Friday, April 23, 2010

Follow the Hand

Shanster said: Regarding tipping the nose and only releasing when the feet move... how does this tie in with your whole sensitize/desensitize theory?
Do you think this is important on both sides of the fence?
It seems like teaching a colt to move its feet in response to bit pressure would be really helpful if you were looking to do something that required quick responses, but might be kind of a drawback when the training goal is to create a horse for Mrs. Weekend Rider.

Mugs says: I started all of my youngsters the same. For that matter I expected every horse I rode to move in the direction I pointed them.

It really isn't that technical. I point, you go.

The level of response from my horse increases as I ask for more and the horse is physically able to respond. So you can quit increasing the reaction time wherever you want.

I got in an enormous argument with my step-daughter (a very competent trainer) over this. She felt strongly that all her students, especially her beginners, were safer if they utilized a one rein stop on their horse.

I felt/feel the one rein stop dumps the horse on it's front end and puts a student , especially a beginner, in the position of getting a strung out horse jump started again. A horse who has his head pulled to the side has his shoulders pointed out, his head bent and his weight in the front end.

I have watched too many horses learn to take their shoulder and fly this way.

I also have seen horses dumped over with this specific maneuver.

"So how do your students stop them if they're running off?" My angry step-daughter asked me.

"Circle them around and kick the hip out until they quit."

"But how do you STOP them."

"Say Whoa."

Where upon she became extremely pissed off.

I’m a very irritating relative to have sometimes.

But because I spend so much time setting my horses up to stop, and because I don't stop them until they want to stop (for the most part) by the time I yell whoa on a horse I've been training, they stop. It's a muscle response, not a decision.

We didn't even begin to get into my thinking that by bending the head back and forth just to bend the rider is teaching her horse not only to give but to ignore her.

Think about it. Repetitive bending left and right does nothing except to get the horse to learn when the rider pulls on the rein to the right or left it means just stand there.

Which to me means I've taught my horse to ignore a cue I really need.

When my horses are in a much more advanced level of training I’ll get them to give their head to the left and right while moving forward, it helps them loosen up the base of the neck and drop their head.

But this is way down the road when I expect them to understand more than one cue at once.

The horse will be working off my body and legs by then.

I also teach them to give their head to teach them to side pass and work diagonally, but again, they know to move their feet according to what my legs are saying by then.

The sticky wicket (what exactly is a sticky wicket anyway?) is that my step-daughter lives and breathes by Ray Hunt.

She learned her craft from a student and follower of Ray’s and attended probably 10 – 15 of his clinics.

So everything she does is her translation of hours and months spent either with Ray or her original mentor.

The very points I am taking a stand on came from Ray also.

Except I had very little time with him and only a few conversations. I never studied with her mentor or any of his followers.

I have a (some would say terrible) habit of building an entire philosophy off of a sentence or two which makes sense to me.

I can do this with religion, politics, child rearing and especially horse training.

I asked Ray (OK, I called him Mr. Hunt) about a young horse I had in training who flipped over backwards and bucked.

He very wisely asked me to evaluate the common sense of riding this horse and then said, “If all the feet are moving forward you're safe. It’s when the feet stop moving you’ll end up in a bind. If you’ve got the feet you’ve got the horse.”

I took this home and played with this thought while riding every horse I had available to ride.

This is what I discovered.

If a horse is going to rear she will plant her front feet and gather her hindquarters under her.

If a horse is going to buck she will slow down, arch her back or tuck her rear and either kick up the hind end while planting the fronts or vice versa.

If a horse is going to run off, the shoulder will point in the intended direction first. The head tossing and light footedness which precedes a run away comes from the hands ineffectively using the reins and the sequential loss of control of the feet.

I’m not talking about loping a horse down the road and having her speed up into a runaway.
Trust me, the horse in this instance was out of control waaaaay before she started running.

So I started thinking about controlling the feet. I wanted to control each foot of my horse with my body.

As usual, when I began to obsess I made my students go on this odyssey with me.

When a person first begins to ride, all of their control of the horse comes through the hands.

Some people never get over it. Hands first, legs (if at all) second.

So I made everybody go two handed. Most were in a snaffle bit. At first we worked on the theory the students hands were for steering and their legs were for power.

So my beginners learned to steer with their hands and power the horses forward with leg pressure.

The left rein directed the left shoulder. The right, the right. The legs powered the forward movement.

Pretty soon the horses began to move their feet with the directional pull of the rein before the leg pressure came on.

So we had an Aha! moment.

The beginning riders were learning to take charge of the horse with the rein. The horse was responding to the hand.

It was simple, clear, direct and everybody got it.

So when I got the students further in their ability and they started to use their legs to control each foot there was no confusion. It was simply additional cues.

My colts also benefited from the simplicity.

First wander around, learn to step left with a left tug and right to a right tug. I also relaxed the inside leg (same rein same leg)before I tugged on the reins, setting the colt to follow a release of pressure from my legs.

Then he learned to move his hindquarters away from my leg (same rein same leg again, but with pressure instead of release)

Then he learned pressure from both of my legs created propulsion.

Then he learned to move away from leg pressure at the fore.

My students benefited from the same approach, except people did better learning to squeeze both legs for forward before they could use one leg at a time to move the hindquarters.

I think it has something to do with how we see and think (forward and with both eyes in front) where a horse learns first one side than the other easier than both sides at once.

So to me I’m keeping it simple.

The colt doesn’t have to blast into a turn when I move a rein, just follow the motion of my hand.
So I guess it has more to do with sensitizing the rider….

44 comments:

OneDandyHorse said...

I have to agree with you on the one rein stop. I did lean towards your step daughter, but I remembered that I did it once or twice to stop my runaway (spooked) horse and it worked. But I got to thinking about doing it the whole time and it is teaching a horse to run through you.

I have trained many horses and some of which I have worked much more than others and let me tell you that when I raise my hand, they darn well better slow or stop. I always accompany all whoa and go actions with a word. So when I want to stop, I raise my hand and say whoa (in a low tone calm voice) If my horse is responsive, she will tuck her hinds and stop... if she is more or less responsive, she will just slow to a stop.

Since my mare is almost completely blind (and still very rideable, yes!) I use words for everything. I can throw a saddle on top of her back without even blinking an eye, I usually say "up" before I do, but I could just throw it, she hears and knows what I am doing.

Even if she is blind (almost) she has learned to trust me completely. She will walk in mud as deep as I tell her to walk in, water, bush, busy roads and streets, near barking dogs, screaming kids and even on her own, away from her friends.

She can walk trot and canter and understands that the word "easy" means to pick up her feet and that "step" means that there is a tree or obstacle on the trail. And that "We're going!" means that in no way is she ever going to win this battle. She never won a battle against me and I think this is why she probably thinks I'm the best super horse leader there ever was and that anywhere I lead her is for her good.

Anyways, back on topic. I have only used the one rein stop minimaly, though effective, I don't like using it too much, it's hard on my horse's joints (if stopping a runaway) and it may not even stop them if they are used to doing it. I did it when one of my reins broke, plus the emergency dismount and when my mare got a habit for rearing, it wasn't a one rein stop, but cranking her head where she could basically eat the dirt off of my boot prevented her from going up! That's all I needed and the problem was quickly solved!

Sometimes, I admit that you need a one rein stop, but I always give a runaway the time to realize what is going on before doing it... unless I am in a dangerous situation where my horse and I might get hurt.

That's my opinion on it. I always like to teach words and associate them to actions or commands...but I don't show my horses, they are only good trail mounts!

Shanster said...

Hey Mugs - while I always get a thrill to see my name in type... I don't think this was me? Great read regardless! Very insightful.

nagonmom said...

Years ago, I remember reading John Lyons talking about riding Bright Zip bridleless. He thought this would be a dandy thing, no bit. Of course, the horse did it very well. But Mr. Lyons figured out that Bright Zip preferred the bridle because Zip could read the rein cues quicker, and "steering" with leg cues was more annoying to the horse. I thought of that when you wrote of the horses learning to move feet from rein cues. I think there are many levels to this. My trainer taught me to test the horse right/left at a standstill, then a walk, etc. If you lose control you go back to where you had it. He also preaches the one rein emergency stop, but trains in a beautiful whoa. His goal was my safety. And I appreciated that! Of course, I would have no business riding a compulsive runaway. My point is that probably some of us could use a one rein stop, in the correct horse, in an emergency. Other riders, other horses, maybe not as good an idea. I really like a well done whoa response. Adds to security like nothing else. (Except being 16 and invulnerable, but I will not be there again!)

paint_horse_milo said...

I agree with you; the one rein teaces them to run through you (something you definitly dont want to teach). Instead, I turn the head to the inside slightly, and kick the butt out. Besides, the rear is the powerhouse anyways, get that out of the way and they cant propel forward anymore.

JustMyStyle said...

To me this issue of stopping the horse seems simple. The one rein stop is one of two emergency stops. The other is the calvary stop: plant one hand at the withers, raise the other. Stops the horse in a straight line, which is perfect for run aways. I may be missing something here coming from a strictly english background, but I agree with Mugs. The horse should stop off a "whoa". If you have a run away, use an emergency stop, otherwise, I'm not sure why you would need any stop other than a "whoa"...

am I missing something?

mugwump said...

Ahhhhh!!!! Stupid Blogger won't let me into my own site! Sorry Shanster - Will the real great question asker please stand up?

mugwump said...

painthorsemilo - me too.

Katharine Swan said...

I'm a bit green as a rider, but I have to say I agree with you on the one-rein stop. My trainer is always telling me to use it, but I never think of it at the time. Even when I've practiced it when Panama is not running away, it has always felt precarious, like it unbalances both of us -- which I guess is due to the weight being on the front end, like you said. Also, I have the image of myself pulling his head one way and flying off the other side, like a cartoon character.

Since Panama's training has progressed, and since my riding has gotten better, I've found that no matter how scared he is, he stops within a few strides and a strong pull on the reins. Faster and feels safer than the one-rein stop, to this beginner, anyway.

mugwump said...

Justmystyle - I like your definition of the calvary stop. It's very similar to the Monte Foreman stop I learned many years ago.
Again you guys - my biggest problem for one rein stops, especially beginners - is because I have seen horses thrown to the ground with this maneuver.

As in Kersplat. I guess it did stop the horse though.

I have also seen a panicked rider with an out of control horse yank an inside rein and dump herself and the horse into the iron rail fence. That one stopped the rider for several months, not the horse though.

I just can't work my way around that one, no matter how hard I try.

Justaplainsam said...

That really works in my brain (the explanation that is!)

I agree I dont like the one rein stop, Ive been on lots of run aways and me pulling on them in that manner would have put both of us into trouble.

Becky said...

Hi, Mugs--- it was me :) As I read this post, I kept thinking--- wow, Shanster! I remember wanting to ask Mugs the SAME exact question, almost word for word! Hmm. Turns out I did....


THANK you for answering this in such perfect detail--- it's exactly the information I was looking for!

Beth said...

A wicket is an area where one would play cricket if one lived in an area that they play it. If it is really wet or sticky it becomes a sticky wicket. I didn't actually know that I had to look it up.

Very insightful as always.

badges blues N jazz said...

i soooooooooooo wish I could get a lesson from you..sigh

badges blues N jazz said...

i think it was me that asked the question by the way. You said by the time you were on their back, they followed their nose with their feet, and I had asked "but how do you get them to THAT point before ridden work"? so, maybe part my question, and part some body elses. lol

DeeDee said...

Okay. I feel really stupid but I am asking the question anyway. How do you put a good Whoa stop on a horse? I am a late to the game grandma rider with a simple horse. Not gonna get to train some young wild thing. And I would love a good Whoa on my own pony. And since I end up helping others, maybe I could pass this onm.

Sorry if this is too inane to answer. ;->

Joy said...

I ride with someone who is Clinton Anderson all the way (she worked for him for a few years). She's big into the one rein stop. She told me to do that when my horse tries to bolt. AHAHAHA! It would just help him pass his own ass in the turn faster. It's much easier for me to do as you told me Mugwump, keep him going forward. Side pass if necessary.

Since I asked you about that about a month ago, he hasn't even tried to bolt. He knows he's going to have to go forward. No. Matter. What.

I absolutely agree with you. You have the feet you have the horse. See? I can learn!

Bif said...

Regarding the whoa... I come from a different discipline (eventing and other sport horse activities)and we want very different things from our animals in the whoa category. Enter an animal I am working with who just completed 90 days (not all ridden) with a "teach them to seek the whoa" trainer.

If you said "Good Boy" under saddle or on the lunge, he WHOA-ed. If you did the relaxing, working breath snort, WHOA-ed. If you said whoa... well, no reaction there.

It went against everything in my nature when in the second ride he blew up and ran off, I realized the only way to stop him ~ I said "Good Boy" to get him to stop. I later realized the reason he blew. If I shifted the bight of the reins (the remainder past your hands), he jumped, spazzed, whatever. Been over and undered, you think?

It was super frustrating working with a horse that I couldn't praise, because he would just stop. And he really, really didn't like being ridden. I've moved slowly with him, keeping rides short and informative and not very frequent, and all the while I am working on being able to tell him he's good with out him stopping.

He is at the point where he likes being ridden, and very seldom stops when I tell him he is good. His whoa when asked is good.

I understand teaching them to look for the rest, but why didn't the guy use the actual word Whoa? Instead, he probably said good boy every time he stopped, and now anytime you show relaxation or praise, the horse seeks the stop. Yuck!

Sorry, done venting now =)

Val said...

Interesting discussion.
I think the one rein stop is highly overrated. I have fallen with a green horse who I turned too sharply (I was 14 and had never heard of a "one-rein stop"). Lesson learned. Then 10 years later, I saw interest in this stop growing and I became weary. Strangely, a lot of people will shrug it off if you explain that the horse's balance is disturbed and he can fall. I stop a fast or runoff horse with a take and release on one or both reins sometimes with bridging of the reins and putting my legs on to engage the hindend. Forward is the key to controlling the feet, even in a stop (as Mugs explained so well). I would never advise a rider to drop one rein and haul on the other. I have see a women nearly flip a Percheron cross doing this and at the walk. Needless to say, she was excessive with her aids but I think that it is easier to dangerously upset a horse's balance than many riders realize.
In response to another comment, my horse will transition down when I say "and" as a verbal half-halt or "good boy" so I only say it when I want him to have a reward break. I really appreciate this signal between us and find that horses that I do not normally work with pick up the word and tone very quickly. Such awesome animals, these horses.

LightBell said...

Hi, I'm a lurker :)

This is an interesting topic to me, because recently i have been riding a young, green western horse. I have very little experience with young horses, so I'm not the one training her, just riding around trying to get her to lose some weight, haha.

Anyway, she has a very nice, fast whoa stop. In fact, she would love to just stand still and hang out the whole time. She's not lazy, just in bad shape.
The problem, if you can call it that, is that she is waiting for the stop cues all the time. Saying "good girl" or taking a deep breath will always lead to arubt stop. Saying "yes" to someone else in the arena will lead to her stopping right there and then. To be honest "yes" in finnish is "joo", so i can understand why the horse is confused. :D but I do feel bad for the horse cause she thinks she's doing the right thing.

CR said...

There is an incredible amount of misinformation about what a "one rein stop" is out there.

It is not simply dropping the outside rein and cranking the nose in to your boot. Any horse can run through that or tip over, especially a green horse.

A one rein stop should never be used on a horse that hasn't been taught it at the WTC.

The one rein stop uses both the front end and stepping under of the hindqaurters. There very specific steps of how your arm handles the rein, and how you get the inside foot to step under. Arm too high (a begginer thing) just cause the horse to run through. Arm to far out, the same thing. Crank nose around without moving the hip and horse will fall.

The arm is bent at elbow and pulled to your hip while you apply leg pressure to the inside. The horse steps under and can continue to move his feet. Release when horse stops.

This is a manuver that has to be practiced so BOTH horse AND rider know it is a cue and the reponse become automatic WHEN NEEDED.

Once a horse learns it, it is learned.

In a perfect world horses would never bolt, spin and run, etc. But if you are ever in a situation where this happens you will be really happy you taught your horse to do this. (Trust me) You may never have to use it but is good to know it is there.

Of course there are other ways to stop a horse, and they should be used, first seat, verbal, rein, etc. But if you ride a lot of horses you know that there are times that external things beyond your control, and your horse may react first and think later.

How many times have we seen horses in this situation and riders yelling whoa whoa and the horse is basically checked out?

The one rein stop gives him a place to go...he still can move his feet, but in a controled manner. He knows this cue and a familiar thing in a huge spook can be a comfort.

So, yes there are other ways to stop a horse, but please don't throw out this method. If you put the foundation in your horse with this you don't use it to do a normal stop. It is used in an emergancy. BUT is is SO important it is taught FIRST, to both you and your horse.

I ride mustangs it it saved my butt. Two horses, massive spook. One rider yelling hooo hoo as his bolted, bucked and farted, dumped rider and ran home. Mine took two strides of bolt and I one reined her. She could move her feet, and did quite a little while, while I sat and waited her out, then calmly dismounted.

I've also used it on my cranky older mare a few times.

I will say if I just rode in the arena it may be easier to ride out a bolt (if the horse isn't loco and tries to go through the fence) then putting in all that prep and training time. But dang on the trail it comes in handy, especially on greenies.

So, just sayin' if done CORRECTLY it can be a good tool to have.

(And Mugs I didn't mean any of this at you, just a couple comments to helpfully straighten up some misinforamtion.)

Red Horse said...

I've used the one rein stop as described by CR, bending the nose around while disengaging the hip, for a lot of different purposes. I'm a beginning riding instructor and I find it's a great way to keep my horses tuned up and soft to the aids, and it also teaches riders to find their center even when their horse is moving in an odd manner. We start at a stop picking up the nose and moving the hindquarters, then at a walk, and at a trot. What it turns into is the rider lifting a little with the inside rein and applying leg and the horse softening in front and engaging their inside hind. I can see how it could be counterproductive in some disciplines, but the one rein stop is definitely a tool I use for training. I do agree that it's no way to stop a runaway for all the reasons everyone has mentioned.

Jill said...

Obviously I read your blog for the stories and training. But OT, I also play cricket, and a sticky wicket is a pitch that is very tricky to deal with because the weather has made it sweat and that affects how the ball bounces on it (sorry, long winded!), so I guess it's now a common way of saying 'tough situation to deal with'.

Rispah said...

Hey - long time reader, first time poster :)
I have a question for you. I have a 8yold OTTB who I have owned for 3 years. He is normally the sweetest, calmest horse you'll ever find (falls asleep at shows) and is just an overall great guy.
However, I took him to a show where I had to stable him overnight. He'd been in stalls at other barns before and been fine, but these stalls were temporary and quite different from what he'd been used to. He began to freak out in the stall, trotting circles (small ones, the stalls weren't that big), bucking and rearing (to the point of almost getting his legs caught on the top of the stall). He was stabled next to 2 horses from our barn but was sniffing the horse in the stall behind his.
I tried taking him out to walk him, and he did calm down, but as soon as he went back in the stall he started again. We ended up wrapping his legs to prevent injury and leaving him for the night. When I got there the next morning, he was still turning circles (at a walk). After our ride, he was fine in his stall for the rest of the day and the next night.
My question is, if he ever does this again, how can I stop him?
He is a gelding, but was a stallion until he was 5. I'm not sure if that's partly affecting his behavior here.

Val said...

In response to CR's explanation of the one-rein stop:

I have seen this technique taught by several trainers including a very big name trainer and none of them mentioned the use of the leg during the stop. I totally agree with you on using the leg with the rein to keep the hind end engaged and prevent a fall. I also agree that one rein should not be dropped or abandoned in order to create the stop. However, I have watched numerous riders, who have been taught this stop, haul on one rein without any application of the leg. It would be very scary to watch them do this in a true bolt as their horses wobble dangerously or are whipped into a spin just in the practice. Perhaps the trainers are not effectively conveying the information or the riders are so fixated on the "rein" part of the stop that the technique does not sink in properly. Maybe the stop would benefit from a new name: "one-rein one-leg slowdown".

Crowguys said...

Fortunately, the only runaway I've been on was on a donkey--trot, trot, canter, trot, WHEW!

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with your daughter and CR on this one. I've use the "one rein stop" before I knew it was called this, and its been a great tool for regaining control in a bad situation. Call it making a small circle if that puts a better picture in people's minds. You still have to continue to train your horse NOT to run through the shoulder when all minds are back on work, but that is different than this regain control maneuver. Kicking the butt around with the one rein is even a better attention getter. Just as you don't pull the grass eater's head up with two reins but with one, pulling one rein to a stop or a small circle can help many riders feel safer and be safer. Lets face it, there are not as many brave souls that routinely ride their horses until they are tired and want to slow like mugs does.

Anonymous said...

.... and even leaking through the shoulder on a one pull rein seems preferrable to a head-in-the air, mind checked out, run/spook/squirt and pulling with two reins. you know, the ones - you can hear them yelling WHOA as they disappear, following their nose, over the hill.

glenatron said...

I'm with CR on this one. Maybe it comes down to how you prepare your horses though and also how you understand it- getting to the feet is the important part of it. If it's used wrong you can flip a horse. If you use the brake on your bike wrong you can flip yourself over the handlebars. There's no tool so safe than people can't learn ( or be taught ) to injure themselves with it.

To me a horse that understands how to bend is really important. Really important. Being able to offer that C1 bend in particular is a big deal for the horse psychologically and it's a starting point for most of the work I want to do.

I think this is a bit like the difference between french and german dressage traditions though. On a very basic and incomplete level, I understand it thus: the French aim to get the horse in balance and flexible first, from the halt through the gaits, askin the horse to always be balanced and soft. The Germans want impulsion at all times, the horse must constantly be moving forward and then will learn balance and softness through movement. I incline to the former because I think it offers results in a way that is easy and understandable to the horse, but you can get pretty good results through either route.

Mrs Weekend Rider said...

Could you please explain what kick the hip out/around means? I think I get it but I'm not clear enough to *know* I've got it, if that makes sense.

mugwump said...

Bif - Don't demonize every horse who seeks a whoa.

Mine stop when you take both legs off, deepen your seat and say whoa.

If you simply deepen your seat they slow.

If you exhale they gather (kind of a cowboy half halt).

All this happens because they are trained for each maneuver and learn to accept sequence.

If I yell "Whoa!" they stop.

On the other hand, I will freely admit, if you say , Go, No, Blow, So, Dough or To and Fro they will also stop.

They learn to look for any word that sounds close and go for it, knowing they will get a very resigned "Good Boy," from me.

If it got too bad I would instruct off them. They got used to me talking and learned to tune me out. It took a couple of rides of kicking them through their anticipation and they were fine.

Our sport is based on quick stops and turns.

When I used to get a horse from another discipline I was aware I had different training to work through.

So I charged more, sucked it up and dealt with it.

mugwump said...

CR- No problem. This is my step-daughters stance also. Which is where I go back to, "but it dumps them o the front end."
I too will turn a run away.
I also kick the hip out.
I don't end it in a stop.
I keep the horse moving until my control is back, straighten the horse, set up a stop and say "Whoa."
I don't train for this maneuver either.
But each horse is trained from the get go to go right or left and the first maneuver they learn from my leg is to give at the hip.
See what I mean?

mugwump said...

Anon especially- You guys aren't hearing me....hopefully my previous explanation will help clear it up.
I don't run my horses in a circle until they are exhausted.
Never have, never will.
If I am in a safe enviroment I will let a runaway run himself out (big difference) then make hin run some more until I have control of the feet again.
I'm not advising any of you to try this unless you know you can and why it works.
I am saying, the one reined stop (especially when practiced from the WTC) dumps a horse on the front end.
So if I pull a horse around and keep kicking the hip out I straighten him and ask for the Whoa in a correct and balanced manner once he is under control.

glenatron said...

Oh I see, or at least I think I do, so you are actually using the same approach to take the impulsive push out, you're just not using it as a stop, more as a way to get the feet moving the way you ask them to?

GreatGotlands said...

This post was very funny to me! "say whoa" *snort*

I do agree with you Mugwump, I have used a one rein stop, she just kept running straight through it! And we couldn't see well. Never use that method again. Like better how CR described it, but that one sounds like the "pulley rein emergency stop".

Also, it reminds me of the AHA moment I had when I switched my hard-mouth leased make to a side-pull instead of the bit she was going in. She was the horse I had a number of "run-aways" on. Luckily she was pretty lazy and it made me giggle more thatn scared. Only time I got scared was when she did it alongside a wire fence on a trail ride. Anyway, when I first tried her on the side pull I realized that the lack of stop and running through was a training issue. I know, you say duh! But many pepple around here say put on a stronger bit for such a horse. But to me (now) the stop does not come solely from the bit now. It is whole body, and if you are having runaways, slow down and go back to basics. There is a problem in the training or riding!

GreatGotlands said...

And I agree with Badges, I would dearly love to take lessons or a clinic with you, mugs! For the little things and to follow you on these odysses you like to take! Sounds fun!

Planning to come to Manitoba anytime?

Heila said...

A couple of weeks ago my yard owner and I wanted to go on a ride, but first we had to chase some of her cows out of the neighbour's vineyard. The wind was howling, which always makes my horse spooky, and some plastic was flapping around the vineyards. Just as I got him past that a huge orange horse-eating grape harvesting machine appeared on the horizon and a split second later he saw the cows moving in the vineyard.

Both horses freaked. My friend and her horse disappeared at a rapid rate. We were on a fairly steep slope and I didn't want my horse to run after them downhill. So I took a good grip with my left hand in the mane, and with my right had I pulled his head round. When I read through this post and the comments I realised that I was also using my right leg to push his bum around. We did two circles and then he stopped.

My previous instructor (when we were still doing dressage) was big on neck bending as a way of suppling up the horse's neck. You would basically walk or trot in a circle, bending the horse's neck to the inside or the outside by pulling the rein back and down, and simultaneously using intermittent tugs on the other rein as well as your legs to keep the horse on the circle. As a result my horse's neck is very flexible. Unfortunately this is bad for my 7 year old daughter whose legs are not long or strong enough yet to give effective leg aids so she mostly steers with hands. If my horse doesn't want to follow her hand he simply yields his neck but keeps going in the direction that he wants to go. Sigh.

I can slow him down by neckbending though, even if we do keep on going in the original direction of travel. I find this useful if you're on a fairly narrow track with not a lot of space to manoeuvre.

mugwump said...

Glenatron - Yes!

mugwump said...

Mrs. Weekend Rider- A turn on the forehand....with energy!

Bif said...

Mugwump~ I totally get that their are different reasons and different ways to teach our horses the different maneuvers for their jobs.

It would have been better if the owner had sent him to a more generalized riding or traditional english trainer, since she wants a dressage or hunter jumper style horse. A whoa seeker is harder to teach to jump, especially anything more than "perch and preen" because there are times you will sit deep heading to fences, etc.

My other question about it, how do you teach it without exhausting the horse? Jumping disciplines require a thinking horse who likes his job. His job is to carry the rider. How do these guys (whoa seekers) like riding if they are always looking for it to STOP? I'm not trying to be argumentative, I'm trying to figure out how you keep joie de vivre with this training style.

glenatron said...

In that case I'm probably doing something similar - it maybe started with a one-rein stop but these days it's more a one-rein-seizure-of-control followed by offering direction to the feet. A horse that is anxious isn't going to be able to stand still anyways and they are going to be looking for direction, so getting them back on your programme as quick as you can is the most important thing really for everyone's good.

mugwump said...

Bif- How do you teach a jumper to jump without exhausting the horse?
I don't train them but all that jumping makes me tired just looking at it.
I don't think there is an explanation here that will make you happy.
I was supposed to train a very TB appendix mare to cow.
For her the stop was difficult. As a matter of fact she couldn't do it.
She was abandoned at my place. I had her forever until I got the paperwork straightened out so I could sell her.
I immediately put her in my old Stubben and taught her the rudimentary English I am capable of.
When I sold her she passed her second level dressage test the first day she was tried out by the potential buyers trainer.
I don't know what that is, but it sold the horse.
The only drawback was she would rock back instead of stand square at the stop.
I've heard this before on other horses I've trained who were picked up as dressage prospects.
Everything else was strong enough so the horses still happily moved on to their life as dressage horses.
My good horse Mort was leased by a hunter/jumper when I went to college.
He slid to a stop if you touched his neck (something I'm going to show Dee Dee on Friday).
He became a solid competitor. So I really don't know what to tell you.
My sport is based on stops and turns at high speeds. The horses are bred to do it. They like it.
If it exhausts them I don't keep training them.They are wrong for the job.

CR said...

yeah, I'd go with "one rein control" as a better way of describing it.

Bif it is not exhausting to train, and does not kill any of the life in the horse. It is simply an exercise taught with everything else a horse should learn, like standng still when horses other horses go running past, etc.

I imagine there are people that drill excessivly.

I rarely use it, and if I "practice" it I do so in a challenging situation to make sure the horse is with me. If he is he's soft and flexible he's checked in.

It's important to understand if a horse is in full bolt this is a bad idea to use this, the control is already gone. The response has to be so automatic you hand is down on that rein with two strides.

As Buck Branaman says, "stay ready."

paintarab said...

"Circle until they are tired"
I started using the circle a little over a year ago after reading some of mugwumps early stuff when I was trying to teach my horse to ride in an arena (she previously only new trails). She has strength and speed on the trails and truly enjoyed tug-of-wars with the bit…this only manifested in the arena where she didn't know what to do. I have found that it’s not a matter of "circling until she is tired" its more of a "circle until she is bored." She very quickly learned that circling was boring and if she reverted to the previously asked speed/gate she wouldn't have to circle anymore. Now, anytime in the arena or field that she starts to think about going faster than I have asked, and is ignoring my pulling or threatening to bolt, I simply circle. Some days as soon as the circle starts I get an instant "damn, we are circling again" response and she quickly reverts to the previously asked speed/gate. Other days, like yesterday, she tries widening and speeding up the circle to wear me down, so I just keep changing direction on her...eventually (within minutes) she figures out that this is boring and moving forward in a sane manner is a much more fun thing to do. I have never had to ride her until she was exhausted, just until she was bored.

gtyyup said...

The clinic I just attended...BIG NO NO on the one rein stop...dangerous. Basically, he said to teach the horse to stop...period...how hard is that?

Never bend the horse without moving the feet. Three degrees of bend: minimum, medium and maximum. Maximum bend is the outside eye to the inside point of the horse's opposite shoulder.

And yes, I totally agree on following the hand...

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