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Re: No Control

First of all it helps to understand what you horse is thinking and
reacting too. She sounds like she is a dominant mare who likes to lead
and by tensing her jaw and getting a hold of the bit, she is talking
control of the situation and getting her way. That is being in front. My
first suggestion would be to go back to basics. Find a good gentle bit
that fits her mouth. It is very important that the bits fits. So many
bits are 5" mouthpiece and most ponies and arabs have smaller mouths
then that. I like a 4 3/4"  on my arabs and ponies. Since you are
probably going to do a lot of circling with her, you want something that
is going to be gentle and not cause a lot of pain. You want her to think
about what she is doing and not about fighting the pain and you. I would
suggest something such as a snaffle or a bosal. I would not want to work
with shanks when you are trying to circle her. If her mouth is calloused
because of bits you might get more of a response from her with a bosal. 

Then you will want to be in a enclosed structure such as a round pen or
a corral and start teaching her to relax her jaw and give to the bit or
bosal. Sue Brown had some excellent posts on that subject. If you don't
have them and if she doesn't mind I can forward them to you. Hopefully
she will jump in here on this too. 

When you get to the point where she is working well and lightly off of
your hands in the corral. Find a couple of friends to ride with and take
you mare out riding. Have you friends ride up a head and you ride
behind. Your main object here is to not pull back with both reins to
keep your mare back but to keep her in a loose rein. When your mare
starts to take off to catch up then, keeping you hands low, start to
circle her around. It is important at this point to keep her bent at the
poll and her nose in a position of leading on the circle. You want her
to continue with giving to the bit. You don't want to start a pulling
match with her again. Where you pull, then she pulls and she grabs the
bit and runs away with you. You want to keep her light and giving, such
as you worked with her in the corral, but instead of riding her straight
you are going around in a circle. You want to give and take with your
hands, not a steady pull. And if you have to make it a big circle, do
so,  but do not allow her to get any closer to your friends. Have them
stop when you start circling so that she can see them, but she is not
getting any closer to them. You don't want them to disappear. Then when
she is giving nice to you and walking nicely in your circle, let her out
of the circle and start walking her towards your friends again. When she
starts to take off again, again put her into the circle, and keep doing
this until she will walk for you and not rush ahead.

The purpose of doing this is to teach her that she will get to the other
horses faster if she does it in the gait that you want. Do not at any
point, fight with her. Stay calm and let her know that you are in
control and that you are going to do it your way, not hers. She will
eventually give in. I was training one very spoiled mare once that was
very barn sour. She would got nicely away from the barn, but once you
headed back towards home she would try and bolt ahead. It took me 4
hours one day to go one mile back to the barn. But the next day it only
took 2 hours and by the third day, she was walking nicely. Just to let
you know that it is going to take a lot of time and patience to work
with her. 

Just keep putting her in a lot of different situations and always be
prepared to spend some time working with her, until she learns that no
matter where she is at, whether it be a pleasure or endurance ride, that
she has to let you be in control, then you both can have a good time.
But always know your route before you start. One time, I was on a trail
ride and I was working with this mare and we were doing a lot of
circling. I got behind the others and since we were in trees and
unfamiliar territory, I got lost. Thankfully, someone who knows the
area, had seen I was getting behind and when they looked back and seen
that I was not longer back behind, they came looking for me. :-)

You know there is a lot of other little details such as the position of
your body, such as your seat and your arms, your wrists, etc. That helps
you to communicate with your horse. Right now you are not communicating,
your are fighting with her. Learning to communicate with your horse is a
process that takes time, not gimmicks. By putting a more severe bit on
her or tying her head down, you are just cutting off the avenues of
communication and fighting a tougher fight with her. And you will not
win. The tougher methods that you use and the more pain you cause, the
more she is going to fight you. Then she becomes dangerous and you get
hurt. The best way to stop fighting is to eliminate the pain and start
talking to each other. If the method of training that I have just
described is not working and you are still fighting with her, then you
need to sit back and figure out why? Is it you or her, or both. Where
are the lines of communication falling down at. But it is up to you to
figure it out. I am very glad that you are seeking out a better way to
communicate with your mare, beside just tougher bits and methods. I
respect that. :-)

Lots of years and miles does not make a good endurance rider. Knowledge
does. wrote:
> Now that I am again getting ridecamp messages, I need help.  If this topic has
> been overly discussed before, someone please let me know and I'll search the
> archives.  I have a Rocky Mtn. mare who has a heart of gold and was a member
> of the Rocky Mountain Drill Team before I bought her.  I started riding her
> with endurance in mind and train by myself and sometimes with my wife and her
> Arab.  The problem is, she is a front runner and will do whatever it takes to
> get to the front, therefore leaving me with a horse which you can't stop.  I'm
> using a bit with a pretty severe port with 6" shanks.  I've tried three
> different types of bits with no luck.  I rode her in a NATRAC ride and could
> not keep her back.  I have tried a hackamore which seems to help but still
> have a fight on my hands.  I don't want to give up on this horse but riding
> her in a group is not fun.  By herself she is as calm as you could ask for and
> a real treat to ride.  This is not a big horse 14.3 and I'm a heavyweight
> rider.  I am not a novice rider and this mare has done the same thing with
> other riders.  Any suggestions on bits, training, ect.... would greatly be
> appreciated.  Thanks
> Phil and the very powerful BLISS

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