This week I am going to answer a question from one of our fellow horse enthusiast, Renice de Groot!
Renice asked: “Ed, Stride has reached a concrete wall in his training. He rears everytime his hoof catches a ground pole or refuses them completly. It only recently started”
Here is what I will say to you Renice! We all know that horses can be interesting creatures and they can come up with all sorts of funny things to keep us on our toes.
The first thing to do in a situation like this is to think about the horse that you are riding. What are your horses mental tendencies? Is he busy minded, quick footed, nervous, easily spooked or a silly goofball? Analyzing your horses mental inclinations will help you better determine the best approach to take in order to correct the problem. There is never truly a one size fits all solution.
I happen to remember your horse Stride. He is an off the track thoroughbred with lots of spark and energy. These types of horses are easily excited and not always the easiest to calm down if anything happens suddenly. There is honestly no telling what is causing Stride to resist crossing the poles, but there is on thing that I can bet; when he approaches the poles, his mind is racing a million kilometers per second. This is resulting in the rearing that he is demonstrating.
The best way to combat this behavior is to simply redirect his attention. Due to his inclination to be more energetic, you have to work with his natural inclination and give him something else to do. Long before he approaches the poles, he will give you signals that he would prefer to go somewhere else to avoid going over the poles. His mind has already left YOU and focused on his fear of crossing the poles. In a last ditch effort to get out of crossing the poles, he simply goes up. You have to listen to what your horse is telling you. Do not wait until you get to the poles to correct this.
At the first hint that he is focusing on the poles and not on going where you tell him, remind him that you are up there! You can trot tight tiny circles, turn on the haunches, back up or a number of other exercises to remind him that you are there and that YOU are in control. Once you have done this, forget all about it and simply proceed toward the poles again with confidence. You want to act as if nothing ever happened to give your horse the opportunity to trust you and give him the chance to do what you want. You may have to repeat this process one hundred times, but if you are consistent, Stride will overcome his fear and start crossing the poles with ease!
Best of Luck to you!