My lesson mates decided they wanted to do a trail ride instead of the ring lesson. That was not a problem for me- I'm much more comfortable out on the trail than in a ring. The issue was that the horse I was riding had no brakes, which became most evident when the trainer decided we needed to canter everywhere. The horse I was on got more and more worked up until I practically had to stand on the reins to get him to stop. I really don't like to have to do that.
I, of course, got all smug thinking that my horse is better than that. He stops when I sit back and pick up the reins. But then I remembered: Oh wait, no he doesn't.
He used to, but somewhere along the way I got lenient and started letting him get away with little things until finally he decided he didn't need to listen to me anymore. He started walking off without me asking him, trotting off without me asking him, and finally galloping off without my input. Worse, he'd started bucking when I asked him to canter. That is SO not okay.
But how do I address this problem? Even better question: How do I address this without alienating him? After all, it's my fault he started doing this. He was only doing what horses do- test the boundaries and push them as far as he could. I certainly don't want to punish him for that, that would be completely unfair. On the other hand, I have to do something about it because he's getting unsafe.
This is the part of horse training that nobody really wants to do, I certainly don't want to do it, but avoiding it is how you get into trouble in the first place. I want to work in cooperation with my horses but it takes two to cooperate; if the horse ain't listening I don't have anyone to cooperate with. I needed to prove to him that I was worth listening to.
What I want him to do is travel at the gait I choose on the buckle. If he wants to transition up he can suggest it and then I'll let him know whether it's okay or not. Right now he decides he wants to trot and just starts trotting, saying "la la la, I can't hear you."
Here's what I decided to do: Any time he rushed off without me asking for it he had to circle. I picked up the buckle in one hand, slid my other hand down, picked a point on his neck, and held the rein there until he gave to the pressure. Then I released and give him a chance to stop on his own. If he didn't, I did it again until he decided to stop. In the beginning it took quite a few repetitions before he started looking for the stop. When he found it we stayed in the stop for a while before I asked him to walk off on the buckle. Once he figured out that anytime he rushed off he'd have to circle he settled down and started listening.
Over all I think this worked really well, we got a canter without the bucking and a nice walk back to the barn without any rushing off.. He wasn't happy with me and I can't blame him for that, when you're used to getting your own way you naturally resent the person who changes the rules, but my mechanics weren't making him upset. And, as you can see from the post-ride photo below, this wasn't physically taxing for him.
|certainly not dripping with sweat|