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Unruly Riding Horse

I have a 7 yr. old qh mare who has some riding problems. She doesn't stop most of the time. I can only use a smooth snaffle. She doesn't back up even with spurs. She is stubborn. Once she has all her energy out she doesnt want to work for me. I've read books and consulted trainers. Nothing works. I need advice! Worst of all... The only one who can ride her is me.

Help!, Alanna

Hi Alanna,

To develop a 'stop' on a horse takes some time in the training. I ride the horses in a small area (round pen or small paddock). I ride in a rope halter and lead rope tied up like reins. If I cannot stop a horse in a halter and rope, a bit only makes the horse's mouth hard. Horses are naturally lazy (this is for their own survival). I take advantage of this by rewarding a horse with a few moments rest when they do as I request (like stop). I begin by walking a circle and gently lifting the lead rope and sitting down on the horse with additional body weight (pelvis rolled forward slightly) when I want a stop. I repeat this over and over until just a gentle lift of the rope gets the stop. I then go on to stopping at a trot, and once that is mastered, a canter and then advanced stopping. Most folks think they need to go to bigger and harsher bits to train a horse to stop. This is completely wrong and only makes things worse. The horse needs to be taken back to the beginning of its training and retrained to stop. This is pure and simple. It also sounds like the routene is rather extreme as the horse gets tired and then won't work. Training and excerising are not done to tire a horse out so it is compliant. They are done to teach the horse something. training programs should be focused on precise activities and skills to be learned by the horse. Most folks only exercise without much purpose because they think they'll have a better riding experience. This is a greatly missed opportunity.

Your horse is not stubborn or anything bad. In fact, it is not about the horse at all. It is solely about the lack of knowledge, skill, abilities, intention and misconceptions the humans handling and training the horse has happening.

Most humans have a very hard time understanding this. They always want to say their horse is stubborn or some such negative thing. All the time it is about the human's attitude and abilities. A good trainer can take the most poorly trained horse in the world and rtelatively quickly have the horse going great. The horse then goes back to the owner and the problems come back so fast you'd be amaized. If you have "read books and consulted trainers" and got nothing out of that, there is something wrong and it is not the horse. Spurs and whips, etc. are only tools and only as good as the person using them. What you are seeking from your horse can be found. There is no quick fix and no magic pill or technique that will subsitiute for learned skills, experience and practical knowledge about horses and how to train them. It seems it will take you some time as yet. You need to totally stop blaming the horse for anything and projecting anything negative on the horse. It is solely your responsibility (or the responsibility of whoever is the primary handler of the horse) to learn the skills necessary. I do not know what kind of trainers you haved asked. Mostly they are 'riding instructors' and not horse trainers. There is a huge difference and most riding instgructors will not admit they are not horse trainers.

Anyway, good luck, please keep me posted and do not blame your horse for any poor training, innapropriate riding being done on it and unskilled handling happening. Nothing is your horse's fault. As long as you seek to make your horse stubborn, bad or anything negative, you will be way off the mark as to what needs to happen to remedy the situation.

Sincerely, Franklin

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