Running through the bit

I have been riding a 4 year old gelding for about 2 weeks now. Things are going well but every once in a while I will ask him to go left or right and he will bend and begin to turn, then he takes off straight ahead with his ...I have been riding a 4 year old gelding for about 2 weeks now. Things are going well but every once in a while I will ask him to go left or right and he will bend and begin to turn, then he takes off straight ahead with his ...

Story originally posted by: Maggie Flowers

Hello Maggie,

I have been riding a 4 year old gelding for about 2 weeks now. Things are going well but every once in a while I will ask him to go left or right and he will bend and begin to turn, then he takes off straight ahead with his head turned. It is an awful feeling. Leg pressure seems to have no effect on him when he does this. Is there something missing for the ground work? Am I doing something wrong to make him do this? He is in a snaffle bit and very green, but is coming along well except for this problem. I hope you can give me some idea of what to do.

Thank you,
Cliff

Hello Cliff,

You made the correct observation, he is young and green. But my main concern is not that he is confused at executing your desired action since he is doing it, but, as you mentioned, taking the bit and runnning with it. What causes this is a slight riders error.

You are, I assume, giving the correct leg and direct rein cue or else he wouldn’t be doing any of it in the first place. What I think you are doing is applying a constant cue. In other words you’re not giving the cue then releasing it. This stage of training, which he is still learning, is an action of give and release throughout the entire turning phase. Remember give the cue at least one full stride before expected point of execution. This gives the horse the time to assimilate the command, balance and prepare himself to execute what you want.

Remember also that this horse has a young mouth and when giving the direct rein commands you must maintain a direct but soft handed manner. Doing the give and release exercise will help you to keep soft hands to avoid souring or toughing his mouth. That’s why he takes the bit and runs with it, it may be hurting him.

Being gentle doesn’t mean giving up the control. Be conscience of what your legs and hands are doing. Practice this, you will most likely see and feel a great change in your young horse’s attitude.

Good luck!

Maggie Flowers