Help on training some better brakes on a horse!

Alyssa13

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Aug 19, 2016
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Hello! So here's the situation: I'm riding a 13 year old horse, Ace, that is owned by a woman who has fallen ill. She never really cantered the horse much, the only person who cantered the horse frequently was the man who trained him and had a very specific riding style. He has not ridden him in almost a year.

Anyway, I am a mainly english rider. Ace loves to go. He will run till the end of days. At the walk and at the trot, he will stop fairly easily (although not as immediate as I'm used to on most horses, he will take a couple steps verses that immediate halt). However, at the canter, it sometimes takes half way around the ring to get him to stop. It at least takes about 5 strides to get him to come down to a trot, if not more.

But here's the thing: If I canter him on and on, like a good four or more laps around the ring, and he's actually tired, then he immediately comes down when I give him the cue to stop. So that is what leads me to believe that he understands what I am asking when I ask him to stop after cantering him only one lap. This is what confuses me. Because at first, I started to believe I was giving him mixed signals... but if I was giving him mixed signals, I feel he would not immediately understand my cue for him to stop once he gets tired, if that makes sense?

I remember his trainer used to run him into the fence to try to slow him down and get better brakes (like cantering him straight towards the fence and asking Ace to stop right before it). But that only seems to make Ace anticipate cantering towards the fence.

This is how I am asking him to stop at the canter: Sit back down in the saddle and straight (I do not sit his canter as it is like jumping on a giant pogo stick), pull back the reins as in a half halt, and say "woah." I always immediately release the reins once he comes down for his reward.

So, any ideas on any exercises to work on training better brakes? My goal is this: To get to the point where all I say is "woah" and barely contact his mouth and sit and he immediately stops. I have tried searching the internet, but all I seem to find is things about teaching completely green horses how to stop. He is far from green, he knows flying lead changes, collection, sidepass, etc. He's just only been cantered frequently by one person, hasn't been cantered in a while, and loves to run. And of course that one person who cantered him was a professional trainer with 40 plus years of experience. So any ideas would help! THANKS!

If my level of experience is needed: I've been riding about 13 years, used to do 3'6 hunter/jumer but now just ride for fun/ have done some training of horses, but it was always with horses that were lazy and already knew the basics, I basically did the polishing. That's why I've never had a reason to help train for better brakes, I've always been on horses that were more than willing to stop.
 

squidsin

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Feb 16, 2013
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He loves to run! You said it! So does mine. She gets very strong jumping. I ride in a snaffle for schooling and hacking (she still tanks off on hacks and it takes me half a field to pull her up but I don't mind if we're on a tried and tested route) and a Universal for jumping and sponsored rides - anything exciting, basically. If I really need brakes, a snaffle is useless. So you could maybe consider a stronger bit, at least until you get used to him.
 

orbvalley

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Jan 15, 2008
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My last horse was like that, along with my trainer and lots of patience we did get him to realise that not every canter had to be at full pelt. We kept hi "busy" in the school cantering with floor poles, cones, small cavalettis etc so that he needed to be careful rather than just run. Also squeezing the reins, give squeeze the reins, give etc until he eventually came to a stop helped him respond quicker and quicker over time.
I wasn't so successful out hacking though as he'd still tank off with me when he felt the need:rolleyes:
 
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Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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It's really hard stopping a horse with go. I agree with Jessey that loads and loads of transitions are the way forward. Ziggy likes to go in all paces, and I am currently doing some work every hack where he is only allowed to take one step at a time - I mean one FOOT!
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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We have a mare, though I think she might be a bit worse than your one not coming back for 5 strides :eek: On a bad day it might be 3 circuits of the arena. Personally I'd forget the canter transitions for a while and work on halt and walk and walk and trot.

Do the clock face exercise. Work on a circle and decide where 12 o'clock will be, 3 o'clock, 6 and 9, then ask for walk and ask for a halt at 3 o' clock, then walk and ask for halt at 6, then 9 then 12. Work on both reins, then work at stopping at every hour of your clock face.

Then go large, decide you want 12 steps of walk, then halt on no 12, then pick another number, say, 6, ask for 6 steps of walk then halt, keep do this at trot, but maybe not every hour on your clock face, maybe just the hour and half past.

Make sure the horse is not rushing, and don;t pull back on your reins, use your legs and seat to ask for the halt. It's been working wonders with our speedy Gonzalez.
 

joellie

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Apr 24, 2011
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Make sure the horse is not rushing, and don;t pull back on your reins, use your legs and seat to ask for the halt. It's been working wonders with our speedy Gonzalez
Yes this works for my boy, if I pull back on the reins he just takes the bit and goes faster..I use legs, seat and voice ;)
 
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Wally

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Yes this works for my boy, if I pull back on the reins he just takes the bit and goes faster..I use legs, seat and voice ;)
I realised once, I had not deliberately trained for it, but another mare who came to us a bit scatty. Out hacking if we were having a cheeky yeee-ha, if I threw the reins at her, mid gallop, she'd stop. It was something she picked up on.
 
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