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I ride a 7 year old Quarter Horse, she is very choppy naturally. So loping her hurts me. I tend to go all over the place. I know that she is in the right lead. My body is painting the saddle just in a very painful way by me raising 4 inches out of my saddle. I’m going into rodeo soon and I need to get this lope better. How can I fix this?
Breanne

HI Breanne,

Start by making sure you are applying the aids correctly and sitting the lope correctly – even with a horse with a rough gait, it will help things be more comfortable.

You can read all about that here on this blog or on my website. In either place use the search tools for canter or lope and you will find many articles. Here for example is one on this blog

Sitting the Canter or Lope

 

For more information refer to

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Hi Cherry,

I am a very young person and i have a greenbroke arabian i green broke him myself but i cant get the bit in and he  always jerks back and i cant put it on the way i am supposed to cause i am shorter and his head goes up a long ways what do i do to keep his head down so i can bridle him. Maci

Hi Maci,

Did you read this post Head Handling?

Here is another article from my website: Difficult to Bridle.

Once you have read those articles and taught your horse not to fear you touching his head, ears and mouth and you have taught him to open his mouth – all without the bridle being anywhere around………then when you bring out the bridle, it will be easy.

You might also want to read this book.

I suggest using this bridling method – you ask your horse to lower his head, put your right arm between his ears with your right hand holding the headstall. Your left hand presents the bit to the horse’s mouth. This photo shows the first bridling for this horse which went well because he had done all his homework !

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Hi Cherry,

Any tips on what is the correct and or safest thing to do when riding out and you are chased by dogs, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time that usually come rushing out of a driveway?

Also many thanks for all the info you have shared over the years through your books.  Because of you I have safe horses and have had wonderful experiences.

Nancy

Hi Nancy,

It is great to hear my books have been helpful !

I talk about dogs in my books “How to Think Like a Horse” and “What Every Horse Should Know” so if you have those books, you’ll find some anecdotes with the late great Sassy one of my former riding horses. She was naturally a NO FEAR horse, very aggressive with other animals including big mother cows, llamas, dogs and even the wolf hybrids that used to live down the road from us.

She taught me the most effective means of dog control was to wheel around and chase them all the way home and back into their driveway! She was not hesitant to kick a dog if it nipped her heels. So it was often kick, wheel and chase. Some horses aren’t wired to do that sort of thing naturally, but once I saw how effective it was, I taught some of my other horses at least the wheel and chase part.

With those particularly sticky wolf hybrids I also carried one of those water pistols  – the ones that you can pump and shoot a stiff stream of water quite far. It only took a couple of times and they learned to respect our space.

With all that said, I guess I really should have started by saying step number one should be to call the owners of the problem dogs and ask them to keep them contained. However, in some rural areas, dogs are left to run loose whether the owners are home or not, so it is good to have a plan in place.

Have a safe and enjoyable ride.

 

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May 2011
Translated into Finnish:

Ymmarra hevostasi
Hevosen kasvatus ja koulutus
luonnonmukaisella tavalla

Cherry Hill

Publisher Karisto

How to Think Like a Horse by Cherry Hill - Finnish Translation

How to Think Like a Horse
The Essential Handbook for Understanding
Why Horses Do What They Do

by Cherry Hill

See English Edition

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Hi. My problem is, i can get this gelding to move out.. NICELY, in the beginning? He’s 6-10yrs. old. BUT, he ACT’S like he’s a BABY in this WORLD! I can get a good ride from him for about 1hr. then he’s HAD ENOUGH! He WON’T GO ant FURTHER! But, if we are HEADING HOME.. well he’s AWESOME! I have a HACKAMORE I use, verses a BIT? Either way.. the same RESULT’S?? He has SHOE’S, he’s been INJECTED for WORM’S? A FRIEND said his TEETH NEEDED FLOATING, cause he DOES THROUGH his HEAD? I had his EAR’S CLEANED. The SADDLE is light, and I weigh about.. 180lbs. H’s a fairly BIG GELDING. to ME he look’s like he MAY have SOME MUSTANG?? Even when I ride with another person, he FALL’S BEHIND?? Im FEEDING him, ALFALFA in the a.m. and OAT HAY in the EVENING? He WAS on GRAIN, BUT, I DIDN’T feel he NEEDED the X-TRA, cause he’s DOESN’T have that GRAIN NEED?? He has NEVER URINATED during ANY RIDE’S. I’ve had this HORSE at a RANCH, at that TIME.. ONLY MEN could him to REALLY MOVE.. UP & DOWN
hill’s like a HURRICANE! BUT, as soon as ANY FEMALE mounted.. NOTHING!! So, I read a note by Keith Hodsen, about CONSISTENCE, so I brought him home? And began OUR TRUST from EACH OTHER.. and NOW they CAN’T BELIEVE I’VE got him to go as FAR as we have?? Can YOU HELP?? Thank YOU for YOUR TIME. Paula

Hello Paula,

Because you use a lot of question marks, it seems you have a list of questions. Because you use a lot of CAPITAL LETTERS I’m not sure exactly what topic you want me to talk about. 

If you answer these questions, perhaps I can help.

Is this horse your horse?

Do you work with him every day?

Do other people ride the horse on a regular basis?

Do you care for your horse at home?

What is your one question?

If your question is how to make the horse move forward, I’ve answered that question a number of times already in this blog and on my website.

To find the answer on this blog, in the right hand column, there is a blank box with a SEARCH button under it. Type in the word forward and the search will produce those articles asking how to make a horse go forward.

On my website, www.horsekeeping.com there is a large group of articles called the Horse Information Roundup where you can do the same thing with the search button on top of the page.

I recommend you read this book.


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Hi Cherry,

Thanks for your great website! I lease an aged (18?) purebred Arabian gelding as a trail horse.  (He’s an ex endurance horse, now semi retired) Boy is lovely, forward moving and full of personality. I am thinking of buying him off his owner, however his canter is quite rough and hurts my back. Is there any way of changing this gait in an aged horse, or should I simply accept he is what he is?

Thanks heaps! Melissa (Australia)

Hi Melissa,

You can always “teach old dogs new tricks” but at 18 and with the wear and tear of his previous life, Boy’s rough canter might be a result of arthritis more than training. Perhaps he has lost flexion in some part of his body, lumbar/loin area, hocks, stifle………I first am targeting the areas at the rear of the horse that are usually responsible for a smooth, flowing canter. But the problem could also be in the front end – wear and tear (arthritis) in the pasterns, fetlocks and knees.

I’d suggest asking your veterinarian to give the horse a specific pre-purchase exam – that is, one that would evaluate his movement and to determine if he is suffering from arthritis or another lameness or unsoundness that causes his rough movement.

Here are some related articles on my website:

The Pre-Purchase Contract

Unsoundness

Veterinary Tests and Exams

Horse for Sale: How to Buy a Horse or Sell the One You Have

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Hi Cherry,

I have purchased a new mare (2mths ago) after being out of the saddle for 16yrs.  This mare is 7yrs old & hadn’t been ridden regularly for the last 3yrs, apart from being forward she has shown no signs of being anything but quiet.
Her rushing, is the one issue i’m continuing to have, I know that this is due to the lack of regular handling over the past 3yrs.
Outside of a walk she just wants to take the bit and race…(at a walk I can ride her all day on a loose rein, she listens to my seat and aides, I can change directions and halt with no pressure on the rein or bit, but only at the walk), she fights me in every other gate…her head comes up & she looses her flow, she ignors all aides asking her to “slow” I don’t want to have to fight her at the bit & end up with a dead mouthed horse, I have never had heavy hands with any of my past horses & would like this mare to understand that pressure is gone when she slows & listens to my seat & voice, thing is as soon as she does slow & I release the pressure that brought the response I was after, the fight starts all over again (also I think I might clarify that, I don’t yank or see-saw her mouth, by fight I mean restrain her, I ask for collection & balance I ask for her to listen to my voice and my seat to try slow her pace again but the more I ask for slow the
more cranky she seems to get) I’ve had her teeth done, her back is not sore, I bought a brand new saddle that fits her correctly and I don’t feed her anything, I think if I fed her on top of what she gets just from her paddock she would founder (she is an extremly good doer and is very fat now), she has a salt & mineral lick but thats prettly much it, so no “hot” feed at all!
I am currently doing the only thing I know worked for a race horse I got from the track once, which is… apply a half check as soon as she starts to race, if I get no response I halt and ask for her to back but she refuses to back (she plants herself even when she’s collected and “on” the bit), if I apply slightly more pressure she will then just over collect and put her head on her chest (very frustrating) & I don’t know how to rectify this, I haven’t had this problem before & when I asked for movement last time she refused to back…with just a nudge / sqeeze from my legs she rared up, I in no way want to encourage that so have not pushed for her to back, hence I’m looking for answers.
I include “back” with ground exercises, which she does with no fuss but this hasn’t transfered under saddle, all these exercises that I’ve tried and have worked for me in the past, arn’t working on her, instead she’s getting “piggy” with the flat work and the ground exercises so I break up the routine & do different things with her…her past owners had her graded in both dressage and jumping so I don’t understand why she’s not responsive to me asking her to slow using my seat and half checks.
Due to her past education she is receptive to directional leg aides and that is helping with teaching her basic reining (with the exception to backing she is learning to neck rein ok) to help her move better with the cattle, all of this is at a walk and to use her outside of a walking pace I need her to losen up, slow down &; keep her head from reaching for the clouds, I don’t want to use martin gails or anything like it, I don’t believe she needs them, I just want to relax and calm her & get her responsive outside of a walk, she has such lovely movement when she’s not fighting.
I currently ride her with an egg butt snaffle bit (would you reccomend changing bits?), i’m trying different ground exercises & i’m also trying to lunge her but she doesn’t seem to yet understand my indicators for her to move out…(I don’t have a round yard, just open area and cattle yards) I have tried also to long rein her as an alternative to also get her responsive to my voice, but i’m not very good at not getting tangled, it is a good thing that she wasn’t phased by my inability to keep the long leads from falling down around her hoofs…I know that this is a long explanation, but I wanted to give you as much info as I possibly could…hope you can help & possibly advise me on some alternative exercises to try.
Kind Regards
Beth

Hi Beth,

Most of the elements of my answer and suggestions to you are already in your question. They include going back to ground training, that is in-hand work, free longeing, line longeing, and long lining and making a strong association with the mare that she can move in balance in each gait without rushing.

101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises

Rushing is a sign that a horse has lost her balance and confidence.

When you have trouble with things when riding, it just shows the basics have never been established, so that means going back and reviewing everything from square one and finding where the holes are. In this mare’s case, I’d imagine if you trotted alongside her in-hand, she’d probably try to zoom ahead of you. If you free longed her, she would probably rush at the trot and canter in poor form and with a too-quick rhythm. And so on. So its no wonder that she would do the same when being ridden.

Doing simple things well with you on the ground will help make a solid connection between you and the mare. All of the exercises you do in-hand and when longeing and ground driving will be a balance act between driving aids and restraining aids, just as you use when riding.

You’ll be surprised at how working on the basics will improve the mare under saddle.

Some of my favorites exercises, whether as ground training exercises or when riding are:

Frequent transitions of all kinds, both upward and downward, between gaits and within gaits. So instead of trotting around and around, you’d only trot a few strides, then maybe walk or maybe extend the trot, or collect the trot, but always be changing things up. The more you develop a give and take with the mare, the more balanced and steady she will become when moving at one gait for an extended period of time.

Walk-Halt-Back-Trot out of the Back and then Walk and repeat

Walk-Trot 4 steps-Walk repeat and vary the number of steps of trot, increasing as long as the horse stays balanced and rhythmic.

Add lateral bending (turning) to any exercise when a horse starts to speed up. Lateral bending, when done correctly, causes a horse’s legs to automatically slow down. So two strides (4 beats) of trot straight, then a full circle and repeat, that sort of thing.

Yes you want to use half halts or checks as you ride and be sure to yield when the horse does soften and slow down.

As far as a bit change, more than likely that is not the problem. You should be able to do whatever you need to do with an egg butt snaffle.

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My horse, Takoda, is a paint/halflinger. before my first walk trot show this year he would stop on a dime, and do everything i asked! but now that i moved up to novice, when ever i stop after we are done working, he wont move. i try to turn him, i used a crop and he dident seem to care! so in the end i HAVE to get off and pull him!  i can have someone pull him or smack him but he just wont listen! I was told to turn him around, to keep him moving and i do but when im done he just stands there! i mean i dont ride him that often cause i have other things to! but he just wont listen to ME! when ever I  have my sister get on him hes fine! but as soon as i get back on, NOTHING!
Im geting so mad! what should i do? please help! Cathryn

Hello Cathryn,

Do you take riding lessons or work regularly with a qualified horse trainer? If not, it would be a good idea to pursue one or both of those avenues to get some “hands on” help with you and your horse. Whenever someone says a horse used to be good and now is not so good AND when my sister rides he is fine but as soon as I get back on, there are problems, well you can see where that leads us. Add to that the fact that you are getting mad, well, it clearly shows that you would benefit from a qualified instructor’s help. Perhaps you can find one through your local 4-H, Pony Club or Horseman’s Association.

If you don’t know of an instructor, you could contact The American Riding Instructors Association, known as ARIA.

When you get to the website, in the left hand column there is a link to help you find an instructor in your area.

There is something you are doing with your mind and body language that is interfering with you becoming an effective rider. A good riding instructor will be able to identify what is occurring and help you over come that so your horse gets the message that it is not only OK but desirable for him to move forward.

I’ve answered a similar question recently Horse Won’t Move Forward which should give you some good ideas.

And visit my Horse Information Roundup where you can find all sorts of helpful articles on riding and training.

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My mare, who is 30 years old, but acts like she’s about 20 years younger, loves to be ridden and loves to run up the hills. She has so much energy that she’s hard to keep at a walk especially out on trails, and in the field. She wants to be in the lead and doesn’t like being in the rear or even in the middle of the group. She’s also forgotten how to WHOA when told. So I’m constantly pulling on her to stop (never used to have to do that). I can deal with all that, after all she’s 30! Do horses after a certain age forget things? But, my problem is keeping the saddle and pads in place. They’re always slipping no matter how much I tighten the girth. I also use a breast collar on her. I thought that would help keep the saddle in place. Any suggestion?  Mary

Hi Mary,

Your question reads like a story about aging horses and saddle fit.

When a horse’s back begins to drop (sway) it is almost impossible to keep the saddle up near the vicinity of the withers. Instead, gravity and the rider’s weight cause the saddle to slip down the slope created by the prominent withers (the peak) and the now lower back.

Even if you tighten and re-tighten the cinch, the tendency will be for the saddle and you to slip rearward and settle down in the valley of the horse’s sagging topline.

You’ve tried the logical solution – use a breast collar to HOLD the saddle forward. But alas that just causes extreme pressure on the horse’s chest and shoulders as the weight of the saddle and rider pull against them as the saddle tries to slip back.

Which brings me to the change in behavior in your horse. You say you always have to keep pulling on her to stop her or slow her down now – you didn’t have to do that in the past. That’s because when a horse has back pain from pressure and/or an ill-fitting saddle and when a horse is thrown off balance because of tight tack and pressure, the horse might instinctively do one of several things.

Buck like heck to get rid of the saddle and pain, rub or roll to get the saddle off, or as many trained horses will do, move fast and tense. Part of your mare’s exuberance might be due to her being full of energy, but in so many cases, quick, tense movement is associated with pain and imbalance.

So the solution to everything is finding a saddle that fits. This is something you will need to do locally so that the expert saddle fitter can see your horse in person. Once you get a saddle to fit your mare, you might be surprised to see how you will be able to ride with a looser cinch, how much more comfortable your mare will be and how she will resume her normal gaits.

If you care to reply with the state or area you live in, perhaps someone will write in suggesting a saddle fit expert in your area.

Read more articles on tack and riding here on my Horse Information Roundup.

Best of luck,

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Hi Cherry,

You list movies in the Horsekeeping Almanac. I highly recommend BUSH CHRISTMAS an oldie but goodie to watch.  Carole

Hi Carole,

Thanks ! That’s one I had not heard of. I wonder if you are referring to the original 1947 movie or the 1983 remake?

Here’s a little bit about the movie:

In a small town in Australia, five children riding their horses from school take a forbidden path and meet two strangers, who give them money and make them promise not to tell anyone about them. The two men learn about Lucy. She’s a mare belonging to Mr. Thompson, a sheep farmer and the father of three of the children: Helen (the oldest), John, and six-year-old Snow (so named for the color of his hair). The other two are Michael, an English boy staying with the Thompsons, and Neza, an Australian black who is the son of one of Mr. Thompson’s stock men. The two men (a third one joins them later) prove to be horse thieves, and when Lucy and her foal turn up missing the next morning, the children know it must have been them. Later, the children tell Mrs. Thompson they’re going camping. But their real plan is to find the thieves and get Lucy and the foal back.

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