anxious at halt - help please! (long sorry)

Snow_Pony

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Jul 19, 2007
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My horse is back in work after being turned away for 3 months because of a sore back. I rebacked him once his back was better and he was understandably anxious about being sat on again, he did nothing, but was visibly shaking the first time someone leant across him. We are now at the stage of hacking and schooling in walk and trot, and getting his confidence back. The only real problem thats causing me worry is when I ask him to halt in the school. He will stand for a few seconds, then try to walk on, if not allowed to he can start to paw the ground, and it feels like he lightens on the forehand too, as if he's going to go up. Now he is a good boy, seriously good, it doesnt generally enter his head to play up, but when his back was sore he actually went vertical with me, and did a few bounces on his front legs previous to that. I am very anxious that he does not go up again, and basically want to know if anybody can advise me how I can get him to relax in halt and accept the restriction of not being able to go forward when he wants to. Im so nervous about him rearing (frightened the bejezus out of me when he went vertical :() and maybe am not being as firm with him as I should be. Please help! Thanks x
 

KateWooten

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I think I would try to halt him, and ask him to walk on immediately. Over and over again, every time, sayinig well done, and petting him. Always try to move him on before he moves, so he gets his reward for the halt. Hopefully then you can push to extend the halt from a position of building on success, rather than the current position which feels more like waiting for failure form his point of view.

Next, I'd establish a convenient position to dismount - say, by a mounting block, or near a fence, or whatever, and always get off there. Then, when working him under saddle, whenever he does something truly great, whatever it is, ride straight over to the dismount spot and dismount, continuing ot praise him all the time. Finish the ride there. This establishes the fact that if he really tries for you, he gets rewarded ... and also, that the dismount spot is a happy place. From there, you can start to extend the stand before dismount - because it's already a happy place.

I end most rides, by standing still, doing nothing, for a few minutes. Yours might only be a few seconds at first - but once you've got 'standing still here' fixed as a happy, rewarding place, you can start to build on it.
 

Skyhuntress

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I agree with most of what Kate said. Don't try to maintain the halt too much.
Also, make sure that you halt is being asked by through your seat, and not just the reins. Be very soft with your hands and praise him immediately when he stop for a couple of seconds. Sometimes, for horses that get nervous about it, its easier to work on them when they are tired - so there's less energy to get nervous with
 

laura jeanne

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"I am very anxious that he does not go up again, "

Maybe he is picking up on your anxiety. I used to ride a school horse that would never stand still. I think I got advice on here to totally relax, which I started doing, and he was much better - would stand during the lesson when the RI was talking to us instead of me having to walk her in circles while the others in the class stood there. This is just a thought and may not be the case for you.
 

KateWooten

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Good point there Stormy - but's what's this about 'most' darnit ? Am I losning my touch ? Joseph doesn't get antsy with the actual standing still part, but he did go through a stage of being very bracy during the transition, so I temporarily abandoned all aids for halt (cos I wasn't sure which of htem was making him tense) and went back to a simple verbal command for a while so we could break the tensing habit. Now we're iphasing out the verbal command and it's going well. You might want to try that too if he's getting tense before the actual halt.
 

Sexy Sietske

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Just get on and let him walk his anxiousness off. Have long reins and no leg, let him r e l a a a x. . .

If you just sit there and do nothing he may well stop by himself, and when he does reward him and let him walk off on his own accord, if he doesnt then just ask him to step forward. After doing this a couple of times he may well realise that your not going to kill him sat up there, he kinda needs to realise that your the same on his back than your are on the ground and by just being there and stroking him will gain his confidence with a rider.
 
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