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MajorClementine

Softening HELP!

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Clementine has become really hard on the bit. If she doesn't want to turn she'll bring her nose to her shoulder and still be walking in a straight line. What do I need to practice with her to get her soft and moving in the direction I ask. She has also always wanted to turn left so I always have to keep a little pressure on the right line. I think this hasn't helped with her stubborn mouth. Now that I have been driving Candace, Clementine's stubborn mouth is so much more noticeable to me. I'm sure it's something I've done but I need to fix it. She's so much more work to drive than Candace. She's a "get up and go" horse so she's really fun to drive but she's gotten really hard to steer. Help... :GiveUp

 

Do I go back to ground driving? Lunging? I'll gladly take any advice or tips.

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Please click here to view our members Mini Horses, Ponies, and Tack for Sale ads!

ill throw in a noseband might help. also going back to ground driving might help changing the bit might help too. good luck.

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I went through this with my last horse. He seemed to be driving all right and we were doing pretty well--and then all the sudden he turned into a dangerous flake. He could go straight with his nose on his shoulder too.

I went back to ground driving. I changed his bit. We worked on turns and transitions. He just kept getting worse and worse. I gave up on him because he was no fun and he was destroying my confidence. Hopefully your horse does not follow my scenario.

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Have you checked her teeth? Cappy was (and still is a little) stiff and resistant turning to the right. He had a really sharp hook on a tooth on that side that when the bit came into play was pinching his cheek and when the vet fixed it, he slowly improved. It took awhile as he was used to carrying himself crookedly because of it.

 

 

I fell into the pressure on the opposite line to try and keep hi straight and it made him dull. A constant pressure gives them something to lean on and he loved to lean.

Ground driving might help, it did with Cappy. I would ask for a turn and if no response I would ask again using the whip lightly on the inside, right behind the girth on the side in the direction I was turing as an incentive to move his body foward and around. I wasn't too good at it, but it helped.

And I used a fence to help turn, walking or trotting to the fence (ground driving) and asking for a turn. They HAVE to turn that way and it was a good way for him to learn that this cue means "go left NOW!"

 

Jeannie had a good idea with the nose band!

 

Oh, and I learned this from riding my big pony years ago, don't forget to release the rein on the opposite side from the direction that you are turning (if turning left, release but support with the right rein) or you will be blocking the horses ability to turn. I got yelled at a lot for that during lessons, lol. I still do it, too but if I do it with Peanut, I hear about it :-). It is second nature for me to hold and not release.

 

Hope some of this helps a little. Does your dad's friend who is the sales agent train? Maybe he would have some better ideas, these are just things I cobbled together from Cappy and my lessons with him last year and also from my riding mare.

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Okay, help me understand on the "nose band". She has a noseband on her driving bridle but is there something else?

I think (hope) this is something we can work through. She can be good and soft but when she wants to be stubborn (and yesterday she was...but maybe due to not feeling well *see "Your Driving Day" post).

 

I'll go back to some ground driving and cone work. I don't use my whip often because my hands are bad (arthritis) but I need to. I think, with Clementine, it would help her know what I am asking for.

 

Yes to releasing the off rein pressure. I think sometimes it's possible that I'm trying to hold her back and don't release enough pressure on the opposite side.

 

Raymund does train and probably does have some ideas but he's in Iowa and the Amish aren't great at returning phone calls ;) However, I think I will take your advice and leave a message on his work phone (he has an egg farm) and see if he'll get back to me. One of the Fjords had a hard mouth and he softened him up a lot.

 

Thanks guys! Any and all help is very much appreciated.

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What does the noseband look like? Mine is a separate piece from the bridle itself and looks like an english bridle cavesson. It goes on first and then the bridle goes on. I don't use it too tight, just tight enough that if Cappy starts gumming and opening his mouth he feels it there. It helps him keep his mouth less busy.

The woman I took lessons from a years or so ago said that for training we could use a dropped noseband, but we never got around to that and I am not sure how to adjust those properly. I think Marsha has used one if I am remembering right. I think she posted a picture of it awhile back.

I bet Raymund will have a bunch of good ideas!

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Clementine's noseband is part of the bridle but is on it's own straps...if that makes sense. It does look like a cavesson. I don't have it so tight is clamps her mouth shut but she can't open her mouth wide to get out of the bit. I can take pictures tomorrow and you can help me understand if this is what you are talking about.

I think I'm going to put her harness on (minus breast collar) and do some ground driving in the arena around cones. I don't want to work her too hard after realizing we may have some discomfort along with other issues but I'd like to get her out again while I'm here. Just an easy 15-30 minute lesson for the two of us to work together.

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A dropped noseband really is the very best thing to use if a horse is gaping its mouth and evading the bit. An ordinary cavesson noseband is never to be used for this purpose. Never. I take my cavessons off except when showing-- if a blinker bridle takes then I use a noseband that runs through the cheekpieces or just a shoelace to hold the cheeks in place.

 

I do not have time just now to address the issue of vending the neck too far around/not turning--maybe later I can get back and and something.

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Minimor, I am curious why it is not appropriate to use a regular cavesson? My instructor had me go to one first, and then she was going to move up to the dropped noseband if he was still having an issue. Was this wrong? I am just trying to learn something new, Thanks!

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I think another name for the dropped noseband is a flashband. In catalogs, seems like most of the English bridles have them. My dressage dil showed me how to do one with a shoestring. I used it on two of the horses I failed with. Still failed. Both were serious evaders and had tongues as supple as eels. I have not seen a flashband on a miniature headstall, but I'd like to find one and have it in my tack.

I'm so sorry to hear about Clementine's troubles. Isn't it interesting that we all try our best to see that our horses are well cared for, and things still happen. (I wouldn't have believed that a hrose of mine could suffer a galloping case of pinworms and me not know about it.)

When my older gelding is snappy, I think it is due to his arthritis. Sounds like Clementine may be having some pain. Don't mares sometimes have ovarian cysts? Maybe she has something like that going on.

Your comment that you are sure it's something you've done is a red flag to me. Don't assume it's your fault; it could be that the two of you are not made for each other, or that she is not meant to be a driving horse.

Gosh, I sound like I know what I'm talking about and I'm a two time loser!

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