Category: Charles Wilhelm

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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Versatility and Cross Training

A horse that is versatile can do a variety of things. It does not have to be
really good at every task. The horse may have one discipline that it
excels in but it is also able to do other types of activities. For example,
you may have a good trail horse and at the same time that horse is able
to work with cows and perhaps do some jumping. A trail horse needs to
be familiar with cows and you never know when you may need to jump
over an obstacle on the trail. The skills work together and that is where I
like to take the horses I work with.

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The Forward Cue

The forward cue is probably the most ignored of all the cues. It is
misunderstood and misused by most riders. I am sorry to say that it
is often not taught and so some riders really have no forward cue.
With those who do have a cue, I rarely see it practiced or
reinforced. The forward cue is probably our most important cue as
forward movement is critical for any maneuver a horse attempts. A
good, solid consistent forward cue is vital for a number of reasons.

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Trail Tips

A lot of problems happen out on the trail because we don’t do any, or the
right preparation. I am happy to share some tips to make your trail riding
safer and more fun. There are several things we need to think about before
we go out on the trail.
First, we need to consider how well trained our horse is. Many horses out on
the trail should not really be our there. People go out thinking that because
they can get the horse to go forward at a walk and trot, the horse is safe to go
out on the trail. Going forward is good but there are many more aspects to be
considered. One important question to ask is, can you stop your horse
easily? Does your horse listen to you?

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