I've added a couple new links, one to a blog I like to read regularly and the other to the website of a trainer and clinician I admire.
Jessica Jahiel is a smart and savvy trainer. She is generous with her advice and has an extremely holistic approach to maintaining horses.
It might seem like a funny combination between my approach and hers, but I've learned a lot from her and she interests me, even if I don't follow her every step of the way.
Many Misadventures is a young girl who is finding her way as a horse trainer. She is thoughtful and loves her horses and works hard at what she loves. I like reading about her progress and frustrations.
I've got to head off to a photo shoot, I'll be back....
Q's and A's
HorsesAndTurbos said - share some tips on cantering bareback please!
Seriously HandT, I learned to ride bareback by doing it. I felt totally free to grab a handful of mane as needed, and I did need it. I got better with time. Riding bareback is a great way to find your center.
milwaukeecob said - But just for grins, would you mind detailing your warm-up? What do you start with, and what's the goal of that. Then, what next, and what are you trying to do with that? So forth and so on. What are you feeling for as you go through your warm-up? What are the clues that it's working or not working?What is the most important part of your warm-up and what is the "finessing"?
When I warm up a horse at home I walk, trot canter. Then I do a little lateral work. Then I go to it. If I am going to teach a horse something new I work up to it step by step and ask for the new thing when my horse is calm, focused and a little tired.
If I'm working cattle I warm them up at the WTC and start practice before my horse is tired.
When I warm up a horse at a show I have a different goal in mind. I want my horse to be safe and ready to win. So I warm up their muscles and mind.
I never, ever, train in the warm-up at a show. If my horse doesn't know the maneuvers by now she isn't going to get them in the warm-up.
I usually begin with a walk around the arena. I keep my reins loose, say hi to my friends, stay on the rail and out of the way and let my horse look around. If I am on a young or nervous horse I'll walk around the arena until the horse relaxes.
Then I go around a few times each direction in a forward, posting trot. I still keep my reins loose.
Before I lope I stand in the middle and off to the side of the arena and let my horse air up. If you stand directly in the middle you will be in the way of other riders, so scoot over. This is also a good time to let my horse look around some more.
I pick a lead and lope off into the other circling riders. I do a circle or two on a loose rein, then I gather and release every 6 to 10 strides for a few more.
I stop in the middle. If the stop isn't soft and correct I'll pop her back some. I want everything to be quiet. I want everything to be spot on correct.
Then I lope off the other way and do the same thing.
How long I lope depends on the horse, the horse's age and the horse's experience.
When my horse is soft and happy, I'll quit, wander out to the show pen and watch a few rides.
About 4-6 riders before I go I'll go back to the warm-up pen and liven things up a little. I'll ask for speed changes on a few circles. If I have a run in pattern I'll run down the length of the arena a few times. Sometimes I stop, sometimes I'll just go down around the corner, sometimes I'll fence them. Sometimes it's a little of all three. None of my stops will be hard or what I want when we show. But she had better be correct.
I usually spin a few times and make sure she's quick off my leg.
Then we go show.
HorsesAndTurbos said - I can totally control Starlette's shoulders and hips. We canter in rectangles, I push her hips out at the turn and she makes really nice corners :). We canter in figure-8's and she holds the lead she starts on (so ends up counter-cantering).
So, on a whim, the last time I was cantering figure-8's, at the cross-over, I pushed her hip in...and she counter-cantered with her hip in.
I'm not a counter canter fan, at least not before my horse can already change. I don't want a young horse comfortable on the off lead....I use the counter canter to teach straightness to my advanced horses.
So, that being said, I would make sure my horse is traveling straight and forward. I would make sure my seat and weight is in the right place. My legs are correct. I would make sure I'm looking ahead, not down at my horse's shoulder.I wouldn't expect my young, never changed horse to change spot on in the middle.
I would be willing to wait and continue to cue until she got her change. I would be riding to handed. My outside rein would be ready to give support and hold the shoulder in and my inside rein would give direction.
So double check all that stuff and check back.
t_orchosky said - How do you teach a horse to break at the poll?
I make sure my horse will carry himself on a loose rein at a forward WTC first. I also want my horse to turn on the forehand.
I'll do a couple exercises. First I get my horse to give to the left when I take the left rein and bring my hand back to my hip, then give his face to the right when I take the right rein to my right hip and he will continue to go forward because I'm gently asking for forward with both legs.
I want this to be soft and no big deal.
I want my colt to give his face right, left, right, left, right, left while walking and trotting along the rail.
Then I have another exercise I do up the middle. I walk a straight line, stop, turn on the forehand a circle to the left, then walk a few more steps up the middle,stop, turn on the forehand to the right and so on.
I want all of this as soft as I can get it.
NOW, we can flex at the poll.
I walk forward on the rail. I squeeze my colt forward with both legs and take one rein, then the other (not both at once)and bring my hands back to my hip bones (like I can still find my hip bones, snort). If my horse stops, that's OK. I don't change my hand position until my colt softens, drops his nose and gives to the pressure.
Then I release.I don't throw my reins away, I just relax my reins. Doing it this way stops that head-bob-and-snatch-the-bit maneuver I know we've all seen, if not had to deal with.
I start walking again.I ask again. And so on. If he keeps stopping I give a more encouraging leg, they all seem to figure it out.
OK, I've got to quit, my brains about to explode. Later gators.