Horse Training

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 »

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 »