August 2015

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 »

Tracking Your Horse Straight, Part 2

April 21, 2015

Rating your horse’s speed and controlling circles and squares will improve showmanship performance. Follow these horse-training tips to learn how.

Train your horse to know that, where your body goes, he goes. Journal photo

Train your horse to know that, where your body goes, he goes. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Gretchen Mathes for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Tracking is the art of keeping your horse moving forward in a straight line. As you lead your horse forward, you must be able to maintain your horse’s body – poll, withers, tail – in a straight line. The horse shouldn’t curl his nose in toward you, track with his body sideways or bow his neck. Read the rest of this entry »

Tracking Your Horse Straight, Part 1

April 7, 2015

Utilize this horse-training advice to teach your halter or showmanship horse to track straight.

Tracking straight is important for the judge to properly evaluate your horse at halter. Journal photo

Tracking straight is important for the judge to properly evaluate your horse at halter. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Gretchen Mathes for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Tracking is the art of keeping your horse moving forward in a straight line. As you lead your horse forward, you must be able to maintain your horse’s body – poll, withers, tail – in a straight line. The horse shouldn’t curl his nose in toward you, track with his body sideways or bow his neck.

I show halter horses, and I start and train showmanship horses. The basics of tracking for both classes are the same. And it appears to me – as an AQHA judge - that many exhibitors in both classes need to practice it more. Read the rest of this entry »

Better Balance at the Lope and Canter, Part 2

March 24, 2015

Practice these horse-training exercises to improve rider balance and confidence.

When a rider is balanced with correct position, you should be able to look at him from behind and see the rider’s spine line up with the horse’s spine. Jean Abernethy illustration

When a rider is balanced with correct position, you should be able to look at him from behind and see the rider’s spine line up with the horse’s spine. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm in The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, you learned the importance of balance while horseback riding, and common horse-training problems that can hinder your balance. When you lose your balance, the natural tendency is to drop your eyes, allow your hands and arms to fall forward to catch you and tense your body. Part 2 will outline exercises to help improve your balance on a horse and techniques to stay relaxed and confident in the saddle.

Solutions

The key to improving balance is relentlessly practicing and perfecting position. And to get to that perfect position at the canter/lope, you first have to work on it at the walk and then the jog/trot. Read the rest of this entry »

Better Balance at the Lope and Canter, Part 1

March 10, 2015

Learn these common horse-training problems that affect horse and rider balance.

The horse’s center of gravity shifts with what he is doing. Good basic position helps a rider keep his own center of gravity in balance with the horse’s. Jean Abernethy illustration

The horse’s center of gravity shifts with what he is doing. Good basic position helps a rider keep his own center of gravity in balance with the horse’s. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm in The American Quarter Horse Journal

One of the most common problems people have is losing balance at the canter or lope.

It’s natural for that to happen. The canter is the most advanced of the three gaits to ride. You cover more ground and it takes concentration and requires a lot of balance.

When you bounce at the canter/lope, your seat is coming out of the saddle, Read the rest of this entry »

Developing an Elastic “Trampoline” Back, Part 2

March 3, 2015

Practice these horse-training exercises to develop a freely moving horse.

A horse with a locked back will feel as if his back is a board, stiff and unyielding, with no swing, no energy moving through. Jean Abernethy illustration

A horse with a locked back will feel as if his back is a board, stiff and unyielding, with no swing, no energy moving through. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Michelle Just-Williams

The development of a supple and elastic “trampoline” back is an important part of helping your horse become a gymnastic athlete under saddle.

A horse that is “through” is a horse that is moving freely from the back to the front. The hind legs push him forward, and that thrust of energy moves through him from the back to the front, like free-moving water through a canal. The swing from the hind legs jumps to his center of gravity, and he Read the rest of this entry »

Master the Flying Lead Change

February 17, 2015

Utilize these 10 horse-training tips to perfect your lead changes.

Timing is everything when performing a flying lead change. Journal photo

Timing is everything when performing a flying lead change. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Executing a flying lead change can take hard work and lots of practice. Follow these 10 horse-training tips that will put you and your horse on the road to success.

1. A proper lead change has nothing to do with direction. To be able to change leads properly in the front and hind legs simultaneously, a horse has to have his body and spine loping in the same direction.

2. Aim for a correct arc. All horses, when they lope or canter naturally, perform that gait with their body positioned in an arc. If a horse is out of position in his Read the rest of this entry »

Learn the Basics of Colt Starting

February 10, 2015

Get your young horse started right with these horse training tips.

Teaching your horse the basics builds a solid foundation before you move on to advanced maneuvers. Journal photo

Teaching your horse the basics builds a solid foundation before you move on to advanced maneuvers. Journal photo

By AQHA Professional Horseman Dick Pieper in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Whether you want to ride a winning performance horse or train a nice horse that you can enjoy, you’re going to need the basics.

What I’m going to talk about isn’t new. Xenophon talked about the basics of using your body correctly and teaching your horse to use his body correctly when he invented dressage in the 12th century.

I’m going to use his principles and work in order. I won’t move forward until the horse has grasped each basic – lateral softness, collection and hip movement – thoroughly and completely. My goal is to produce a horse that is so conditioned to do what I ask that I could pull him out of the barn in Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the Trainers

July 7, 2014

Meet the talented University of Findlay students conducting some of the 2014 AQHA international horsemanship camps.

By Lauren Wells, AQHA International Intern, Summer 2014

University of Findlay students enjoyed their trip to the Long View Ranch in Austria. From L-R: Christina Brantner, Kimmy Deane, Spencer Zimmerman,   Tia Beasley, and Rachel Beerbower.

University of Findlay students enjoyed the horsemanship camp at the Long View Ranch in Austria. From left: Christina Brantner, Kim Deane, Spencer Zimmerman, Tia Beasley and Rachel Beerbower. Lauren Wells photo.

Each year, AQHA selects four universities to conduct the international horsemanship camps in Europe. Faculty and students from the University of Findlay, Colorado State University, Sam Houston State University and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls have been serving as the clinicians for the summer 2014 camps.

The University of Findlay, located in Findlay, Ohio, has one of the most prestigious equestrian studies programs in the nation. The university has participated in the AQHA international horsemanship camp program since 2007. AQHA Professional Horseman Arthur O’Brien, instructor of western riding at the University of Findlay, has brought several groups of students overseas each summer. This year, Arthur was unable to travel to Europe, so instead he sent two of the best graduate students of the university to lead the group.

After each college has been notified of being selected for the program, the universities are responsible for choosing the most capable students to represent their equine programs overseas. Several students from the University of Findlay applied this year.  The seven students with the highest grade point averages were invited to give a presentation, followed by questions from a five-panel board. From this, three students and an alternate were selected and began preparing for the trip.

Read on to learn more about the students who “passed the test” and who have had the opportunity to teach AQHA members all over Europe how to become better riders and horsemen.

  • Spencer Zimmerman was raised on a small farm in Newport, Pennsylvania. His interest in horses developed from a young age when he began riding his family’s Arabians. Attending the University of Findlay allowed Spencer to develop many training techniques and horsemanship skills by riding a variety of horses. He competed on the University’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team, where he helped the team claim two national championship titles, as well as one reserve national championship. According to Spencer, “My four years at Findlay helped me develop a passion for all-around horses, especially trail and western riding. During the summer following my junior year, I took an internship with AQHA world champion Leonard Lee Berryhill of Talala, Oklahoma. That summer, he gave me the opportunity to show at an AQHA show for the first time. I have been hooked ever since!” Spencer graduated in May with his master’s in business administration. He plans to become a college riding instructor or work in the animal health industry.
  • Kim Deane grew up on a horse farm in Bernardston, Massachusetts. She began riding as soon as she could hold her head up on her pony, “Coco.” She showed in 4-H and open shows on the East Coast. Her show career in AQHA began at age 16 by participating in events such as trail, hunt seat equitation, hunter under saddle and horsemanship. This eventually led her to a third-place finish in hunt seat equitation at the 2008 All American Quarter Horse Congress. Kim also rode on Findlay’s IHSA equestrian team, where she received national championship honors in advanced horsemanship in 2009. In the 2011-2012 competition season, she served as president of the university’s western team. In 2012, she was reserve in the Clark Bradley Pleasure Futurity, an excellent way to finish up her senior year at the university. In May 2014, Kim graduated with her master’s degree in business administration. Following this trip, she plans to continue a career in the equine industry.
  • Tia Beasley grew up in the small town of Loogootee, Indiana. She started riding at the age of 2, and as a youth showed in 4-H and open shows. She started at the University of Findlay in 2010, where she greatly enjoyed colt-starting and developing her riding and training skills in both reining and cutting. During her time at Findlay, she was elected president of the ranch horse team, in which the team shows in ranch horse pleasure, trail, reining and working cow horse. Tia graduated in May with her bachelor’s degree in western equestrian studies and equine business management. She currently works for Stone Ridge Equine Care in Evansville, Indiana, as a veterinary technician. Tia wants to the thank the University of Findlay and AQHA for the wonderful opportunities they have provided, and she is excited to further her career in the horse industry.
  • Rachel Beerbower of Hicksville, Ohio, began taking riding lessons at age 6 and started showing in 4-H and open shows three years later. At age 8, she decided she wanted to attend the University of Findlay. Following this dream, she started at Findlay in 2010 to major in equine training and equine business management. She was a member of the university’s ranch horse team and served as secretary during her senior year. Rachel will begin her first year of graduate school at Findlay in the fall and will serve as the graduate intern. Following the completion of her master’s degree, she hopes to work for an equine breeding facility or for a breed association or sport organization like AQHA or the National Reining Horse Association. Rachel would like to thank AQHA and Findlay for this great opportunity. “I think the international horsemanship camps have taught me just as much as those who ride in them. It’s a great experience, and I have loved helping and meeting a lot of people and horses. Thank you!”
  • Christina Brantner, the youngest member of the Findlay group, is from Olympia, Washington. She started taking riding lessons at age 10, and since then, she has competed in a multitude of disciplines with several different breeds including saddleseat, three-day eventing and extreme mountain trail. Beginning to ride at the University of Findlay’s English farm her freshman year, Christina quickly transitioned to riding at the western barn after taking part in the colt-starting course. Christina will enter her senior year this fall to finish her bachelor’s degree in equestrian studies and equine business management. She has been an active competitor on both Findlay’s English and western IHSA teams, showing in horsemanship, hunt seat equitation and equitation over fences. Following graduation next May, she hopes to start a career training in the all-around or working hunter industries.

The purpose of the AQHA international horsemanship camps is to foster an environment in which people around the world can learn more about horsemanship and horse training, while gaining more knowledge and appreciation of the American Quarter Horse breed. The university students, staff and AQHA international intern all play important roles in facilitating, conducting and networking during the camps each summer.

Thank you for following along on our journey! Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s European adventure as we head to conduct a horsemanship camp in the United Kingdom!

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 »

A Break From Horse Showing

April 30, 2014

In Part 1 of this series, discover three trail-riding obstacles that will keep your show horse fresh.

Training your horse showing star for the trails starts with proper prep at home

Training your horse-showing star for the trails starts with proper prep at home. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Don’t be surprised if your world champion who glides over jumps like a gazelle in the show ring refuses to step over a log in the wide-open spaces. It’s a whole different duck.

To a horse, if it looks different, it is different. It’s crucial to keep this in mind and carefully prepare your show horse at home before hitting the trails.

“If you have a horse who’s used to a routine, like a pleasure class, and you head out to do something different, you might find out how well he is not broke,” explains Marty Marten, an accomplished horse clinician. “Surrounded by fences, you can get away with a lot of things, but it’s a new ball game out in the wide open.”

However, he believes there’s nothing better to keep a horse fresh than cattle work or trail riding. Read the rest of this entry »

Addressing Problems With Your Horse’s Bit

April 14, 2014

Examine these horse-training solutions when dealing with a horse that doesn’t want to accept the bit.

ask_expertQuestion:

I have a 6-year-old gelding that is 15.3 but stocky. Right from the beginning of his training, he has had a very hard time accepting the bit, even before any pressure was applied to it. He never got over the desire to spit out the bit and still can hardly wait to get it out of his mouth. I have always tried to handle his mouth carefully when he is bitted. Read the rest of this entry »