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Getting My Horse To Settle Down Before Doing A Rollback

Dear Franklin,

I have been trying to teach my paint mare (Sugar) to do running roll back and standing pivots while of course while riding for quite some time now. Well I know how to teach her (with the backing up process) but she had quite a temper & she will throw up her head and won't put it down requiring her to not put all her weight on her hindlegs therefore making it unable for her to do anything close to a roll back. Is there anyway I can get her to accept putting her head down low? If you have any ideas they would be greately appreciated. Thank You!

Howard, South Dakota

Hi Stephanie,

Sorry it has taken so long to respond. I have been in Europe (Greece and England) for nearly a month teaching and training horses. I did not have my laptop with me and could not respond.

Anyway, there are techniques for asking a horse to lower its head. On the ground you would put a rope halter on the horse, face forward standing half way up the horse's neck. Hold the lead rope about 18 inches to 2 feet below the lead rope snap or knot and gently put the weight of your arm only (not pulling) down on the lead rope. There should not be so much pressure that the horse feels caught at all. Only a bit of an annoyance. The horse will look to get away from the pressure of the halter on his poll and when he discovers that if he lowers his head a bit the pressure goes away. He is rewarded for lowering his head by the immediate release or the pressure. Even a little movement down should be rewarded with total release of pressure. Reward every little 'try'.

In the saddle, split the reins and lower your hands below the pummel. Gently put a bit of weight on the bit, just a little. The horse will look to get away from the annoying pressure and move his head around until he finds the release from the pressure by lowering his head. This is how you set the horse's head. First you do this standing still. When the horse get good at keeping his head where you want it all the time, thene you do this at a walk until he gets good at it and then a trot, canter, etc. Do not try to speed things up until he gets it slowly first. When standing still you can use one hand to ask him to lower his head and the same for faster gates, but be very sensitive that he just doesn't turn. Once he gets good at keeping his lead low or where you want it, you shoul;d be able to begin to have hime move 'collectedly' in any direction and do a collected rollback. This process takes skill and time. Do not try to rush things. That will really work against you.

I offer telephone coaching for riders. It is cheaper that hiring a trainer and more convenient. There is a nominal fee. Please let me know if you are interestged. Good luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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