Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First he's to fast, then he's to slow.......

I received an email today from Janette that I want to address.

Her question was this....

JR my horse always wants to speed up when we jog and lope. I have tried half-halts, stops and roll backs to try to get my horse to slow down. When we do the half-halts, that only works for a little while, when we do the roll backs that never works and I have tried doing smaller circles and he only speeds up. I have shown him in western pleasure and we are fine for few strides, and then he is back to going to fast, and the same goes for hunter under saddle. Is this a hopeless case for me and my horse or is there something else I can try to do that will help?


Should I stick to just one discipline with him?


On my trainers advice, I have had the vet out to thoroughly check him over, and there are no pain issues. I also had the tack fitted to make sure that is not the problem. And I have been showing him successfully for several years now. This is all seems to be a new bad habit.

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Well Janette, I really doubt that your horse is a hopeless case, maybe a little confused, but not hopeless.


When I say that your horse is a little confused, I do not mean that showing him hunter and western is confusing him. What I mean, is that you may be the issue and not the horse or the tack. I commend you for looking at pain and tack issues first, as many riders can easily overlook these things.

I do not use roll backs as a method to try to slow the horse down, rather, I use roll backs to get the horse to give me a little more impulsion as that is really what they are good for when not working a cow. Half-halts I try to avoid because I want the horse to maintain forward impulsion and not anticipate stopping every time he speeds up. If it is indeed the horse is speeding up on his own, which it rarely is, then I like to stop, wait a few moments and start again until he learns that he has to slow down. Kind of like re-booting the computer.

It is always important that we teach a horse to rate, be it off of us or cattle or when we are leading them. I personally prefer my horse to slow down when I slow down or stop when I stop.

The reason that horses speed up the majority of the time, is because the rider is out of balance and out of sync with the horse. If you are riding a western horse, then you need to slow yourself down and stay in one steady rhythm when you jog your horse, if you are riding English and your horse speeds up while trotting then, there again you need to post in one steady rhythm and not get ahead of your horse. Stay centered on your horse.

I always tell my students that our horses are always compensating for something. They have to balance themselves when we are riding them, if we are off balance then generally the horse will speed up to compensate.

While this may seem an easy feat because they have 4 feet, I bet if you ask the horse, they will tell you it is not so easy. Just watch a horse that is being ridden by a rider that is out of balance and you will see how obvious this all is. The horse may still be able to carry on and perform what is being asked, but it won't be as easy for the horse or as pleasing to the eye of the spectator or judge.

As far as sticking to just one discipline with him, I have shown many horses in multiple disciplines and have never had a problem with that. I think they are happier overall because they do not get bored as easily. Unless there are obvious signs that he his unhappy, then keep on showing him in both.

11 comments:

fernvalley01 said...

Well said , I always ask myself ,what am I doing wrong first , sort of like the quote "Asking the wrong question ,or asking the question wrong" Our tension /irritation can easlily transmit to the horse as well and we begin to anticipate as well. Step back , get in the moment get sat and try again often works for me

Lydia said...

Is the horse possibly on his forehand? My personal "quick fix" for this problem is halt-canter-trot-halt-canter, mixing it up all the time so the horse doesn't know what's next. Transitions, transitions, transitions. Rocks 'em back and keeps 'em interested.

Cut-N-Jump said...

My TB mare lets me know when I am leaning too far forward for her taste-> by speeding up. "You want fast? Ok, here it is! Hang on..."

If I just sit up straight, upper body back in position where I belong, she slows down to where she should be.

Between her and Pal making me position my own body like I should for everything... You would think I would be an incredible rider with flawless equitation.

You can think that at least. I won't stop you. Promise I won't. ROFL!

GoLightly said...

applause...

SFTS said...

I agree with you, Lydia, transitions to keep such a horse guessing is often a good game plan, but making sure the rider is not causing a horse's issue is paramount first. Let's face it, there are no "perfect" riders, and everyone has their moments. ;)

I do use a half-halt with some horses in order to help them understand where their bodies need to be. If done smoothly and correctly I have found they usually don't create an issue with forward motion except in your more insecure horses.

>>> "if you are riding English and your horse speeds up while trotting then, there again you need to post in one steady rhythm and not get ahead of your horse. Stay centered on your horse." <<<

I see this a great deal, even with some Hunter (both on the flat and over fences) trainers ~ allowing their students to continually ride *in front of* their horse. Just like the riders who go into a full two point coming up onto a fence...I know of very few easier ways to be parted from your horse. ;)

Agreed 100% on the showing a specific horse in multiple disciplines, as long as the horse can easily do them and perform correctly for each division. We do it all the time!

Good advice for everyone, Fernvalley.

Okay, I'm off to do some more lessons. :)

JohnieRotten said...

SFTS

You sure do pick the hottest part of the day to go give lessons!

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Lydia said...
Is the horse possibly on his forehand? My personal "quick fix" for this problem is halt-canter-trot-halt-canter, mixing it up all the time so the horse doesn't know what's next. Transitions, transitions, transitions. Rocks 'em back and keeps 'em interested.
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I agree, not a bad way to go. But I like to do most of my training at the walk. I may lope them some, but not that much. The more you work your horses at the faster gaits, the more they want to work at a faster gait. They are afterall, creatures of habit.

SFTS said...

JohnieRotten wrote:
SFTS

You sure do pick the hottest part of the day to go give lessons!

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Well, ya do it when the students are available and the parents want them to ride! ;)

Back in now, enjoying the AC while making dinner...thank heaven for air conditioning!!

JohnieRotten said...

I have always told my clients if it is too hot out here, we do not ride. I hate the thought of overheating a horse.

We always reserved lessons for the early weekend mornings during the summer.

SFTS said...

JohnieRotten wrote:
I have always told my clients if it is too hot out here, we do not ride. I hate the thought of overheating a horse.
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Oh, we absolutely do NOT ride or work horses whatsoever if it's too hot. By the time we were getting horses groomed and saddled, it was about 85. Not bad at all. :)

sweetlillena said...

Excellent on the not overheating them. You actually can kill them by ignoring that!

One additional thing that is helpful when using a stop/set to correct a horse that is accelerating when you don't ask for it (w/ all the caveats on that covered by JR), is to tune in and recognize RIGHT AWAY when they are accelerating and promptly ask them to halt. If you let them go for a while before correcting them then you basically let them get away with this behavior and correct them after the fact, and the point is less clearly made (to them). IMO then they are likely to take it less seriously or connect the dots. If you watch reiners school you will see this done frequently to deal with anticipation issues.

Who Said That? said...

SLL- Absolutely agreed, but they have to make the mistake before you correct it. Otherwise they anticipate constant corrections as well...

I believe that's what JR refered to in the OP about the horse anticipating a stop any time they speed up.

>>Half-halts I try to avoid because I want the horse to maintain forward impulsion and not anticipate stopping every time he speeds up.<<

In reiners especially, I have seen horses 'scotching' in their rundowns from overuse of the stop in practice, when what the trainer/rider actually wants is the horse to rate their speed off the rider and merely slow down.

I have seen similar excited and hyper/racy lead changes from riders over working the horse when practicing their flying changes, (reiners, hunter/jumpers and dressage) instead of keeping things slow, relaxed and simple.

Sometimes the excess speed comes from anxiety and excitement in the horse. Stopping to break that cycle makes perfect sense. Stop, breathe (both of you) and try again only this time calmly and in a relaxed, focused manner.

Of course immediate praise (even if only verbal) when the horse does what you want, helps establish- slow and relaxed is good! This pleases my rider. Eventually the horse may also figure out, slow, calm and relaxed uses less energy and is much easier for them.