Posted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:06 am Post subject: Training ideas needed
I've been reading through your website (which is great, by the way!) and stopped by your message board for some advice.
I'm training a horse for my neighbor, who is a great little mare, but young (3 1/2) and green. I'm an advanced rider and have managed to work through most of her training challenges, however am stumped on 2.
1.) She's got the smoothest trot you'll ever sit on, and it's wonderful. As soon as I begin to post, she speeds up and gets very heavy in the bridle. I'm quiet in the saddle, and don't thump on her back, but posting seems to make her anxious. Any advice? (There are no soundness or health issues). She's had 30 days of initial training from another rider (who can no longer come out) and approximately 20 rides by me (the neighbor has me come out once per week, for two hours).
2.) She's got a beautiful canter - as smooth as her trot, however is very speedy. She also gets heavy in the bridle when we canter and half halts don't work that well. She's ridden in a plain eggbutt snaffle. I've also tried a french link, however found no change. If I don't keep applying "the brakes" she's soon into a gallop and even harder to slow down. Again, I'm very careful with my seat and legs.
Could all of these training challenges be due to her lack of inexperience, maybe trying to figure out how to balance?
Do you have any suggestions, advice or exercises I could try? Thanks for your help and I hope to hear back from you soon!
Anxiety during trotting, particularly when you're posting, sounds like a saddle fit issue. The shoulders swing very rapidly and if there's any pinching at the front of the saddle, the trot will become absolutely unbearable after a few strides. Posting puts more weight in front of the saddle rhythmically, so again, if there's pinching at the front, it can become very unpleasant for the horse. Even a light, balanced rider will still apply a lot of pressure at the front of the saddle.
Cantering is a similar issue. another difficulty with cantering is that a young/green horse will be simply undermuscled. Particularly if you're trying to ride in an arena, the horse will only be able to stay balanced for a short period. After that, the muscles will begin to fatigue, and she'll lose it. It's better to let green horses do most of their faster work (cantering and to some extent trotting) in straight lines--and not expect too much until they've been under saddle for some months and have built up a lot of muscle.
Obviously you don't want to encourage her to run around unbalanced, but you also can't ask her to stay balanced for longer than her body will permit. Short, nicely balanced canters will help; just transition down before she goes to pieces. Also letting her canter on a straightaway, while just asking her to stay somewhat balanced, will help her build the right muscles.