Question: My horse tends to get very strong while we are jumping. I have a twisted D ring but I just feel as though i cannot stop him. Do you have any suggestions for a bit that is not too harsh, yet will help me slow him down? My trainer told me to look into a D ring with hooks but they are all very expensive.
Also, I read some other answers to similar questions like mine, and all the answers state that it is all the riders fault. I would just like you to know that I am a very good rider and I am never harsh on my horses. I just simply cannot find an appropriate bit, and am looking for suggestions. Your help is appreciated!! Thanks! Olivia
Answer from April Reeves: Hello Olivia. Thanks for asking me this question, as I will be honest and keep it real, but it may not be what you want to hear. I urge you to consider my answer, as it is the only way you will fix your problem.
My first suggestion: consider another coach and get the softest bit you can find. I kid you not, and this is why:
When a rider comes to me with a problem like your having over fences, it has nothing to do with bits and everything to do with lack of a good foundation on a horse (and rider). You won’t solve the problem with a harsher bit: it will only slow down the horse for a few days until that bit also becomes useless, as his mouth gets tougher and tougher and he gets stronger and stronger (ie: his brain). I’m not being mean: I’m just keeping it real.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, Hunter/Jumper
Tagged behavior, bitting, bold jumper, collection, english riding, foundation training, horse too fast, horse training, hunter, jumping
Jane Savoie – Should I Ride My Dressage Horse ‘Deep’ or ‘Up’?
You’ve probably heard lots of discussion about whether or not to work your dressage horse “deep.” There are a variety of opinions on the matter. Some riders warm up and cool down their horses “long and low” to stretch and loosen the muscles. Others always school in a balance and frame appropriate to the level at which they are working; they never stretch their horses. Many trainers school in a deep frame only during the movements when the horse habitually comes above the bit. Still others do all of their work “extremely deep” with the horse’s nose almost on his chest; they bring him up only when they are getting ready to compete.
So what should you do with your dressage horse? Use benign antagonism to help you decide.
Question: We recently bought a 3-year-old horse for our daughter. I know it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do but the horse was very quiet and we were assured that he had no problems. He does seem quiet most of the time but every now and then when your not expecting it he will blow up. It’s not a bolt but more of a jumping straight in the air and then striking out. I think he is simply trying to avoid work, but I am worried that someone will get hurt. I am trying to decide if selling this horse now would be my best decision as with a more experienced person I’m sure he will be great, I just want something safe for my daughter (she is 14 and has 6 years experience riding). We are an experienced horse family but if this is likely to progress into a continuous problem I don’t know if we want to deal with it. Thanks for any advice.
Answer from April Reeves: This is one of my favorite questions as I deal with this every day. First, buying a young horse for a young girl who has had time in the saddle does not bother me. This horse does not sound aggressive enough to do any real damage, and in fact may become one of her better ‘teachers’. But the learning curve begins here, as there are differences between a horse below 7 and a horse above 7 that we will discover in this answer.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Natural Horsemanship, Western training answers
Tagged behavior, collection, foundation training, gait, green horse, green rider, Groundwork, horse training, thoroughbred, young horse
Western draped rein
Question: What are the differences between rein aids in Western and English? I have a western horse that I want to teach English. Will he get confused with the two different styles?
Answer from April Reeves: In my world, there are no differences in the basic rein aids. The only difference is the amount of contact you have, as you move up into higher level disciplines. In the dressage and hunter/jumper world, you have connection (contact, on the bit) with a straight line from bit to elbow, and from ½ to 2 pounds of weight in each hand. As you move into collection, the aids may be the same, but the feel changes.
Horses need to learn balance and lateral flexion for slower gaits
Question: I was wondering if you had any tips for me concerning my horse. I have a very typey and sensible 7 yr old QH mare. I would love to do lower level western pleasure with her! Her jog is amazing, she keeps her head perfect and has a very slow legged, reachy, consistant jog. Her lope is very different. She is very quick, but I can get about 4 slow loose reined strides, then she speeds back up and she’s flying. I believe this has to do with the girl that was riding her before I did. She wasn’t a very experienced or strong rider, and let her just do whatever. Any tips?
Answer from April Reeves: When horses speed up at the canter it’s usually a sign they are moving flat without enough spring and too heavy on the forehand. While you are enjoying a slow jog, it may be one of the causes of your problem as horses often lower their heads and move slowly without any form of collection, engagement or spring. While they are able to move slow at the jog, the canter propels them forward into a more suspended gait, and in order to sustain a canter they have to pick up speed.
Question: Hi. I am just starting to teach my 5 year old QH mare about collection (I know, a little late). She is getting the idea of bending her neck, giving to the bit, softening, and her head carriage, but now I want to start getting her to round up her back and drive from behind….but I do not know how to teach that. Could you give me some training tips? Thanks so much. –Erin
Answer from April Reeves: This is one of my longest and most comprehensive answers yet on the foundation and post foundation work and exercises to get a horse light, round and started in collection. This answer takes the mystery out of the difference between connection and collection. It is about one year’s worth of work and exercises anyone in any discipline can do. Enjoy!
Hello Erin. Let’s start with connection. This is where you are with your horse at the moment. Connection is one of three important parts to foundation training. The first is rhythm and cadence, second is supple, and third is connection. I have a scale (or levels) I work with: a good whoa and go button, then rhythm and cadence, suppleness and connection. These are the basic foundations to any horse’s training, regardless of discipline (English or Western).
Connection is different from collection, as it is the exercises you do to get a horse on the bit. To get collection, the horse must first be good at moving on the bit. You must have connection to get collection.
Question: I cannot get my 4-year old to collect. I bought her a year ago, and she had no idea how to give or collect. I have been working with her and she is getting better, but she just doesn’t round her back up. I have been trying to sell her for over 3 months. I have lately been “lunge-bitting” her (where I put her in a snaffle, and tie one rein tightly to her girth, just so her head must be bent, and lunge her) I was told it helps build up muscles and teaches her to soften, but do you have any other tips to teach her to collect. She also rides in a low-port curb, are there any excercies I could do with the curb for collection?
Answer from April Reeves: There are no quick ways to achieve collection. It is only achieved through time with proper suppling and muscle development, and cannot be achieved mechanically.
Think about the word ‘collect’. It means to gather. Think about this word when you begin to train for collection.
Let’s go through the pros and cons of the exercises you are doing now, and give you something to work on with her that will build her up gradually. Because of the state of the market for horses right now, you may have her for some time.