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ohhh amaziinn' i love kitten !
Hi, Claire. Nice to have your interest and qniotesus. It's excellent that you checked your horse's teeth (that can be an issue) and also excellent that you are aware things are not working out for this young horse. Lots of riders go right by trouble and live with trouble the horse's entire life. With regard to a horse softening and then regressing to bracing and speed; that response is not normal. At least, not normal with this type of horsemanship. (It is normal in other types of riding.) Something is missing. When horses understand softening, it sticks, like glue, forever. Another rider might ruin the softness, but the horse will be looking for it, their whole life. Horses that understand softness can be turned out almost indefinitely, with no regression. They won't learn anything new in their time off, but they don't forget what they learned. Ray Hunt would say, Horses learn what they live and live what they learn. That doesn't mean your horse is an easy student. A couple of things come to mind. Watch your release and the timing of your release. If the rider's release is late and the horse has already begun to speed up, or brace, the rider is essentially teaching the horse to run and brace. Do you ride a lot, a long time, when you do get to ride? If so, think about adding a lot of variety to every ride, get inventive, build an obstacle course, jumps, whatever might be interesting to your horse. A horse that is bored, or feels overworked, may not learn much, or learn the wrong things in a long boring session. Actually, especially in a long session. A rider can go by the good stuff and end where the horse is confused, again. Try to quit when you and the horse are ahead. If I'm riding a horse that is struggling and that horse suddenly has a breakthrough, I'll quit minutes into a ride. Dismounting and giving the horse a whole lot of time to think can make the difference. However, some horses are very busy. I use all the things you mentioned to slow down the speedy horse. Are you comfortable with speed? If you are, I've had good results letting the speedy horse simply run as fast as they want to run. If I'm worried about the speed turning into bucking, or more than I want to handle, I'll ride in a round pen and let them run as many circles as they want in both directions. It can be useful to combine the two approaches, lots of serpentines and variety, with opportunities to simply run. Be aware, horses that learn to run and prefer to run can run a long time. But I've never met the horse who doesn't know to quit running when they run out of air. I don't take advantage of the horse. I let them try their idea. I'll add one more thing, the rider's attitude means a lot to the horse. I try to approach every difficulty with a positive I'm on your side, horse. Let me help you. Horses feel our intentions, even when we are unaware of our intentions. Claire, second guessing yourself is normal. We all do that. You are leagues ahead with a good attitude and your willingness to think about what you are doing. Those are my initial thoughts. We can talk about it all you want.
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