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Rushing green jumper - bitting & exercises?

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  • Rushing green jumper - bitting & exercises?

    Without going through the whole story, horse is newer to me; has history of training as a barrel racer and I've had her for a couple of months now and am trying to transition as a dressage/jumper/eventer (career TBD based on aptitude ). We're getting there on flatwork. Had real trouble with accepting the contact and reaching in to the bridle - it's not perfect, but if we can get all the puzzle pieces together during a ride, it happens... I'll get some actual weight in the bridle and she connects through. This mostly all goes out the window if she gets stressed or anxious - she's sensitive and a perfectionist, so this isn't entirely uncommon (or surprising).

    We've started over poles and tiny fences. She can trot and trot-in to a baby gymnastic and be relatively civil. Cantering is a whole 'nother ballgame. Her tendency, if/when we're having a less-than-stellar day, is to invert, throw her head in the air (she does NOT lean into the bit - she tries to evade contact entirely), blow through your outside aids and lose steering, and compress her stride to basically remove all "forward" and just canter/bounce practically in place. Once you get her out of the bouncing and moving forward, she pretty much just runs. So far our exercises to tackle this are primarily ground poles on a canter circle or a cavaletti with a placing rail on a circle. What other exercises do you like for this type?

    The other question is about bitting. She goes in a double jointed (oval link) loose ring. Any thoughts on a gentle hackamore?

    Obviously more flatwork is a very big part of this equation. We only attempt ground poles and/or jumps if she's going well on the flat. With more time, my hope is that correct flatwork becomes easier for her than the incorrect work / evasions she dreams up will not be as easy for her to reflex to. However, her flatwork is generally well beyond what I consider to be the basics necessary to start introducing O/F work, so I don't think it is entirely inappropriate to consider how to start making that happen.

  • #2
    How is the steering? If she can neck rein, then a hackamore might work. However, it may not help you a lot when you want to try to get some contact with the snaffle. Or when you need to steer in your circle in the air over the small fence or pole. What about a side-pull action? You can teach the direct rein that you don't have with a hackamore but still without the bit.

    I'd stick with trotting poles and tiny fences until it's more than "relatively" civil. Single jumps and then longer lines, trot in and trot out. Keep at the trotting until it's boring. Then add baby gymnastics at the trot. Bounces and one strides. Tiny. Then go with the canter starting back over at poles. I do like keeping things on a circle at the canter for this type.

    I will also walk small jumps with one that rushes, but you don't want her to just jig. Start with 6" cavaletti. If she steps over it, great. Go to 1'. If she jumps 6", keep at it till that's more boring.

    The goal is to slow everything down so you do not have to worry about your hands or her head. You just want her to wait and maybe give her a little squeeze with your legs when it's time to leave the ground. Getting into a grabbing game with your hands won't do a thing for her anxiety, so you can get some control through using a slower gait, circles, but you don't want to be pulling, even if she does rush. Let her make the mistake and let go. The slow gait or very short approach of a circle will help you keep it somewhat under control.

    I'd also try to do a little bit of that every ride. So it's not just flatwork days and then "jumping" days that are full of anxiety. Even if you just pop over a single cavaletti one time and she's relaxed and then that's all you do with that for the day.

    Comment


    • #3
      How balanced is her canter? What size circles do you canter? Does she throw her shoulder out? If she hasn't developed her balance yet then she probably will throw herself over jumps.

      How experienced are you jumping? Do you sit back and wait for the jump or do you have a tendency to jump ahead?

      How far in front of the jump does the horse start inverting or getting quick?

      One exercise you might want to try it to trot in to a small jump, canter out and halt. After a few times (and if the horse is relaxed) try to canter in, then halt after.
      http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Why are you thinking of a hackamore instead of a different mouthpiece? Have you tried a single jointed snaffle? Or keep the double joint but try something that is more still in the mouth, like a baucher.
        http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          I knew of someone with an ex-barrel racing horse that just never got it. It wasn't her "cup of tea" so to speak. Some horses are really hard to transition. They've only known running at something with any excitement. They were trained that way. I'm not saying your horse is hopeless. I hope she gets it. But there are those who don't.

          I think just a lot of SLOW work on poles, etc. until they get BORING. Then do it some more. When my mare is rushy, I stop her after every fence. If she's still rushing I stop and back her after every jump. When she gets quieter (she'll eventually just start to stop on her own) then I canter through my corner. If she speeds up again, back to stopping.

          Good luck!
          “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
          ¯ Oscar Wilde

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          • #6
            Actually, if her anxiety is bit/contact related a hackamore may allow her to learn the principles without triggering her anxiety. Expect to take some time to train her to the hackamore before advancing to introducing jumping again.

            I had a young horse who had an automatic snatch and jerk at the slightest touch on the bit. I put him in a hackamore for a while, then added the bit without reins so he could carry it while working, then used double reins and gradually switched the primary rein from the hackamore back to the bit. The whole process took about a year. The hackamore bypassed his automatic snatch and jerk response so he could learn what was being asked.

            I would make sure she has a good canter on the flat before adding anything extra. Trotting gymnastics in the meantime can help her learn the basic jumping skills. Developing canter strength takes time, and the muscles are not used the same way as when racing around barrels full tilt.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pohney View Post
              Without going through the whole story, horse is newer to me; has history of training as a barrel racer and I've had her for a couple of months now and am trying to transition as a dressage/jumper/eventer (career TBD based on aptitude ). We're getting there on flatwork. Had real trouble with accepting the contact and reaching in to the bridle - it's not perfect, but if we can get all the puzzle pieces together during a ride, it happens... I'll get some actual weight in the bridle and she connects through. This mostly all goes out the window if she gets stressed or anxious - she's sensitive and a perfectionist, so this isn't entirely uncommon (or surprising).
              If her previous career was barrel racing (or some degree of it), I'm curious ... how is she bred?

              Sounds like she tends to be a hot and sensitive type of horse, which is pretty common for a lot of barrel racing horses. If that's the case, you'll always have that fine line of pushing them and pushing them too far. In order to progress, you have to push them. But yet you don't want to get past that point where they're "done" learning.

              Originally posted by Pohney View Post
              We've started over poles and tiny fences. She can trot and trot-in to a baby gymnastic and be relatively civil. Cantering is a whole 'nother ballgame. Her tendency, if/when we're having a less-than-stellar day, is to invert, throw her head in the air (she does NOT lean into the bit - she tries to evade contact entirely), blow through your outside aids and lose steering, and compress her stride to basically remove all "forward" and just canter/bounce practically in place. Once you get her out of the bouncing and moving forward, she pretty much just runs. So far our exercises to tackle this are primarily ground poles on a canter circle or a cavaletti with a placing rail on a circle. What other exercises do you like for this type?
              Sounds like she had lots of holes in whatever barrel racing training she had. My barrel horses need to be BROKE before they ever go to the pattern.

              My number one safety concern with any horse is to STOP. Some of the hotter type horses won't "tolerate" you stopping them a lot but you can work on lots of downward transitions instead. Teach them to get those feet under them. So I would do tons of downward transitions and teach them to relax into it when you give them the cue.

              Of course, she needs more work with body control, which just takes time. And quite honestly, if she is blowing through your leg aids, do not let her. Put on some spurs and pop her a good one. If she's flat out refusing to listen to you, then you've got to get her attention. Of course, always give her the opportunity first to respond correctly to a soft cue, but sometimes you just need to let them know they have to knock it off.

              Originally posted by Pohney View Post
              The other question is about bitting. She goes in a double jointed (oval link) loose ring. Any thoughts on a gentle hackamore?
              Personally, I would not put her into a hackamore. She needs to re-learn to accept contact and I believe going to a hackamore would just ignore the problem.

              If she was ridden western previously, I would probably put her into a curb bit of some kind (you can certainly use a broken mouthpice ... I myself prefer double jointed) and get some control on her again. Of course, you don't need to keep her in it, as you wouldn't be able to if you plan on showing her, but it's something you may need to do to get her back on track. Going "up" with a bit will often let you come back "down" when the horse is going better.


              It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by IPEsq View Post
                I'd stick with trotting poles and tiny fences until it's more than "relatively" civil. Single jumps and then longer lines, trot in and trot out. Keep at the trotting until it's boring. Then add baby gymnastics at the trot. Bounces and one strides. Tiny. Then go with the canter starting back over at poles. I do like keeping things on a circle at the canter for this type.

                I will also walk small jumps with one that rushes, but you don't want her to just jig. Start with 6" cavaletti. If she steps over it, great. Go to 1'. If she jumps 6", keep at it till that's more boring.

                The goal is to slow everything down so you do not have to worry about your hands or her head. You just want her to wait and maybe give her a little squeeze with your legs when it's time to leave the ground. Getting into a grabbing game with your hands won't do a thing for her anxiety, so you can get some control through using a slower gait, circles, but you don't want to be pulling, even if she does rush. Let her make the mistake and let go. The slow gait or very short approach of a circle will help you keep it somewhat under control.

                I'd also try to do a little bit of that every ride. So it's not just flatwork days and then "jumping" days that are full of anxiety. Even if you just pop over a single cavaletti one time and she's relaxed and then that's all you do with that for the day.
                This is what we are doing with the horse I ride now and I can tell it is making a difference (taking time, but there is progress). Slow and steady, make it boring and make it work not just fun wheee we're jumping let's run through it all. Walk in trot out, walk in walk out, keep your horse guessing. We are also randomly picking fences so he doesn't know what is coming next and incorporate some ground poles and cavaletti, not just one line hammered over and over and over. We pretend we are walking to the edge of the arena then pick up a trot close to a jump and trot over it. When he focuses intently on the jump that is when he tends to get really amped up.

                Once that is calmly done we'll move on to canter in canter out and eventually be able to put a course together. He's been out of jumping work for a few months so we just have to go back to basics and get to the point we were at before the break.

                The first day it was a struggle to get to walk and not get excited about the jump. But he did it and got lot of praise. Now he's walking and to the point where if he picks up a relaxed trot or relaxed canter he can stay at the pace out of the line. If it is a *holy crap we're jumping whee* or anxious canter we go back to walk and walk out of the line. It is helping me relax, helping him relax, and hopefully we'll be cantering lines in a calmer fashion soon. He doesn't fling his head around like OP's horse... he's just a freight train.

                Another exercise we've done is to put her jump on a large circle... don't just go straight after it. You can put a jump on each side of the circle. She'll learn she can't run through the turn.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mix it up as much as possible. Tons of transitions, circles, smaller circles, serpentines, changing directions. Never just go in a straight line. I find that stopping on a straight line can increase anxiety so if my horse lands too quickly from a jump I turn and he has to slow himself down to make the turn. Walking tiny fences is great. Slow everything way down. Even if that means only walking for a few weeks. Perfect one gait at a time
                  Hudson Valley's Premier Tack Shop www.argentoeq.com/

                  Life is happening for us not to us

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks, all, for the tips and ideas. I think we're going to proceed with frequent ground pole work at all gaits, with some of these ideas incorporated - slow, highly variable work - and occasionally throw cross rails in. I'd been thinking of the hackamore as an idea while she's gaining confidence in the contact. She has moments where she actually accepts the bit, but at this point, it is very inconsistent. For her, in particular, I don't like the exercise of stopping in a straight line because her go-to is to compress, go up more than forward, and move her legs at the speed of light.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The barrel racing thing can be a problem, especially for a sensitive horse. Because they can't get away from the punishment, there is no way to not get a beating while performing, because it is part of every "run". At least that is what I see locally (obviously this is not the case with skilled riders and trainers, and yes, I know there are skilled riders and trainers in this sport, just not locally. I don't know about your location, obviously. I see barrel racers who refuse to enter the arena, spinning, rearing, running backwards with dread, refusing to complete the course as commonplace, and punitive equipment used liberally. Voicing these observations here may well get me "slammed" by barrel racing enthusiasts, but it doesn't change the facts of what I see with low level "trainers". Of course, low level and unskilled trainers exist in every discipline, but it is the addition of the desire for speed that can be so damaging in this case IMO). This sort of treatment can drive a sensitive horse out of his/her mind with dread and fear, and can be hard to undo. The scars remain. Makes it hard to get a horse like this to accept any pressure about anything without panic setting in, especially when some speed and athletic goals are introduced into the work.

                      I would start by "rebreaking" the horse. Make sure that her dentistry is up to date. Start from scratch, right from the beginning, all over again. Find a snaffle she finds comfortable. Ground work. Lunge, Long line. Cue and accurate and quiet responses to soft pressure. Reward. Ride using leg, she needs to accept your leg, and wait for her to reach for contact, and know what pressure from the reins means, and that everything you ask her to do is going to be "fair" to her. That is, you are going to show her first what you want her to do, and release any pressure you put on her. She needs to believe that everything you are going to ask her to do by applying soft pressure is going to be easy for her, if she gives it some thought. That "thinking" and remaining calm, responding accurately, gains release and reward. And that the "ask" is going to be short term, there is going to be a release. This is "fair", in a horse's opinion, and "fair" treatment will gain you trust from her. Put a correctly fitted running martingale on this horse, so that when/if she raises her head to invert, any bit pressure remains on her bars, does NOT change onto pressure on the corners of the mouth should she raise her head (this can add to freaking out some sensitive horses).A standing martingale will just be a reminder of a tie down, a restrictionwhich she may well strain against or cause her further panic, and will be not helpful. No noseband, or loose noseband, don't restrict her. If she needs to open her mouth to escape, best to let her escape if she feels she needs to, and redo the exercise again later, hoping she does not feel the need to escape the next time, if she gives the exercise some thought. When she has that "trust" information installed into her brain (if she can accept this information after her previous experiences), she will begin to trust you, if that is possible for her. If you can not gain her trust, you will not be successful with your goals with this horse, IMO

                      It sounds like she is not accepting the leg and responding accurately, or pressure from the rein and responding accurately. So that is what I would work on. If you are losing any accurate responses when attempting to jump, she is not ready to jump, by definition. Stay with poles on the ground for "jumps" until she understands about staying soft, staying supple, staying relaxed, and responding to pressure accurately. You should be able to trot AND canter round a course of poles on the ground quietly, softly, with a loose rein AND soft contact here and there throughout the course without any drama before increasing the size of the jumps.

                      Have you free jumped her? I would do that, so that she has to make all the decisions, and finds that it works best to stay relaxed, look at the jump, and rate her own step to the take off distance. If she can free jump and remain soft and relaxed doing it WITHOUT a rider, there is more chance that she will eventually be able to do the same thing with a rider that she trusts, who treats her softly and fairly. Once riding her, your job will be to interfere as little as possible with your hands, and SHE will do what SHE needs to do to get to the jump. If she has talent, she can be successful with very little use of the reins, as long as she trusts you, believes that she is safe in your care, and accepts your leg.

                      Good luck!
                      www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        No balance and no knowledge of aids = NO jumping.
                        A nice fat, heavy snaffle please.
                        Check your saddle fit and her teeth, please.
                        Trot spirals and figure 8's and random patterns, let her build new muscles.
                        Canter, untacked, on the lunge only and teach/enforce voice aids
                        Get a GOOD pro with tons of greenie experience on her occaisionally.
                        Treat her like the 3yo she's acting like,
                        Please.
                        *************************
                        Go, Baby, Go......
                        Aefvue Farms Footing Inspector

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                        • #13
                          Fat snaffle might not ge a good choice for a QH and their characteristic shallow mouth. Bits aren't as they appear to us humans.

                          But this horse spent years doing something else, that something being high energy and explosive speed. You can't reverse that in a few months. It needs to be restarted and learn to accept contact and relax before bring faced with galloping to a jump and expected to stay calm, cool and collected. It doesn't know what's expected.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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