Monday, June 10, 2013


So I have been on vacation since last Thursday. We're spending ten days in Georgia and South Carolina. This time, it's just me and my mom, which has been awesome. 

I still think that something is going on with Ponys back left, something that simply makes her uncomfortable somehow when we're on that left lead, but obviously for now, she's getting some time off, and lets be honest, I can't really afford to have anyone look at her, so for now well just see how it goes! 

My trainer jumped on her the other day when I told her what I thought was up, and she rode her around a bunch and said she thought she feels fine. But honestly, I get frustrated by the way my trainer rides pony. She is super soft and gentle with all horses, but much more aggressive with pony. So, while she didn't feel any difference between her gaits, pony was all hyped up and basically doing a hand gallop around. When I ride her, she gives me a nice lope, so it makes sense that I would be able to feel her differences better. 

My trainer got really fussy with her mouth, and said it feels like I haven't been riding her much asking her to use her hind end and collecting her up. Well, that's true, I haven't. 

Pony gets really aggravated when you start fussing with her mouth. She's really responsive, but she is hard mouthed if that makes sense. 

Basically, she gets attitude, and tosses her head and speeds up and gets mad. I normally ride her with contact on her mouth and a lot of body language. She is sensitive, but at the same time, she needs a LOT of support from her rider. (Such a complicated little feral thing). So, while I give her very gentle contact, I rarely ask her to step under and collect herself more, because the second you start to get on the reins, she gets mad. 

Obviously, I have not been the problem. My trainer said she knows that she started her incorrectly now, and she has been like that forever. (It's amazing this mustang that wasn't broke until she was 8 is broke at all!) Since I have soft hands (really, my best accolade in riding) and she has calmed down so much with me, I'm ready to start getting her soft in the face. 

Honestly it's not something I thought a whole lot about before now with her. She is so good, and listens to me so well of of body alone, that I've been focusing a lot on simply working on my own riding and seat and getting her responsive to exactly what I want with as little as possible. 

But, I do think that she needs to be able to be soft in the face, and be able to collect when I ask her to. 

So, I am going to chronicle this with blog posts from the beginning. 

My question for you faithful blog readers is to give me your tips and tricks for getting a horse soft in the face. 

Here's the funny thing with her. 

- lunging her, the second she feels an ounce of pressure on the line, she'll stop and look at you. 
- leading her, there never needs to be any pressure on her at all. 
 - she is great at flexing. She'll flex with a bit laterally, she'll flex in a halter laterally, she'll flex freely if I have her in the round pen and ask her to. 
- she has no teeth problems, she's just as bad at it in a halter as she is with a bit
- she just has attitude! She doesn't like having her face touched, and she lets you know!

So please, give me your advice on tips and exercises. Obviously, I understand only doing 1% a day, and giving her release as soon as she gives me what I'm asking, and of course I have heard of gently see sawing the reins, and also using the reins like 'sponges' to take up contact, gently squeezing them. 

Also, does anyone have any qualms about teaching them to give their face in a hackamore vs a bridle. She is so sensitive to me and my body, that we ride about 50% in a bridle and 50% in a halter with a rope tied to it. 


  1. I cannot speak on the bit vs. hackamore part, but I can tell you what MK did for Trax.
    As we rode forward he would shorten up one rein and ask him to flex at the jaw. Not just down but to the side. The minute he gave, then of course he was released. Sometimes it was confusing because Trax would want to stop or turn, so we had to keep driving him forward with our legs. We still work on this every ride. Sometimes it helps to use the wall as a guide. I point his nose towards the wall but ask him to keep going forward. As soon as he softens then release the pressure. But I had to learn the difference between releasing and totally throwing him away. It was the difference between more and less contact.
    Once we got that down pretty good he had me doing serpentine's but they were more like 2-tracking first to the left and then to the right and then back again.
    Mark says you can't have vertical flex with out the lateral as well.
    Hope that helps.

  2. I totally agree with Cindy, it all starts with lateral flex. Have her giving to the side long before ever asking to give down. And when you want her to give down, don't necessarily pull harder, just push her into the bit, cause real collection has nothing to do with where the head is. I dont think it matters what you ride in, as long as she is responding it should work. I hope this makes sense, I am not a very good explainer, usually I know what I want to do but cant explain it real well.


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