|California 9 year old Rocky Mountain Owner
has ridden her three times, present every they have ridden her. Ridden
in western brow band, have tried reining bit, loose jaw, three jointed
mouth piece, and tried a quick, loose jaw, three jointed mouth piece, low
arch port with roller.They have have used a Sharon Saare endurance saddle,
and a big horn Wintec saddle worked in large paddock, working on round
pen, other than that, miles of dirt roads, desert, they live in the
high desert. Intermediate level rider without much gaited experiance.
Question: We got two horses out from Kentucky. One a gelding,
who goes on light contact. He is not the problem.The mare is a real dynamo,
very fast when she gaits and I am not sure if she is trying to lean
on the bit or trying to get her head down to possible pitch. I have friends
who have TWH's and they seem to lean on the bit. She is hard to stop,
but once she is stopped, stands quiet, not pawing or jigging around.
She also has not been ridden but once in two years before she came to us.
But that was last spring, almost a year ago. If she is trying to
lean on the bit as I have seen some gaited horses, I would not worry. I
am in my fifties and already had one very bad accident, horse, that
left me with brain damage and seizures, so, I don't want to miss
read any signs and get hurt again. She has good ground manners and
stands till you are in the saddle and is asked
From Panelist Steve
Your problem is very common in horses. It is easily soluble in a horse this age.
First, rule out pain. Horses run when in pain. I like the saddles you are using and doubt they could be the problem. Not certain, of course, but wouldn't start looking there.
Have the horse's mouth examined and floated by an expert equine dentist. Ask the hunter jumper or dressage people to recommend a good one. They usually know the best in your area. Be especially concerned about possible deep wolf teeth.
I don't like the bits you are using and I don't like the general approach,
which incidentally, is all too common in this breed. The approach is to
use the bit as a brake and not as a communication device. The bit you are
using is certainly causing the horse pain and the horse is "fleeing" from
it. You probably will respond that you have tried lighter contact but that
it doesn't work. It won't for a while. You need to undo a conditioned response.
You need to communicate to the horse the speed you want to go at through the contact of the bit as a telephone, not as a handbrake. You also need to give the horse confidence that if she speeds up past what you want she will not be hurt in the mouth and that there is no benefit to going fast.
For communication without pain (AND yet, with the ability to be used as a brake during the start of this retraining) I suggest going to a simple broken mouth piece Wonder Bit. All my horses like this bit. It will stop any horse alive. Yet it is gentle in most of its applications, even up to 4-5 ounces of pressure. I would start with this bit. Then move to a plain snaffle. Then to a bitless bridle. And then, to a neck ring. What a wonderful accomplishment !! You can do it.
Spend an afternoon riding the horse in an enclosed space practicing almost nothing but half halts, circles and most important, BACKING. Backing is the most overlooked "gait" in a Walker. Your horse needs to be rewarded with very light pressure and praise as she backs well. Teach the horse to respond to lighter and lighter contact...perhaps down to only 1 or 2 ounces of pressure. And release when the horse responds. The release is the reward telling the horse you like what she is doing.
If she speeds up outside the ring, and she will, ASK her to slow down. No cranking the bit please. If she ignores you (and she might at first), gruffly ask her to slow down with a little bump in the bit and a change in your seat as though you are trying to get her to back up.
If she still refuses, stop and do back ups. Do this everytime she speeds up past what you want. If you have problems stopping her, do tight circles and half halts...eventually she'll figure out that all that work of going forward doesn't get her anywhere. Then do more backing.
Horses listen for whispers and flee from shouting. Remember that whenever you do anything with them.
Stephen B. Chasko,
From Panelist Liz
This is a very good question and one I am finding coming here for correction
a lot the last couple of years. It seems there is a new trend to get these
Rocky's just going really fast all the time. Sometimes into an all out
speed rack instead of the true Rocky mountain gait which is not a fast
gait and excessive speed is to even be penalized in the show ring.
I would recommend teaching her to start at the walk all over again,
a slow one and a faster one so she learns those are the 2 chosen speeds
for a while and not work gait at all until she has the 2 speeds of walks
down and can hold each separately and consistently. When going to gait
ask slowly and if she starts fast bring her back down to the walk.
She sure does sound like she is leaning on the bit and pushing right through
it. Teach her a good whoa signal again from the ground too and use a voice
command to back it up so when she hears this when you are on she will respond
. I say this so she gets a new whoa
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