Page:Notes on equitation and horse training.djvu/79

This page has been validated.
77
EQUITATION AND HORSE TRAINING

Work at a slow trot on small circles, serpentines, and diagonals, halts, and half halts, make up an excellent schedule of exercises for the horse with too much weight on his shoulders and that pulls too much on the hand.

The star gazer (the horse that pokes his nose out). — A horse with this fault has a rigid jaw and holds his head high, approaching the horizontal. A bad neck conformation induces this fault, but it generally results from bad riding, the horse being afraid of the hands.

To correct this fault set the hand, that is to say, hold it stationary above the pommel of the saddle, the reins remaining taut; close the legs to push the horse up to the bit and tighten the fingers on the reins until the horse lowers his head slightly; loosen the fingers immediately and slacken the reins. Begin again and continue the lesson until the horse yields at the slightest pressure of the fingers and understands thoroughly that the hand is severe when he pokes out his nose, but relaxes completely as soon as he sets his head properly.

The horse that fights the bit (throws his head).—This fault is found only in the horse that holds back because, in order to make the movement of the head, he must diminish the gait slightly.

To correct the fault, it is not wise to use the hand only, as is frequently done, because any effect of the hands tends to a further decrease of gait. The most rational and at the same time the most certain method is as follows:

Make the horse move freely and push him energetically with the legs at the very moment that you feel that he is about to throw his head; at the same time loosen the fingers to allow the neck to be extended and the head lowered. If this plan is not sufficient, hold one rein taut and set the hand that holds it. This method is effective because the head movements can be made only sidewise and become very painful.