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Riding, in general

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  • Riding, in general

    Yesterday I had a light bulb moment. Not about western or dressage in particular but about getting my horse to work.

    He gets excited whenever another horse is around...usually it's when DD rides at the same time. (Imagine managing that in the make up/show ring) It's just the two of us and with her working, I usually ride alone. Hence, WOW mom, THIS IS FUN! And he quits working; want to 'trail ride' next to DD's horse.

    I did get frustrated and swap him on the neck a couple of times and once with the end of my reins...nothing severe. It did get his attention and he behaved after that...got my perfect, flat-footed walk. BUT...

    I should not have gotten frustrated. I "knew" he gets like this, from previous experience. I should have been expecting it. Instead of neck-reining and constantly correcting his 'lean' towards the other horse, I should have two-handed him and ridden with no nonsense. Ridden with the determination that he would go where I sent him and put him to work.

    I'm new this "rider instead of passenger" thing. I made him this way by following him for a long time. Getting frustrated with him is not fair; it isn't even justified. If I can't control him with neck reining, then I need to ride in a way that I CAN control him. Right out of the box, not after 15 minutes of him having his way even just a little bit.

    So much to learn. Next time....
    Ride like you mean it.

  • #2
    There's always more to learn, isn't there!? Good for you for recognizing how you need to change to be more effective for your horse. It is more about being proactive rather than reactive - Mr. PoPo and I have a coach who says that riders go through stages: not knowing what happened, letting it happen, or making it happen. It sounds like you're on your way to the third stage, which is great!

    I, too, have struggled with frustration and "fighting" with my horse. What helped me was ground work to get him really focused on me, but also changing my attitude. As Buck said in our clinic last weekend, "It's not personal." So where I used to get riled up sometimes and get mad, I've learned to be more demanding when I need to be, but in a non-confrontational, more neutral way.

    It is hard work, but good for you for recognizing the changes!
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Yes, definitely want to move up to "make it happen".

      It comes natural to me to not be critical. I just ignore the stuff I don't like, or I just go away. I am not in the habit of making people do or be a certain way. It transferred naturally to my riding.

      It's really work to recognize that 1) I don't like what is happening; 2) I can "say" something with my aids; 3) he's okay with being told exactly what to do and how to do it.

      And he's okay with making all the decisions, too. We're quite a pair, we 2! lol
      Ride like you mean it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Put him to work doing circles of different sizes, in different directions. Do you know how to do shoulder in? Lateral work will engage his mind and keep it on you. Next time, prepare ahead of time, have some cones, ground poles etc set up- be ready to grab his brain before it goes elsewhere. Move his body rather than slapping his neck, it will work better for you in the long run ;-)
        Kerri

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
          I did get frustrated and swap him on the neck a couple of times and once with the end of my reins...nothing severe. It did get his attention and he behaved after that...got my perfect, flat-footed walk. BUT...

          I should not have gotten frustrated. I "knew" he gets like this, from previous experience. I should have been expecting it. Instead of neck-reining and constantly correcting his 'lean' towards the other horse, I should have two-handed him and ridden with no nonsense. Ridden with the determination that he would go where I sent him and put him to work.
          Let me put it to you this way -- why should you have to act/do differently when he's around another horse? I can see swapping tactics if this was the first time of him riding in a ring with another horse, but if he should be an old hat at it, what you did is perfectly fine -- he chose his discipline and you simply delivered.

          The problem lies in if you dwell in the frustration (getting increasingly annoyed with him wanting to cozy up to the other horse) instead of delivering that correction and immediately going mentally back to the peachy-keen-frustration-less feeling of being a team.

          The swat signified "Hello?! Remember me? Yeah, that's right; knock it off! Thank you." I see absolutely nothing wrong with that especially if he went back to good behavior and you had no further problems. It would have been worse for the both of you to continually "nag" him to get him to behave.

          ETA:
          Originally posted by kasjordan View Post
          Put him to work doing circles of different sizes, in different directions.
          This stuff works too, especially for (re)introducing the horse to being in an arena with other horses, but after awhile, it's not an unreasonable expectation for the horse to have his brain on you without needing to do figures.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            One of the situations I want to be able to deal with is "when he does this in the show ring". And he has, up to and including jigging sideways when we're supposed to be walking. I am allowing that he was at his worst with this when his hocks hurt the worst. BUT...as he continues to be more and more pain free (9 days post injection, today) I feel it's fair to expect more from him.

            I'm going to approach it this way: our warm up will be 2 handed. Not uncommon in western horses. I want to be able to establish him focusing on me and block any suggestions from him that we do something else...like lean towards the other horse.

            However, once he's warmed up and we're working I will discipline him with "hello, up here" swat. He's not a fighter but he does want to make sure he has to...sort of "okay, if you insist". I need to be clear to him AT ALL TIMES, that I insist.

            That is hard for me. I'm going to carry a pony bat next time.

            I do like to do figures with him, altho I'm just easing back into that with him. But that isn't something I can do in the ring. He needs to know that when I get on, he has to be obedient. That's the only way I can that it will transfer to our showing.

            He is a seasoned show horse...and while we generally work alone, it's not reasonable for him to get so excited that he can't focus. He showed me yesterday that if I insist on his paying attention and behaving himself that he will.

            I'm so sorry I let this happen but as a greenie, I didn't even know I was letting it happen. I can look back and see all the mistakes I made but I didn't see them at the time.
            Ride like you mean it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Once he's warmed up and working, you shouldn't *have* to discipline him with a swat. You should have his attention and him thinking ohhhh worktime because of the hours you've put in installing that in him ,by keeping his attention and making him work. (it didn't develop overnight and probably won't be fixed overnight, you need to expose him to that situation alot), . It's much simpler in the showring to get his attention with a half halt and a shoulder in walking down the long side before the class starts than it is with a swat. Presents better too ;-) I'm sort of getting the impression you're only riding his mouth and that can have alot to do with it too. Relax, get your heels down, sit your butt deeper when he starts jigging or acting up- don't just two hand him tighter. Not there to see, so this is just taken from the way I read the words. JMO
              Kerri

              Comment


              • #8
                You may want to ride all the time, alone or in company, the way you can be the most effective.
                Put him to work while you are onboard, other than the let down times here and there and expect him to be the same when there is company.

                He needs to be focusing on you and the work at hand, any place, anywhere, with anyone around or alone.

                Do you have a trainer you could work with or watch to get the skills to get and retain his attention down pat, so you can do the same alone?
                Many times, just watching a good trainer, you learn by then trying to mimic what that trainer is doing, until you develop a good feel and timing for that of your own.

                It does take time, but you will get there and then you will know what to do with any and all other horses you ride later.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've had similar issues with Mac, my mustang - we ride alone at home all the time and when we're with other horses, he can get distracted. If you go to my thread "What to Expect from a Buck Brannaman Clinic" you'll see my update on page 9 from the clinic and all the things we worked on that would address just this sort of issue. It starts from the ground and getting him to focus on you and get mentally engaged in the work. Then you go to exercises under saddle again to get him mentally connected to you and his job. This approach has worked sooooo well for me and observing Buck (yes, I am now a Koolaid drinker) work with his horses makes me realize that you can be FIRM and UNEMOTIONAL at the same time. Get the horse focused on you, proceed. It isn't personal. You're not mad at him. You are teaching him the boundaries of what you expect from him - right now he's running the show. Now that you're moving into the next phase of being proactive, you can take control of the situation and let him know what's what.
                  My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

                  "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    He responded quite quickly once I quit 'asking' and 'demanded' that he pay attention. It's actually ME who has more of the problem in that I tend to not assert myself in any aspect of my life.

                    I never expect that people will change for me or that I should make any demands of them. I either like them they way they are or I don't. If I don't, I just go away. I have no expectations that I can demand anything from any one. I take what is freely given. If I have to demand "it" (whatever it is) then it's not given from the heart. I want what I want because people want me to have it, not because I demanded it. I'm not sure I've made sense about this. I'm actually a very strong individual...I just don't mess with things.

                    That's not the right attitude when dealing with horses. And, unfortunately, despite a wonderful carriage driving career, that horse didn't challenge me to demand. He naturally wanted to do what I wanted to do. I never realized I wasn't asserting myself with him. I did know at the time what a brilliant partnership we had and that our hearts were joined, but I thought of myself as his 'trainer' because I had taught him myself.

                    My current horse is more 'normal' in that if I'm not giving the directions, he makes up his own. Not naughty, not dangerous. Not showring worthy either. I have to change my entire way of thinking and assert myself. That is very hard for me.
                    Ride like you mean it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ezduzit View Post

                      I never expect that people will change for me or that I should make any demands of them. I either like them they way they are or I don't. If I don't, I just go away. I have no expectations that I can demand anything from any one. I take what is freely given. If I have to demand "it" (whatever it is) then it's not given from the heart. I want what I want because people want me to have it, not because I demanded it. I'm not sure I've made sense about this. I'm actually a very strong individual...I just don't mess with things.
                      Oh, I totally get this and I am the same way. I remember having a discussion / "argument" with a friend about this very thing. It was about the nature of people. I don't want to tell someone how to be my friend - you are either a person I like and find trustworthy, or you're not. But I'm not going to give you "friend directions" on what to do - you either naturally do it or you don't!
                      My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

                      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Horses generally prefer to follow the leader. But some of them require that the leader be someone worth following. That's your horse. When you don't lead he does. But he'd prefer you were the kind of person he could trust to lead him, and you know you can be that leader.

                        There are two things for you to remember :

                        1) Focus on what you want him to DO all the time. Don't get distracted by what he is doing to evade, or trying to correct it so you can do what you want, just replace his actions with your choice of actions.

                        2) Get in, get a response, get out. Meaning when you use an aid you need to get a response, and quit asking. If he blows you off, you increase the pressure and GET A RESPONSE NOW. If it's the wrong response that's okay because you can shape it, and you can go back to the nice light aid again. But you can't do anything if he's ignoring you. Remember #1 - when you use an aid know why you are using it and what response you want to get.

                        Final tip - know exactly what you want from the minute you get on. The sooner you insist on the simple stuff (like going into corners, or responding promptly to aids) the better the rest of the ride will be. Let him blow you off, even partially, for the first ten minutes and he'll argue more and longer because "you don't really mean it" since you let him get away with it at the beginning of the ride.

                        Good luck!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
                          Horses generally prefer to follow the leader. But some of them require that the leader be someone worth following. That's your horse. When you don't lead he does. But he'd prefer you were the kind of person he could trust to lead him, and you know you can be that leader.

                          There are two things for you to remember :

                          1) Focus on what you want him to DO all the time. Don't get distracted by what he is doing to evade, or trying to correct it so you can do what you want, just replace his actions with your choice of actions.

                          2) Get in, get a response, get out. Meaning when you use an aid you need to get a response, and quit asking. If he blows you off, you increase the pressure and GET A RESPONSE NOW. If it's the wrong response that's okay because you can shape it, and you can go back to the nice light aid again. But you can't do anything if he's ignoring you. Remember #1 - when you use an aid know why you are using it and what response you want to get.

                          Final tip - know exactly what you want from the minute you get on. The sooner you insist on the simple stuff (like going into corners, or responding promptly to aids) the better the rest of the ride will be. Let him blow you off, even partially, for the first ten minutes and he'll argue more and longer because "you don't really mean it" since you let him get away with it at the beginning of the ride.

                          Good luck!
                          Great post. Sometimes it helps to think of a horse like this as an overactive child. REDIRECT the energy into something positive. Ask for an answer. If he gives the wrong one, ignore it and ask again. When he finally does, make a big fuss ask one or two more times and move on. The trick is to know what you are asking for and how to ask.

                          Follow the advice in your signature line.
                          Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It helps me to think of riding as learning a foreign language - both you & the horse.

                            It's not that horse purposefully ignores your direction, horse may not understand what you are asking.

                            Unless you ask correctly - in a way both of you understand - asking "louder" will not get the response you want.

                            This is where a good trainer/coach comes in handy. Eyes on the ground are always useful.

                            What CFFarm said:
                            Make sure you know what you are asking for and how you are asking
                            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It is learning process, and we all make mistakes along the way. The other day we were coming home from a wonderful trail ride, and my horse decided she was NOT GOING to pass a barn full of 30 or 40 cows (which she had passed on the way out, but she was so busy looking at the horses ahead of her on the way out that she didn't notice the cows). We were within sight of the end of the ride, and we were riding with another rider we'd just met and I subconsciously was wanting my horse to behave with leadership and nice manners when his horse was afraid of the cows too. I lost my patience and whacked my horse on the neck with the reins. This was wrong in several ways; I know she is afraid of cows, and the other horse, whom I'd been encouraging her to get along with for the last 15 miles, was backing away, and also I was looking right at the cows, not past them to the rest of the trail. I also know from experience that if I had just sat quietly and given her a moment, she would have gotten her brain back together, and made it past the cows on her own. As it was, she did make it past the cows, but, after she gave me such a wonderful ride, I should have been more in tune with her, and not worrying about the other horse and rider.

                              Live and [hopefully] learn!

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Pocketpony, so nice to hear I'm not the only one! I like the way you put it "friend directions".

                                Red Horses, your advice is tailor made for me!!! It's like you're in my head!!. I'm going to ride today and focus on ME...making sure I know what I want, whether or not I got it.

                                In the herd of 3, he is middle man and contentedly so; happy to have a leader. He is also equally happy with pushing horse #3 around. That, along with his cooperation EVERY time I insisted in a clear way that he understands, that he is perfectly fine leading if need be or following when directed.

                                As with all "horse problems", it's the human that needs work. Horses are what they are; we're the one who screw it up.

                                Can't wait to get on him today. He'll probably be better because daughter isn't riding today. I'm going to focus on cue and response. I'm sure even when I ride alone that he is unfocused and that it just isn't as obvious as when we're with other horses.

                                This is a hopeful and exciting time for me!
                                Ride like you mean it.

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