Evaluating the Your Horse’s Training Level

IMG_3933The most successful people that I have known, regardless of chosen profession, are those that never accepts “status quo.” They never get complacent with current success, but are always searching for a better way. I think that horsemanship is the same way. Nothing stays the same, it is constantly changing. If no effort is made to improve, usually the result is a decrease in performance. I have observed this in myself! Every time I get to a point in my horsemanship; that I am not driving myself to learn more or start trying to get by with less effort – my horsemanship deteriorates. The ultimate loser is not me, but the horse I am working with at the time. I become a hindrance to his potential.

This theme will be the basis for my next Horsemanship Clinic at Diamond TR Ranch on March 28- starting at 9:00 a.m. To register you may contact the Ranch at diamondtr.com.  Contact me as well with your questions. This clinic is for riders that want to advance the confidence in themselves and take their horses to a higher training level – regardless of riding discipline.

I would like to share with you a few fundamental philosophies to help you think about your horsemanship from a broad perspective:

1. Horses are individuals, what works with one may not work on the next; we have to be flexible in our approach. Many people want a ten step approach to horse training and after number 10, instant success. It doesn’t work that way. If you get to an impasse, back up to something you and your horse is comfortable with. Then try to progress again.

2. We only teach horses to do the things it already knows how to do. We only teach them to do it when we want them to. My five basic maneuvers of horsemanship are 1) forward motion, 2) turn right, 3) turn left, 4) stop, and 5) back up. These are things every horse already can do. However, can they do them on your command, without resistance, at various speeds?

3. There is a point where the horse has learned all he can learn in that session, find a place where both you and the horse have been successful, and stop.

4. Horses do not carry a watch or an appointment book, therefore do not have the sense of time we do. Do not put your training or riding time on a schedule. Bad habits can form without you being aware. One example is barn sour horses.

5. When you get on a horse, they read your mind, your emotion, and your body. They know whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable, how much you have ridden and who is going to be in charge of the ride that day.
6. Create a respectful relationship between you and the horse rather than having a relationship where you always dominate and the horse always submits. If the horse respects you as being higher in the pecking order, he will try if your message is communicated clearly.

7. The horse is always right. If the horse has had the proper foundation to execute a maneuver or accept something new and refuses the cue, it means he does not understand. Horses do not hide their emotions. They are constantly giving us signals with their body – relaxed and willing, tense and unsure, mad and irritated. Do not blame the horse for your failure to communicate.

8. If you want the horse to improve, you must challenge him past his comfort zone.

9. If you want to improve your horsemanship, you must challenge yourself past your comfort zone.

10. Create a library of knowledge on horse training. To be successful, one must have a variety of knowledge tools. (See Rule 1) The more knowledge of the horse, understanding the use of aids, and techniques to communicate with the horse you have available, the greater the chance to find a method that an individual horse will understand.

Finding Rhythm and Using Rhythm to Control the Horse

Vacation 2011- Pecos 093The weather has played havoc with my riding and the 2015 Clinic Schedule. However, we are getting back on track, finally. My next Clinic, Finding Rhythm and Using Rhythm to Control the Horse, will be on March 14 at Diamond TR Ranch. We are continuing our series on Western Horsemanship Fundamentals. Our goal here is to build well-trained horses and confident riders to enhance your riding experiences. Clinic will start at 9:00 a.m. and end between 3 and 4:00 p.m. To register contact Diamond TR Ranch at diamondtr.com.

Many experienced riders have well developed riding skills, but they do not feel and react to the subtle indications a horse gives to his subsequent actions. Riders who do not feel the horse’s errors are unable to react correctly in a timely manner to correct or teach the horse.

Exercises to improve a student’s ability to feel the movements and responses of the horse have been developed. They include the typical exercises for developing balance and independence of the hands and legs; feeling the horse’s foot falls and weight shifts; feeling the horse’s rhythm; and learning to respond to the minute responses of the horse. Developing balance and independent hands and legs is the most important to me.

Riding by feel is first developed by learning the foot fall patterns of the horse. At a walk the horse moves each leg independently and has four separate beats. The trot is a two-beat gait with diagonal legs moving in unison. The lope is a three-beat gait with the off hind leg and the leading foreleg hitting the ground independently and diagonal off foreleg and leading hind leg hitting the ground at the same time. All of these foot falls can be felt by being attentive to the weight shifts of the horse.

Horsemen should observe the movements of the horse with their legs and hips as well as getting in time with their hands. As the horse progresses to a trot, the weight shift is from side to side in relation to the front legs. You should feel the shift of weight from side to side through your hips and legs. At a lope the weight shifts from front to rear and from the outside hind to the inside fore, therefore, the rolling motion goes from back to front and slightly toward the inside of the circle.

As horsemen focus on the weight shifts and leg movements of the horse, they will have a better feeling for the horse’s legs, stride and weight shifts that indicate the horse’s actions and intentions.

We will accomplish:

1. Stable Safety
2. Finding rhythm
a. Feeling the leg movement
b. Move hands in rhythm with the horse
c. Walk, trot and lope

3. Using rhythm to control the horse
a. Slowing the body down
b. Speeding up
c. Bumping in rhythm – hand, leg

Cow Horse Fundamentals- A Clinic to Build the Foundation for Ranch Versatility and Stock Horses

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The next Cow Horse Clinic at Circle C Arena in Pleasant Plains will be on  March 7, starting at 9:00. We are continuing our Building Your Cow Horse Fundamentals series. We will focus on trail class and Ranch Riding. As part of the Trail, we will have a roping clinic- since roping a dummy is a requirement in ranch trail. As always, we will work on getting your horse soft, responsive and engaged. We will also work on using your body correctly to set up maneuvers. For more information contact me – cowboyjones90@gmail.com or Alice Singleton- alisin88@gmail.com. Cost is $75.00 if you preregister; $100 the day of.  Lunch will be provided.  Circle C Arena is an enclosed arena, therefore, comfortable riding protected from wind, rain and though not toasty- warmer than outside.

These clinics will assist you in getting your horse softer and quieter, but also build rider confidence. Your horse and horsemanship will improve, whether you ever compete or not. Plus, we have Fun!

The safest and most enjoyable horse is a broke one!