The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Fence smashing

To start, mostly ugly.

Max had very little forward.  Absolutely lethargic walk and trot, and some strange action with his neck the first ride I was on him.  He had been ridden in a running martingale.  Steered around seemingly fine in that on a basic level, but without any engine at all.

Without the martingale, yep, a bit more forward.  That’s the Good.  (And that’s a start.)

The Bad, is that there’s now very little control over him at all.

after martingale

He can go from curling his neck completely under, avoiding all influence and basically doing what he wants. – To whipping his neck up, snatching with his head in the very next step.


Curled under like this there’s very little “feel” to him.  We’re basically two different little lumps, bashing around.  Trying my best not to touch him in the mouth uncomfortably, but he still does this.

curing under

Here and there he’s extremely cute!  It will be fun to see where Max will be with some more work – I’m sure we can figure it out!

starting with Max

20 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

  1. My little pony was ridden in a running martingale before I got her, and we’re running into the same issues. She’s getting better now though. I can finally take a wee bit of contact with immediately getting the ‘curl’ or brace.

    I wish people wouldn’t use running martingales…. especially on babies. it really messes them up.


    1. OK well that’s encouraging to hear. I know you haven’t had her very long, and I remember you didn’t start her up with full training right away.
      How long did you feel it took her to relax, and dare to reach out for contact with you? 3 months, 5?


      1. Well, i’ve had her since April, and she’s just now starting to reach out and relax into contact at the walk (and once in a blue moon at the trot). It’s not consistent, nor what I’d call quality, but she’s beginning to get the idea.

        I’ve always avoided buying any horse that curls, or ducks behind contact, because it is a frustratingly difficult evasion to fix. The pony wouldn’t be here if she had curled during the test ride. She must’ve been saving that trick for the right owner. Haha

        I love your horses!! I am totally drooling over your new ride. You’ll have him fixed up in no time. And he’ll be a lot happier for your effort.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. OK I think you’re doing a fantastic job with her if gotten that far since April. Good for you!
          Max is handsome, and very special to his owner – we’re a little team right now, trying from all ends to get him to his happy spot!


  2. When I first got my guy, he liked to over bend at the pole and 2 steps later poke his nose way out just like Max seems to do. I found it very helpful to use draw reins. My horse was also quite sensitive to me touching his mouth, so I just kept my reins a little tighter than the draw reins, so that when he went to poke his nose out, he will be encouraged to tuck it back in. I applied that method with a little bit of leg before he tucked his nose, so now, 3 years later, when I feel hes getting ready to poke his nose, a little bit of leg puts it right back in his place. He seemed to work out the “over bending” at the pole, maybe it’s just a young thing? Hope I gave you something helpful to try! Good luck in his training.

    Love, thepereq


    1. Not quite ready to try anything drawrein related. He curls much more than snatching, and is not very forward at all. Feeling he’s very sensitive and could easily get very mad, and sad. We’ll see how it works out…
      First of I tried a kind regular snaffle yesterday, it got worse (!) So we’re back to square one 😉


  3. As a previous commenter said, fixing a horse that curls the neck is one of the hardest things to accomplish. It’s a total evasion of the contact and you might need some professional help somewhere along the way. It’s hard telling why he doesn’t trust the bit, but the goal is to get him to see that the bit is his friend. Something he can relax into, balance on, and receive communication from the rider. Gaining his trust will definitely take some serious time, so don’t feel in a hurry. And yes, he is very cute!


    1. Thank you!
      I, like so many, often think things can resolve faster than is actually possible.
      It will take longer than I ever imagined, I’m sure. Appreciate your input!
      Have a feeling I’ll be returning to the subject in later posts…
      I always absolutely LOVE hearing from other riders and their experiences with similar issues!


      1. A four year old warmblood is a really young horse although a lot of people start their horses around age 2. We have a 7 year old Hanoverian at our barn who is just now starting to settle down, and he has had the best, most appropriate, consistent training any horse could have. But all horses are different, and Max could possibly be a quick study if he is presented with the proper information. Gadgets are probably not going to help him as much as proper considerate riding will. Soft, steady hands that never pull, and a seat that knows how to tell him to get in front of your leg and seek the bit will be key factors. This is why I mentioned that some professional eyes on the ground may be required. And of course, if you ask 10 horse people a question you will get 11 opinions–so I know you will do what you think is best and not necessarily go willy-nilly trying every piece of advice that is offered in a blog comment!


        1. Well said!
          And, it’s encouraging to hear about other large warmbloods who have taken their sweet time “finding them selves”!

          We’ll be taking our time with this. Small amounts of work. Lots of praise. Building up a bit of strength with walking over a few simple ground poles and trotting over them a bit here and there without ever over doing it. He is a Very young horse, and with his size not exactly balanced at all yet. I think that’s where most of his problems are right now – he’s tense, and not really all that sure about what’s expected and how to go about getting his body around.

          And yes, sometimes I don’t even write about all the things that go on – not always worth the input :0

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like you have some interesting work ahead of you. What about a judicious (not too much or too often) bit of lunging with not too tight side reins? Just to teach him the idea of reaching into steady contact with the bit…


    1. It was my absolute first thought, and also to see the way he moves, where he is in his balance, and to establish a better work ethic – encouraging him to actively move out from the get go.
      Unfortunately that is not going to work right now. Or at least not for me. He is not on the same page, and has learned a few tricks that are pretty far out there.
      I’ll keep my front teeth for now, and revisit it later for sure. I think you’re absolutely right!


      1. Yes, be careful. Definitely not worth losing your teeth! Or breaking your nose. If he needs that martingale, well, use it. What a shame he got off to a bad start.


        1. For now, we’re trying without the Martingale several more times. (But I hear you loud and clear!) I’d love to show him that it can all be quite relaxing. Giving it an honest try.
          I think he’s just an extra sensitive and worried guy, nothing really bad has happened to him, he just hasn’t figured out at all that it’s a team effort to work under saddle.
          Have a feeling I’ll come and ask you for advice again! 🙂


          1. Probably need to go two steps back with this guy, if he was a bit rushed and worried about it all. You will do that well. I sense that you have a nice calm way with the youngsters. Pole work would be great, too, to get his head down 🙂


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