Horse Training

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 »

Eight Ways to Improve Your Horsemanship Position

July 14, 2014

Practice these eight exercises from an AQHA international horsemanship camp to develop into a more functional rider.

By Lauren Wells, AQHA international intern, Summer 2014

AQHA member Zoe Shillabeer of the United Kingdom and her American Quarter Horse Seren Firefly demonstrate correct horsemanship position. Lauren Wells photo.

During the AQHA international horsemanship camps in Europe, participants have the option to select a particular discipline or event they’d like to focus on for improvement with their horse. However, prior to making this decision, the students from the University of Findlay required participants to work through a preliminary horsemanship pattern to analyze their skill levels in order to place them into proper groups. Then, for most of the first day of camp, the riders worked through the following eight riding exercises.

Read the rest of this entry »

Safety on Maiden Rides

July 8, 2014

In Part 1 of this three-part series, Teres Vining shares the basic horse-training techniques she uses on her young horses before taking them out of the round pen.

Standing on the ground, Trainer Teres Vining loops a split rein over the saddle behind the horn and takes hold so that the colt’s head is pulled away from where she is standing in order to establish a foundation for control. Journal photo.

Standing on the ground, Trainer Teres Vining loops a split rein over the saddle behind the horn and takes hold so that the colt’s head is pulled away from where she is standing in order to establish a foundation for control. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Some things just can’t be taught in an arena. Teres Vining will tell you that she doesn’t even have an arena. What she does have is a round corral for teaching basics to the colts she starts, but the real asset to her training program is the 100 acres of hilly pasture and mountains in Washington state.

“I take some colts out on the second ride, if they act like they want to listen and think,” she says. “It might be the second time they’ve ever had a saddle on.”

With colts that are pretty laid back, Teres says they don’t need a lot of handle before they venture out. The important thing, she stresses, is that they need to be at a stage where they’ll take their attention off potential distractions. “They need to know that they have to pay attention to me,” she says. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-Training Essentials: Riding Good Corners

June 24, 2014

In Part 2 of this series, see how the spiraled squares exercise can help you ride good corners in your next horsemanship class.

When executing the spiraled squares exercise, it’s important to remember the essentials of a good corner: looking before you turn, applying pressure from the outside and supporting from the inside. Jean Abernathy illustration.

When executing the spiraled squares exercise, it’s important to remember the essentials of a good corner: looking before you turn, applying pressure from the outside and supporting from the inside. Jean Abernethy illustration.

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

In Part 1 of this series, we emphasized the importance of looking and supporting through corners. Now, let’s apply those fundamentals to three exercises to further improve how you ride through your corners.

Spiraled Squares Exercise

I use this exercise in everything from hunter and dressage lessons to reining and horsemanship lessons. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-Training Essentials: Riding Good Corners

June 17, 2014

In Part 1 of this horse-training series, discover the common problems that lead to a sloppy corner in your horsemanship pattern.

The key to riding a good corner is simple: Look before you make the turn. Jean Abernathy illustration.

The key to riding a good corner is simple: Look before you make the turn. Jean Abernethy illustration.

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

We use corners a lot in horsemanship patterns at the bigger shows because the maneuver clearly shows correct “guide” in the horse. If a horse isn’t right on the rider’s aids, he won’t turn as well or will turn too much.

For the rider, it teaches focus. As the rider, you must visualize the turn and know where you are going. Remember, your rein aids control the shoulder forward, and your leg controls the rib cage and hip.

First, you have to think “straight” – ride the horse into the bridle by keeping his body straight. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-Training Basics: Leading Without Resistance

June 10, 2014

Lead your horse with ease and lightness with these horse-training tips.

Training a horse to lead lightly will teach him how to move with your body From AQHAs Fundamentals of Horsemanship

Training a horse to lead lightly will teach him how to move with your body. From AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship

From AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship

If you can lead your horse in a halter with ease even at a trot, he will be much simpler to show in halter classes or to trot during a veterinary exam or inspection. By the end of this exercise, your horse won’t stay with you because he is forced to do so, but because he understands it’s a comfortable place to be.

How Do You Do It?

Lay the rope over your arm between your elbow and your body, and then run it along the inside into your hand. Avoid wrapping the rope around your arm, which would be extremely dangerous. Read the rest of this entry »

Master the Basics: Cutting

June 3, 2014

Put your horse-training skills to the test by trying your hand at the sport of cutting.

Master the basics of riding a cutting horse

As you master the basics of cutting, you need to have a horse that can keep up with you. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

If you’ve ever watched a cutting competition, you probably suspect it’s one of the most exciting equine events around. The adrenaline rush you get as a spectator can’t compare to actually sitting atop a powerful American Quarter Horse as he almost touches his belly to the ground – doing everything possible to keep individually selected cows away from the herd for two and a half minutes.

To get involved, you’ll want to learn from experienced, reputable cutting trainers. Trainer John Mitchell says the absolute best way to jump into the cutting world is to take lessons from a trainer with a style you can emulate.

During your first lesson, your trainer will probably want to assess your riding ability by putting you on a well-broke help horse, John says. If you’re comfortable, you’ll be moved up to a well-mannered cutting horse so you can get the feel for the cutting style and whether you still have interest in leaning the event, Read the rest of this entry »