Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

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Xanthoria
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Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Xanthoria » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:49 pm

Baby Bronto is a big guy for me - 17.1 and 1400# or so, and long (87" blanket) so we have issues with inertia...

Thanks to the relative impulsion level, I am able to get some nice trot-halt transitions when he stops lightly, promptly, gathered and ready to go.

Walk-halt is another matter. Usually we get:

1. Dribble to halt, leaning heavily on hand and pulling me out of the saddle
2. Yawing and reefing at the bit at halt
3. Setting the jaw one side or other during work is another issue

I'm inclined to think that 1. is about preparation and impulsion and 2. is about being rude. Part of me wants to try this with side reins... 3. well... I ask for flexion to whatever side he's setting his jaw on using a pulsing rein aid but it doesn't seem to effect a cure.

I don't seem to be seeing much change here. In lessons we can improve walk-halts, with lots of trot transitions and getting him off the inside leg, but it takes a lot to get an active walk and it's all too easy to end up halting with 10# in my hands. At that stage a rein back is impossible too (trot-halt-rein back-trot being a fave of mine)

Any hot tips to improve or is it a matter of incremental gain?

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Tsavo » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:42 pm

Do NOT think this is a case for incremental gain. The quicker you solve this the easier it will be solve. You can solve this in one or two sessions. Preferably one.

I think you first have to quash in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS pulling you out of the tack. I went through that 10 years ago and it was frustrating at the time. You have to learn das kreuz to prevent this. Successfully hold yourself 2 or 3 times where your horse hits himself in the mouth and he will likely stop. You have to have this pulling translate to him hitting himself in the mouth every time to stop it.

http://www.ridingart.com/Discovering%20Your%20Keuz.pdf

In re walk-halt, it sounds like there is no clear point of aid in time. You have to have a little set up and then the aid and then expect the halt. If your horse doesn't have an aid for a halt, teach him one. My horse will halt from stilling my seat or lengthening my hamstrings or breathing out.

Once you have the set up to alert him to the halt aid that comes soon thereafter, lightening your seat so that he might take that as an aid to halt square. Or sit deeper. Find the right answer for your horse. Do not tolerate hanging on the bit or crossing his jaw. I would kick him forward (into next week) every time he did either one of those things. I have never dealt with the jaw thing so I probably don't know what I'm talking about here! I am just saying that is what I would try. And I would ride him in position at all times. It may be much harder to do the jaw thing if he is maximally flexed. I don't know. I like preventatives. A horse who is bent physically can't invert for example. Problem solved.

You have to decide that today is the first day you will not let your horse take over the contact. The sooner you do this the easier it will be. No prisoners at all on this issue. It is not hard for a horse to refrain from these things so expect it right away.

Just my opinion. And good luck.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Moutaineer » Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:43 am

I think your answer is in your title...

That thing about things being the law, not a suggestion.

You've got to make your point, get it done and get it over with. He's going to be surprised and you are going to feel mean, but really, stringing this out will just make you both miserable for longer.

I had a form of this discussion in my lesson today. When I ride with intention and the expectation that I am going to get what I am asking for (and actually ask for it) then things go so much better, and my horse is quite happy to have someone else in charge rather than him.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Tsavo » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:10 am

Xan, is today the first day of the rest of your life not being yanked out of the tack? It can be.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:20 pm

Xan, I'm going to re-post some old notes from JJ Tate's teaching that I think might be useful to you (and they are always useful to me to remember!):

In training, horses *cannot learn* that:
-They can take their neck away from us, or
-They can gain rein,
-They can open their neck and get the rider's elbow to open, or
-They can pull on the reins and the rider's seat gets lighter.

As the trainer/rider of a younger horse, it is your job to teach them this (and with re-train projects, it is a harder job to teach them these things!)

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby musical comedy » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:32 pm

piedmontfields wrote:Xan, I'm going to re-post some old notes from JJ Tate's teaching that I think might be useful to you (and they are always useful to me to remember!):

In training, horses *cannot learn* that:
-They can take their neck away from us, or
-They can gain rein,
-They can open their neck and get the rider's elbow to open, or
-They can pull on the reins and the rider's seat gets lighter.

As the trainer/rider of a younger horse, it is your job to teach them this (and with re-train projects, it is a harder job to teach them these things!)
While I agree with this in general, what about a case where the rider has the reins too short and is expecting the horse to tolerate working into such short contact when said horse is not strong enough or does not have the ability to do so.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:52 pm

musical comedy wrote: While I agree with this in general, what about a case where the rider has the reins too short and is expecting the horse to tolerate working into such short contact when said horse is not strong enough or does not have the ability to do so.


Oh, absolutely true. These notes are really about just about teaching the horse the basic parameters of the reins. I have seen JJ teach these principles when 1. people are experiencing what Xan described and 2. people are avoiding contact with the reins and allowing the horse full range of head/neck evasions.

And of course the solution lies in the seat (which supports the elbows/hands).

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Flight » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:10 pm

Have you tried not pulling at all? Bear with me here .. I have a big strong horse and went through that. During the transition, he would do the same and I was getting frustrated and realised so was he. So, his trot/walk were good, because they are off my seat. So did the same for walk. No hand, just (I use my thigh) seat and no pulling. The trans might take longer at first to happen, but they learn.
Also the reefing at halt. Try using you leg or a touch with the whip, rather than trying to pull and hold with the reins.
When my guy gets tense in the neck/mouth, I push him laterally - Shoulder in on the circle is my go to.
I can show you vid of all this happening if it doesn't make sense.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Tsavo » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:19 pm

I missed that about Xan pulling to halt. I don't think that will work. Try leg and maybe whip into a fixed hand.

It is every rider's job to eventually banish all backward hand.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Xanthoria » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:53 pm

Great suggestions here. I recall having been here with a horse years ago and I fixed that by letting him reef himself into a fixed hand a couple times.

So that’s the reefing. And for all his yawing and messing at halt (and walking on the trail he’s a real tourist too) I think just not letting him “off the bit” till I am ready is key.

But then there’s the walk-halt.

I don’t think I’m pulling back. His ginormous suitcase head just grinds down and hits my holding hand and drags me off balance. If I add leg it’s like trying to stop a snow plow. I’ve tried on a totally loose rein too and he kinda blows me off.

I have tried halting off the seat as I do at trot: core stills, thighs close, look up and down he sits. It’s great!

I can’t get a prompt halt on the lunge either. I might have to work on it more in hand, and better connect it to a voice aid first.

So, I think I’ll try a prompt trot transition if he tries to drag me down again, as it really feels like the lack of impulsion affects his balance and makes it so hard for him to stop. I give loads of praise for a good walk- halt but it’s so frustrating that he’s not getting this!

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Tsavo » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:59 am

Xanthoria wrote:I can’t get a prompt halt on the lunge either. I might have to work on it more in hand, and better connect it to a voice aid first.


These are both great ideas that are likely to help in my opinion.

So, I think I’ll try a prompt trot transition if he tries to drag me down again, as it really feels like the lack of impulsion affects his balance and makes it so hard for him to stop. I give loads of praise for a good walk- halt but it’s so frustrating that he’s not getting this!


Try LYing him one step during the halt. Or halt him in SI or travers position. That will give him something to think about instead of blowing through your aids.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Flight » Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:41 am

If you've got a decent arena wall, turn him into it. Dont increase the pressure, just ask for halt and if he doesn't then tip his head into the wall. He'll stop.
Also, my guys walk halts are at better at the end of the session, not the start. He's a bit not interested (or balanced probably) at the start.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby heddylamar » Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:32 am

For #3, I have a flow chart of things I do until the horse gets the idea that they should respect my leg — it's not pretty or subtle. On a related note, I presume his teeth have been checked relatively recently?

Riding as you normally would (outside aids + inside aids), horse does #3:
a. Lift the attacked hand straight up; if it breaks the set jaw, continue riding, if not try "b"
b. Shoulder in; if it breaks the set jaw, continue riding, if not try "c"
c. Exaggerated counter bend; if it breaks the set jaw, continue riding, if not try "d"
d. Head to knee (go in direction of set jaw), kicking with the now inside leg, drop inside rein as soon as horse is on teeny circle, continue into spiral

I did a lot of repeated "d" today until Maia decided we could canter w/o her having a death grip on the inside rein ........ she did figure it out. We had a decent canter.

Youngsters can be exhausting.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Xanthoria » Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:10 am

heddylamar wrote:Youngsters can be exhausting.


Ain’t dat de troof!

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Xanthoria » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:41 pm

OK, we have progress.

I did some in hand work, connecting "aaaand HO" to halt. I am not asking for a walk/halt until the end of a session and they are much better. I am no longer tolerating yawing and reefing: if consistent, they disappear. If I use more leg, I get better halts

I am being firm about MARCHING walk, and we have been working on canter/walk which ends up being canter-trot/halt. But the idea is getting there.

I have also been working on getting him to keep his head up and open in canter. He likes to lollop along with his head curled down, but if I lift my hands UP, find the contact there, then praise and send him forwards, he gets the idea.

Which brings me to another issue: canter. Inertia is a powerful force he cannot resist in canter. Aside from the slow and curled, he has a really hard time dragging himself around the ring and it's a one-speed dirge of a canter. I have been using canter poles at different distances to encourage him to open and compress his stride, weekly jumping sessions and trots up the hill, but 5 mins of canter in a ride feels like HE WILL DIE and perhaps SO WILL I.

Can I send him to the race track for training? :mrgreen: :lol: :P

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby musical comedy » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:55 pm

Maybe with his pssm, etc. he is not cut out for what it is you want to do.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Rosie B » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:11 pm

He’s a young horse and he’s very big. It’ll take time for him to build strength, comfort, and balance in the canter. Be patient. :)

Bliss was 6 before he could sustain canter comfortably on the longe for more than one or two circles, and he’s significantly smaller than baby bronto, but of similar build.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Sue B » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:41 pm

Patience, grasshopper, patience. :lol: ;)

This too shall pass as he develops the strength and coordination he needs.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:52 am

musical comedy wrote:Maybe with his pssm, etc. he is not cut out for what it is you want to do.


While this is something to really manage, I suspect it is more developmental (strength building), given other descriptions of how well the PSSM is managed by Xan. Of course, in eventing land it may become clear that a certain level of fitness/xc speed is a good match for the mature bronto.
My POV may be warped by my PSSM mare who casually did 20 minutes of canter work in the arena tonight after being a bit silly on an easy hack/field ride.

I will try to post some notes from the de Kunffy clinic tomorrow. There is good guidance on dealing with curling including on young horses.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Flight » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:25 am

Ha, it's taken forever for my big guy to stop cantering like a wheelbarrow!! Keep chipping away at it :D

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby Xanthoria » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:51 pm

"cantering like a wheelbarrow" :lol: :lol: :lol:

I admit when I saw your post musical comedy I was back to feeling crushed. I felt that way the first year after his diagnosis. How much of what he's doing is PSSM? Shivers? Baby horse? Useless trainer (me)? Diet still wrong? WHAT am I doing WRONG? How did I look SO LONG and try SO HARD to buy a sound horse and end up with one that's buggered? And if only he wasn't such a sweetie... and I was a different person... I'd get rid of him (how?) and buy another horse (how?) and do what I really, really want to do.

So I composed a few snappy replies and deleted them when I remembered an important fact: wine exists. :mrgreen:

Anyway, post wine/post sleep, I can see others are reminding me 6 is young for a Bronto, and yes, his PSSM is managed pretty damn well (thanks in no small part to all your advice piedmont) and he's not sellable, nor would I give him away, nor can I afford another horse right now. I'm excited by his progress, I'm proud I'm able to more or less DIY this, and he's showing up for work every day with a smile.

He's never going Prelim eventing. He's no firebrand. Unless a potential eventer and the money to keep it falls in my lap... here we are!

Anyway it's jump night tonight. We will haul ourselves over 2' gymnastics just to spite gravity. Cue fight music!

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby demi » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:20 pm

Xanthoria wrote:
Anyway, post wine/post sleep, I can see others are reminding me 6 is young for a Bronto, and yes, his PSSM is managed pretty damn well (thanks in no small part to all your advice piedmont) and he's not sellable, nor would I give him away, nor can I afford another horse right now. I'm excited by his progress, I'm proud I'm able to more or less DIY this, and he's showing up for work every day with a smile.

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GOOD FOR YOU XAN!!! The bronto is an awesome horse and you’re and awesome owner. I think we will see some nice results from the two of you. He will take a lot of hard work, but what horse doesn’t?? You’ve already shown that you are able to ride and aren’t afraid of hard work. Go get em.

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Re: Gravity is a law, not a suggestion

Postby piedmontfields » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:06 am

"Never going Prelim?!" aka no problem. You've totally got this.

Go to a recognized dressage show sometime (now, at training level) and see what you've got. I suspect you'll be pleased.


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