Halting a chunky cob:)

Crazyhorse

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Nov 27, 2001
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Hi all

I ride a lovely gypsy cob gelding at my riding school where I have my twice weekly lessons. He is fab in everyway, but coming to a halt from walk. He upward transitions are great and he comes back from canter very easily, but trying to get him to halt is soo difficult and he wanders before finally stopping.
I try and use my seat as opposed to reins to stop him, with gentle squeezing on either rein and then close my hands, but he just totally ignores me, and then as a last result I end up having to pull, which I hate doing. This problem is worse when I ride him a group lesson on a Sat when we have a little jump and take turns, as he goes very close to the horse in front, which can be a problem when it is a mare :D My instructor tells me he is ridden in an american gag bit, as he can be very strong, so I am even more aware that I don't want to hurt him. Any advice? It's hard when he is ridden by so many people at the riding school as well!
 

Cutterbug

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Apr 29, 2005
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The best thing i can tell you is to listen to your instructor...because he is not your horse you really cant do anything for it. Some advice when you ask for whoa be verbal and breathe out heavy and sit heavy in your seat bones. Gang bit not good! Your instructor needs to train her/his horse instead of putting them in harsher bits and such. I work with many young head strong horses, i always start from the ground with parelli and then work up from there and havn't had a to use more than a plain snaffle. I use a french 3 piece snaffle so that should tell you something if i ride and train 3 and 4 yr olds with a nice bit and haven't ran into a problem yet. Good luck with him.
 

Leksi

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Jun 7, 2005
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Cutterbug is right, it's very difficult to correct a habit when the horse is not yours. You don't have the freedom and time to work with him!

Basically, this horse does NOT engage his hindquarters. This is something most horses don't naturally do, but can be fixed by many many many downward transitions. Start simple, by going from a walk to a stop. Then trot to walk to stop. This may take a long time since he is used for so many lessons, and many students do not practice these techniques, he is likely to go back to those bad habits. However, once these transitions are smooth and easy, go from a trot to stop. First, work from what he knows. Walk to stop. Trot to walk to stop. Build up his confidence, then ask for a trot, then a stop from the trot. This is what we start all dressage horses on, engaging their hindquarters. Most movements, such as any extended gait, cannot be done correctly unless the horse uses their hindquarters.

The bit is a problem, but luckily not all cues rely on the reins. A lot is in your seat and legs, much more than you think.

As you ask for a downward transition, sit DEEP in the saddle (don't round your back or hunker down, just kind of picture your rump going IN TO the saddle, your weight sinking down and your leg coming off of him). Use your voice with a nice soothing "WHOAA" and pull back with the reins. Increase the pull until he finally slows. The horse will feel this seat and eventually know what it means before any pressure is even applied on the reins. You will find the gag bit will hardly be needed after a while, as barely any pressure will cause him to sit back and downward transition very smoothly. Most horses just flop onto their front legs like bad brakes and take many choppy steps only on their forehand until they stop. Once they realize that sitting on their haunches and relieving the weight on the front end causes a much easier stop, you will get a very balanced horse and smoother gaits.

Many downward transitions will cause this, as they finally begin to sit back. Half halts work well here too, ask for a walk to a stop, then RIGHT back into a walk again. Keep that forward motion and he will begin to use his back end much better. Trot to walk, once he walks, go RIGHT back into the trot. Whenever a horse does as asked, immediately relieve the pressure on the reins. Put your leg on in one smooth movement, don't "poke" or "kick", but apply one constant pressure on him with your leg. If he doesn't move, give a little kick, followed by more pressure. These half halts and full downward transitions will give you that nice, balanced motion you want.

Good luck!
 

Casey76

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Apr 30, 2003
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Are you stopping too? If you want your horse to stop, you must also stop riding :)

Sit deep into the saddle and still your upper body, exhale and relax. And at first you may have to use more hand than you'd like, but usually they soon cotton on to what your asking.

Good luck :)
 

zoelouise

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Oct 14, 2004
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i had the exact same problem when i was riding a heavy weight cob and with being small aswell it made transitions hard also.
when i ride her now i still have the problem of being short lol
but when she wonders are you still sat up or are you just flopping because she has wondered a bit, never change your mind if you want her to stop make sure you get what you ask other wise the next time around she will do it again because she got away with it the last time. so from the begining of lesson do a few halts and get her tuned in to you and what you want and for the rest of the lesson if you dont let her switch off and go into follow mode you should be ok.
 

manfa1

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Jun 30, 2005
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this creeping forward is just a habit the horse has got into and unfortunatly being a riding school horse and having lots of riders makes it near impossible for you to solve because everyone else lets him get away with it or the majority of them do.
 

zoelouise

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he shouldnt be allowed to get away with it thats not helping you be in control at all. you might have to be a bit more firm if you are not in control at doing a halt what else are you not in full control of.
i try to mount first then do some little circles with halts with them whilst everybody else is mounting then i have a little more time to tune the horse into what i want to do today and not what he wants to do ie FOLLOW when a horse follows you are not totally in control because he has switched off.
 

shirley

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Aug 29, 2004
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You said you were trying a gentle squeeze on reins, why not try a more definate squeeze with alternate rein. Rather like squeeze right hand, then left hand and then two together. It is not actually squeezing your whole fist, but using the two middle fingers actually that do the squeezing. Make sure you reins are not too long either or you will have less effect.
Sit tall, push weight down into saddle (as other posts have said), wrap all you leg around as much as you can and say whoa in a long soothing tone. Then voice command to stand. When he does stand give him a nice pat. He get to know gradually what you want. Also think in your mind STOP.
Lesson horses must get a little muddled up at times as to what all different riders want, as although we may all do about the same aids, they probably feel different to the horse. So use your voice commands.
As another post has said if you can do this for several minutes to walk on, then halt, walk on and halt. Do it every few strides, he will soon learn what you want and how you ask for stop and adjust.
My cob thinks occasionally he can 'forget', but this is what I do and after a number of minutes he 'remembers' well enough again.
Good luck.
 
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