Horse Training

Ready for Takeoff?

September 1, 2015

Be sure you’re ready for a productive horse-training session with these pre-ride checks from Step 1 of AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship.

Use these exercises before you mount your horse for a smooth start to your ride. Journal photo

Use these exercises before you mount your horse for a smooth start to your ride. Journal photo

You wouldn’t want to get on an airplane without knowing that someone had checked the fuel and made sure everything was in working order, right? It’s no different with a horse.

Once you’ve saddled up, there are two things you really shouldn’t do:

  1. Get on without any preparation.
  2. Turn your back and walk away from the horse, with him following.

Read the rest of this entry »

Straight Ahead

August 18, 2015

I went seeking a horse-training strategy to help me better understand the concept of straightness.

Clinician Harry Whitney illustrates the concept of straightness by riding Tigers TJ down a chalk line. Photo courtesy of Tom Moates

Clinician Harry Whitney illustrates the concept of straightness by riding Tigers TJ down a chalk line. Photo courtesy of Tom Moates

Excerpted from “Between the Reins: A continuing journey into honest horsemanship” by Tom Moates

“Jubal!” I hollered.

Reflexes snapped my arms back, both reins in tow.

The enormous Quarter Horse – officially known as Tigers TJ – barreled along at a powerful trot. I’d saddled him a little earlier with the intention of working on “straightness.” Charging headlong into a tree was not exactly the kind of straightness I’d envisioned. Read the rest of this entry »

Nervous Horse

August 17, 2015

Heed this solid training advice to get a troubled horse headed toward recovery.

An America’s Horse Daily reader submitted the following question regarding a very nervous, untrusting horse. AQHA Professional Horsewoman Julie Goodnight offers her expertise toward a solution.

Question:

I have a 17-year-old Quarter Horse that has obviously been abused. On the ground he is very respectful and sweet, but he has a very tender mouth and any hand movement while in the saddle causes him to bolt. After taking a serious fall last autumn, I thought to have a local trainer who is gentle-handed ride him for a week so he could become used to being ridden again. When I went to pick him up, he really wasn’t there (in his mind). He had gone somewhere safe and it took him a couple days to get back to normal. The trainer rode him, but it was very difficult for him to get the horse to walk. He was nervous and waiting for the ball to drop. I tried riding him once, but it was so scary. He was ready to blow in any direction. He is so worried he won’t please and will be punished. Is there any hope, or is he just a beautiful Quarter Horse pasture ornament?

Read the rest of this entry »

Shoulder Control

August 4, 2015

Three exercises to help improve your horse’s maneuverability.

AQHA Professional Horseman Ken McNabb talks to the owner of a young horse during a clinic. Journal photo

AQHA Professional Horseman Ken McNabb talks to the owner of a young horse during a clinic. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horseman Ken McNabb

Lateral control gives me the ability to put my horse’s body where I want it when I need it there. It’s useful in developing lead departures, creating rollbacks or spins and even simple things like opening and closing gates from horseback.

Working cattle on the ranch, there have been times that the ability to move my horse a couple of inches sideways saved hours of work, so I make sure that lateral movements are a key element of my training program. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-Training Tip: Create a Personal Bubble

July 21, 2015

Respect your horse’s personal space as you approach him, and see how big a difference it makes.

Everyone has a personal space "bubble," including your horse. Journal photo

Everyone has a personal space “bubble,” including your horse. Journal photo

By Jenny Lance and Angelia Robinette-Dublin for America’s Horse

Do you have a personal space or “bubble?” Does your horse have one as well? A resounding “Yes!” is the answer to both those questions. Everyone has a distance they prefer to keep between themselves and others. Only certain people we really trust and love are allowed into that protective bubble.

We also have personal physical spaces. For example, we don’t want someone just barging into our bedroom. Maybe some of you don’t even like your friends to just walk into your home. Most of us prefer a knock at the door and the opportunity to prepare ourselves and then to allow someone to enter our space. Read the rest of this entry »

Bits and Pieces: How Your Bit Works

July 11, 2015

Reporting from Denmark, AQHA international intern Katy Krshka shares facts about horse bits and their function.

IMG_0229.JPGBy Katy Krshka, AQHA international intern, Summer 2015

While in Denmark for the AQHA international horsemanship camp, Dr. Holly Spooner, horse science professor at Middle Tennessee State University, gave a short talk about bits and their functions. A few different points were discussed, and everyone walked away with a little piece of information that could be useful to them in the future.

To preface the lecture, Dr. Spooner asked the participants two fairly simple questions. The first, “What is the purpose of a bit?” The most basic answer is communication. A bit works via pressure and is simply a means of communication between the horse and rider.

The second question was, “What is the No. 1 thing that affects how severe a bit is?” Although this might seem like a no-brainer for some individuals, people often have a misunderstanding with this concept. The answer: the person using the bit. No matter what bit you may be using with your horse, it is the rider who contributes to the severity of the bit. Of course, there are going to be bits that have a higher port, longer shank, etc., but it is the individual using it who decides how that bit is going to be used. For example, an inexperienced rider is going to have much different hands and therefore a different feel to a horse than an experienced rider with the same horse and bit.

To follow that, one must remember when selecting the correct bit for your horse, there are multiple factors that go into the process. Two of the most important elements are the horse’s level of training and the rider’s experience level. Nevertheless, knowing where a bit distributes pressure on a horse’s mouth and how it functions is essential for determining what bit is appropriate for you and your horse.

In this lecture, Dr. Spooner first differentiates bits into two main categories: snaffle bits and curbed bits. The difference in the two is the type of pressure they create: direct vs. indirect pressure. In a snaffle bit, both reins and headstall are on the same ring causing direct pressure to the horse’s mouth. With a curbed bit, the reins and headstall will be attached at two different fixed locations, creating leverage and an indirect pressure to the horse’s mouth. There are three main pressure points the snaffle bit can create, and seven different pressure points a curbed bit can create. Read the rest of this entry »

Train Your Brain, Part 2

July 7, 2015

Preparing for a horse show involves more than horse training. It’s important to mentally and physically train yourself.

Both the horse and rider must be physically and mentally prepared for a horse show. Jean Abernethy illustration

Both the horse and rider must be physically and mentally prepared for a horse show. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lainie DeBoer in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Whether it’s getting ready to compete at a weekend show or the AQHA World Championship Show, all too often we focus on the physical preparation – for ourselves and the horse – and we forget the mental preparation.

Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half physical.” The same is true for riding in a competition.

In Part 1, we discussed the physical aspects of preparation. Now, let’s talk more about holding a mock horse show and how that can help with mental preparation.

I like to hold mock over-fences classes to get my students thinking about how they will handle the course, and also to get them used to riding in their show clothes. Read the rest of this entry »

Ground-Work Exercises That Relate to Horseback Riding

June 17, 2015

Katy Krshka shares four ground-work exercises from the AQHA international horsemanship camp in Austria.

Long View Ranch in Austria

By Katy Krshka, AQHA international intern, Summer 2015

Today, I am reporting from the beautiful countryside of Wilhelmsburg, Austria. We have started our three-day camp at Long View Ranch, owned and operated by Gerold and Gabriele Dautzenberg. They have been wonderful hosts to AQHA international horsemanship camps for 15 years. Their long list of accomplishments include multiple top-10 rankings in the world rankings in reining, trail, working cow horse and cutting, as well as European Championship titles. Their loft above their indoor arena is adorned with trophies over their years of involvement with the Austrian Quarter Horse Association and AQHA. The Dautzenbergs are a prime example of what hard work and dedication to your clients, association and American Quarter Horses can accomplish. Read the rest of this entry »

Train Your Brain, Part 1

June 16, 2015

Preparing for a horse show involves more than just horse training. It’s important to mentally and physically train yourself.

You and your horse might be physically fit to show, but nerves and insecurities can keep you from achieving your best. Journal photo

You and your horse might be physically fit to show, but nerves and insecurities can keep you from achieving your best. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lainie DeBoer for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Whether it’s getting ready to compete at a weekend show or the AQHA World Championship Show, all too often we focus on the physical preparation – for ourselves and the horse – and we forget the mental preparation.

Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half physical.” The same is true for riding in a competition. Read the rest of this entry »

Training Horses, Training Kids

June 2, 2015

Take Me Riding educates kids about horse training for different western disciplines.

Jack watches a cowboy train his horse for cutting. Journal photo

Jack watches a cowboy train a horse for cutting. Journal photo

By Annise Montplaisir for America’s Horse Daily

American Quarter Horses are known far and wide for their strength and versatility. They can be trained for jumping, working cattle, roping, driving and various other disciplines. As kids learn more about horseback riding and training, they may choose to train for one or a few of these many disciplines. Each one is unique and requires a different set of skills.

Take Me Riding is a website developed to educate children about the wonderful learning experiences and fantastic opportunities that are available through horseback riding. The easy-to-navigate site is filled with educational horse facts, resources for parents and teachers, and fun games and videos – all designed to encourage kids to go riding! Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Training for a Challenge, Part 2

May 19, 2015

Tackling obstacles from the ground builds trust and confidence in your horse.

Mark Bolender demonstrates training his horse in the “junkyard” to practice maneuvering obstacles. Journal photo

Mark Bolender demonstrates training his horse in the “junkyard” to practice maneuvering obstacles. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horseman Mark Bolender in America’s Horse

AQHA Trail Challenges test a horse and rider’s ability to navigate through natural obstacles they might find in the wilderness. Starting with the basics ensures that everything needed for safety and success is in order.

In Part 1 of Training for a Challenge, readers learned the importance of establishing a respectful relationship with your horse when working from the ground. Part 2 will build on that relationship so you and your horse can develop trust and confidence in one another. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Training for a Challenge, Part 1

May 5, 2015

Before competing in an AQHA Trail Challenge, utilize this horse-training advice to establish a partnership on the ground with your horse.

Mark Bolender longes his horses up and down hills, which teaches them to pick up their feet and navigate uneven ground. Journal photo

Mark Bolender longes his horses up and down hills, which teaches them to pick up their feet and navigate uneven ground. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horseman Mark Bolender in America’s Horse

AQHA Trail Challenges are a fun new way to earn official AQHA recognition, via merits, for horse-and-rider teamwork. A Trail Challenge is also a test of a horse and rider’s ability to navigate through natural obstacles they might find in the wilderness. And although it’s tempting to just get on and go, every horse and rider needs to start with the basics to ensure that everything needed for safety and success is in order. Read the rest of this entry »