One of my favorite things about Banjo, my rehabilitated rescue horse, is that he’s great on trail rides. He’s fine going out by himself without other horses. He’s confident, and he walks calmly on the way back to the barn.
Walking back to the trailer or barn may not seem like a big deal, unless you own a jigger. A jigger is what I call a horse that jigs, a bouncy gait between the walk and a trot.
Jiggers always prance their way home from a ride. They even have an uncanny sense of where the halfway point is on a loop ride, knowing when they pass that magical point where home is closer going forward than going back.
Years ago, I adopted a second rescue horse, Luna, who was a jigger.
It wasn’t really her fault. She was a Thoroughbred/Arabian Horse cross, bred specifically for endurance riding.
Luna always wanted to go fast. She was happiest flying across a field. Walking was a waste of time for her. And her mouth was hard, insensitive. This was probably due to improper riding with harsh bits.
To retrain Luna, I first taught her to yield to pressure in a rope halter. I also taught her the one-rein stop, which is means the horse bends to a stop in response to pressure on one rein. I then added a gentle bit and began teaching her about softening: responding to gentle cues.
At 15 years old, Luna wasn’t easy to retrain. At first, she was very anxious. But she began to come around and even started to enjoy the training.
However, Luna would always jig on the way home from trail rides.
I wasn’t sure what to do, so I read up on training methods to stop a jigging horse. Some say make the horse work really hard, so walking is a relief. That wouldn’t work with Luna; she was impossible to tire out.
Others say to make the horse back up a step every time he starts to jig. Still others say rider tension causes jigging, so you should just relax.
With Luna, it took a combination of tools to teach her to walk quietly. First, I made sure to ride her on a loose rein. When she began to speed up, I’d lift one rein and ask for a bending stop. She soon learned that when one rein was lifted, it was time to slow down.
Ever horse is different. If you have a jigger, experiment until you find a solution that works for him.
For more information about fixing a jigger, check out these helpful articles from The Trail Rider and EQUUS:
If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project. This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter. Here’s how it works: • Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area. • Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word. • Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue. If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.