I have been working on lots of ground work with the horse I ride lately. It's been a blast, Parelli training is really fun. Each time we cover something it goes a lot smoothly than before. I've been covering backing through a space, roughly three feet wide and over a pole. At first, the horse I ride was apprehensive about going through that small space and over a pole. Not only was he apprehensive, but my cues and directions were off a little. We made quite the picture. Now, my directions and cues are on spot and he goes through perfectly straight most of the time. It's still a work in progress, but we're getting better. 

Next we cover pivoting(on the ground) while moving only his FQ. At first it was a comedy sketch. He'd sidestep instead of turning and I'd be following. I began to lose my temper and explode on him. We took a break. Now, I can calmly get him to pivot, moving only his FQ and then just his HQ. There is no fight or misunderstanding directions anymore. 

After we pivot and back through gates, we sidestep down the arena. While not exactly straight(more like a bent spoon) we are able to go down the entire arena without any forward movement. I am now working on sidestepping over a pole, he's not sure about that and neither am I. 

Once We've covered ground work, I ride. My trotting is getting smoother and my cues are getting clearer. My only issues is with my canter. My balance is great. Going into the canter is smooth. But I still get nervous whenever my trainer says "Let's work on your canter now.", it wasn't the fall that made me nervous. My nervousness didn't appear until AFTER he started to act up. When he acts up he does the same things:throw and tosses his head;snorts repeatedly;tries to constantly break into a trot then canter;when I ask him to stop, he does, then he tenses up, tucks his head and gets ready to fight;and just recently he paws the ground. All This take place when Julie isn't present and he has a bad attitude. Most times we have NO issues except the ones I'm working on. It isn't that I'm afraid to canter and fall, I'm afraid to canter him alone again and have him take off and Me lose control. Whenever my trainer requests that we canter, I cannot help but to think - what happens when I try this alone? What then? What if I lose control and authority? What if I freak and something happens? It's been a nagging voice in the back of my mind lately. I'm not sure how to put this this fear into words whenever we meet up though. I actually love the feeling of a good canter. And I miss it, but I cannot help but to come up with millions of excuses as to why I cannot canter without my trainer . In the end I leave disappointed in myself. (sigh)  when will it End? 


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Comment by Paula Stevens on December 21, 2014 at 5:52pm

Thank you Jackie, my biggest issue is with being to hard on the reins. I've been working on This for a while now, I'm slow getting better at using legs not reins, but I still foget every now and then. 

Comment by Jackie Cochran on December 21, 2014 at 5:23pm

Since you are riding in an honest-to-goodness REAL bosal your horse is telling you that you are not giving him enough rein.  With a bosal this can hurt MORE than with a bit (those lower jaw bones are thin and sharp.)  Bosals are NOT made to be ridden with contact!  They are made to give a clear signal that is immediately released.  I suspect that if you rode with sagging reins, released your rein aids immediately, and realized that you have a very powerful gizmo on his head he would behave better and you would be much, much happier.  If the rider does not learn to use a bosal properly the horse can learn to "run through it", with constant pressure the skin of the lower jaws becomes numb and the rider loses that delightful lightness a bosal can bring as the horse puts his weight on his forehand and becomes generally unmanageable.  It is not good for the lower jaw bones either, they do not have much more padding as the horse's bars (where the bit acts) and they are JUST AS SENSITIVE as a horse's mouth with a light hand.


If you are scared that your horse will just go faster and faster, here is a tip from higher equitation.  The correct time to give the horse a slowing down rein aid at the canter is when the horse's head comes UP, with relaxed fingers (NOT a hard fist) and immediate release of course.  This is the proper moment of the stride because:  1) you are not blocking the forward thrust of his hindquarters, 2) the horse's hind legs are coming under the horse's body so it is much easier for the horse to use his hind legs as brakes, and 3) when you release your rein aid the horse can move his head and neck to adapt to his new balance (I always move my hands forward an inch or two when I release a rein aid to slow down, sometimes more.)  When a horse bolts and starts to run away he usually give himself a good wallop on the mouth (or nose) so I immediately move my hands FORWARD several inches, then give the above rein aids whenever his head comes up.

These are EFFECTIVE hand aids, this is what I do whenever a horse bolts on me.  Usually the horse responds within three strides (repeating the rein aid each time the horse's head comes up with immediate release) the horse has stopped running away and comes down to a more or less relaxed trot and then to a walk.  Often I get a sort of "what happened?????" reaction from the horse, he WAS going to have a delightful run-away but he finds himself cantering or trotting, well in hand (even on sagging reins) and doing what I want.  No head slinging, diving the head to the ground (you HAVE to give the horse rein or he will try to take it himself), or the horse feeling abused, just a little miffed because I calmly and effectively told him to BEHAVE in such a way that he essentially agreed to do it himself. 

If you want the horse to correctly respond to the rein aids you have to make your hands LIGHT.  With a bosal you don't need contact for the horse to be able to feel you gently closing your fist on a loose rein.  Since you've been sort of hanging on the reins I recommend you start training him with this at a walk, then the trot.  Even at the trot the head comes up a little bit, this is when you apply the rein aid to slow down or stop.

I hope this helps!  It took me decades (and a few runaways) for me to figure this out.

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