Dropping the contact/coming 'back' at me...?

Sarah1

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Hi guys

Wonder if someone can shed a bit of light on how to deal with something that my horse does on a regular basis if he's a bit lit up about something.
He'll drop the contact and recoil his neck so my reins end up like washing lines & I feel like I have nothing in my hands.
He'll do it of he gets excited about something which is fine but it's the worst feeling in the world and makes me more tense than bucking & rearing!
So, any ideas how to stop it or how to regain control when he does this? I try not to use too much hand when he does this but it's very hard to be brave enough not to just go straight to my hands!
Thanks
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Sarah1

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I do try that but it's as if he's ignoring my leg or is so engrossed in whatever has his attention - perhaps I need to be stronger with my leg & give him a good kick if he doesn't listen?
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Sarah1

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I'm being too soft with him aren't I?!
It does concern me that he might just p off with me (had a couple of incidents over last year or so, one ended up with us falling in the road so I'm much more careful/wary now) but I suppose I just have to suck it up don't I?!!!!!
Thanks for you reply
 

Silverspring

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It sounds like he is dropping behind the vertical as an evasion. I suppose it depends on the horse how to counter this, my Arab does it at time and I can assure you a boot in the ribs or a smack with the stick would put my into orbit and her into the next field.

I would ask:

What bit to you ride in?

Is the horse genuinely terrified or is this something he does on almost every hack?

What is his temprament? is he a bit lazy, fizzy, laid back?

How do you normally get him to move forward (or do you just wait til he stops)?
 

Sarah1

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Hi Princessspark1e!
He's ridden in a kk ultra bit.
He usually does this if he gets excited rather than if he's nervous of something (if he's genuinely scared he'll run away!).
He has energy but he's a minimalist and although he's very trainable & willing he does like to try to take the easy road - he's not a fizzy, silly horse by nature.
He's not on any hard feed.
I try to keep him forwards thinking & working up into the bridle the whole hack with breaks to stretch etc. He will try to evade but if I'm firm I can usually get him to knuckle down.
This only usually happens if he feels there's something to get excited about, like other horses running about in paddocks or ever sheep or cows running about!
 

Sarah1

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Also mean to add that he doesn't always drop behind the verticle - sometimes he'll have his head very high but with his neck recoiled and when he does this I have no control at all!
 

Sarah1

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I could try one - took it off when I got him as he didn't need it (that was 3.5 years ago) and have never had it on since but it's worth a shot!
 

TPO

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Are his teeth up to date? My gelding wouldn't take a contact and would drop behind it when I first got him. He was in pretty poor condition when I bought him so he got a full "MOT" including getting the EDT out straight away. It transpired at his 6mthly check when I used my new vet practice instead of EDT that his mouth was still an absolute mess and EDT hadn't "fixed" his mouth at all. My gelding needed a lot of remedial dental work by the vet. His mouth was a mess with sharp edges, massive waves, ulcers and he also had an unerupted wolf tooth removed. He had 10 days off and since then he's been like a different horse to ride.

I changed his bit (was in happy mouth eggbutt and now in Myler comfort snaffle) so it was a "fresh start" to his ridden work and he's been like a different horse. He will now go forward into a contact and is working on the bit. He doesn't evade by dropping behind at all now
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So in summary my point is perhaps get his mouth checked and a second opinion if you have any doubts. Good Luck
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Sarah1

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Hi

Thanks for your reply. His teeth are up to date - he will work into the contact he just recoils when he gets excited or wound up about something. It's this I need to try & stop as I feel that I have no control when he does this although he's lovely to ride when he's not acting the fool!
 

chestnut cob

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I'd be really interested in the answers to your Q as my big horse does this when he gets worked up about something. All the PC kicking in the world won't send him forwards if he's in that mood...
 

Sarah1

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Glad I'm not the only one! What do you do?
I just try to sit as quiet as possible and just keep my leg on but as I say he often ignores it...I feel just like a passenger when he gets like this...
It's hard not to get hold of him more but that would just make situation worse!
 

Kenzo

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Ride him into that contact but distract him at the same time.

Sounds like once your horse has spotted something far more interesting or potentially spooky, he's raising his guard by having higher neck carriage which is why you one minute you have a contact and feel in full control the next minute you haven't, and it will be then one day when you have not got that element of control that he can pull a fast one ...a cheeky spin, evade or aids or run out out fences.

So you need to re-assure him ride him a little stronger and basically say ''come now, pay attention to me not what's over there'' kinda thing. If for example your schooling and he's clocked onto something immediately take his attention away from it, either by changing pace, a change in direction or simple half halt and then push on, use your voice to get his attention and his ears back on you but you need do this as soon as you feel that he's going to look at something.

Yes some people would put a martingale on which may help with some horses, others will resent it and may cause further problems, if your horse usually goes well and does not need a martingale then I'd tacke the problem as to what is going on inside your horses head get him back in tune with you the rider.
 

Michellehenry

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Can't wait to see the answers to this one. My boy does exactly the same. If I put my leg on we get bunny hopping up a little at the front , then the back and I can't get him to release the tension in his neck and move forward. Always does it when excited with other horses. Guess I'll just have to make everything less exciting !

It's very frustrating but I just sit quietly now and avoid giving him anything to get more excited about when he's like that. So he's bloody winning then isn't he ?!!
 

Shazzababs

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When mine does this its because he's got his tongue over the bit.

Anyway the advice above is good. Ride forward, keep your hands still and quiet and wait for him to (hopefully) relax into your contact.
 

Silverspring

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Ok given that he's not a little time bomb when he does it and he's not dropping behind the vertical (which you often see the racehorse's do) I would have to agree with Kenzo on the distract method.

I would keep on hand firm (and down just incase he did something silly) then do little tugs one the other rein, asking him to half circle away then towards whatever has his interest. Strong leg aid but I personally would kick, but you could try a nudge to see how he reacts.

As for the martingale I wouldn't bother, maybe put a Irish martingale on if he's really recoiling his head (will keep the reins straight and stop him going to high but won't interfere with the straightness of your contact)

Please keep us posted on how you get on!
 

chestnut cob

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[ QUOTE ]
Glad I'm not the only one! What do you do?
I just try to sit as quiet as possible and just keep my leg on but as I say he often ignores it...I feel just like a passenger when he gets like this...
It's hard not to get hold of him more but that would just make situation worse!

[/ QUOTE ]

It depends on the situation. He does it sometimes in the school as a way of telling me something is hard so he'd rather go BTV and not use his back end. If he does it then, I remind him I am wearing spurs and he will get a smack with the stick. That usually sends him forwards properly, then I either let him have a little stretch (as he's clearly found something difficult) or maybe work on something else for a few mins as he tends to get a bit "stuck" with certain things. If yours is doing it in this situation then a smack or kick should help.

He also does it in very exciting situations, like fun rides, and there's nothing I can do about it at all then. I just have to sit quietly and hope he calms down
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Esp as it's usually accompanied by jogging, squealing and generally getting worked up. If yours is doing it in this sort of situation then no advice I'm afraid, I haven't worked out how to deal with mine when he's like this yet. All I have worked out so far is that I can't put anything stronger in his mouth than a french link otherwise he just curls up to avoid it, can't ride in a flash as he objects and makes the situation worse, and he goes numb to the leg when he's worked up like this.
 

Sarah1

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Thanks guys for all your suggestions, I'll try distracting him next time he does it & let you know how I get on!
 
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