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“Be selective in your battles”

Problem solving: Resistance

Resistance means so much more than an unwillingness to go forward. It shows itself in many forms whether it is the horses attempt to communicate, evade, or protect themselves from pain. It is simplistic thinking to label resistant horses with misbehaving. Struggles and conflicts with your horse can lead to frustration for both of you. Sometimes attempting to be assertive with horses can only escalate the resistance. Is your horse actually misbehaving or just attempting to communicate? The best strategy for problem solving is to recognize a certain behavior, find what theory will work to resolve the issue, and understand that it is not a short cut process to attain the goal.

  1. Horse feels “ stuck” and will go any way except forward, this includes rearing. Very common in Dressage tests, “ Halt at X “

    • Theory; Horse has been ridden front to back and cannot get the hind legs under which means the horse cannot use the proper back muscles to propel forward.

    • Training strategy ; Shoulder fore at walk and trot will promote correct use of back muscles while strengthening hind legs. Think shoulder fore in every transition including halt to trot.

2. Resistance in jaw; head tilting, teeth grinding, pushing and leaning on the bit, gaping, head tossing with any pressure of the bit.

  • Theory; Horse is not relaxed, supple, or balanced. Make sure your veterinarian has inspected the horses mouth for sharp edges on teeth. Please do not use tightened nose bands of any kind, tight flashes in attempt to hold the horses mouth shut. Fastening these too tightly causes resistance in the horse's mouth, while restricting the amount of air flow through the nostrils.

  • Training Strategy; Correct contact is obtained when the horse is producing energy from behind while maintaining balance. Mental and physical relaxation are interrelated and it is up to the rider to find different exercises to help the horse focus, which will produce relaxation. Horses must be confident, and comfortable with the rider in order to be relaxed. Leg yielding on a circle, turn on haunches and forehand are great exercises to get the horse focused. Transitions from shoulder in to canter are good suppling exercises. If the horse is not relaxed and balanced, they cannot become truly supple.

3. Cross Firing at canter or only willing to take one lead in both directions.

  • Theory; Incorrect use of back muscles, as well as muscle imbalance, keeps hind leg from coming under. Every joint in the body is surrounded by muscles that produce and control movement. If muscles on one side become too tight from overuse, it could cause the muscles on the other side to become too weak from lack of use. This is called a muscle imbalance. Muscle imbalances can lead to physical issues, such as: limited mobility.

  • Training strategy; Gymnastic exercises that create lateral bending are successful in gaining correct use of back muscles. Turns on haunches and forehand, circle bend out, leg yielding on circle, shoulder in and fore between transitions also work well to obtain the proper bend. Lateral bending creates suppleness, strength, focus, balance, lightness, engagement, and eventually, collection. “In lateral movements, flexion of the rib cage enables the thrust of the hindquarters. If the horse is bent, the hind legs are able to step underneath the load. “ Excerpt from Gustav Steinbrecht

These resistance issues listed here are usually related to the horse being “ braced “ somewhere in the body. Normally it is apparent in horses that are not taught to properly bend around the inside leg.

“ The comprehension of the horse’s nature is one of the bases of the art of riding “

- de la Gueriniere

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