My Trail Horse Spooks and Lacks Focus

I have a 10-year-old horse that was born on my farm. From day one has been an ADD/spooky horse. He has been a challenge! Although we have made progress, it seems like I’m always going back to square one. My background is in dressage, but I do a lot of ground work too; some round pen, longeing, etc.

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Upward Transitions

In this article we will incorporate upward transitions from a jog/trot to a halt and the upward transition of the halt to jog/trot in the pattern. I’ll explain the aids the rider should use to keep her horse “straight” on the circles

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What to Consider When Looking For a Horse

Spending time on the road, I have been asked many times, “What is your favorite breed?” My favorite breed is any breed that has a good mind and good feet. A horse that is flighty with a high emotional level will usually never totally settle into a good safe riding horse. A horse with small feet will usually have lameness issues.

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Riding Right with Julie Goodnight

Dear Julie,

I’m 15 and have been riding for 11 years. I just bought a Halflinger pony that stands at 14.2. He’s a pleasure to own but rests his head on the reins and often pulls. I would like to find out a way to get him lighter on the reins with lighter contact—but without him zooming off when I’m schooling him. I’ve tried lots of things. One trainer recommended that I put my rein and hand up on his neck then bring it back and repeat the process on the other side. This does reduce his resting on the reins a little but it also encourages him to take off in a fast trot.

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Upward Transitions

In this article we will incorporate upward transitions from a jog/trot to a halt and the upward transition of the halt to jog/trot in the pattern. I’ll explain the aids the rider should use to keep her horse “straight” on the circles. I’ll conclude with some tips on how to improve communication with a horse that does not have complete knowledge of the rider’s aids.

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Use Your Aids to Whisper, Not Shout

The rider’s aids are her tools to communicate with her horse. The “natural” aids, which she uses to respond to her horse, are her seat, legs, and hands. The rider’s seat, and especially her legs, controls two-thirds of the horse’s body from the wither back. Her hands control the forward one-third of the horse’s body including the shoulders, neck, and head. Let’s look at each of these important aids.

The Seat: The rider’s seat works as an aid to help the horse go forward or slow down. The seat works by applying weight into the saddle on the horse’s back according to what response the rider wants. She uses more weight in her seat for more response, less weight for a lighter response. The weight that the rider applies through her seat, on the saddle has two functions. It indicates to the horse her desire to go forward or slow down and helps him to accomplish these actions. I’ll explain more about the function of the seat in upcoming editions of this newsletter series.

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Emergency! The rein aids that keep you safe

Dear Julie,

I’ve been taking riding lessons every week for a few months (I used to ride when I was younger). The school I go to is very good—your horses are very fit and mostly well behaved. My class of 4-5 riders is working in an arena. In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that the horses are getting a bit excitable and fast. I can control my horse at the beginning, but when it comes to cantering my horse is difficult to control.  He raises his neck and is ready to take off—especially when other horses are excited. I am reluctant to canter at all now. I feel nervous and out of control and my horse knows it. What’s the best way control my horse at the canter?

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The One-Rein Emergency Halt

The act of moving the hips over for a one-rein emergency halt is the single greatest technique you can employ to stop a horse that is bolting or bucking. It can and has saved many riders from terrible accident and injury. Picking up on both reins when a horse is out of control, does not help. Pulling on both reins captures the horse’s energy and actually fuels the horse’s desire to flee. The horse will feel trapped and will rear, buck or bolt.

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