How Can I Make My Horse Understand That There’s a Time and a Place for Jogging?!
“My horse jogs and swings his quarters into other horses whenever he gets excited. I don’t mind when we’re on a bridleway but it’s a nightmare on a road. I ride him in a pelham and a running martingale to stop him taking off but the more I hold him back the more he swings his bottom into the traffic. What can I do to show him he needs to behave when we’re on the road?”
The simple answer is you can’t! It’s unfair to ask him to understand the difference between roads and bridleways and it’s going to make his behaviour worse because he’ll get confused and more uptight. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve the way he behaves – it just means you need to be more consistent with your rules!
Jogging starts because a horse is tense and excited and doesn’t know what to do with his energy. His back will hollow and his head will come up (which is where your martingale comes in handy!) making it harder for you to control his whole body. Strange as it may seem the one thing you need to do is push on! That doesn’t mean kick on as hard as you can but it does mean sitting into the saddle and squeezing your legs round his sides – it’s very common to see a rider with their legs stuck off and forward and their weight on the back of the saddle which is a guaranteed way to make a horse hollow.
You need to decide to stop him jogging wherever you are so he can understand that it’s not acceptable. By doing that you’ll allow him to know exactly where he stands which will (in time) let him relax. Every time you ride work on riding him into your contact and keep your legs on even if he starts jogging.
Always make sure your hands follow his head – not easy when you think he might take off but trust me it does work! – so the pelham isn’t acting like a brick wall and stopping him going forward. Sometimes a stronger bit can feel to a horse as if the brake is always on – so all his energy bottles up with nowhere to go; that’s why his quarters swing about (where else can they go if he feels he can’t go forward?). If you feel safe to try it perhaps using ’roundings’ on the pelham would be a softer way of using it? This makes the curb action less severe. A Dutch gag can be a good bit to try too as it gives you brakes but without the severity of the curb chain. By following his head and pushing on to your contact you’ll be pushing his quarters forward up behind his shoulders – that makes his back softer and rounder so he doesn’t hollow and tighten up. (More on bits and nosebands here.)
Whenever you’re trying to reschool a horse it’s important to ride out with a friend who understands what you’re hoping to achieve. Make sure you ride with someone who will wait for you, go behind if it helps him settle and alongside on the roads which will stop him swinging his quarters into the traffic.
You can practise walking without jogging in the school or field too – check out this post which has everything you need to know and do in walk! The more you get him walking into your contact the more control you’re going to have. Try to see this as a problem with a hollow back and more of a challenge to get him between your leg and hand and you’ll soon find yourself on a horse who is more pleasant to ride anywhere and everywhere! Best of luck.
There are more links to opsts about hacking out below –