm over one jump you can add another.

                                      By the time you work through all that you'll have a very good idea of how to get and keep your horse calm just by gently bringing her onto a circle whenever she gets fussed up. It can take some time, but it'll cure the pulling/leaning issue.
                                      Awesome!! Thank you so much.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I have a strong horse too, who is young. Keep your leg on (not asking but on), use circles to slow her down. Don't just pull--you'll lose. If you need to half halt then release over and over again.

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