- Retraining a Horse Who is Heavy on Your Hand
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Which causes the horse to pull more; causing the rider to haul more…. Heaviness can also manifest itself in the horse becoming over bent through the poll. This is often the result of too harsh a bit having been applied to the mouth.
Retraining a Horse Who is Heavy on Your Hand
But really they are just forced into, and learn to hold, a shape which inhibits their natural movement. This results in their training stalling and going stagnant. Due to horse being fixed in this unnatural shape, he learns to brace against his riders hands to hold himself there. Before you begin focusing on your horse, make sure your seat is indeed truly independent. Especially that you are not dependent on the reins for support or confidence.
Also, begin paying more attention to your aids.
Confusion on either you or your horses part will almost always result in a loss of balance. Each time when you are asking your horse for something, begin to apply and use your aids in a sequence. Doing things this way will allow you to prepare both yourself and your horse in a way that will interfere the least with the natural flow of energy and balance. Start by working in walk and begin asking for halt using your seat and core muscles. Finally, close your ring fingers on the rein, resist with your hand.
Many riders will have been advised at some point to lift up their hand as they give the rein aid. As soon as the horse responds, even a step, reward by softening the rein. Softening does not mean throwing the reins at your horse or dropping the contact. Be sure to reward as soon as he does so.
Sometimes you will have to be quite stern on your horse, particularly if he has become quite good at ignoring you! Make sure that while you are being firm, you are also holding your correct position and asking correctly for the halt — just applying more pressure as you do so. Once your horse has halted, ask him to stand for a few seconds. Use this time to reevaluate your position and correct it if necessary.
He should merely wait patiently for your next question and then respond accordingly in a timely fashion. No dilly dallying!!
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When you are satisfied that you are sitting correctly, ask him to walk on again, using your seat and legs. Make sure that although you have a contact, you are allowing him to step into the walk, not resisting with hard hands or arms… Soft, Soft, Soft. Walk for 5 strides and again, using sequence of the seat, then legs and finally hands, ask for halt again.
Be firm if necessary, but make sure that you are not leaning back and hauling.
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Let the firmness come from your core, with your legs underneath you, rather than having a tug of war leaning backwards and hauling for all your worth! Once you have established a good baseline for halt, using the seat, legs then hands sequence, ask for halt again. You can do this by squeezing the ring finger two or three times. As soon as your horse yields to the pressure and bends the head and neck reward him.
Do this softening the rein and using the voice if necessary to reward.
Repeat to this same exercise to the left. If you horse is more hesitant one way or the other, make a note of this. I suggest working some suppling exercises into his schooling sessions to begin remedying the problem. Reward any small step in the correct direction. Then use this as your measuring stick to gauge how much progress you are both achieving over time. Your horse should continue to remain in a square halt while he does the above exercises. You may find that he wants to move his shoulders to try counter balance himself.
Use your legs to hold him in a square halt. Again, remember to only ask for small movement in the head and neck to begin with.
You can also begin to add some trot in to the schooling, particularly transitioning between walk and trot. Choose an amount of trot strides you want to ride, perhaps 5 or 6, each time and make sure it is an active working trot that you are riding.
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