Choosing the Right Equine ‘Dance Partner’

You and your partner touch. With almost imperceptible signals you dance together.
Your steps are light, your turns graceful and balanced. There is trust between you as you
confidently master more difficult maneuvers. You move as one with your horse in
beauty, in the partnership called “riding”.
You may be a trail rider or barrel racer, ride hunt seat or Western Dressage or Western.
Whatever your passion, there’s no greater reward than learning how to dance, in
partnership with your horse.

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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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Backing with a Loose Lead

If you have been following this series, we’ve been discussing how to teach your horse basic ground training commands including “come to me”, “move away from me”, and “whoa” or stop.  Now I am going to share tips for teaching your horse the fourth basic command- how to “back”.  Make sure your horse is consistently responding to the first three commands before introducing this lesson.

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Have You Ever Been Kicked?

Dear Julie: This may be a very odd question, but I was curious how many times have you been kicked or caught in the crossfire in your training career? I’ve been kicked three times, but tonight I got kicked square in the pelvis by a dominant mare who was going after my mare while I was putting a halter on her. I saw it start to happen, but couldn’t get away fast enough. It is the first time I have considered throwing in the reins because it frustrates me so much.

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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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Backing with a Loose Lead

If you have been following this series, we’ve been discussing how to teach your horse basic ground training
commands including “come to me”, “move away from me”, and “whoa” or stop. Now I am going to share
tips for teaching your horse the fourth basic command- how to “back”. Make sure your horse is
consistently responding to the first three commands before introducing this lesson.
Backing is an excellent exercise to improve communication with your horse and sharpen your reactions to
control his body position.

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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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The ‘Move Away from Me’ Command

Horses need to respect four major ground training commands: “move away from me,” “come
toward me,” stop, and back. In my last two articles, we covered the “come to me” and “whoa”
commands. In this article I will give you the steps to teach your horse the “move away from me”
command.
Before starting, make sure that your horse is properly equipped. He should be wearing a properly
fitting halter, with a longe line, and leg protection. I prefer using a longe line over a lead rope for
ground training, but will use both terms in these articles.

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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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