Author: Charles Wilhelm

The Benefits of Using a Round Pen – Part I

A round pen can be an excellent tool. It creates a very safe training
environment with the round edges, smooth sides and no corners. It
should have sides at least six feet high so a horse can get his head over
the top of it. Some people work in a square pen but you spend a lot of
time teaching the horse to stay out of the corners, which is an exercise in
itself. I don’t see the benefit and I think it is a little harder on the horse.
Also, the diameter plays a role in its usefulness and I personally don’t
want anything larger than sixty feet across. Anything larger and you lose
a connection with the animal.

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Bitless Riding – Part I

Any type of equipment that goes on a horse’s face but does not go into
the mouth is categorized as bitless. Thus, for example, the side pull is
categorized as bitless. One fellow has come out with a piece of
equipment called a bitless bridle. It is designed to make contact with the
chin and poll and it works quite well. I designed what I call the hack-a-
pull, a combination of a hackamore and a side pull. Riding a horse in a
cowboy or web halter is riding bitless. I ride many horses with
hackamores. A hackamore is made up of a bosal which is a firm piece
that goes around the nose and then the reins are attached under the chin.
There is a leather hanger that goes around the ears. When people ride
with a cowboy or web halter, the rope is tied similar to a hackamore.

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Ranch Versatility – Part II

One of the things I have seen in the last few years is the growth in
popularity of Ranch Riding and Versatility and people buying
Reining Horses that are not quite making it in the reining world
and then using them for Ranch Versatility. However, most reining
horses carry their heads down below their withers. When a horse
gets relaxed and soft, the head drops lower and lower. While some
reining trainers like it when the horse keeps its head low, the
Ranch Versatility rulebook is very clear that a natural head
carriage is desired. I am seeing a lot of Reining horses used for
Ranch Versatility and while these horses do well, the low headset
goes against what Ranch Versatility is all about and does not work
well for the horse.

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Ranch Versatility – Part I

I was very excited when American Quarter Horse Association
(AQHA) Ranch Versatility was first introduced. Ranch Pleasure or
Ranch Riding as it is now called is great because it requires the
horse to have good forward movement. When I was showing in my
younger years Western Pleasure at that time also required good
forward movement. Somewhere along the line the discipline began
to require the horse to move much slower, with what I call the
crippled canter and that to me is not pleasant to observe or good
for the horse physically.
The idea of Ranch Riding is that it is a pleasure to ride and watch.
We are looking for a natural headset that is at least at or above the

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The Importance of Collection

We often speak about making sure our horse is collected. Collection is important for every rider whether you trail ride or you are serious about showing. So, what is collection and why is it so vital for every rider?

Speaking in strictly physical terms, collection occurs when the horse can compress his body. He brings his rear up under him toward the front and his body and withers are raised. His hind legs are extended up under his body, while his croup is dropped. The horse that is collected is driving himself mainly with his hindquarters and not just with his legs. He will have a nice rainbow arc in his neck and will be on the bit with his face perpendicular to the ground.

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