Overly enthusiastic hacking!

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
I have a fantastic, recently backed 5 year old Fell pony.

He's been an absolute joy so far. He particularly enjoys getting out and about and I've walked miles and miles with him in readiness for hacking out.

The problem is that I live halfway up a typical Yorkshire hill and to get to the bridleway we need to go down the hill. Bo is very, very jolly going down the hill which is lovely but can feel somewhat like being on a ski jump as we hurtle along!

He does have excellent brakes and will stop immediately if asked, but as soon as I ask him to walk on he goes back to marching along only just this side of a trot.

I love his enthusiasm and how happy he is to be out and I don't want to dampen that in any way but he is also a bit clumsy and can trip over his own feet when he's stomping along. Once we get to the bottom of the hill he becomes a bit of a plod having worn himself out on the descent.

He is ridden in a snaffle which he is happy in, brakes and steering are good. We've tried a slower companion but he just leaves them for dust! And if I make him go at the back he gets in a giant huff.

Any tips just to slow him down a bit?

He doesn't yet completely understand a half halt so this is definitely something we can work on in the school, other than that what can I do?

Zig zag down the hill? Turn him around and walk him a way back up the hill if he gets a bit too onward bound. Keep practicing with slower companion?

Any tips much appreciated!
 

AShetlandBitMeOnce

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 January 2015
Messages
2,407
If it's mostly downhill I would imagine that he is bounding along on the forehand as he may not have the bum muscles to have a huge amount of control down such a hill, would make sense if he is recently backed.
I would just work on building his bum as much as you can, and make sure you sit back :p
Taking the hill at zig zags may help as it then wouldn't be so much work for him perhaps
 

tda

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 April 2013
Messages
1,685
Location
Yorkshire
Firstly glad he's coming on well ๐Ÿ˜
I'd agree with the second post, he's just not strong enough yet to use his bum, so yes zigzag if safe, or just halt every few strides, he will soon learn
 

Skib

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 March 2011
Messages
965
Location
London
I learned to ride in old age and much of it from Mark Rashid. He says that the horse will offer what he thinks the rider wants. If that first step of walk is too brisk, reject it immediately. Or the horse wont realise. Halt and repeat asking for walk till you get a first step in the speed of walk you want.
This same technique of rejection is used if a horse is going too slow in the first step but the idea is the same.
 

TPO

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 November 2008
Messages
6,628
Location
A ray of sunshine ๐ŸŒž
I learned to ride in old age and much of it from Mark Rashid. He says that the horse will offer what he thinks the rider wants. If that first step of walk is too brisk, reject it immediately. Or the horse wont realise. Halt and repeat asking for walk till you get a first step in the speed of walk you want.
This same technique of rejection is used if a horse is going too slow in the first step but the idea is the same.
Echo this.

Buck Brannaman writes/speaks about this too.

He released a 7 clinics series of dvds, I think it's the last set (5,6 & 7) there is a session on controlling the feet. Dont get me wrong, everything that he teaches is about getting to the feet, however this video is specific exercises about timing and control of each hoof. If you search the terms there might be clips on YouTube.

It starts way back with groundwork and leading (first dvd) and working with the horse to meet your pace and adjust within the gait. That then transfers to the ridden work.
 

J&S

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 June 2012
Messages
1,590
Although what Skib says sounds like good sense/training I also agree that your Fell pony is possibly not strong enough yet to carry you at a slow and controlled pace down the hill. Could you long rein down, then mount?
When I did my last breaking in I was lucky enough to have a 1/2 km hill out of the farm, going upwards!!
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
If it's mostly downhill I would imagine that he is bounding along on the forehand as he may not have the bum muscles to have a huge amount of control down such a hill, would make sense if he is recently backed.
I would just work on building his bum as much as you can, and make sure you sit back :p
Taking the hill at zig zags may help as it then wouldn't be so much work for him perhaps
I think that's right. Definitely needs more muscle on his backside.

Am definitely sitting back with legs forward and heels jammed down. Doesn't look pretty but gives me some hope of staying on if he trips! ๐Ÿ˜€

Will try zig zapping and report back!
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
Firstly glad he's coming on well ๐Ÿ˜
I'd agree with the second post, he's just not strong enough yet to use his bum, so yes zigzag if safe, or just halt every few strides, he will soon learn
Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

Halting every few strides might well help and I can slowly turn them in to half halts.

I made him carry me all the way back up the hill today so hopefully the bum muscles will start growing soon! ๐Ÿ˜„
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
I learned to ride in old age and much of it from Mark Rashid. He says that the horse will offer what he thinks the rider wants. If that first step of walk is too brisk, reject it immediately. Or the horse wont realise. Halt and repeat asking for walk till you get a first step in the speed of walk you want.
This same technique of rejection is used if a horse is going too slow in the first step but the idea is the same.
Thats really interesting. I like that.

And you're right, in the school I make sure that I get the walk I ask for, so in theory I should be able to do the same to slow him down.
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
Echo this.

Buck Brannaman writes/speaks about this too.

He released a 7 clinics series of dvds, I think it's the last set (5,6 & 7) there is a session on controlling the feet. Dont get me wrong, everything that he teaches is about getting to the feet, however this video is specific exercises about timing and control of each hoof. If you search the terms there might be clips on YouTube.

It starts way back with groundwork and leading (first dvd) and working with the horse to meet your pace and adjust within the gait. That then transfers to the ridden work.
That sounds really useful, thank you.

I'll see what I can find on YouTube or I might just buy the dvds as I think they'd be really helpful.
 

TheMule

Well-Known Member
Joined
14 October 2009
Messages
4,007
If it's steep I would lead him down and get on at the bottom, it doesnโ€™t sound like he is strong enough/ balanced enough to cope with it at the moment. Build the strength on easier terrain and then go back to it
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
Although what Skib says sounds like good sense/training I also agree that your Fell pony is possibly not strong enough yet to carry you at a slow and controlled pace down the hill. Could you long rein down, then mount?
When I did my last breaking in I was lucky enough to have a 1/2 km hill out of the farm, going upwards!!
Good call and that I have been thinking about walking him down the hill and getting on at the bridleway. I think it might be a good idea to do that for a while.

I can go up the hill but the road at the top, while not busy, is national speed limit and hardly anyone slows down for horses unfortunately.
 

The Fuzzy Furry

Resident irriot
Joined
24 November 2010
Messages
23,053
Location
The yard, home or coal face.....
OP I missed this post yesterday.
I have a marching Fell, leaves most for dust as walks out very well. She too is an enthusiastic hacker......
I agree with others that perhaps leading or zig zagging down hill if v steep is a sensible idea, and as he develops then add leg yielding into it which will help him build up muscle and listen to you. Leg yielding is very useful as will get him engaging behind and stepping under.

I do have to work hard to ensure we do go behind at times, tho its quite frustrating to slow lots but equally good for schooling purposes in getting them obedient.
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
OP I missed this post yesterday.
I have a marching Fell, leaves most for dust as walks out very well. She too is an enthusiastic hacker......
I agree with others that perhaps leading or zig zagging down hill if v steep is a sensible idea, and as he develops then add leg yielding into it which will help him build up muscle and listen to you. Leg yielding is very useful as will get him engaging behind and stepping under.

I do have to work hard to ensure we do go behind at times, tho its quite frustrating to slow lots but equally good for schooling purposes in getting them obedient.
Thanks TFF. That's helpful and good to know mine isn't the only little pocket rocket!

I've had a couple of offers from local riders to go hacking with us and I think as you say, it'll be good for him to learn that he can't always be at the front setting his own pace!
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
My little Dales does the same if I head downhill. Bit offputting bitless but she comes back to me immediately - I think its just enthusiasm.
Definitely. I love how excited and enthusiastic he is bless him!

I'll just be glad when it feels less like a roller coaster ride. ๐Ÿ˜„
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
Just to update with our progress!

We've been working hard on our half halts and this morning I rode him for 15 minutes in the school before hacking up to the top of the hill and then riding all the way down. He only thought about turning in to a runaway train a couple of times but responded really well to the half halt and it was a much more pleasant ride.

In fact the only time he grumbled was when we turned for home as he really wanted to keep going.

Absolutely thrilled with him!
 
Joined
18 February 2021
Messages
8
Although what Skib says sounds like good sense/training I also agree that your Fell pony is possibly not strong enough yet to carry you at a slow and controlled pace down the hill. Could you long rein down, then mount?
When I did my last breaking in I was lucky enough to have a 1/2 km hill out of the farm, going upwards!!
Agree with this my Dales was exactly the same when he was younger.
 

Spot_On03

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 August 2021
Messages
50
Mine is the same. As a 4/5 year old is was very scary as would literally slid down hills! I used to zig zag and every few strides stop, then walk on and repeat. Now she's much better at slowing down, thinking about where she is placing her feet, and will naturally stop if she goes too fast. Also did a lot of ground work is the school over poles which I found helped strengthen her bum, which may have helped also.
 

southerncomfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2013
Messages
3,532
Mine is the same. As a 4/5 year old is was very scary as would literally slid down hills! I used to zig zag and every few strides stop, then walk on and repeat. Now she's much better at slowing down, thinking about where she is placing her feet, and will naturally stop if she goes too fast. Also did a lot of ground work is the school over poles which I found helped strengthen her bum, which may have helped also.
Good to know I'm not alone!

Mine seems to finally have got the idea that we can actually saunter down the hill rather than fly thank goodness!

He's still yet to grow any significant muscles though which is disappointing, despite doing lots of polework, physio recommended exercises etc.

Not sure what else I can do.
 
Top