Post Office Box Victor Harbor
These horses frustrate the hell out of me and no doubt the rider's aboard them, but we can never blame the Horse. Why does it happen and how can we fix it? It isn't easy.
The term 'Resistance' sure describes this habit but what causes it? There are all sorts of forms of resistance and this is yet another one.
When the young horse is broken in, hopefully it knows not to be resistant and only gradually, due to the inexperience of riders' does it learn the various forms of it. The more I think about this subject the more technical I could get but I shall try not to.
Perhaps I can start by asking you this question. Why don't horses with side reins fixed on chuck and reef their heads in an attempt to gain a longer rein? You would think that they would do it more as they are restricted more whereas the worst culprits seem to be the kid horse/pony clubber or mum's trail horse. Perhaps the key lies here.
Certainly there is a common thread of inexperience in a lot of these riders' and a kindness that is taken a little too far with regard to the assertiveness and rule setting with rein control.
To answer the previous question re the side reins then, it is my humble opinion that the horse knows the guidelines when side reins are set, it knows the boundaries, it knows that there is no profit in reefing soft or hard as they are not going to move and above all, they learn that if they stay soft they get 'reward and relief' and find a more comfortable place to be. It is their decision. They gain the benefit of the best 'timing and release' that there is, themselves. So how and why do we train the rein reefer?
To start the answer to that question, let me ask another one. Why do people insist upon holding a contact against the mouth of a horse when it is not under the Judge's eye in competition or in training mode for whatever discipline one engages in? This is where the problem starts as horses are not stupid. They are great judges' of riders' who do not have empathy or treat them without justice. So a couple of classic examples:
This is what happens.....
I have closely watched horses at play with the hands of riders' and I am convinced that the reason why they continue to pull on the hand is that they know that they can actually move it, control it, even though it may mean minor discomfort to their mouth, but predominantly, they do it to get a break.
When a horse tries to reef away from a set of side reins, they run into a brick wall with their mouth and at their choosing, they experience the degree of discomfort that they are willing to bare but they will always find their level and give up. With the hand of a rider, they soon find that they can move it backwards and forwards and it soon becomes a play thing. They never experience a true demand as in Dressage training, rider's leg on, horse driven into the bit until horse gives and goes soft and then the rider softening to a kind contact. So, this is how it starts, but how to fix it? as some horses even get to the stage of having a mental condition with it.