May 2016

Bad Manners

May 9, 2016

Help for a horse owner whose gelding has less than desirable ground manners.


I have a 9-year-old gelding that I have had for three years. We show walk-trot English and western. My husband and I are still novice to the show world. My gelding has been a 4-H show horse since the previous owner purchased him as a long 2-year-old, so I know he knows his job.

I am concerned because he has just recently tried biting. He pins his ears back when putting his saddle on (the vet sees no problem with his back), and he rubs his face on me when we are done riding. How do I solve these ground manner issues? He also consistently picks up the wrong canter lead when riding clockwise. I have tried leg, body weight, crop and side pass then lead off. I know that he knows what I am asking; When Read the rest of this entry »

Standing Still

April 18, 2016

Horseback Riding Tip: A horse that stands quietly can be invaluable in and out of the arena.

Learn what to do to take care of a leg wound. Journal photo

Teaching  your horse to stand quietly and respectfully is sure to instill confidence in you both. Journal photo

From AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship

In everyday tasks involving your horse, it is useful to have a horse that has learned to stand still, calmly and patiently, without the company of other horses.

A horse that halts quietly at your side as soon as you stop walking, and keeps the same composure when he sees the vet or the blacksmith or is left tied up is an altogether more pleasant animal.

Standing quietly also helps the horse become calmer and braver, which are useful qualities when you ride him. Read the rest of this entry »

Going Forward

April 12, 2016

Tips to help a young horse find his “forward” gears.


I would appreciate a tip on how to keep a horse moving forward. I have a young horse that wants to stop and freeze up. I don’t use spurs and am not sure if a crop is the way to go.

— Patti Jo Runyan


We sought the wisdom of Patrick Hooks of Texhoma, Oklahoma, a clinician, horse trainer and longtime colt starter:

Don’t feel alone. I’ve been in the same boat many times. I will offer some solutions, rather than quick fixes. Keep in mind that my suggestions will take a lot of hard work and patience on your part.

Any time I help with a problem, whether I’m present or not, I evaluate a horse according to four separate categories: physical, Read the rest of this entry »

Follow His Instincts

April 12, 2016

When training American Quarter Horses, it’s all about the attitude.

Martin Black

Any successes we have with horses come from communicating in their way. – Martin Black. Journal photo

By Martin Black

It is interesting to watch big cats and other predators stroll through herds of prey on the Serengeti Plains in Africa. A zebra may take notice of a lion, but if the lion doesn’t show any aggression, the zebra may continue grazing.

As long as the lion is relaxed and non-threatening, the zebra stays relaxed. But when the zebra gets any hint of suspicious action from the lion, the zebra becomes alert. If there is a sense of danger, the zebras leave for safer ground. If the zebras can’t get away, they turn to fighting. Read the rest of this entry »

Groundwork: Less Is More

February 23, 2016

We can take a good horse-training technique and run it into the ground.

horse training

Curt Pate works with a young horse on the ground. Journal photo

From America’s Horse

By AQHA Professional Horseman Curt Pate

Keep groundwork to a minimum.

By this, I mean, do what it takes to be safe, but don’t overdo it. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Training: No-Go Mounting

January 26, 2016

Tips to keep your horse standing still while you get on.

mounting pic

Become a better horseman. Photo from AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship.

From AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship

Can you barely swing your leg over your horse’s side before he starts to walk off?

If you’re envious of those horses who stand still as a statue until their riders are ready, these instructions are for you.


  • To get onto your horse without him moving or becoming disturbed.
  • To have your horse “await further instructions” once you have mounted

Read the rest of this entry »

Bucking at the Canter

December 1, 2015

Heed this advice offered to a reader whose horse bucks at the canter.


I have an 11-year-old palomino Quarter Horse whom I have owned for a year and a half. While we are cantering, my horse bucks. I have had his saddle fit checked, and I have had a chiropractor work on him, yet he still bucks several times in the canter. I’m not sure how to break what seems to be becoming a bad habit.

When I first bought him, he was not bucking, but he seems to have developed this bad habit over the past six months. While I have a pretty good seat, I am concerned that I will get hurt if this behavior continues or, worse yet, someone else may get hurt.

I would appreciate any suggestions you can make. I don’t think he’s in pain as I have had the vet check him. Help!

— Marla Schneider


Any time I help with a problem, whether I’m present or not, I think about four separate categories: mental, physical, emotional and mechanical. Each category is self explanatory, except for mechanical. That’s what I think of as the rider’s duty of horsemanship, including being aware of the horse’s foot fall and movements. In this case, here’s how I went through the checklist: Read the rest of this entry »

Cutting Fundamentals

December 1, 2015

Learn how one horse trainer teaches young horses to react and move with cattle.

Cutting Fundamentals

The rider’s body position is extremely important when it comes to critical timing in cutting. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

The ideal picture of a cutting horse is one of polished concentration and split-second response to the action of the cow.

The ability to excel in cutting depends on breeding, training and an individual’s desire. Read the rest of this entry »

Backing Your Horse Like a Champ

November 18, 2015

Ask your horse to back up lightly and willingly with the halter for a positive horse-showing experience.

Margaret Bellville and GPF Legal Version perform the backing portion of their showmanship pattern at the Bayer Select AQHA World Championship Show.

Margaret Bellville and GPF Legal Version perform the backing portion of their showmanship pattern at the 2008 Select World Championship Show.

Backing your horse is a common maneuver in showmanship classes, so it’s important to do it correctly and seemingly effortlessly.

AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship books offer this advice. Read the rest of this entry »

Feel the Rhythm

October 27, 2015

Maintain consistent cadence for a horse-training advantage.

Illustration by Jean Abernathey

Follow these tips to improve your feel and your horse’s rhythm. Illustration by Jean Abernathy

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman and Certified Horsemanship Association master instructor Carla Wennberg in The American Quarter Horse Journal

If you’re maintaining rhythm, you’re maintaining a consistent cadence and pace in a gait. The cadence of a gait is the number of beats – like the three-beat lope or the two-beat jog. The pace is how fast you hear the beats.

The importance of rhythm and movement plays into a lot of different classes, not just horses that are judged on the rail – it’s important in reining, horsemanship, trail, everything. Read the rest of this entry »

Uneasy Loader

October 20, 2015

Advice for a horse owner whose horse had a bad trailer experience.

ask expertAmerica’s Horse Daily received this question from a visitor. The answer, from AQHA Professional Horsewoman and Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor Julie Goodnight, will help many horse owners get their horses safely and easily into a horse trailer.


Can you tell me your ideas of re-training a horse that reared up and flipped over two partitions in a three-horse, slant-load trailer?

— Bonnie Rae Wright


The slant-load trailer is not always the best thing for horses. While it is convenient for us humans, for many horses it is too confining, with their face pressed against the window at the same time their rear is against the wall. On the slant, they have to work to maintain balance on both turns and stop/go, so they never get a rest. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-Showing Strategies

October 7, 2015

Tips to make Level 1 western pleasure exhibitors look and feel like a pro.

Use cones to practice these passing tips at home. Journal photo

Use cones to practice these passing tips at home. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

In western pleasure, your horse should be a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to ride – no matter what your skill level.

All of your efforts should be aimed at making your horse look smooth.

AQHA judge Louis Hufnagel provides the following tips for novice western pleasure competitors. Read the rest of this entry »