Horse Training, On the International Trail

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 »

Improve Your Horse’s Upward Transitions, Part 2

May 27, 2014

Enlist these horse-training exercises to perfect your horse’s transitions.

horse gait transitions

Executing an upward transition in a circle will help a horse improve his carriage and head position as he changes gaits. Journal photo.

By AQHA Professional Horseman Stephanie Lynn in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Having a smooth upward transition is important because it’s much easier to maintain a correct gait than it is to correct a gait once it’s started poorly. The goal is to start the gait correctly and make it more useful to what you’re doing with a pattern or even a rail class.

Last week, we discussed the common problems with upward transitions and solutions for fixing them. Review those tips in Part 1. Now, let’s look at some ways to improve the transitions even more. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-Training Basics: The Upward Transition

May 20, 2014

In Part 1 of this series, examine the solutions for perfecting your horse’s upward transitions.

Horse training for the upward transition begins at the walk

Horse training for the upward transition begins at the walk. Jean Abernethy illustration.

By AQHA Professional Horseman Stephanie Lynn in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Having a smooth upward transition is important because it’s much easier to maintain a correct gait than it is to correct a gait once it’s started poorly.

The goal is to start the gait correctly and make it more useful to what you’re doing with a pattern or even a rail class. If the goal is to set off to jump a course and the horse takes off on the wrong lead or too slowly, then you have to adjust before you can get on course.

If you can start something correctly, it makes it much easier to perform the next gait. Read the rest of this entry »

The Anxious Speed-Event Horse

May 13, 2014

Learn horse-training strategies to bring out the best in your nervous show horse.

Sometimes all your hot speed events horse needs is to go back to the horsetraining basics Journal photo

Sometimes all your “hot” speed events horse needs is to go back to the horse-training basics. Journal photo.

By Bob Jeffreys and Suzanne Sheppard in America’s Horse

Bob Jeffreys and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Suzanne Sheppard, of Middletown, New York, help horsemen in need with their horse-training problems. Here’s the advice they gave one rider about handling her anxious speed-event horse:

Dear Bob & Suz,

I am a 33-year-old experienced rider and instructor, and my horse is Foxies Gambler, a 7-year-old appendix Quarter Horse mare. We competed locally all summer and fall of last year, with a focus on games and speed events. I love her and love riding her very much, and she has won a lot. She has come a long way since I got her last spring. She had a history of being extremely spooky, nervous, bucking, running off, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Equitation Over Fences Analysis

May 6, 2014

In Part 2 of this horse-training series, discover the last two tips that will help you maneuver your horse through an equitation over fences course.

In this equitation over fences pattern, taking the first jump without any bend in your horse might cause your horse to take unnecessary strides.

Navigate a challenging equitation over fences patter with the horse-training help of two AQHA Professional Horsewomen.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

At the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show, AQHA Professional Horsewomen Linda Crothers of Mocksville, North Carolina, and Cindy Reddish of Palm City, Florida, gave a Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinic on the equitation over fences prelims pattern, also touching on hunt seat equitation.

With Linda riding to demonstrate and Cindy holding the pattern in her hand, the two pros talked back and forth on strategies for the course. What follows are the highlights of the strategies they discussed. In Part 1 of this series, Linda and Cindy covered the importance of bending lines in this over-fences pattern. Review bending lines before learning about the next two important factors these horsewomen bring up: The rollback turn and trot jump strategy. Read the rest of this entry »

Equitation Over Fences Analysis

April 29, 2014

In Part 1 of this horse-training series, maneuver through an equitation over fences course with two AQHA Professional Horsewomen.

In this equitation over fences pattern, taking the first jump without any bend in your horse might cause your horse to take unnecessary strides.

In this equitation over fences prelim pattern, taking the first jump without any bend in your horse might cause your horse to take unnecessary strides.

By AQHA Professional Horsewomen Linda Crothers and Cindy Reddish in The American Quarter Horse Journal

At the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show, AQHA Professional Horsewomen Linda Crothers of Mocksville, North Carolina, and Cindy Reddish of Palm City, Florida, gave a Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinic on the equitation over fences prelims pattern, also touching on hunt seat equitation.

With Linda riding to demonstrate and Cindy holding the pattern in her hand, the two pros talked back and forth on strategies for the course, and what follows are the highlights of the strategies they discussed. Come back next week for Part 2, where the two horsewomen discuss the use of rollback turns and trot jump strategy in this pattern. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Training for Team Roping

April 22, 2014

Delve into the world of team roping with three easy steps.

Learning the proper team roping techniques from the start will be beneficial when you add steers to the mix Journal photo

Learning the proper team-roping techniques from the start will be beneficial when you add steers to the mix. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

It looks so easy when it’s done right, but team roping requires perfect timing, teamwork and a pair of horses who know exactly what to do and when to do it.

Between the two of them, Sunny Jim Orr and Billy Allen have more than a handful of world championships. As Sunny Jim says, training for the sport of team roping starts on the ground.

Team-roping gear doesn’t have to be expensive. An old saw horse with some tape and horns will make a perfect model for heading practice. As for heeling practice, a couple of posts driven into the ground will work perfectly for throwing a heel loop. Read the rest of this entry »