Schooling advice

Jinx94

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9 March 2011
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Coventry
Evening!

Looking for some advice/tips/techniques for a pony that really sets his neck and mouth against the contact when asked for a downwards transition. He also has a tendency to fall in on a left turn.

I'm confident that this is a schooling/temperament/stress issue as he did improve during a hack yesterday. He's checked regularly for saddle fit/back pain/changes in muscle tone, I will be having his teeth checked soon, just in case.

While he does fall in to some extent on most left turns, he's worst in the corners of the school and runs straight through my leg. I set him up with half halts and really work to keep him balanced, but if he's the slightest bit tense or aggy (totally a technical term!!) it all goes to pot. When it goes wrong, I circle and we do it properly. He often swings his quarters right, so I've been doing more lateral work to improve his suppleness. I had been getting him to move his quarters back over but had a lightbulb moment a week or two ago and have since been pushing him into my right rein which seems to be much better!!

We have a problem with anticipation sometimes. He has a habit of towing me around corners/running through my leg to drift back to the fence if we come off the track/shooting off when he's expecting an upwards transition/jogging/rushing/going somewhat dead to my aids. He also wobbles all over the place when I pick up a contact after giving him a stretch, giving me SI/LY/HP/HI before settling on going straight. He's a very clever thing, really overthinks everything when he's stressed.

Current tack is a basic cavesson bridle with a single jointed hanging cheek snaffle, and a Wintec jump saddle with a wide memory foam girth. He's much better in the memory foam girth and (overall) carries less tension in his jaw with the hanging cheek than with a double jointed full cheek.

I don't plan to change the above, but will take suggestions on board!
 

Sossigpoker

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14 September 2020
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This sounds like a chiropractic issue to me. Otherwise it sounds like the horse is confused and doesn't really understand the whole leg to hand thing.
My horse is regularly schooled by a pro to ensure he gets the best possible start.
 

Pearlsasinger

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20 February 2009
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W. Yorks
I would reconsider the single jointed bit. They do suit a few horses but most don't like having the soft palette poked by the joint. I would also bring the dental check forward and if that doesn't make a difference get a vet check. I would ask the dentist's opinion about the best bit for the shape of the mouth.
 

milliepops

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26 July 2008
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teeth check etc always worth ticking off. do you have an instructor who has seen this in person? it's always better to get advice from someone who has seen you IRL. but otherwise I have to agree with sossigpoker, he sounds like he's lacking a bit of a basic understanding of accepting the contact and being ridden between leg and hand. what you've done re pushing him to the outside rein around turns is spot on. i would try and build on that feeling and just stay very low key until he gives you that feeling all the time, can stay in a rhythm instead of running through the corners etc and just dial it all back a bit. big easy shapes to set you up, then add in squares or corners to test the connection and get his brain to steady rather than going into overdrive.

a busy minded horse can often benefit from busy work (lots of lateral work and more complex exercises etc) BUT you have to have the control to execute them correctly otherwise you aren't going to benefit from it.
 

Jinx94

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9 March 2011
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Coventry
Thanks all, teeth check is top of the priority list. Currently between instructors but may be having some training with my boss soon and have got prospective help, but need to finalise suitable days/times.

Had a simple walk flatwork session today and after working him in, he nailed everything. He was soft and supple, very responsive and it felt like he was really trying. I had him in a fairly long frame, kept off the track and did plenty of simple circles, serpentines and square turns. I turned him towards the fence in a few corners and he really started to listen and let me ride him around the corners. We then added in a bit of leg yield and shoulder in. He was nothing like described in the OP. Pretty much the polar opposite. Honestly, I could not have been happier with him.

We then had a rustle in the bushes, an immediate spin and bog off, followed by lots of scooting, shooting off and yet more spinning. We went from relaxed and focused to extremely tense and distracted. By the end of the session we were halfway back to where we started. Some people might have carried on pushing, but I was happy to get his focus and some relaxation back even if it wasn't perfect.
 
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