Oh Honestly

Crugeran Celt

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I was once told by a very knowledgable horse person that if you cound not ride in open spaces in just a headcollar then you needed to improve your riding and 'feel' for horses. I am still working on that and I don't think my cob understands that concept either.:D
 

Tonks

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Don't know.

I start horses in a head collar and don't progress to a bit until they can be ridden in all gaits without one using the seat properly.

I find a lot of horses are not ridden using the seat because people rely on a bit to stop the horse quite early on. If it isn't trained to stop, then a more severe bit is sometimes used.

Not using a bit is not some attempt to be clever it's trying to educate the horse properly so you dont end up hauling it about by the mouth.
Just thought I would [get in on the act] and use the above quote to illustrate how confused, non specific, 'waffley' and jardon laden the horse world is and also how it uses terms that really can't be defined clearly and in the end mean nothing!

Don't understand the first sentence PR - doesn't make any sense. Does it mean you do or don't 'use' your seat 'properly'?

Can you explain what 'using your seat properly' actually means?

Horses learn in various ways but 'conditioning' is one of them (both operant and classical - I'm not referring to Classical horsemanship by any means here!!) BTW, so do humans and dogs and elephants - in fact pretty much all animals - even dolphins!!

Training the horse to stop using some kind of alteration in the seat or weight is learnt by the horse through classical conditioning. That's simply the way their brains are programmed and it happens unintentionally or without awareness, as in humans. The horse will not 'naturally' understand a shift in weight or seat posture and automatically think 'stop/slow'.

The horse only learns that this change in seat/wieght posture means stop when it is paired with another aid that consistently produces a stop response. So, if weight/seat postural changes are applied IMMEDIATELY BEFORE (paired with) the desired behaviour [in this case rein pressure and a stop] - the horse (overtime) learns that this seat change preceeds a stop aid/command. The horse then learns over time that the two are paired and will again, over time then produce a stop from a change in seat/weight aid.

You could if you so wish [and perhaps a lot do] consistently pair seat/postural changes with asking the horse to go from canter to gallop and the same learning would take place. This would be inadvertant on the rider's behalf but the horse would still learn that seat changes mean 'go faster'!! So, you've now got seat changes = speeding up of the feet - ooppps!!

You should never attempt to get your horse to stop from a change in seat or weight until it has learnt to stop/slow from a pressure and release aid from the reins. This is because he must have a correct framework and understanding of 'stop' so that he clearly understands that change in the seat/weight actually does mean stop.

If you pull on the reins and then change your seat AFTER - no pairing of the stimuli will occur. Therefore, your horse won't learn that seat means stop. For some reason this is the way that animal brains work to and how classical conditioning works. We don't really know why - well at least I don't.

BTW - if you train/school with the use of a headcollar the horse will understand pressure [and hopefully release] for it's nose.

Although horses have been found to be good at 'generalising' you will still have to train the horse to HABITUATE to rein pressure and how to produce and good 'stop'/'slow' repsonse as they are TWO separate things.
 
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Tonks

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Although horses have been found to be good at 'generalising' you will still have to train the horse to HABITUATE to rein pressure and how to produce and good 'stop'/'slow' repsonse as they are TWO separate things.
Sorry, should read:

Although horses have been found to be good at 'generalising' you will still have to train the horse to HABITUATE to rein pressure - FROM THE BIT IN THE MOUTH- and how to produce and good 'stop'/'slow' repsonse as they are TWO separate things.
 

Sugar_and_Spice

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I can stop a horse from the seat, even an uneducated one.

I drop the weight down through my knees into my heels more, increasing pressure with my upper calf muscle just below the knee and also increasing pressure with my thighs. (I don't mean I grip with my knees. Sending the weight down through my knees keeps my legs in the correct effective position and stops my lower leg shooting forward and off the horses side). My seat moves with the movement of the horses back to stop me bouncing around, which would happen if I became tense in the seat. But my stomach muscles tighten and my lower back reduces movement, blocking against the horses movement to a degree instead of going with it, but not becoming stiff enough to make me bounce in the saddle. My shoulders drop down and back and are fixed there. My fingers squeeze and release the reins, or if necessary my arms pull and release (without totally giving away the contact) on the reins.

The overall effect is one of 'holding' the horse with legs/seat/back/hands, rather than pulling with body weight/arms. It's very effective. You can't do it unless you have a balanced riding position and strong core muscles. Many people have neither.

In a schooling situation with the horse under control, a momentary and tiny amount of dropping my heels down and resultant change in muscle tone throughout my body is enough to slow the horse. I very rarely use the reins to slow, only really in situations where the horse is out of control to some degree (spooking, distracted, excited or tanking off), where the reins become the last piece of the jigsaw.
 

marmalade76

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This applies to Dutch Gags too - there is no poll pressure as the bit moves up in the mouth - if there was then all horses wearing a Dutch gag would drop their heads - and they don't which is why many of them wear running martingales as well!
Is this a serious post?? A Dutch gag most definitely does apply poll pressure, it works on a pivot!
 

cptrayes

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Is this a serious post?? A Dutch gag most definitely does apply poll pressure, it works on a pivot!
Yes I gave up at that point Marmalade. In fact all the bits mentioned, including the baucher, and most certainly the Dutch gag, will apply poll pressure once they have reached the limit that the horse's mouth will allow the bit to rise to, and with many horses that will be quite soon. Not all horses wearing a baucher or any other non-curbed bit will have loose cheek pieces once that point is reached. It depends on the conformation of the mouth and on how high the bit is originally fitted, which in modern dressage circles is often, to me, exceptionally high.
 

windand rain

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I agree if it works for you then it is your choice however it cannot be a combination that can in anyway be described as being used on a well schooled horse. A well schooled horse can easily be ridden stopped and started by a well trained rider in a snaffle, cavesson and in a light contact
 

Tnavas

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Is this a serious post?? A Dutch gag most definitely does apply poll pressure, it works on a pivot!
While it works on a pivot it also is free to move upwards in the mouth and will only exert poll pressure when the mouthpiece makes contact with the molar teeth and stops moving upwards.


Going back to a post or two above - the horse is very sensitive to how we move our bodies or place our bodies. Examples are falling in - usually the rider has dropped the inside shoulder and has placed their weight to theinside - thehorse to keep the rider balanced steps across under the rider.

Another instance is when you are on a very free moving horse - overly sensitive to the leg and fighting the contact on the reins, often steps are short and choppy as the horse is not going forward properly - many riders will sit with legs away from the horse which is the worst thing you can do and try to slow down by hanging on the reins - the horse needs to learn to have the riders legs held soft against his side. I ask my riders to try and remember what problems they had when learning to rise to the trot - most will come back with "It kept stopping" - correct response.

The explanation then follows - the horse slowed down and stopped because you were out of sync with the trot - now try rising a little higher and sitting a little longer, keep doing this and the horse will slow down and THEN you can use your legs to improve the quality of the stride.

When explaining aids to pupils I tell them we could if we wanted to tap the horse on the right ear for go and the left ear to stop - the horse will understand what to do when he's spent some time repeating the required response to instruction. That aids are like computer instructions - get it wrong and you don't get the response you want.

We do wander off the original topic but it really doesn't matter unless we are biting and hitting each other - so far its been a good discussion and we've all been behaving! :p
 

cptrayes

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While it works on a pivot it also is free to move upwards in the mouth and will only exert poll pressure when the mouthpiece makes contact with the molar teeth and stops moving upwards.
Well we got there in the end :D


The molar teeth or the limit of the lips.
 

Tnavas

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Well we got there in the end :D


The molar teeth or the limit of the lips.
Lips will go back further than the teeth - so we will confirm when it hits the molar teeth

This is at the extreme end of it's action and I will still dispute this for a Baucher - as there is no shank to generate leverage.

If you are getting to this point in this bit then you have serious mouthing/schooling issues

So I will repeat that under normal use neither the Baucher or the Dutch Gag have poll pressure.
 

tinap

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I admit to knowing very little about bits & rely on our instructor for advice, so please help me understand why, as soon as our pony is in his gag does his head immediately come down & stays down when it will be up in his snaffle which has a lozenge? I thought it was because it exerted pressure on the poll?!
 

Tnavas

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I admit to knowing very little about bits & rely on our instructor for advice, so please help me understand why, as soon as our pony is in his gag does his head immediately come down & stays down when it will be up in his snaffle which has a lozenge? I thought it was because it exerted pressure on the poll?!
Does your gag have a single joint or a lozenge? And which ring on the gag is the rein attached to
 

tinap

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It's actually a Waterford as he does try & lean on a single joint or lozenge. I don't know how best to describe it but you can see he's not trying to lean in this, just seems to comfortably carry his head on the vertical. In his lozenge snaffle he will alternate between leaning & carrying his head up, basically avoiding a contact. He never messes with his head in his gag which we have on the 2nd ring. Sorry if I can't explain this properly!!!
 

Tnavas

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It's actually a Waterford as he does try & lean on a single joint or lozenge. I don't know how best to describe it but you can see he's not trying to lean in this, just seems to comfortably carry his head on the vertical. In his lozenge snaffle he will alternate between leaning & carrying his head up, basically avoiding a contact. He never messes with his head in his gag which we have on the 2nd ring. Sorry if I can't explain this properly!!!
You are explaining OK - The Waterford will most likely to be the cause of the head going up - it is a strong bit because it's action places pin points of pressure and if the reins are not held very steady the side to side action will bump across the bars of the mouth.

Have you tried him in a Pelham or Kimblewick at all? Especially one with a cambridge mouth or even a snaffle with a cambridge mouth. These have a different action and place more pressure on the bars of the mouth

Snaffle with a Cambridge mouthpiece
 

tinap

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No the Waterford brings him down & he is never fussy in this. It's a single joint or lozenge he messes about in but the lozenge is lesser so & its the best one (although not perfect) that we've found for dressage. We tried him in a Pelham, but that also had a single joint which he really doesn't like. Not tried one like the picture though. Would be worth trying :)

its just for dressage we have struggled to find a bit he is happy in, the WF gag has been the perfect bit for him for jumping for the last 4yrs. Very interesting to hear other peoples advice xx
 

cptrayes

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No the Waterford brings him down & he is never fussy in this. It's a single joint or lozenge he messes about in but the lozenge is lesser so & its the best one (although not perfect) that we've found for dressage. We tried him in a Pelham, but that also had a single joint which he really doesn't like. Not tried one like the picture though. Would be worth trying :)

its just for dressage we have struggled to find a bit he is happy in, the WF gag has been the perfect bit for him for jumping for the last 4yrs. Very interesting to hear other peoples advice xx
Can I suggest a hanging cheek mullen mouth for dressage? It works like the top half of a normal pelham and is dressage legal. Lots of horses like a mullen mouth (curved bar) but they are very old fashioned bits these days and have largely been forgotten about.
 

Tnavas

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Can I suggest a hanging cheek mullen mouth for dressage? It works like the top half of a normal pelham and is dressage legal. Lots of horses like a mullen mouth (curved bar) but they are very old fashioned bits these days and have largely been forgotten about.
That woould be a good one to try - thought I'd suggested it but that may be on another thread.
 

Pale Rider

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Just thought I would [get in on the act] and use the above quote to illustrate how confused, non specific, 'waffley' and jardon laden the horse world is and also how it uses terms that really can't be defined clearly and in the end mean nothing!

Don't understand the first sentence PR - doesn't make any sense. Does it mean you do or don't 'use' your seat 'properly'?

Can you explain what 'using your seat properly' actually means?

Horses learn in various ways but 'conditioning' is one of them (both operant and classical - I'm not referring to Classical horsemanship by any means here!!) BTW, so do humans and dogs and elephants - in fact pretty much all animals - even dolphins!!

I've cut your post down a bit Tonks, but I do see where you are coming from. I'll try to explain how I train and what I'm trying to achieve. I agree that there is a lot of crap talked about horses and their training and yes a lot of it means different things to different folks.
Firstly, I think it is a mistake to match a novice rider with a youngster. People who are new and not experienced should always be on a horse that has been there and done it. Teaching young horses is for experienced people who can ride and can empathyse with the horse, have patience, soft hands and a plan.
With our own horses, we start training them as soon as they are born. Horses are full faculty learners from birth, they are at their quickest to learn between birth and three. We never turn them away, 'to be a horse', this is time wasted and serves no purpose. As youngsters they get perhaps twenty minutes most days, the other 23 hours is theirs.
What I am trying to achieve with a ridden horse is a harmony between horse and rider. I am not interested in a horse which is strong, gets overly excited in canters and gallops or allows itself to become overly wound up as it takes jump after jump. Horses which become difficult to control in exciting situations are not emotionally or mentally fit and this is a massive hole in their training.
As you have already stated we train initially in a head collar. You mentioned about using the seat, and training to stop using the seat,. I'll tell you how I do it, and you can pick the bones out as far as the techniques we are using, and what you want to classify them as.
On the ground we will ask he horse to bend its head round towards the stirup on both sides. This is just to ensure that there is no brace or stiffness in the neck.
When in the saddle and I want a stop from walk, initially, I pick up the rein in the centre, remember there is no contact as such at this stage. Then I will run one hand down the rein, dropping the other rein, draw my hand towards my hip, this causes the neck to bend. The pressure is kept steady until the feet stop moving. As soon as the stop happens the rein is dropped. Obviously done on both sides. As this progresses the horse will stop as soon as he feels the rein being lifted, this coincides with a slight increase in the weight in the saddle by the rider. Obviously the weight is lifted as soon as we stop. As this progresses all that is needed is a slight increase in weight in the saddle and the horse stops. When he does it in walk, repeat the process in trot, only this is normally a lot quicker to acheive, then canter.
I believe that the whole process is negative reinforcement with the pressure being removed as soon as the desired behaviour is achieved. I see no real need to reward the behaviour with treats or pats or verbal praise. The release of the pressure is reward in itself.
Obviously, this process is used for whatever maneuver we want the horse to perform.
I'm not saying that there are not times when positive reinforcement isn't useful. However, I increasingly feel that the distinction between positive and negative reinforcement are less than helpful, despite popular belief, the contingencies that we call positive are not always kind and those we call negative can sometimes be more humane.
When training a riding horse I accept that operant conditioning is about making an association between a voluntary behavior and a consequence. This is of course what we are about. I know people have some success with clicker and reward training, but I feel that there are horses for whom this will only produce pevish, food focused results, which is not what I want. Focus on me not the clicker or the treat.
 
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