The questions that came in seem to run on the same theme. I should be able to cover them in one post.
I have to stress, my advice on hot horses that are lugging and pulling, and sometimes bucking is be careful!
I know we're talking different levels of ability and experience here.
As a middle of the road trainer, I am given lots of hot horses to "fix". I've gotten pretty good at it, but as I have said before, I can't change who a horse is. I guess I can if I break them down, but I don't go there.
Riding a hot horse is a continual, ongoing thing. The horse will always have to be reminded that jiggling, jumping, speeding up, etc., is not what we're doing here.
I happen to like a lively horse. They're usually smart and engaging, and I like to ride a work in progress. Plus, it makes me look cool.
I am known for how quiet my horses are. Most of them are fair to middling hot potatoes. But they know the rules, I try really hard to be consistant, and I spend lots of quiet time with them. They appear really quiet.
So here we go.
I got a really nice horse in for an evaluation. Ted is a pretty, stout, put together bay. He came off of the BarJP Ranch, out of a dynamite stud, Little Dors Lena. If you want to check out a good site here it is, http://www.barjpqh.com/.
The Big K had started him, and he had done a couple three year old futurities.
His latest owner, Lyn, had spent some pretty good dough for him.
Ted had a lot of training on him, but not a lot of time. And he was hot. Lyn soon had a rearing, bucking, charging mess. She couldn't even lead him, he would play and goof, and just cause trouble.
He had been to a NH guy who didn't ride him, but worked him in the round pen for 30 days. Ted thought that was great fun, did well, went home, and ate poor Lyn for lunch.
When I met her, she had him in for training at the Big K's. Another on site trainer (like me) had him for 60 days. He rode him, but Lyn still couldn't.
She switched to me because she noticed how quiet my horses were. And the fact that my daughter showed her how to slap Ted into shape when she led him. It took five minutes to get Ted leading around like he should.
Lyn said, "Where did you learn how to do that?"
"My mom taught me."
"Where's your Mom?"
I swear, I didn't steal her, she jumped ship. The other trainer forgave me eventually.
I asked her, "What do you want from this horse?"
"I just want to enjoy him. If I want to go trail riding with girlfriends, I think he should do that, and not act like a dumb ass the entire ride."
Lyn started lessons with me, and they were going pretty good. His ground manners improved, and she could walk, trot, lope, and not get massacred.
I liked Ted, to be honest, I thought he was funny. There was no meanness to him, just a lot of horse. His sense of humor was going to get him sent down the road though.
He really gave Lynn a rough time.
Finally she asked me to ride him.
"I'm going to be on vacation for two weeks. How about you ride him, decide if he's fixable, and when I get back, I'll come ride with you and we'll go from there."
So here came Ted.
I knew he could be good. He just needed new rules that made sense.
I saddled him up, and longed him. I am pretty strict about horses bucking under saddle.
If I don't tack them up, they can play, and buck and yahoo around.
Once they have a saddle on, we're at work.
Ted didn't agree with my plan. He took off, bucking and leaping, and dragging me around.
I got out one of my secret weapons, my big long rope.
It's fifty feet of thick, soft cotton rope.
I have a loop tied at one end.
I use it for a myriad of things, that day it was a bucking rope.
I put it around Ted, and ran one end through the loop. It made a loose noose that I slid behind the saddle, so it hung around his flanks.
I sent him out on the longe line, where of course, not appreciating the rope around his flanks, he proceeded to buck.
I pulled the bucking rope tight. Ted went a little nuts.
I hung on, the noose stayed tight, and I kept yanking on the longe line and the bucking rope.
This is easier in a round pen, but I don't have one, so we just wrestled around the arena.
As soon as Ted stopped to catch his breath, I loosened the noose.
He took off again, threw out a kick, and I pulled the noose tight.
Ted was fat, and smart. So he figured out that I was going to pull that noose tight every time he bucked. He really didn't want to work that hard, so he started to lope around nice and easy on the longe line.
My first point was well taken, no bucking under saddle.
Then I bridled the very foamy and wheezing Ted, and got on.
I put him on the rail, and threw out my reins. He immediately took off.
I pulled him into the rail and essentially did a roll back.
I didn't execute a proper roll back though. I just yanked him through it like a dude on a rent-a-plug.
As we turned the other way, he walked for a step or two. I made sure he was on a very loose rein, and that my body was relaxed and quiet.
He took off again, and I yanked him into the rail again, and released my rein as soon as he walked that step or two.
We did this for a while. Ted couldn't believe I wasn't hanging on his face. To him, a loose rein meant go.
I realized he expected me to work him hard, he had no idea his behavior was causing Lyn to hold him in all the time. He was worried. He had no clue what anybody wanted. He would gas up in anticipation of the tight hold he was normally ridden with.
So I kept it up. I can't give you an exact time frame,( training is usually as exciting as watching paint dry) but I probably did the loose rein thing for an hour or so before Ted was walking around the arena relaxed and happy.
Then I got off and gave him a bath.
The next day was the same schedule.
He started to buck on the longe line, I got out my rope, he gave two half hearted bucks and quit.
I got on, and in a few minutes he was walking around on a loose rein.
I put him up.
The next day he longed like an angel, and when I rode, I worked on walk, trot transitions. He got excited, and chargy, but I simply turned him into the fence, which brought him down to the walk, and started again. He got that one pretty quick.
I stayed at that step for a couple more rides. I wanted Ted to understand his job. Which was to calm down.
I hadn't pulled back on him once during this whole time. I just said "Whoa". I didn't try to stop him until he was really ready to quit.
When I turned him into the fence I just turned him, I didn't pull back. I also only pull one rein at a time.
I wanted Ted to take responsibility for his speed.
I ended every ride with a quiet, loose rein walk.
When he had his walk, trot, lope transitions solid (I transition up the same way I talked about in the last post, and come down with an exhale, a deepened seat, and a lift of my rein hand) I changed our routine.
We started the day in our big arena. I expected a walk around the perimeter on a loose rein. Then I would do my basic reining work out. Lots of circles on a loose rein, different sizes and speeds.
I worked Ted hard, but made sure my priority was his level of calm.
If he blew, which he did often, I would shag his little butt back up to the little arena and repeat our first workouts. Then Ted would still have to finish whatever work I had originally planned.
If he broke gait, up or down, I would haul him through a roll or two until he was walking and start again.
I was extremely consistent. My cues were clean and to the point. I spent a lot of time just standing. If he moved I would lope a few circles and then see if he wanted to be still.
I still hadn't pulled back on him. If he didn't rate off my seat we would rollback.
we started walking around the place for his cool down. If he got goofy, back to the arena we'd go for another little workout. Then we'd try to walk again.
By the time Lyn came back from vacation he was walking around the ranch like an old dude. He liked it too.
It took Lyn awhile to get the hang of a loose rein. So we stayed in the upper arena for awhile, and reinforced the initial walk, trot, lope cues.
Then I added a step. I had Lyn sit on Ted with a loose rein. She would begin to bump him with both legs. He would jump forward with every intention of taking off. I had Lyn pull him straight into a back. (Finally, he got a pull!)
Not a pretty back, just haul on him until he backed up.
Then Lyn would release, slow count to three, and do it again.
The result was Ted eventually began to take a cautious step forward, almost on tip toes, when Lyn bumped him. When he crept forward Lyn would relax, and let him walk out. If he took off she would haul him back.
I wanted to instill slow into his brain. He needed to quit reacting to every bump and thump that his rider gave him. I wanted Ted to think before he responded.
This is NOT an exercise to do on a fresh horse. This is an end of the ride thing. Ted got to where Lyn could lift her rein hand, and he would pause, and wait to see what Lyn wanted. Kind of a cowboy half halt. If he didn't pause, she would back him.
Then we began trail riding. If Ted would jig or start to pull I had Lynn zig-zag him. She would guide him left until his feet moved one or two steps left, then take him right.
I would continue on in front with my horse.
The more he jigged, the farther behind he got.
When he finally walked Lyn would release her reins, and relax.
Since this was a variation of our arena work, he picked it up quickly. He got further when he walked on a loose rein, he realized he could catch up to my horse when he walked quietly, in a straight line.
Once again, consistency was the key.
Lyn would make contact with Ted's mouth when she had something to say.
If he leaned on her hands she would back him.
If any of my horses pull against my contact, I back them. Just a step or two. But I always do it. I back with my legs by the way, I only pull if they resist me.
So Ted started waiting for Lyn.
That is the key to soothing a wound up horse. They have to learn to wait.
Ted and Lyn are happily riding all over the place. She takes him on cattle drives, and trail rides.
He rides alone, and in a group.
She still has to school on him fairly often, but she keeps it simple and clear. Lyn told me that the schooling sessions are getting shorter, and easier.
I consider them a success.