Training Question

I recently purchased a 10yo 16.2hh Dutch WB/TB cross gelding. Story is he came from a dressage farm a little over a year ago, sat for a couple of months and has been doing hunter type stuff since. When I went to look at him he was being ridden in a pelham with 2 sets of reins and a standing martingale. He has a large under-neck muscle and tends to get quite high in the head when ridden. Since I brough him home, I have ridden him in only a french-link snaffle and he seems to be much happier. He is a big guy and can get quick (not that I am too worried about him taking off) however with his head up so high and his tendancy to rush, it does make me a little uneasy. I am unsure where to start with him… he seems so over-reactive to the bit and any pressure to his mouth at all… I just want to help him begin working through his back and reaching down in his head/neck without too much rushing. Ideas? Suggestions? Any and all would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks so much.

Are you working with a trainer? There are so many components (including rider influence) to your situation that it’s a bit difficult to comment without a video.

Finding a trainer who will work with you to establish the base of the “training pyramid” would be the best way to sort it all out. What you and your horse need is to work on getting the basics corrected, starting with rhythm and relaxation…moving on to contact, bending and finally…connection.

Jane Savoie’s videos have helped many people as supplemental tools…but a competent trainer who gives you systematic homework is your best bet.

I agree… I do have a great trainer who comes out to the farm.

The difficult thing is, is that so far… he rarely offers to stretch down. With side-reins on the lunge or under saddle. He surely can do it, as he does it while being lead… basically will drag his nose on the ground…hahaha, but isnt relaxed enough while working.

I would start with confirming that his teeth, tongue and bars are ok. Then a saddle fit to double check that. consider treating for ulcers. take his food back to the very basics, good quality grass and timothy hay.

Then you have to start over in the training

quiet lunging ( no side reins) at trot over one or 2 polls spaced on either side of a large circle. Encourage horse to reach and look at the polls, use your voice for encouragement and praise. Try to establish on the ground the use of the voice as praise and reward.

Mounted; a steady trot on long or loose rein, encouraging reaching to the bit. If he gets quick establish the correct pace first via your seat and voice.

Put in a lot change of direction across the diagonals and when he is steadier a fair amount of flat serpintine.

Free walk on long rein, again praise reach

If your can, some work outside the ring over changing ground, again encourage him to look and reach and relax.

Hard to say with so little information, but I would consider having a body worker or massage therapist check him out to see if some of the tension in his back can be relieved that way to allow him to stretch, then do some TTEAM-type ground exercises in which he has to look at where he is putting his feet to help him develop new patterns of moving with his head low.

Once that is done I would either longe in long side-reins to establish that contact is not something to be feared, or ride with aids coming almost exclusively from seat and leg until he relaxes and realizes contact is not to be feared, but which or what combination would depend on the horse, so I’ll second arlosmine and suggest you ask your trainer.

I’d be willing to bet he’s had to put up with riders who hang on the reins or overuse them.

Along with what others have said (especially teeth/mouth and saddle fit), trust is an issue. He’ll have to learn to trust you and that you won’t hurt him. I think once you have that, the relaxation will happen and progress will be made.

[QUOTE=arlosmine;7689757]Are you working with a trainer? There are so many components (including rider influence) to your situation that it’s a bit difficult to comment without a video.

Finding a trainer who will work with you to establish the base of the “training pyramid” would be the best way to sort it all out. What you and your horse need is to work on getting the basics corrected, starting with rhythm and relaxation…moving on to contact, bending and finally…connection.

Jane Savoie’s videos have helped many people as supplemental tools…but a competent trainer who gives you systematic homework is your best bet.[/QUOTE]

I second this advice, as well as making sure he’s looked over for any physical issues. If teeth and body check out ok, then another suggestion would be to put him in a chambon and lunge him in that for a good several weeks. Take it slow. Allow him to figure out on his own how to stretch down and use his back. After that, I’d also suggest some long lining as that could be useful.

Agree to having his teeth / mouth checked and a visit from a qualified chiro / massage person, then get your saddle fit checked.