So now we tackle Jess's problem, her rearing horse.
I am really glad Jess didn't whack her horse over the head or flip him over.
I strongly suggest Jess stay away from the boneheads who offered this as a solution.
I went back and carefully read her description of what her horse is doing and how old he is.
I also asked HOC to describe a horse in front of her leg.
There truly is method to my madness you see.
I want to point out some of the things I got from her comment before we get into her horse's criminal activities.
This horse is only four years old. He has been out on two trail rides in his life.
So I'm going to start with a little story and then my basic approach to trail riding on a young horse.
When my daughter started walking we began to explore the world around her. As a baby we went on long hikes with her in the backpack. Once she started walking our pace became hers. I crawled like a snail behind her as she toddled from interesting rocks to pretty flowers or crawly bugs. I waited as patiently as possible while she crouched over a grasshopper eating a leaf or poked a stick into the creek behind our house. She had a little apron my mother made her with rows of tiny pockets and she would fill it with her treasures as we poked along. It was long, slow and boring. I resigned myself to the fact I would be watching the ground instead of looking ahead for at least the next few years.
When I first take a young horse out I go with a trusted, older, experienced trail horse who has a rider with a lick of sense. I tuck my little colt at the hip of this trail wise horse and we stay there at first. I plan on going at a leisurely walk, allowing my young horse to gawk at the new world as much as he wants. I plan my trail ahead of time and avoid too many traumatic elements for my horse to deal with.
I will periodically gather my reins and push my youngster into a fast walk, I look ahead, ride with an active seat and get going, but only in an area where I can see ahead and judge the obstacles we'll be dealing with.
My colt can jump a little and take a quick look at something, but I am much more interested in keeping his feet moving than I am in proving he doesn't need to be afraid. I'll let him give that horse eating tree stump a wide berth as long as we get back on the trail and on our way.
I never stop and have him sniff things, or make him approach things we could easily walk around. It impedes our forward motion.
I keep the ride short. I usually dismount at the halfway point, loosen his cinch, slip the bridle (my rope halter and lead are underneath) and let him graze for awhile.
Then we rebridle, tighten the cinch and walk home.
As we ride out more I play leap frog with the other horse. I lead a little, my friend leads a little. I get my horse used to being in front.
I start to trot in the places we used to gather and walk out in.
I begin to tackle scary obstacles, like a bridge. I have my friend go across first. If my colt follows quietly after I say "Yipee!" because that doesn't happen all that often. If he's stuck at the other side squalling for his buddy I sit back and get ready to wait.
I get my friend to sit on her quiet trail broke horse on the other side. I sit quiet and loose and keep directing my colt's head, he has to keep looking at the bridge. I make absolutely sure I only direct him one rein at a time. I don't make him do anything except keep looking at the bridge. The buddy on the other side has all of the pull I need. I let him sniff, put on foot on it and back away, whatever. Eventually he'll cross. I've never had one not. This is a lot like trailer loading, crossing water, any of those things that make your horse say "What the hell? You want me to go where?"
So what I'm trying to say is, slow down, keep it short and plan ahead.
On to rearing. Rearing happens when the feet stop. Feet stop when the forward is lost.
Really think these sentences through. It's everything.
Here we get down to why I walk, trot and lope my colts before I do anything else. I want my base to be forward motion. I want my horse to freely travel with me on his back. I want him to understand this is his primary job.
I work on my forward all of the time. I take my horses face last because I want to push their hind end into the bit.
As the years have gone by and I've really ironed out this philosophy, I have had zero rearing or refusal issues. Not that I haven't had horses say, "Oh no, I don't want to do that," but because I understand I want forward motion, I can impart this onto my horses, I have always been able to resolve my problem.
Horses rear because they are having their faces hung onto.
They rear because their rider is kicking them forward and pulling them back at the same time.
They rear because the rider is kicking them forward and what the horse is afraid of or mad at is in front of them.
If I can keep those feet moving I will eventually get them forward. If I'm pulling with both hands I can't move anything.
If my horse rears I loosen my reins and lean forward so I don't die. Right as he comes down I start to kick the crap out of him and yell whatever nasty thing comes to mind until he goes forward. Because I'm still off his face we normally go forward.
If he doesn't want to go through a gate I might rollback away from the gate, kick him hard and mean, rollback to the gate, kick, away, kick, back, kick and finally get him in there. Then I sit quiet for a few minutes and take him out of the arena. Obviously it is best to practice this when a show isn't going on.
When I worked for the big K we would trot, lope or gallop (depending on the mood) our colts into the arena with a lot of forward energy. We would stop in the middle of the arena and just sit. We would stay in the middle anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes. But they were always hustled in and they always got a relaxed rein rest. We had no balkers at the gate.
I think Jess has to slow down her rides and ease up on her expectations. This is just a baby. I think she needs to work on her forward, in the arena, until she can count on her horse moving out as soon as she asks. I think she needs to check and re-check her hands.
I would work on getting my horse to move to the left with the left rein, to the right with the right. I mean the whole horse needs to go, not just the head back and forth.
That's all I got.