Horse Training

Reining Circle Exercises

September 16, 2014

Try incorporating this circle exercise into your next horse-training session to improve your reining horse.

circle exercise illustration

In this circle exercise, you’ll prepare for reining competition by loping small circles and large fast circles in each direction. Journal illustration.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Ready to give reining a shot? If you’ve got some trail and horsemanship experience under your belt, you’re halfway there, say AQHA Professional Horsemen Butch and Patty Campbell of Whitesboro, Texas.

“Becoming better at horsemanship and reining go hand in hand, because the two classes are so closely related,” Patty says.

With your trainer’s help, find an experienced, gentle and willing reining horse and hit the practice arena with the Campbells’ favorite exercises.

But first, take a look at the basic reining rules: Read the rest of this entry »

Grasping the Two-Rein

September 9, 2014

Learn how to handle the combination of the mecate and bridle reins that has enhanced horse training since the vaqueros developed it into an art form.

two-reins-9.9.14

Putting a fistful of reins in the hands of non-pros can be overwhelming, but learning to ride and show in the two-rein improves horse and rider performances. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

It has been more than two years since AQHA added the two-rein rig as an option in working cow horse classes. AQHA Professional Horseman Jimmy Stickler of San Luis Obispo, California, has taken full advantage of the accoutrement.

“I’m very happy with being able to show in the two-rein and think it is a great addition,” Jimmy says. “I hope people use the option as a training technique.”

Jimmy has used the two-rein as a training tool for some time and finds the traditional horse training rig helps finish better bridle horses and ultimately produces horses that anyone, including amateurs, can show successfully. Read the rest of this entry »

Cow Horse to Rope Horse, Part 2

September 3, 2014

AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald explains how to train a cow horse to stop like a rope horse in the second half of this horse-training series.

cow horse to rope horse

AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald explains that a good steer stop takes a confident horse well positioned on the steer and synchronized with the rider’s timing. Annie Lambert photo.

By AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald in The American Quarter Horse Journal

In the first part of this horse-training series, AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald of Oakdale, California explained how to start training your cow horse to be a rope horse. Les continues in this second half to explain how to train your horse to stop and also answers some common questions.

Stop not Scotch

Once a horse is quiet and comfortable in the box, Les turns a single steer loose in the arena and tracks it around. Positioning and timing are everything, Les says.

“Tracking and heading teaches a horse where to run and get into position without even having him in the box,” Les says. “I rope just like I was going to be steer stopping out of the box, which teaches that horse how to run, rate and hold a position. And that is where the big stops come from. I run up there, swing over the steer’s back a couple of times, rope it, pull my slack, dally and ask the horse to stop. It takes the pressure of coming out of the box off the horse.”

Winning four-event contests with big stops comes from good timing, Les says. The timing of the horse, a la being able to read the cow, and combining the equine timing with the roper’s rhythm to synchronize the run is ever important. Read the rest of this entry »

From Cow Horse to Rope Horse, Part 1

August 26, 2014

In Part 1 of this horse-training series, AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald begins to explain how to add a fourth dimension to a cow horse.

AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald walks circles with his horses until they are quiet to convince them that the box is not big deal. Journal photo

AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald walks circles with his horses until they are quiet to convince them that the box is no big deal. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

There is a knack to turning out good rope horses, be it for competition or work around the ranch. Paying a lot of roping dues through the years has positioned AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald at the top of that game. The Oakdale, California, trainer went to his first roping as a 6-year-old and has never looked back.

Cow horses and, in some cases, reining horses make great roping prospects, Les says. Having a broke horse to start with is a helpful asset when adding a fourth dimension, the rope. But don’t think the addition is a slam-dunk.

“People mistakenly think because cow horses have that foundation that we can make them a rope horse overnight,” Les says. “They think since he is a 4-year-old and you can ride him around the arena, that he’s ready to go rope on. That’s not true.” Read the rest of this entry »

A Bit of Advice, Part 2

August 19, 2014

Learn how to select the proper western bit for horse training, including what kind of curb bit you should use first.

Choosing the right bit for your horse is very important. Just like a pair of running shoes, you want the right fit. Journal photo

Choosing the right bit for your horse is very important. Just like a pair of running shoes, you want the right fit. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

In 2012, the Journal consulted with AQHA Executive Director of Shows and Judges Pete Kyle; AQHA Professional Horseman Robin Frid of Denton, Texas; and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Jackie Krshka of Yukon, Oklahoma, to see what was in their horses’ mouths. At the time of the interview, Pete was an AQHA Professional Horseman but now works for AQHA. Part 1 of the series looked at bits used to start colts. Now, we move on to the curb bit.

Curb Appeal

Once a colt is educated and ready to move into a curb, what is the first bridle the trainers grab? Read the rest of this entry »

Three Exercises to Gain Body Control

August 14, 2014

Find out how to gain proper body control of your horse with these tips from an AQHA international horsemanship camp.

By Lauren Wells, AQHA international intern, summer 2014

Sam Houston State University students during the AQHA Horsemanship Camp in Slovenia. From R-L: Doran Proske, Turner McQuaide, Professor Dr. Jessica Leatherwood, Michelle Majewski, and Rafael Martinez.

Sam Houston State University students during the AQHA Horsemanship Camp in Slovenia. From right to left: Doran Proske, Turner McQuaide, professor Jessica Leatherwood, Michelle Majewski and Rafael Martinez.

Sam Houston State University professor Jessica Leatherwood has formulated several lesson plans that she uses with her students and while teaching riders during the AQHA international horsemanship camps. Jessica, along with Sam Houston State University students Rafael Martinez, Michelle Majewski, Doran Proske and Turner McQuaide, focused on a particular lesson titled “Basic II: Gaining Body Control” with the camp participants. Basic II has been incredibly useful for the camp riders to improve their transitions, lope departures and lead changes. Try out the lesson plan for yourself with your horse to see improvement in a variety of maneuvers. If you are not confident in performing these exercises correctly on your own, you can seek advice from an AQHA Professional Horseman. And it’s always helpful to have a friend to watch you from the ground to provide feedback.

The idea behind Basic II is getting your horse to move away from pressure, and there are three components to this lesson. They include hipping-in, “snaking” and side passing, and two-tracking.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Bit of Advice, Part 1

August 12, 2014

Start your horse training off on the right foot by selecting the proper western bit.

snaffle bit

Learn how to choose the right western bit for your horse. If you are just starting your horse, a snaffle might be your best option. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

If you have stood in front of the bit wall at the local tack store and wondered which one was your all-around horse’s “magic slipper,” you are not alone.

With each style and brand touting various attributes to help your horse improve, what is the best way to choose one for your horse?

In 2012, the Journal consulted with AQHA Executive Director of Shows and Judges Pete Kyle; AQHA Professional Horseman Robin Frid of Denton, Texas; and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Jackie Krshka of Yukon, Oklahoma, to see what’s in their horses’ mouths. At the time of this interview, Pete was an AQHA Professional Horseman but now  works for AQHA. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Yield-Point Exercises to Enhance Your Ground-Work Training

August 11, 2014

Learn how to improve your horse’s flexibility and responsiveness on the ground using these exercises from an AQHA international horsemanship camp.

By Lauren Wells, AQHA international intern, Summer 2014

Sam Houston State University Professor Dr. Jessica Leatherwood

Sam Houston State University Professor Dr. Jessica Leatherwood

During my travels in Europe, I have found the transition to each new horsemanship camp refreshing and interesting. Moving from camp to camp allows for the interaction with a new group of AQHA members and American Quarter Horses, as well as seeing the difference in the interests and events of the camp participants. Each college that I’ve had the opportunity to travel with has done an excellent job of tailoring its training methods and approaches to conform to the skill and interest levels of the camp riders. Whether the group is more involved in showing, trail riding or simply enjoyed the company of their American Quarter Horses, the college instructors and students have certainly spread a large scope of knowledge and skills to all types of AQHA members during the camps. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Training That Builds Trust

August 5, 2014

Touching your horse all over with a stick and with your hand can build trust.

A relationship based on mutual trust, confidence and respect will help you and your horse take on every day tasks. Fundamentals of Horsemanship photo.

A relationship based on mutual trust, confidence and respect will help you and your horse take on every day tasks. Fundamentals of Horsemanship photo.

From AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship

It’s very important to earn your horse’s trust and help him to accept humans. If your horse really trusts you, he should allow you to touch him all over his body. He should also accept your tools without fear.

Rubbing Your Horse With the Stick

Sometimes a tool – such as a stick – is the best way to introduce a horse to touch. Think of the stick as an extension of your arm. You should be able to rub the horse all over his body with the stick. But if he was sensitive somewhere and kicked at the stick, you’d be glad that it wasn’t you that was getting kicked. You can get into the more sensitive areas with the stick and keep yourself out of harm’s way. Read the rest of this entry »

Running Large Fast Circles in Reining

July 29, 2014

Use these six horse-training steps to reach open-level reining speeds.

When riding with speed, keep riding your horse the same way you do when you go slow. Journal Photo

When riding with speed, keep riding your horse the same way you do when you go slow. Journal Photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

There’s a serious need for speed in the reining arena these days, especially among the young-aged events. Are you in on the excitement? Take a lesson from National Reining Horse Association Futurity and Derby winner Andrea Fappani of Scottsdale, Arizona. With his six steps, you can have a futurity prospect that goes mach 10 with your hair on fire.

Step 1: Easy Does It

I like to start working on speed control during a horse’s 2-year-old year, toward the end of the summer. I want a lot of time to make sure the horse is relaxed about speed control. Before I can work on speed control, I make sure my horse can steer well and that I’ve got him soft in the face. If I don’t have everything under control when I’m going slow, there is no point in trying to go fast. If I’m not happy with something my horse is doing slow, I fix the problem because it will only get worse the faster I go. Read the rest of this entry »

Safety on Maiden Rides, Part 3

July 22, 2014

In the final part of this horse-training series, learn how to deal with young horses who are over-eager to return to the barn.

Trainer Teres Vining keeps her hands wide to help her filly stay soft and balanced while traversing a steep decline. Journal photo

Trainer Teres Vining keeps her hands wide to help her filly stay soft and balanced while traversing a steep decline. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, Trainer Teres Vining has taken you through the fundamental training she puts on her young horses before hitting the trails and how to deal with their inexperience on the trails. Now, learn how she deals with horses that are too eager to head for home.

Water Crossing

With each of Teres’ rides out, a colt will be asked to go through a creek at least twice. She handles this task a little differently than the attention-diverting situations where a colt has spooked at a bear, at noisy brush or other factors. Now, if he resists, the colt will be asked to face his fear and be brave. Read the rest of this entry »

Safety on Maiden Rides, Part 2

July 15, 2014

Learn horse-training tips that will help you handle spooky situations with your young horse on the trails.

When her horse spooks, trainer Teres Vining redirects the focus from whatever bothered the young horse to bodywork by bringing his head around toward her knee. Journal photo.

When her horse spooks, trainer Teres Vining redirects the focus from whatever bothered the young horse to bodywork by bringing his head around toward her knee. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, trainer Teres Vining reviewed the basic training that she puts on her young horses before heading for the hills. In this second of three parts, learn how she turns spooky situations into learning opportunities for her young horses.

Canine Comforts

Teres’ Border Collie, Brella, is a very important part of her training program and is an assistant trainer, in a sense.

The horses become accustomed to having Brella around when they’re working in the round behind. She’s like good company for the colts. They’re not worried when she goes along on those rides out. Read the rest of this entry »