Horse Training

Tracking Your Horse Straight, Part 1

April 7, 2015

Utilize this horse-training advice to teach your halter or showmanship horse to track straight.

Tracking straight is important for the judge to properly evaluate your horse at halter. Journal photo

Tracking straight is important for the judge to properly evaluate your horse at halter. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Gretchen Mathes for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Tracking is the art of keeping your horse moving forward in a straight line. As you lead your horse forward, you must be able to maintain your horse’s body – poll, withers, tail – in a straight line. The horse shouldn’t curl his nose in toward you, track with his body sideways or bow his neck.

I show halter horses, and I start and train showmanship horses. The basics of tracking for both classes are the same. And it appears to me – as an AQHA judge - that many exhibitors in both classes need to practice it more. Read the rest of this entry »

Better Balance at the Lope and Canter, Part 2

March 24, 2015

Practice these horse-training exercises to improve rider balance and confidence.

When a rider is balanced with correct position, you should be able to look at him from behind and see the rider’s spine line up with the horse’s spine. Jean Abernethy illustration

When a rider is balanced with correct position, you should be able to look at him from behind and see the rider’s spine line up with the horse’s spine. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm in The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, you learned the importance of balance while horseback riding, and common horse-training problems that can hinder your balance. When you lose your balance, the natural tendency is to drop your eyes, allow your hands and arms to fall forward to catch you and tense your body. Part 2 will outline exercises to help improve your balance on a horse and techniques to stay relaxed and confident in the saddle.

Solutions

The key to improving balance is relentlessly practicing and perfecting position. And to get to that perfect position at the canter/lope, you first have to work on it at the walk and then the jog/trot. Read the rest of this entry »

Better Balance at the Lope and Canter, Part 1

March 10, 2015

Learn these common horse-training problems that affect horse and rider balance.

The horse’s center of gravity shifts with what he is doing. Good basic position helps a rider keep his own center of gravity in balance with the horse’s. Jean Abernethy illustration

The horse’s center of gravity shifts with what he is doing. Good basic position helps a rider keep his own center of gravity in balance with the horse’s. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm in The American Quarter Horse Journal

One of the most common problems people have is losing balance at the canter or lope.

It’s natural for that to happen. The canter is the most advanced of the three gaits to ride. You cover more ground and it takes concentration and requires a lot of balance.

When you bounce at the canter/lope, your seat is coming out of the saddle, Read the rest of this entry »

Developing an Elastic “Trampoline” Back, Part 2

March 3, 2015

Practice these horse-training exercises to develop a freely moving horse.

A horse with a locked back will feel as if his back is a board, stiff and unyielding, with no swing, no energy moving through. Jean Abernethy illustration

A horse with a locked back will feel as if his back is a board, stiff and unyielding, with no swing, no energy moving through. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Michelle Just-Williams

The development of a supple and elastic “trampoline” back is an important part of helping your horse become a gymnastic athlete under saddle.

A horse that is “through” is a horse that is moving freely from the back to the front. The hind legs push him forward, and that thrust of energy moves through him from the back to the front, like free-moving water through a canal. The swing from the hind legs jumps to his center of gravity, and he Read the rest of this entry »

Developing an Elastic “Trampoline” Back, Part 1

February 24, 2015

Heed these horse-training techniques to develop a freely-moving horse.

When a horse moves freely from the back to the front he engages his abdominal core muscles and lifts his back. The rider feels an elastic bounce, like bouncing on a trampoline. Jean Abernethy illustration

When a horse moves freely from the back to the front he engages his abdominal core muscles and lifts his back. The rider feels an elastic bounce, like bouncing on a trampoline. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Michelle Just-Williams

In dressage, we seek to gymnastically bring our horse through a full range of movement. We develop this using what we call the training pyramid. The pyramid is a guideline to develop a horse’s strength, power of impulsion and carrying power that eventually results in Read the rest of this entry »

Master the Flying Lead Change

February 17, 2015

Utilize these 10 horse-training tips to perfect your lead changes.

Timing is everything when performing a flying lead change. Journal photo

Timing is everything when performing a flying lead change. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Executing a flying lead change can take hard work and lots of practice. Follow these 10 horse-training tips that will put you and your horse on the road to success.

1. A proper lead change has nothing to do with direction. To be able to change leads properly in the front and hind legs simultaneously, a horse has to have his body and spine loping in the same direction.

2. Aim for a correct arc. All horses, when they lope or canter naturally, perform that gait with their body positioned in an arc. If a horse is out of position in his Read the rest of this entry »

Learn the Basics of Colt Starting

February 10, 2015

Get your young horse started right with these horse training tips.

Teaching your horse the basics builds a solid foundation before you move on to advanced maneuvers. Journal photo

Teaching your horse the basics builds a solid foundation before you move on to advanced maneuvers. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horseman Dick Pieper in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Whether you want to ride a winning performance horse or train a nice horse that you can enjoy, you’re going to need the basics.

What I’m going to talk about isn’t new. Xenophon talked about the basics of using your body correctly and teaching your horse to use his body correctly when he invented dressage in the 12th century.

I’m going to use his principles and work in order. I won’t move forward until the horse has grasped each basic – lateral softness, collection and hip movement – thoroughly and completely. My goal is to produce a horse that is so conditioned to do what I ask that I could pull him out of the barn in Read the rest of this entry »

Improve Your Horse’s Body Carriage, Part 2

February 3, 2015

Get some horse-training tips to improve your horse’s performance in hunter under saddle class.

Hunters should move with long, low strides reaching forward with ease and smoothness. Journal photo

Hunters should move with long, low strides reaching forward with ease and smoothness. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Carla Wennberg in The American Quarter Horse Journal

After learning about common issues that can affect the body carriage of your hunter under saddle horse in Part 1, here are a few tips to improve your horse’s style and achieve the desired appearance.

The AQHA rulebook outlines qualities that judges look for:

SHW601. HUNTER UNDER SADDLE. The purpose of the hunter under saddle horse is to present or exhibit a horse with a bright, alert Read the rest of this entry »

Improve the Body Carriage of Your Hunter Under Saddle Horse, Part 1

January 27, 2015

Get some horse-training hints to fix common self-carriage problems.

Self-carriage depends on the horse’s training development, as well as his physical fitness. Jean Abernethy illustration

Self-carriage depends on the horse’s training development, as well as his physical fitness. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Carla Wennberg in The American Quarter Horse Journal

In hunter under saddle, a horse is judged for his suitability as a hunter in movement and responsiveness. But that’s influenced by how a rider rides. An unbalanced rider affects a horse’s movement in his gaits and through transitions, and as a result, it affects the horse’s placing.

What we’re striving for is a horse that looks through the bridle with his Read the rest of this entry »

Bending Your Horse Correctly on Curves and Squares, Part 2

January 20, 2015

You’ve learned the basics of asking your horse for square turns and arcs. Now it’s time to put your horse to work and perfect your technique.

properly turning your horse

For both curves and squares, Charlie says he likes to see riders practice steering the horse through the turns with their leg instead of their reins. Jean Abernethy illustrations

By AQHA Professional Horseman Charlie Cole in The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, you learned the basic differences between asking your horse to turn on a curve and asking your horse to perform a square turn. Now, read about some common problems that horses and riders have with these maneuvers and how to fix them.

Common Problems

These are some common problems with riders: Read the rest of this entry »

Bending Your Horse Correctly on Curves and Squares, Part 1

January 13, 2015

Learn the difference between riding your horse through a properly executed corner and a properly executed curve.

properly turning your horse

When you talk about making square corners, your horse has to keep his body straighter and more in alignment. On a curve, you keep a nice arc in the horse’s body and maintain that arc. Jean Abernethy illustrations

By AQHA Professional Horseman Charlie Cole in The American Quarter Horse Journal

There is a difference in the way a horse performs a square turn vs. a curve.

When you talk about making square corners, your horse has to keep his body straighter and more in alignment. You want the horse to keep his head in front of him.

You want your horse to ride to the corner and then simply square up to turn. If he’s making a left turn, he moves the hind end, his hips, to the right and brings the front end, his shoulders, around to the left. You push the hips to the outside and bring the front end around the corner. Read the rest of this entry »

Introducing Your Young Horse to the Bridge, Part 2

January 6, 2015

Once your horse displays confidence in approaching the bridge, he’s ready for you to ask him to walk across it.

horse on bridge

Thomas says once you get all four feet on the bridge, stop your horse on top of it and pet him if he’ll let you. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, you learned how to get your horse to willingly approach a competition-style bridge. New, let’s talk about how to get him up and over.

“I try hard to interpret when he gives me a positive response, like smelling the bridge or getting one foot on it or closer to it. Each time he gives me a positive, I’ll pause for a minute and stroke him on the neck. I’ll even release a little pressure by walking him out and going back around, then I’ll offer it to him again. By doing that, he’s going to build confidence. Read the rest of this entry »