Category: 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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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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What All Disciplines Have in Common

Regardless of the discipline you ride, there are basic aspects of training that apply and are needed for all horses. For example, if you have a dressage horse, a working cow horse, a barrel racer or a trail horse, they all need the same basic or foundation training. I have worked with a lot of dressage horses and a lot of reining cow horses and they are great in the arena unless a strange noise startles them and then many will bolt across the arena or drop a shoulder, turn and dump the rider. Both types of horses need basic training to handle the pressure of something out of the ordinary happening. No matter the discipline, the same basics are needed.

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Do You Have a Partnership or a Relationship With Your Horse?

Partnership conjures up a notion that there is harmony between you and your horse. We certainly want to accomplish this but we as humans live by words and communicate by words but horses live by actions. If you look up the word partnership is the dictionary it says, “a state of having a partner, participation involving close cooperation between parties having specified and joint rights and responsibilities.”  The translation is that when you are in a partnership with someone, that individual has an opinion and input.

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What it Means to Train a Horse Using Dressage Principles – Part I

There is a lot of current interest in the principles of western or cowboy dressage but these principles have been around for a long time. They are established, traditional, classical, and proven but, as with any principles, they can be misinterpreted and misused. If the principles are misunderstood or not followed, the exercises will not be done correctly. Training a horse properly utilizing dressage principles will improve quality of movement, lightness, cadence and engagement.

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Getting a Horse to Accept a Farrier

It is relatively common for a young horse to dislike having his feet or
legs worked on. Horses are prey animals. It takes a lot of trust for a
horse to allow a foot to be picked up as this prevents the horse from
running away. Your horse may be used to you and be relaxed when you
pick up a foot to clean it but you do represent the pressure around the
feet and legs that a farrier will. It is common, particularly for a young
horse, to dislike being shod but if the horse hasn’t learned to accept
pressure of any kind, he is going to react with fight or flight.

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Work with a Lunge Line to get Ready for the Trail

I have often discussed the need for de-spooking and dealing with the
distracted horse. I have described how to work with a variety of tools
including a tarp, a large ball and the birdie. These objects help a horse to
accept new, different thigs that pop up without warning. They teach a
horse to be quiet and emotionally sound. The change of direction
exercise is used in teaching a horse to go over a tarp. I am going to
review this exercise because this is a basic skill you will need your horse
to have before you teach him to go over a variety of other objects
including water, bridges and things that rattle under foot. There are
many objects that we can teach our horses to go over that will make
them more safe and solid on the trail.

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