© 2006 Cherry Hill
is usually really good, but a few days ago he just started being really stubborn.
He'll trot way too fast because I ask him for a jog for western pleasure.
And his lope which I finally got down perfect 2 weeks ago has turned into
a fast canter. I don't know what it is from. There has
been a lot more flies etc. around that go on him and he hates bugs so do you think
that maybe this is causing it? Do you think he might not be able to
concentrate because he's thinking about all the flies on him or something? I'm
really confused and I have to go to a show this weekend and if he does this there
we for sure won't place!!! Please give me any suggestions that you have.
I'm going to ask a lot of things quickly at first here so you can go through
a list in your mind and so that other readers with the same problem (it is VERY
common!) can try to find a reason for the quickness.
This first one won't pertain to you because in your question, you say "he"
so I am assuming your horse is a gelding. However, for those of you riding
mares, be aware that a sudden quickness or irritability during breeding season
(April to October) could be caused by the mare coming into heat. Heat periods
usually last about 5 days. If you have a fussy mare, try to work through
it or give her a day or two off during her worst days.
Now for some questions that will pertain to any horse. Are you using fly
spray? Do you check your horse's chest and the area of the belly just
ahead of your horse's sheath (geldings) or udder (mares) where the skin is very
thin and a feast for flies? Flies biting in these places can make a
horse very tense while he is being ridden.
your horse's back be sore? A poor fitting saddle, dirty pad or cinch or
a weak back can all contribute to a horse moving short and quick rather than long
Are you tense? If a
rider is tense or nervous (in anticipation of a show, for example) the horse will
pick this up right away and start moving quickly. You need to take a deep
breath, settle deep into the saddle and relax.
Here's a technique tip. When you want to slow down or "rate"
your horse, that is shorten his stride or slow down his tempo, accomplish it with
a series of half halts or "checks" applied at the moment of suspension.
During the canter or lope, suspension comes right after the leading foreleg
lands and the hind legs are reaching forward under the horse's belly. At
the trot or jog, suspension occurs twice during each stride as each diagonal
pair lifts. A half halt or check is a momentary "calling to attention"
and just like the name implies, it is about half a halt! You want to reorganize
your horse by briefly applying your aids for a halt but releasing them before
the horse actually halts.
a series of half halts or checks to rate a horse, be sure you release after
each successful reaction. Do not be tempted to hold on to what you gain
and think you can slow a horse down by constant pressure on the reins. What you
eventually want to do is have your horse learn to hold a gait at a certain tempo
"on the honor system" (dressage riders call this self-carriage) - that
is, on his own without you holding his speed down via the reins.