Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Alright blog-iends, I need your advice.

Pony can get a little hot.  Some days she's totally normal, and some days she has more trouble than others.

I can usually always deal with her, its not really a big deal.  I have, however, been having one main struggle that I am finally admitting I need some advice on.  I have a lesson with my trainer tomorrow, and I will in fact talk to her about it, but the truth is, that I am doing everything correctly, and really need some crazy off the wall suggestion.

Her biggest problem is that after we lope, her trot gets CRAZY.  

She will have a huge bouncy trot, then realize that we aren't going to canter again and slow down to a barely moving trot, then try and get really really big and fast again, and I have SUCH a hard time managing her trot after the canter.

She anticipates the canter, and I have done a heck of a lot of stuff to let her know that we don't always canter.

Here are the things that will probably be the first suggestions that people have, that I have in fact been doing :

- We don't always lope from the same spot.  Sometimes its a corner, sometimes its a straight, sometimes we lope in a line, sometimes we do small circles, sometimes we do big circles, etc.
- We don't always lope from the same gait.  Sometimes its from a halt, sometimes its from a walk, sometimes its from a trot.
- I do a lot of trot work, its not like the only time we trot is when I'm getting ready for a lope.
- We don't always do the same thing before we lope.  For example, we don't always do a figure 8 trot and then lope, or do two circles and lope, or anything.
- After we get done loping, we do a lot of trot work before she gets to cool out at a walk.
- I never ask her for a lope again if she's doing a crazy trot.  I always wait until she calmed down and focused on me, so clearly I am telling her that she will get what she wants when she settles down.

Basically, I switch it up a lot and give her different stuff to do and definitely do not make a set routine.  She just really wants to lope.  A lot of times, when I am posting after we lope if shes giving me a crazy trot, she will just start to lope again, I will relax and close my fingers, and she gives me the slowest most pathetic lope I have ever felt, and I know she knows what I want.

Anyways, does anyone have any off the wall advice with what to do? Ripping her mouth off won't help, she will get pissed and end up crazy trotting the second I give her reins again, its really a matter of getting her refocused, and she has been getting better about this.  Maybe once every 5 rides she will do this, its definitely not every time.  I think part of it is that usually she does this most at night, when she has food in her corral, and I think she thinks that the faster she gets through the ride the faster she can go back and eat.

I think it will take more time of me riding her, its still only been a few months since I've been riding her. She is still figuring me out, maybe she thinks if she does it long enough, she will get away with it....not with me my darling pony :)


  1. I cant remember how old this pony is, anyway. Sounds to me like she is confused. Sometimes any horse etc, has a time when they become Lost, within their own mind, I would suggest the following. (they are only suggestions)
    Cease all hard feed. Some feeds are "heating".Until you have a period where she has had no grain for some days.
    Check all Tack.
    Ease back on the arena work, some horses are not able to cope with this, especially if it might be new.
    Change the tempo within yourself, relax more, dont do all these gaits, go for a walk with the Pony, ride her quietly, get to understand her, how she moves, what she likes and what she hates.
    Dont apply pressure, where none is needed. That is to say, ask her to comply, if she doesnt stop, go back and repeat. once done to a reasonable standard, stop, leave it alone.
    Personally? I dont do arena work, all mine id done out while actually riding somewhere. Its fun, the pony doesnt see it as work, and there are no feed distractions, finally, she could just be a strong minded mare, in which case? Settle in for a period of adjustment for both of you. Tom Dorrance book, True horsemanship Through Feel, has some excellent advice.
    BTW, dont despair, keep plugging away, remember, if one way doesnt work, look for another.

    1. Thanks!!!

      Pony is 14, but she was pulled off of BLM land as a yearling, and not broke until she was 8, so she's unlike any horse I've ever ridden before, shes so odd!

      She actually doesn't get grained more than once every few weeks, she's kinda chunky right now and she doesn't need it unless she's getting a supplement with it.

      We definitely do have rides when we only walk and trot, or rides where we only walk.

      I think part of it may be that we need to get out on the trails! WIth winter and the days being so short, I've had a tough time finding a day that the trails aren't slick with mud, and the nice days are the ones that I work all day and don't get out until dark! So frustrating! But that is definitely something to think about.

      I will definitely check that book out, she is WAY strong minded, but also the sweetest most sensitive mare, and the 'firmer' you get, the more she shuts down and gets mad/frustrated, so its all a test in 'how subtle can i be'

      She has gotten better since we started working together, so I think some more hard work will help.

      Plus, all horses have bad days, right?

  2. Argh!!!! I had to close and reopen your page 4 times to be able to comment. Not your fault, but dang I am fed up with computers these days!

    Anyway, I think you found your common denominator in your second to last paragraph. Also I agree, ripping her mouth off is never the right answer.
    I wish I was a better rider and had a good fix it answer for you. I am not, so I do not. What I do know is where I would go first for an answer. I do not know if you follow Kate's blog at "A Year With Horses" but she literally has fantastic information on cantering, and transitions, and just riding in general. She has a ton of good stuff on her page and I suspect that if you couldn't find something already written on her page about your issue, if you asked she might have some good idea's.
    Here is a link So although I don't have answer, perhaps I have been able to give you a push in a good direction.

    1. Oh no! When logging into blogger I saw the beginning of a rant on internet that I look forward to reading!

      I will definitely look at her blog! Thank you!

  3. I had the same issues with m Razz horse. She loves to go fast, she is always anticipating me asking her to go fast. I have no real solution, lol. But how long do ou lope for? I thought I was loping enough but then I took her outside and we loped for 8 miles! before she even thought to slow down. So next time we rode inside I made her lope till she was tired and thinking of quiting then I made her lope longer. Sure made a difference the next time she wasnt so excited to go fast cause it wasnt as much fun. I dunno if it will help, but might be worth a try?

    1. Wow that's so funny they sound so similar! My problem with that is that pony will literally run until her heart explodes. When she's running she doesn't realize that she's getting tired, she just gets ok this totally different mind set. My solution to this, which might work for you too, is that I do a lot of lope, then have her walk or trot, then lope again, then walk or trot, and by giving her this mini break she realizes that she really is tired. Like, I'll have her lope the arena, walk a circle at the end, then lope a few more laps, then one more circle. So it's not enough for her to regain energy, just enough for her to be like what the heck this is tough! That might work for you too!

  4. In my experience most people are misunderstanding what is happening when their horse is trying to jump into a lope constantly. I haven't seen you ride so I can't be sure, but to me it sounds like your pony is anxious about loping, and her answer to her anxiety is to try to run away when she thinks you're going to ask her to lope. (Of course this isn't good logic, but horses aren't the most rational of creatures. :)) I have known a lot of horses that go to pieces once asked to lope simply because their only experiences with loping involve fear and pain and confusion. Even if you ride the lope well, your pony might have a lot of bad memories from other riders that could take a lot of patience and support for you to help her through.

    Particularly with a sensitive horse, it's important to teach them that loping is just another gait. If I were you, I'd first and foremost focus on making the lope safe and comfortable. To do this, I would intersperse short periods of loping with focused, productive trot work. So if things are going nicely at the trot, you might ask for a lope. Once she picks it up your job is to get out of her way entirely. If you can, pet her neck while she's going. Do not hang on her mouth or kick or try to moderate her pace. Just let her lope for a while. Ideally, you won't even steer her, just let her learn that she can be in a lope without interference. If she drops the lope on her own, let her. If she's quiet, you could even stop her and let her rest at that point, so she learns to can come out of the lope to a nice, relaxed, safe place.

    If you're loping for a while and she's not inclined to stop, go ahead and ask for the trot. If at any point she goes into a crazy fast trot, don't try to slow her down, just move her into a short, sharp figure-eight. You can use the bends both to help slow her down and to make her think. Short circles are often comforting for horses, and it's quite difficult for them to stay upset if they are working on something specific and challenging. So just work the figure-eight until you've got her in a nice rhythm and she's calmer (sometimes this can take a loooong time). Once your horse is quite and relaxed again, you can then point up the rail and do a bit more loping. But the key is to do all of this on a loose rein and to stay relaxed yourself, otherwise you will build more anxiety, not less.

    Almost every horse I've ever seen with runaway tendencies developed them as a defensive response to a rider who could not let go of the reins. Again, it's hard to know for sure what is up with your mare since I've never see her, but I have had good luck with this strategy in the past with anxious, chargey horses, so at any rate it might be worth a shot for you. :)

    1. Thank you so much for your awesome advice!!

      I definitely have thought about how it could be a reaction to fear, I did have some problems with her that ended up being saddle pad problems, but she was much better after I switched that (wool pads just, ruffle her, its really weird, she can only use fleece ahah).

      I actually ride on a ridiculously long rein, and have been told by a few trainers that I have really soft hands, so I know I am not hanging on her mouth.

      My trainer got her as a gentled but never ridden 8 year old BLM mustang, and has broken her and only had a handful of other riders on her in the 6 years she's had her, so I don't think its a pain thing, or a bad association thing.

      I think she just REALLY enjoys running, and thats just her personality, and like I said, I have noticed that it seems to be happening mostly at night when she has food in her stall waiting for her and she knows it.

      She's such a weird mare, everything about her! It was funny, I had a lesson with my trainer the next day, and of course she was a perfect princess for my lesson. No fast trot, no trying to lope, nothing.

      My trainer jokes that she never sees it when we have a bad day.

      I am hoping that the longer I work with her (I've been riding her about 3 or 4 months now) the more she will get used to me and stop doing it, because she was worse about it when I first started riding her, but she is figuring me out and how much I ask of her and such.

      Thank you!


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