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How to break a bad pony habit?

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  • How to break a bad pony habit?

    I am looking for suggestions on how to work with a green pony who has developed a bad habit where she will stop, pull the reins out of her rider's hands, and scratch her nose. She'll stop dead at a walk and a trot and do this. The rider isn't yet cantering on this horse, but I have no doubt she'd do it then, too.

    Unfortunately, she's a very timid rider, and doesn't like getting after the pony, as she's afraid she'll take off on her (which the pony has never done, but this rider has a lot of generalized anxiety, and she has fixated on this idea). The pony never did this before the girl let her get away with it a few times and now she does this every time the girl gets on, which is typical of a greenie who doesn't get corrected.

    I'm thinking of putting the pony in an extra short martingale, so she can't get her head down, and maybe a bit with a curb chain, so the rider has some better leverage than what she has now in an eggbutt snaffle. Someone today suggested using a bucking strap to keep the pony's head up, but I've never used one. If anyone has experience with it, I'd love to hear it.

    Sadly, the rider's parents won't pay to put the pony in a training program, so we're limping along with what we have, green pony and green rider I get on the pony when I can during the lessons (the girl no longer rides the pony outside of lessons), and the pony has tried this with me now a couple of times. When I get after her, she's fine until the girl gets back on and the cycle starts all over again.

    Any other suggestions?
    Last edited by aWp; Jan. 22, 2013, 11:11 PM.

  • #2
    Sounds like a very hard spot to be in from a trainers stand point. Since they are unwilling to put the pony in training board and are looking for more of a "quick fix, what about using anti grazing reins? Just be sure to try them on the pony with you riding first to make sure it wont object to them. Good luck.
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    • #3
      I second the anti-grazing reins.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks, alliekat. I think anti-grazing reins were what the person today was talking about, not a bucking strap. I had no idea what she meant when she said that, but anti-grazing reins make sense.


        • #5
          Can you put them on a lunge line during lessons? This way the girl can learn how to correct the pony, while knowing the *if* the pony was to take off she can be comforted by the fact that she is on the lunge, with you being able to stop the pony.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Weighaton View Post
            I second the anti-grazing reins.
            2nd this!!! definitely try anti-grazing reins, they should solve your problem.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you, Weightaton and reay6790!

              Unfortunately, the pony's habit has become so ingrained at this point, that putting her on the lunge line won't correct her. It's a great idea for the rider to learn this for the long term, and we're working on it, but it won't stop the short-term problem. Alliekat is right, I'm in a bit of a "quick fix" bind.


              • #8
                Another idea, if you tie knots in the rein and have the girl hold in front of the knots, can she grip well enough that, with the knots, she can prevent the reins from slipping through when the pony roots? If she can put the leg on (she doesn't even have to "get after" the pony, just keep her forward) and prevent the rein slippage, that might be enough to teach the pony that the rooting trick doesn't work anymore?!
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                • #9
                  Sorry to be -that- guy...but you first problem is that you have a green rider on a green pony. Second problem is the parents - "I want the pony to behave for my daughter but I don't want to do pay for proper training".
                  Maybe when the kid get frustrated enough and doesn't want to ride anymore the parents will see the need for a training program.

                  Anywho, typically the correction to this problem is a good kick in the ribs promptly when the pony pulls. If your hands are tied as far as getting an experienced rider or hoping on the pony yourself, I agree its time to get some anti-grazing reins. Ponies are smart brats and will quickly figure out when the reins are off, though. Do you have a tough pony jock who will hop on for you? Kids are happy to get to ride and don't typically expect payment for their services.

                  If the kid is afraid the pony will run off, perhaps you can hop on and do a demonstration to show that the pony will not run off when corrected?


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks, Satin Filly (I originally read your screen name as "Satan Filly"--must be projecting due to this "satanic" pony :-)

                    There are many issues with the match/parents/training, etc, and unfortunately, my hands are tied at the moment. I can't tell you how frustrated I've been at times.

                    I've showed my rider time and time again how to correct the problem during her lessons, to no avail, and the problem has only become worse over the past couple of months. I'm working on getting a good pony jock in the saddle and I do put in a training ride for free on my own time between lessons when I can.

                    I'm going to get a pair of the grazing-reins and see how that helps. Of course, I fully expect a healthy green pony to come up with another trick once she realizes this one won't work. Maybe when that happens, the parents will realize she needs to be in more rigorous training program.


                    • #11
                      I second either the anti-grazing reins or a daisy strap (http://www.theponytackshop.co.uk/for...res_daisy_rein)


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bluebuckets View Post
                        I second either the anti-grazing reins or a daisy strap (http://www.theponytackshop.co.uk/for...res_daisy_rein)
                        Interesting... never seen this off of a harness. Does it work the same as an overcheck?


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lifeishorsesarelove View Post
                          Interesting... never seen this off of a harness. Does it work the same as an overcheck?
                          I'm not familiar with driving tack so I can't say if the action is similar to an overcheck. I believe that an overcheck acts on the bit somehow? But I could be very wrong...
                          ...anyway, this doesn't attach directly to the bit, rather it buckles around the crownpiece. I suppose that if the pony went to root, it would indirectly act on the bit to prevent the pony from lowering its head.
                          Like a check (or any piece of tack), you want to be sure to adjust it properly so it doesn't cause the pony any discomfort. If adjusted properly, the pony shouldn't notice it unless he goes to root.


                          • #14
                            Another vote for anti-grazing reins. In a pinch baling twine tied from bit, through headstall, down to D-rings on saddle works too. I remember my trainer doing that for me when I was on a schoolie who liked to drop his head and run into the center of the ring.

                            Also the lunging is worth a try too. I think the point the previous poster was making is to let the pony do it on the lunge and have the rider correct it. The rider might be more likely to do something about it when she knows the pony can't go anywhere.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Rel6 View Post
                              Another vote for anti-grazing reins. In a pinch baling twine tied from bit, through headstall, down to D-rings on saddle works too. I remember my trainer doing that for me when I was on a schoolie who liked to drop his head and run into the center of the ring.
                              Just a funny side note...on our local h/j circuit there is pony that roots and the little girl has somersaulted off a couple of times. After the third time her trainer came out with some baling twine...one of my students exclaims "oh my gosh is she going to tie her to the pony?" LOL


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by aWp View Post

                                There are many issues with the match/parents/training, etc, and unfortunately, my hands are tied at the moment. I can't tell you how frustrated I've been at times.
                                Any chance you can convince the parents to allow you to incorporate pony into your lesson program - this will give pony more consistent work & you can trade off training for use ... eventually pony should be able to offset part of his board or additional lessons for kid etc (not many parents can resist the lure of rebates )


                                • Original Poster

                                  I picked up some anti-grazing reins today, and will try them on her tomorrow during a training ride with a pony jock who might be able to ride her a couple of times a week for me. Fingers crossed that this will do the trick! Thank you all for the feedback!


                                  • #18
                                    Good luck! I hope it all works out