Overcoming Natural Water Obstacles

Water is possibly the most difficult natural obstacle for any horse. Why? Because
horses are smart and they want to take care of themselves! When they cannot see the
bottom of the water obstacle, they feel as though they can’t access their safety.
Whenever I see a rider trying to get their horse in water and the horse is resisting,
oftentimes the rider becomes discouraged and they start kicking the horse to go forward.
Anytime you start kicking a horse, they’ll go backward instead of forward. This becomes
frustrating for the horse because he’s insecure about the water and the rider is giving him
the wrong guidance.
To teach your horse confidence with water it’s best to start him on the ground. I
also like using another horse’s presence who is confident with water. This gives
confidence and trust to the horse who is hesitant about water obstacles, whether it’s a
flowing creek or a calm lake.

Read More

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.

Read More

The Art of the Half Pass

The Half Pass is the most advanced lateral movement you can train a horse to do. I love
the Half Pass; not only is it elegant, it’s also so fun to ride.
To define a Half Pass, the horse moves forward and sideways at the same time.
The horse must be bent in the direction of travel, and the movement is done on a diagonal
track.
In Traditional Dressage competition you will find the Half Pass either at the
collected trot or the collected canter. In Western Dressage you will find the Half Pass at
the collected jog and the collected lope. In Traditional Dressage the Half Pass is required
in the 4th level and continues to the Grand Prix level. In Western Dressage you will find
it in Levels 4 & 5.

Read More

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.

Read More

Ground Driving

Ground driving is also called Long Lining. Ground driving is a very good training
technique for young horses to learn how to turn right and left, stop, and back. This
exercise provides a great variety of training for any age of horse or rider.

Handler Coordination
For the human part of this partnership, ground driving works on your
coordination. It provides a focus on what you’re doing with your arms, adjusting your
reins and keeping them organized, your foot fall to stay in line with the horse, or your
foot fall to stay inward on a curving line. You learn how to flex the horse’s head inward
so you can just see his eye.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More