Horse Training

Perfecting the Sidepass With Your Horse, Part 2

October 28, 2014

AQHA Professional Horseman Bill Bormes finishes up this series by teaching how to position your leg to cue for the sidepass and how to do some more advanced maneuvers.

sidepassing horse

The way a horse correctly sidepasses to the right is with both the left front and the left rear foot crossing toward or over the right front and right rear foot. Jean Abernethy illustration

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Last week we left off where your body is centered in the saddle, hips loose and free, feeling balanced on your horse. Depending on your horse’s balance, you position your left leg to fit it. Here’s how to do that:

If it feels like her hip needs to move first, I slide my left leg a little farther back. If she’s feeling balanced, I keep my left leg in the middle of her ribs. If I need to move the left shoulder to the right first, I move my left leg forward. These moves are usually miniscule, never more than 3 or 4 inches from the center of her ribs.

Here’s how I position my leg to cue her. First, I turn my toe out by releasing my knee from contact with the saddle. This allows the back of my foot, my spur and the back of my lower calf to be the main contact area on my horse’s side to signal her to move laterally or sidepass. Read the rest of this entry »

Perfecting the Sidepass With Your Horse, Part 1

October 21, 2014

Sidepassing is not just asking your horse to move sideways. It requires your horse’s front, middle and back end to engage simultaneously.

When sidepassing, it’s very important to have your horse’s body centered directly over the log so that neither the front nor the back legs bump against it. Jean Abernethy illustration

When sidepassing, it’s very important to have your horse’s body centered directly over the log so that neither the front nor the back legs bump against it. Jean Abernethy illustration

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Can you ride your horse sideways? That’s what you’re being asked to do when you have a sidepass maneuver in trail or ranch horse pleasure. It’s not just going sideways, though. The real question is whether you can engage the front, middle and hind end of your horse, all at the same time.

Here’s how AQHA Professional Horseman Bill Bormes tackles the problem, one step at a time.

Ride to the Pole

My first priority is to determine where the middle of my horse is in relation to where I sit on my horse. Usually, it’s directly below my heel. As the rider, I need to know where this “sweet spot” is when I position my horse so she can best clear the pole with it centered beneath her. Read the rest of this entry »

Maintaining Your Horse’s Topline, Part 2

October 14, 2014

This simple horse-training exercise teaches your horse to balance himself on his own by shifting his weight to his back end.

The spiral exercise works best if you ride with soft hands while keeping a slight bend, but the crucial aids are your seat and your legs, teaching the horse to move laterally. Jean Abernethy illustration

The spiral exercise works best if you ride with soft hands while keeping a slight bend, but the crucial aids are your seat and your legs, teaching the horse to move laterally. Jean Abernethy illustration

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

In the first part of this series, you learned how to do transition exercises and a rollback into an extended trot exercise to help your horse strengthen and level out his topline. Here are two more exercises that will help your horse learn to balance himself for better self-carriage:

Spiral Circles, In and Out

My favorite exercise is to spiral circles at the jog/trot or lope/canter. Spiral in and spiral out, using all your aids: your seat for impulsion, your active inside leg spirals the horse out on the bend, your active outside leg spirals the horse in. You have to use both leg aids, but one is more active and the other more passive. Read the rest of this entry »

Maintaining Your Horse’s Topline, Part 1

October 7, 2014

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Carla Wennberg shows you horse-training exercises that strengthen and lengthen your horse’s topline to help him achieve self-carriage.

horsemanship trot

Transitions in gait make a horse have to balance himself and spring off his feet, which requires a lot of impulsion from behind. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

The way you think about topline really is the same whether it’s for English or western riding. A horse’s topline goes from the hip, over the loin, through the back and through the neck. It consists of the muscles the horse uses to carry himself through the gaits, especially in transitions. A strong topline has to be developed for a horse to have self-carriage; it’s how you know whether or not a horse is balanced.

We want the topline level. (“Level” may depend on the horse and where he carries himself.) The horse has to have impulsion through his body up to your hand to stay level. Read the rest of this entry »

Steal Some Horse-Training Moves From Dressage

September 30, 2014

Chances are, you use dressage techniques every time you saddle up. AQHA Judge and Professional Horsewoman Christa Baldwin explains two-tracking and haunches-in.

two-tracking horse

When two-tracking to the left, your horse moves forward and laterally toward the left while maintaining a slight bend to the right. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

While the event itself seems like a completely foreign concept to many who ride in other disciplines, dressage really has more in common with your discipline than you realize. The “two-tracking” and “haunches-in” maneuvers in particular are useful to all horsemen – not just those who participate in dressage. AQHA judge and Professional Horsewoman Christa Baldwin explains why and shows you how to make sure your horse knows these useful maneuvers.

Two-Tracking

For this example, the maneuver is performed to the left. To go to the right, simply reverse your cues. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Training for Reining

September 23, 2014

In this second installment of a two-part series, learn how to master more elements of a reining pattern.

reining horse rundown

Straight lines force you to learn correct leg cues as you learn to push your horse’s side when he drifts off the straight path. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Part 1 of this series focused on perfecting your circles in a reining pattern. This second half will focus on elements such as straight lines and lead changes, with tips from AQHA Professional Horsemen Butch and Patty Campbell of Whitesboro, Texas.

Straight Line

Reining patterns are packed with circles, but straight lines play an integral part, too – particularly on your way to a sliding stop. Learn to ride straight lines slowly at first, working your way up to the high speed required for those exciting stops. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »