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? re getting a western trained horse to go english

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  • ? re getting a western trained horse to go english

    gf rescued an appendix mare. she was told the mare did barrels and was 12 years old. turns out the mare is actually around 7 years old.

    gf has been working w/ the mare on the ground for a few weeks and last week she saddled her up to see how the mare moves under saddle.

    here is the quandary, every time she asks her to trot the mare picks up this little western jig. she trots nicely in hand but with a rider under saddle offers a jig.

    so how does one get this western trained horse to go into a trot instead of the jig? is it just about giving more leg or does it require some "retraining"?
    TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique

  • #2
    I would just keep pushing her forward. It may be an ugly trot for awhile, but I wouldn't try to rate her or ask for any contact. Just give her her face and let her go. Lots of praise when she moves into a more forward trot.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


    • #3
      Every time I hear "trained for barrels" I wonder what they did.

      Good barrel racers train sensibly, but mostly for barrels and not many for much else, but there are many out there that just run their horses around and call that trained for barrels.

      Since you don't seem to know how, could you have a serious trainer evaluate your mare and tell you what she knows and where she is in her training?
      That seems would be the most fair for the horse, so you know how best to communicate with her.

      Once you know, you can either get some lessons to learn to ride her as she was trained, or make a plan to retrain for whatever you like to do with her.


      • Original Poster


        i agree that getting a trainer involved would be the best, however, the folks who rescued the mare don't have much spare $ to spend on a trainer. i plan to call my old trainer who does both western and english to see if she could evaluate the horse at a discount for them. this way at least they'd have a starting point.

        the mare is extremely unbalanced under saddle but i don't know if it's b/c she still lacks muscle (her weight is fine now but she was about 400 lbs underweight when they got her) or b/c she was never taught how to balance herself. she does not respond to leg except to go faster. can't get her to bend. she shakes her head and fusses continuously with the bit in her mouth (her teeth were done 2 months ago). when we took the bit off and rode her in a halter she was calm. she has a very deep scar on her lip so either it got torn up by a bit or she had some other bad accident in her relatively short life but it may be the reason for all the fussing (the bit was a jointed snaffle, maybe not something she's used to?).

        oddly enough for all that fussing w/ the bit she's mellow as could be just walking around - doesn't spook, goes where you point her.

        friend tried longing her in a halter and the mare went crazy, running off madly then turning in and running backwards. so sounds like that was new to her they plan to work on that next.

        she came from florida 2 years ago and from what i understand about the western circles in florida, they often start them v. young give them some v. basic training and then lie about their age and experience level. and this would actually make sense, since the folks who surrendered this mare to my friend thought she was 12.
        TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


        • #5
          Sounds like you may just have a green horse there, one with little and maybe not that good previous start.

          With those, we start them like a colt and go from that, sometimes very fast if they seem to know what we are asking, others taking our time if they are clueless.

          Good luck with her.


          • #6
            Originally posted by marta View Post
            however, the folks who rescued the mare don't have much spare $ to spend on a trainer. i plan to call my old trainer who does both western and english to see if she could evaluate the horse at a discount for them.
            So does your girlfriend own the horse, or does someone else own the horse?

            I'm assuming the "jig" of which you speak is the western jog? (Kind of like a slow, shuffle trot?) Most barrel horses aren't trained to walk, jog, and lope like other western horses. Most barrel horses know two speeds - stop and go [fast].

            From the horse doing a "jig" when asked to trot, sounds like the horse was maybe just trained Western and not necessarily barrels.


            • #7
              Please let me make one point here...this is NOT a "Western trained" horse. This is one used for speed events-trained to run. Nothing to do with "Western" at all, other then the saddle.

              Fact you get the same thing thing in some TBs off the track. The are racers, not "English trained".

              Anyway, Bluey is right, mare just does not know much of anything except run and be done. That's the fault of BAD or non exsistent training and not anything restricted to Western or Florida. happens in all regions and all disciplines, some people just slap the saddle on and figure if they don't get bucked off, they are good to go.

              Do you have this mare's papers and is she properly transferred? I ask because without them, she really could be anything and any age. Even if they tacked a registered name on her, may not really be her.

              Anyway, it's always hard when you do not own them and cannot make decisions but...she basically needs to be restarted as if she was a youngster. It is going to take time. Especially when all they ever used to do was hop on and go run. It would be best if your friend gets some help, this type is not that easy for somebody with little or no experience.

              Most have the best luck teaching them to lunge with loose side reins and progressing to riding after a session on the lunge (no sidereins). Then eliminating the lunging when the horse is quiet. If friend cannot teach horse to lunge and/or is timid? Going to be tough without help.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • #8
                A jig is not a jog.

                "Western" can cover a lot of territory.

                If the horse was genuinely run on barrels, she probably always wore a tight tie-down and a substantial bit, and is used to using both for balance. If not allowed to either walk flat w/ no contact, or run, she might do a bouncy, pull-y trot like thing, which is a jig.

                If she was trained for WP, then she might have a very slow, going-nowhere sort of trot like thing, which is a jog.

                The fixes for the two would be very different. The barrel horse needs to learn that she is allowed to trot, but getting her to go to the bit may be a looonng process involving lots of patience (I went back to a round pen, got that going well, very carefully added long, sliding side reins, one at a time, and eventually let him work it out for himself--the contact wasn't going away, but also wasn't punnishing. Lots of time and patience, leave the rider out of the equation at first).

                The WP horse just needs to be made to go forward, but may also have a lot of apprehension about doing so, having been taught in no uncertain terms that Going Forward Is A Sin.

                In either case, the horse's natural balance at a trot with a rider has been destroyed and must be rebuilt slowly and carefully and there may well be a lot of emotional baggage to be overcome as well.
                "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                Spay and neuter. Please.


                • #9
                  Honestly, Barrel Racers can, and are, properly trained and can actually be ridden around by those who realize steering and balance can improve time. They actually BEND, both ways, and accept the bit. leg is a little different, more seat, but they know what it is.

                  But this mare sounds basically like she knows just south of nothing and has no particular training by anybody who knew one side from the other.

                  That "jig" is just anticipating running and not knowing how to relax and walk along...because nobody ever taught her to do that. So when friend pulls, mare gets nervous because she is confused. Seen alot of that in "backyard trained" speed horses, especially those allowed to get 400 pounds underweight with bad, unexplained scars.

                  This mare has had a tough 7 years of life...assuming that is her correct age. Going to take awhile to fix that.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                  • #10
                    I would start her from scratch like a baby horse - she may not understand contact at all, and depending on the quality of her previous rider, she may only be used to charging around madly with some basic steering and stopping. Do HER the favor of starting at the beginning, as if she knows nothing at all, so she can become confident in what you want her to do. Avoid trying to get her to go on a contact until she's developed forward, relaxed, self-balanced basic gaits. As others suggested I'd start her on the lunge line (get help if you/she needs it) until she can do walk-trot-canter-whoa on command in both directions in a rhythmic, unflustered way. Then introduce a rider. Give her a year or two, and she'll probably be a fun horse!


                    • Original Poster

                      thanks everyone!

                      friend owns the horse.

                      the prior owners surrendered her w/ no papers and the barrel racer 12 year old story. dentist came and assured her the mare is not over 7 years old. they did tell her the 'show name' of the horse but no papers were turned over (in fact, i don't think prior owners had papers) so who knows.

                      i think you guys are exactly correct. she needs to be handled from scratch as if she knows nothing. i do hope friend finds a way to pay for some professional training on her. i certainly don't feel qualified to know how to start a horse.

                      thanks much for all the thoughts and suggestions.
                      TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                      • #12
                        Don't overthink it!

                        It's not a big thing ya know. A broke horse is a broke horse and all they need to do is get on it and ride it the way they want to have it be ridden!!! Western riding is balanced seat riding. Starting from scratch sounds silly to me......just get on it and do it! We ALL have to do this no matter our disciplines. We make WAY, WAY to big a deal of disciplines & saddle types. A good horse is a good horse and you can get a cow pony stop or jog outa a "western" horse by not letting it do that and asking for what you want and with repetition & time old habits will lessen!
                        I absolutely adore "western" broke horses for english riding personally. One of my best foxhunters was a "western"horse in his early years!!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wateryglen View Post
                          It's not a big thing ya know. A broke horse is a broke horse and all they need to do is get on it and ride it the way they want to have it be ridden!!! . Starting from scratch sounds silly to me......just get on it and do it!
                          I absolutely adore "western" broke horses for english riding personally.
                          The point seems to be it is NOT now properly broke and has never been broke, Western, English or anything else. Somebody just got on it and ran around on it. Friend got on and all it will do is jig, it just does not know anything.

                          With any luck, it will not take that long, especially if somewhere, from someone it had some decent riding. Worst case, 3 to 6 months...and it's a little different then starting a baby never ridden. Just need to deal with the basics, not teach it to take the tack and a rider.

                          It needs to go back and get broke to accept the aids and do something besides run or jig. Not the case of a horse in a different discipline responding to similar aids, case of just not knowing what to do. Because nobody taught it anything, except to run around.

                          Sounds like the friend is in a little deeper then ideal and may be a little timid. Starting over, properly, benefits them both. In this case based on OPs information.

                          Otherwise, yeah, just go ride, a broke horse is a broke horse.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                          • #14
                            My mare came to me sort of like this, and I had to wait until she learned that I wasn't in her face, and that she really could balance and it was going to be okay. I'm not a trainer, so I probably would have done things differently if I had worked with a trainer more extensively, but I felt fine on her. It just took me a long time. I went out every single day and did the same thing, didn't get in her face, took a tiny light contact, and walked and trotted in huge circles and straight lines. It took her about two months and then she started understanding bending and giving in the mouth, and we just took off from there. She's a great horse now, really responsive and calm and willing to learn. I waited until she did something that was a step in the direction I wanted, and then I praised her until I was blue in the face. I'm not an exceptional rider by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm balanced, consistent, and precise and that worked for us.
                            Somewhere in the world, Jason Miraz is Goodling himself and wondering why "the chronicle of the horse" is a top hit. CaitlinAndTheBay