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Answers to Your Tough Equine Questions Straight From the Horses Mouth!

Dear Nelly,

I am at a loss as to what to do! My rider is a very nice human, but does not seem to understand that I need some help in responding to her request to slow down, or stop.

I am big boned, and I admit I tend to be heavy on my front end.  My humanís answer to my inability to respond quickly, even though I might want too, is to put a more severe bit in my mouth.

What can I do to help her, help me? The new bits hurt!


Whoa Nellie!

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Dear Jumbo,

I wish I could say you were the first horse to write to me with this problem. And this is a big problem for us all, not just us husky types.

Our humans do not seem to realize how much influence they really have on our performance, and how what they do on our backs affects us so dramatically. They look at our 1000 lbs vs. their 100 lbs plus, and discount the notion that their weight matters.

With this mind set, they do not understand the physics and mechanics of what our large bodies need from them. Or what they need to do, to help us obey and comply with their requests. Particularly when it comes to slowing down or stopping.

As we know, our breaks are in the rear. Unless we can keep, or get our hind end up underneath us, it is virtually impossible for us to decelerate or stop. Even when we want to!

As I have observed many humans attempting to ask us to decelerate, they start by pulling on our mouths. They do not understand that we need to be pushed into transitions, not pulled. When they do this, they tend to raise their seats off of our backs, and the harder they pull the further they pull themselves up our necks. If we were not already heavy on our forehand, we will be then! This of course puts more weight on our front end, and we become more and more strung out. This results in pushing our breaking mechanism further and further behind us. End result, we canít stop! We become a snowball on a down hill slide! Of course as you can attest, a harsher bit does not fix this problem.

If we could convey to our humans, that we need their help it would solve many of our human and equine miscommunications. If they would make sure they sit down in their saddles, and instead of pulling with their hands, just hold and support us by closing their legs. This would help us to shorten our frame. The very action of the pressure of their seats on our spine assists us in getting our hind end underneath us, where we can use it to stop our forward momentum. Just this small assistance, in adjusting our balance and placing our hocks underneath us, makes all the difference in our ability to stop.

I know that many of us have tried to make our riders hear us. We root, and hang on their hands. Try to snatch the reins, or get the bit in our teeth. We throw our heads, or grind our teeth. They often mistake these attempts at our communication as defiance, or stubbornness. Hence, the increase in severity of bits.

Some of us try to self erect, and stay in a shorter frame by trying to get behind the bit to protect ourselves. This of course results in a false flexion, and we then have problems with not being forward enough to suit.

It is one of the biggest communication issues we have. All I can say is, you need to try to attempt to carry your weight more evenly and make yourself accountable for where your breaks are at all times. That is certainly better then a new bit every day. Good luck, and Ill be pushing for you!


Email Gale and she will pass your question along to Nelly.


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