18. June 2013 00:06
For a horse to be textbook correct when spinning, he should plant his inside hind foot. Horses that tend to plant their outside hind foot do so because they're sucking back too much. While it's generally a good thing to have a horse thinking "get back," in this case, you want to get forward on his mind. To correct this problem, first make sure you're not causing the horse to suck back by pulling back on the reins and causing the horse to back up or putting him in so much of a bind that he can't move. You just want enough pressure on the reins to stop the horse from walking forward.
A great way to remind the horse to step forward is by trotting him out into a small circle after he takes a few correct steps and then spiraling him back down into the spin. Ask him to move his front around his rear, and as soon as he takes one correct step, trot him out in a circle. Then spiral him down into the spin again. Asking him to actually move out will help him think "forward" in the spin rather than stepping back.
11. June 2013 00:06
Once your horse understands an exercise, it's important to move on. There's nothing horses hate more than being forced to do the same exercise every single day. Humans are the same. Imagine if when you were in school your teacher never got past teaching you the alphabet. Every day, she'd drill on the same lesson. You'd get bored quickly and start to resent even seeing her. The same theory applies to your horse. If your horse has the roundpenning exercises down, get him out of the roundpen and introduce new exercises to him. Don't nag him to death. All of the groundwork exercises are designed to earn the horse's respect and build his trust in you as a leader. Continually driving your horse around in circles is only going to cause him to get sour. Lots of horses develop bad attitudes when they are forced to do the same exercise over and over.
If your horse is developing a sour attitude, be sure you're introducing new exercises, mixing things up and giving him a purpose for doing the exercises. That's why I built the obstacle course at the ranch - it allows me to fine-tune the groundwork exercises without boring the horses to death. Now, just because the horse understands a particular exercise, it doesn't mean you won't ever come back to the exercise. You'll certainly still practice it, but maybe only twice a week, and you can keep it fresh by incorporating obstacles.
4. June 2013 00:06
Balance gives you an independent seat, allows you to move in rhythm with your horse, cue him correctly and boosts confidence in the saddle. How do you get balance? By having proper position. When you're sitting properly in the saddle, you should be able to draw a straight line from your ear, shoulder, hip and down to your heel. You want to sit in such a way that if your horse was suddenly yanked out from under you, you'd land on your feet.
Hands down, the best way to improve your balance in the saddle is posting to the trot. I've been teaching horsemanship now for 20 years and have taught thousands of riders in my clinics and seminars. Over the years, I've noticed one thing - the majority of people who post really well, have excellent balance. People who don't post very well, or don't post at all, usually have the worst balance. Why? Because in order to post well, you must have rhythm and balance, and you must be in time with your horse's feet. Posting is done at the trot which is a two-beat, diagonal gait. When you post, you move up and down in time with the horse's feet. If you want to develop balance, I recommend you learn to post and practice doing it frequently.
28. May 2013 12:46
The ultimate goal of riding is to have an independent seat. An independent seat means that you're balanced in the saddle - you don't grip the horse's sides or the saddle with your legs and you don't hold onto the reins to stay on the horse's back. You should be able to go where the horse goes, regardless of what he does underneath you. A truly independent seat enables you to ride through the most irregular or unexpected movement your horse could throw your way. Balance and your safety while riding are closely linked. In fact, after 20 years of teaching clinics and seeing all sorts of riders, I guarantee your balance even affects how much you enjoy riding your horse. A balanced rider feels safe and secure, which leads to confidence. If you're confident, the fun you can have with your horse greatly increases.
21. May 2013 00:06
The main thing to understand when dealing with a problem horse is that if you want your horse's behavior to change, you have to be willing to change the way you interact with him. And, you also have to be willing to put in the time necessary to work with him. People ask me all the time if I've ever met a horse I couldn't train. The answer is no. Every horse is trainable, but not every person is trainable because they don't want to learn new ideas. Horsemanship can be easy if you're willing to put in the effort. But you have to be willing to work at it and have a burning desire to be the best horseman you can be.
14. May 2013 00:06
It's very natural for horses to establish a pecking order. More often than not, the top horse in a herd is usually an old broodmare. How'd she get control of the group? She proved to every horse in the pasture she could move their feet forwards, backwards, left and right. When the broodmare wanted another horse in the pasture to move out of her way, she'd approach him with a plan. First, she'd pin her ears back. If the horse ignored her, then she'd bare her teeth and act like she was going to bite him. Then she might actually try to bite him. If he still didn't move away from her, she'd back up to him, swish her tail and act like she was going to kick him. Then she might actually kick him. And she'd keep kicking until he moved. Whoever moves first, and backs down, loses the battle.
On a daily basis, horses in that broodmare's herd will test her ability as a leader and question her authority, and she'll have to prove to them that she's still capable of being the leader and moving their feet. The same is true in our relationship with our horses. Every day, we have to prove ourselves worthy of being the leader in the relationship.
7. May 2013 00:06
The biggest mistake I see people make, and one that tends to create a cinchy horse, often happens the first time a colt is cinched up. If the girth is tightened too quickly, too soon, it frightens the horse and makes him feel really uncomfortable. Because he's not used to having anything on his back, a tight cinch makes the new experience of being saddled even scarier for him, and often, this causes him to overreact and buck. Then the owner usually makes the second biggest mistake - they take the saddle off.
When I saddle a two-year-old for the first time, I saddle him at 6 a.m. and keep him saddled all day. By letting the horse wear the saddle all day, I give him a chance to get over being scared, and usually by the end of the day, he's relaxed and has gotten past his initial reactivity.
If on the other hand, he's still bucking at the end of the day, I'll keep him saddled all night. It's very, very important to not take the saddle off until the horse has quit trying to buck or rub it off on the fence, roll on it, etc. For a horse to really accept a saddle, he has to think it's part of his body, no different than his mane and tail.
30. April 2013 00:06
If I'm considering buying a performance prospect, a little test I always do to see how athletic, willing and good minded a horse is, is practicing Lunging for Respect Stage Two. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, I want to see how willing the horse is to give to halter pressure. Secondly, I want to see how well he stops, rolls over his hocks and goes back the other direction. To me, when a horse is athletic and trainable, he'll stop on his hindquarters, collect himself and do a 180-degree rollback. If I work a horse for the first time and he catches on very quickly, has a great attitude, tries hard, makes only a few mistakes or seems keen to correct his mistakes, I feel comfortable buying him that day.
On the other hand, if the horse struggles to make that 180-degree turn, stumbles all the time or drags me around, that tells me he's not really naturally talented. If this is the case, I'm not going to purchase that particular horse.
However, just because I may have a horse that doesn't do terribly well the first time I work him doesn't necessarily mean I'm not going to buy him. If the horse seems really athletic but just sorry-broke, I'll try to go back and work with him again the next day. What I'm looking for is considerable improvement in the horse by the next session. If I see a lot of improvement in the second session, and the horse is within my price range, I might go ahead and take a gamble on him because he's shown me that he is willing to please and learns quickly.
23. April 2013 00:06
A horse that constantly moves around when you go to slip your foot in the stirrup is not only frustrating, but potentially dangerous. A respectful horse stands quietly while you mount and waits for your cue to move off once you're situated in the saddle. When most people come to me with mounting troubles, they all share a similar habit - they get on their horses and instantly go somewhere. Pretty soon, the horse figures why wait for the rider to tell me to move? I'll just move when she gets on me. Then he says to himself, why wait for her to get on me? I'll just start going when she brings me next to the mounting block. Before long you have a horse that won't stand still next to the mounting block because horses know what we're going to do before we actually do it.
Whenever I get on my horses, I do nothing but lateral flexing for the first three to four minutes. I bend their heads from side to side before I ask them to move off. Not only does this get them really soft, but they start to anticipate it every ride. If you have a horse that constantly walks off when you mount, you'll be amazed at the end of one week how quietly he'll stand if you do lateral flexing every time you get on. Teach your horse that when you get on, he needs to stand there and wait. That way, the last thing he will expect you to do is to walk off straightaway.
16. April 2013 00:06
Teaching your horse how to cross over a tarp gets him used to stepping onto an object that moves and makes a noise. Anytime your horse will respect and trust you to move over something that moves and makes a noise, it's a great sign that he's using the thinking side of his brain.
Initially, it's important to fold the tarp up into a narrow strip so that you can establish a starting point your horse can handle. The narrower the tarp is, the less scary it is to your horse. Remember, the secret to training horses is to establish a starting point the horse can handle and then build from there. Always start with the obstacle close to the fence so that the horse can't run out to the side. As the horse's confidence grows, you can progress to having him cross the entire tarp out in the open.