Thursday, March 12, 2009

According To H.T. Part 11

Directing Your Path

When You are riding your horse the two most important factors are getting your horse to go in the direction you are asking and the other is STOP. I once heard John Lyons say that he thought his horse Zip, could sense what he was thinking and would respond. I also know that Stacy Westfall rides her horse without a bridle or saddle and her horse responds to her ques. These are exceptionally well trained horses, but all of our horses have the potential to give us the same thing, if we are able to communicate with them. At the beginning we use all the aids we can to get our horse to respond. After he is doing what we want we should be able to drop off some of our aids and be more suttle with our request. Our horse will be more relaxed and less resistant when we are able to do this. With a good rider and a well trained horse your should not be able to detect hardly any movement from the rider. At one point in my life I was part of a very good group of riders that made up a drill team. We had some very successful performances with our Mountain Horses, but the best compliment we had was a lady that said she worked very hard to see the ques we were giving our horses to perform the different patterns and she could never see us do anything. She could not believe we could get the horses to perform the patterns without movement from our hands. Of course we were using our legs, which is not as easily detected by the audience. This is what we all strive for.

Now, how do we do teach this? We start by using direct reining and using a snaffle bit. In the picture you will note the direct reining, even though we have graduated to a different bit. We will actually be putting pressure on the horses face by pulling the reins in the direction we want him to go. Our horse should respond by turning his head in that direction because we taught him to respond to pressure from the ground lessons we did in the beginning of our horse's training. Later in the horses training, you should be able to lay the rein against the horse's neck and get the same response as shown in the next picture.

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