Missouri 5 year old Spotted Saddle Horse with 60 days professional Training. Ridden in snaffle and western saddle in round pen by fair rider

Question: My horse pulls on the bit ALL THE TIME. When you  go for a trail ride you come back with arms that feel like they are going to fall off. She is a very spirted horse but
has no bad habits and her ground manners are good. It is as if she wants you to let her go so she can fly across the trail.
She has a good whoa but then will prance and act like she is wanting to go all the time. Would more training help or maybe a different bit. I had the doc check her teeth and
there are no wolf teeth there. Help trail riding isn't much fun anymore.

From Panelists Laura
Here's a simple thing you can try to slow down your filly & teach her to 
carry her own head.  Practice first in a round pen or arena where she may be 
more willing to walk & pay more attention to you.  Loosen up your reins so 
that she has to carry herself (very light or no contact with her mouth).  If 
she speeds up too much, just give a gentle pull until she slows, praise her 
and loosen the reins.  Tell her to walk.  Do this over again many, many times 
until she realizes that when she walks on a loose rein, she can relax & enjoy 
herself.  If she speeds up, she is corrected.

When you go out on the trail, do the same thing you did in the arena (works 
best at first to do this when walking away from home).  Whenever you ask her 
to walk, loosen your reins and let her relax.  Pull her down when she speeds 
up and immediately go back to a loose rein.  It will take a while, but when 
she figures out that it is more comfortable riding on a loose rein, she will 
likely decide that she prefers it.  Be sure to praise & pet her when she is 
walking quietly. 

Don't go for a stronger or more aggresive bit.  It sounds like she pays 
attention & stops well - a harsher bit will just make her more nervous.  Stay 
with what you are already using and just teach her that you want her to relax 
more when you are riding her.


From Panelist Lee

It takes two to make a puller -- the horse, and the rider.  The solution to
this problem is more training, teaching the horse to go on a light rein
(light contact from the rider's hand) and not try to pull.  I would not
change bits, since this is a basic lesson that needs to be taught in the
snaffle ( a shankless snaffle, not a cowboy "curb snaffle") --  if you put
her in a curb she will eventually learn to pull on that if the problem is
not addressed.

Go back into your round pen (or an arena if you  have one).  Ride her at
some speed (in a fast walk to begin with) and as soon as she starts to pull
on the bit, pull backstrongly with your hands on either side of the swell of
the saddle,  once, then relax your fingers and allow the reins to slack a
tiny bit.  If she tries to take off, again use one strong pull, then relax
the tension on the reins.  If she continues to speed up, just continue to
pull strongly then slack off on the reins.  Practice this little exercise
until she moves forward without pulling on you -- and without you pulling
steadily on her to slow her down.  It may take a while. She may be very
confused by your refusal to let her pull on you.  You may be afraid and try
to pull steadily to slow her (that is why you are in the round pen).
Horses tend to lug into a steady pull, not to slow down from it.  So, don't
pull steadily on her mouth.  In a couple of lessons she should be willing to
go around in the pen or arena without pulling on you.  Do not try to take
her out on the trail until she is doing this consistently in a confined area
at a walk and intermediate gait.

Next step -- taking her out on the trail.  Go with a couple of quiet horses
that don't rush on the trail.  Ride her at a slow walk, with them, using the
pulls and slacks on the reins if she tries to speed up or lean on you.  When
that is working well, then speed up to a flat walk for a short time, again
using the pulls and slacks to slow her, never ever allowing her to go with a
steady strong pull on your hands.  Try a few short bursts of intermediate
gait.  Don't let her pull steadily and do not pull on her steadily.  On the
way home, walk slowly (have the other horses also walk slowly). If she gets
antsy, take her in a wide circle, heading away from home, until she settles
down.. Don't let her trick you into holding steady pressure on her mouth to
"control" her on the way home.  Build on the good experience you had on this
ride in future rides, again going with calm, quiet horses.

It will take time to teach her to control herself and to relax on a light
rein.  That is what these little exercises are about -- teaching her control
and teaching yourself not to get into a pulling match with her.

Good luck.

Lee Ziegler

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