Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Training Tip: Remounting – Teaching the horse to respond to the bit



~ * A few notes about the set up: I swear my saddle is not that far forwards; it’s just a bad angle on my dodgy phone photography.  Really!  And doesn’t Joey look kinda grumpy?
  > u <  He is busy wondering what the herd is up to behind him, and I think he wishes that I would feed him and get lost!  : P   * ~

Remounting is a technique that my coach suggested that I use on Joey.  The reason we decided to do this is that Joey has displayed disrespect and pushy behaviour on the ground and under saddle, particularly when bridled.  Now, I know that this behaviour is based on fear – he has decided that his riders are not trustworthy.  He think he is going to be hurt by rein contact, and any pressure on the bit/around his head. 

Still, it’s not acceptable for him to be riding right through the rein contact, so we decided he needed a little reminder that the bit must be respected and that I control his head, and thusly, his direction – whether he likes it or not!

How to do it: 
The exercise is very simple – while on the ground, you unbuckle your reins and tie one rein to the first girth strap on the saddle so that the horse has to flex his head to the side (Note: this could just as easily be a side rein and a surcingle as a saddle).  It doesn’t need to very tight, as you can see from the pictures above, but there does need to be definite flexion to one side or the point of this exercise is lost.  (Also, once the horse is used to the slight flexion, you can adjust the rein tighter to create a more demanding bend.)

Tie the outside rein out of the way.  I tied it around Joey’s neck, out of the way, but not tight enough to interfere with his breathing/downward flexion in any way.

Send the horse forwards for ten minutes, and then the repeat the exercise on the other rein.  Joey ended up walking around me like he was on the lunge and I did have to keep encouraging him to walk on, but really it’s as simple as that.

Warning:  NEVER leave the horse alone tied up like this - ALWAYS supervise the horse in a controlled environment such a a round pen or a small yard.  NEVER tie the horse up for longer than 20 minutes at the most.  Any longer and this becomes detrimental to the horse, and no longer a training technique!!

  As you can see from the pictures above, you horse is then encouraged to find the “soft” spot and carry the bit rather then leaning into/on the reins.  They also learn that they can't pull away from the flexion no matter how hard they try.  Do this for four to five days in a row before your normal exercise program, and then you will find that you won't need to do it anymore! 

This exercise has helped tremendously with Joey’s obedience to the bit aids, and it has helped him to soften his neck and not brace so much which is also very good.

I can really recommend this training exercise if you have a young or green horse that seems to have forgotten how to turn!  It is a safe and gentle way to remind them that the bit cannot be ignored or disrespected. 

Top Tip: 
Start with 5 minutes on a loose rein, the tighten it for the last 5 minutes, then repeat on the opposite rein for maximum effect.  You can also use this exercise right before you go riding so that you have the chance to benefit from it’s softening effect.  

See ya!


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