Question: “Hi Martin! I’ve been watching your refinement DVD and working on the things you cover and am liking the results. I’d like to see my horse be more elevated in the shoulders and more hip up underneath him (he only has a year riding). When I bought him, he tipped on his front end with head real low when I asked him to stop, and it took 20 feet to stop him. I have him stopping better, but he could still be more elevated. He is a cowbred crossed with a race horse.”
Martin: “With limited information from you and nothing from the horse’s perspective leaves me with a lot of guessing and assumptions. But, it sounds like the horse is in a position where he’s pulling on your hands when you ask him to stop. This can only come from the person pulling on them in a way that doesn’t get the horse’s body in position to correctly place his feet in a way to respond in the way that we want.
If they can’t respond with their feet, this only leaves them two options:
1. Not pull with their lower jaw and neck, which means the head would come to their chest and be off-balance.
2. Pull against you with their lower jaw and neck to keep their head out in front of them so they can stay balanced, and again the only way they can do this is to pull against your hands.
The short answer is: if the timing is right the feet can respond. However, if it’s a steady pull, the horse will pull against us to keep his balance. By using a “pull and slack” feel in time with the feet, instead of a steady pull, you’re likely to have better success. Bad timing is better than no timing so if you try to get in time with your horse’s feet, there’s a chance that the horse can get in time with you.“