My name is Cassandra i was hoping i could ask you a question. My horse this is my first time breaking a horse. I ve done shows when he was a baby and he has gotten reserve grand champion. I want to become a professional trainer and horse breeder. I just finished high school. My horse is now 3 years old and we started to ride him and hes already used to the saddle and such cause thats what i worked on during is 2nd year.
Well i ve noticed he keeps his head up when i ride i was told to teach him to keep his head down use a martingale. So i put that on him and the thing is he does fine with i at a walk but i cannot get him to trot or lope without him swinging his head now and kicking out. What should i do i was thinking maybe i should longe him in a round pen with it on for a while. He has never kickd out before until i put the martingale on so im thinking that is what it is. Can you please help me to understand on what to do and why maybe my horse is doing this?
Thanks a bunch,
It sounds like you are trying to do what is right for your horse. Let me tell you, there is a lot of bad advice out there and unfortunately you got some of it. That is really bad advice to tell you to put a martingale on your horse! All you are doing is hiding the problem, not helping your horse get over it.
First off your horse is very young and is not balanced with a rider on him yet and he probable will not be totally balanced till he is 8 with a rider on his back being ridden on a regular basis from 3 years to 8 years old. We need to teach our horses to be balanced on the ground first and to get Vertical Flexion (or balance and collection) before we start riding our horses. Meaning lots of round penning (and in a good way, thinking of balance and transitions, not just running a horse around and around like lots of people think round penning is) and lots of ground school.
This is why your young baby is putting his head like this, balance, he is trying to find the right way to carry himself. What you need to do is help him find it in a nice way by teaching him and helping him, not by forcing him which is what a martingale does.
Why he is kicking out and not going into the trot or canter while riding him is, balance. His body is not in the right position to go into the trot or canter for a few reasons:
1.) You need to help him find the right position.
2.) He needs more soft ground work.
3.) And the biggest one, he is in a martingale. He is fighting it and does not understand what you want him to do and can not put his body in the right position to do what you want because you have not taught it to him first on the ground and at the walk and because he has a mechanical means on (martingale).
A martingale is just a bad short cut for good training and I wish you would burn it because that is all they are good for (just like big bits).
By him kicking out with the martingale on is your horses way of telling you that he does not like it and that it is not helping him but hurting him. Horsemanship is all about listening to our horses and taking there feelings into consideration. If you were to round pen your horse with the martingale on, you would be telling him that you do not care what he thinks and he needs to just put up with it and shut up, and I know that is not the relationship that you want with your horse. We want to build a 51% – 49% relationship with our horses. Meaning that I have the 51% and I am the leader but he has the 49% and I need to think of him and listen to what he wants to do as well.
I know you did not understand why he was doing this and I know you would not have put a martingale on him if you did understand it. Don’t think that I am saying you did something wrong. It was the person that told you to use the martingale that is doing something wrong. Like I said there is lots of bad advice out there and you need to look at all angles, and from the horses point of view knowing how they think and move, before you take the advice of someone. Do lots of reading and when someone gives you advice always ask them “WHY”, why it works, and why they do it, that way you can get there opinion on it and then think about it knowing what you know to see if it is something that you think is sound advice.
Also following a set out step by step program by a Natural Horsemanship person is a very good way to go. I have found that people doing it by themselves will make a lot of holes in a horses foundation and if you are really serious about being a horse trainer, buying a step by step program is the best thing for you and your safety and your horses safety and foundation.
There are ways that I can help you through your horsemanship as well. I have a Q&A called “Ask Chelsie” on my website now, so I can help you that way.
I am also doing lots of clinics all over the US and doing private lessons around AZ. Where do you live? If close to a clinic or in my private lesson area you should think about working with me, I would love to help you out. But the weekly video tips is a way that I can keep in touch with you if long distance.
Thanks for the question and keep in touch about how he is doing and think about a clinic, lessons and the video tips.