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Collection: You are the key to getting it right

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - September 15th, 2016

More With Les graphicAfter reviewing the keys to maneuvers last issue, Les points out details of collection.

Without a soft neck and poll, collection is impossible, so if you still have any resistance in the neck during any of the exercises that we’ve done so far, go back and work on them. I ride a horse in a clinic that is stiff to start with, and after I work one side and then the other, he starts to lighten up. There are a lot of great concepts, but I want to point out that because it is a clinic situation, I’m throwing more at this horse than I would at home. If the horse had been developed with all the tools and guidelines that I’m giving you, he would never have been that dull to begin with.

Collection: The key to maneuvers

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - September 1st, 2016

More With Les graphicLast issue, Les wrapped up Exercises 3 and 4. As we move into more athletic maneuvers, we examine a critical piece: collection.

Objectives
• To concentrate on driving your horse from the back with your legs, in order to create a soft, round frame
• To continue to integrate the concept of 50 percent hands/50 percent legs into your riding
• To learn how to handle a tough or belligerent horse
• To learn about the elevator bit and how it can help you in your training program

Using what we know: Exercises 3 and 4

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - August 18th, 2016

More With Les graphicHere is a bullet-list of what we’ve covered in the last several issues with Les.

Exercise #3
The third zone is the ribs or midsection
• Keep your horse straight or with a slight curve towards the direction of his intended movement
• Keep your outside arm straight out at a 45° angle
• Make sure your inside leg is off the horse
• Use your outside leg in the center of the horse’s ribs until he responds; if you don’t get a response to steady pressure, try bumping

Straightness check: maintaining alignment

43rd in a series

By Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - August 4th, 2016

More With Les graphicNow that we have an attentive horse after Les’s instructions last issue, let’s evaluate control.

Start at a walk in a straight line. Make sure your hands are evenly spaced out in front of you and that your legs are relaxed. As you move along, I want you to concentrate on feeling what the horse is doing rather than watching for problems. If you feel the horse start to bow or lean in either direction, use your hands and legs to get him straight again. If it helps, fi x your eyes on something in the distance and make sure he stays moving straight toward it.

Dealing with a Distracted Horse

42nd in a series

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - July 21st, 2016

More With Les graphicAfter last issue’s lesson on backing up, Les takes a moment now to remind why we don’t make a big deal about losing your horse’s attention.

Sometimes when you’re riding you’re going to lose your horse’s attention. I say don’t make a big deal out of it. Some might not see as well as others, or may be more spooky, especially as far as young horses go, when they go off to the Bahamas every now and then; leave it alone and it goes away. Be patient.

Backing: From rein cue to active leg cue

41st in a Series

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - July 7th, 2016

More With Les graphicAfter Les showed us turns on the forehand last issue, let’s go the opposite direction and back up.

Your goal when you back is to not have to pull back hard on the horse’s mouth to get him to move backward, but to be able to use just enough contact with the bit to tell him to not go forward—kind of like shifting him into reverse—and then using your legs, like the gas, to move backward. Yes, you might have to tug a little to get him started, but your goal is to take it from an active rein cue to an active leg cue as quickly as possible.

The timing of your command and correction, if it’s needed, is really important as well. You can’t say “whoa” and correct at the same time. You have to say “whoa,” wait for him to try, and then correct him if he doesn’t stop. In order for the horse to learn, you have to give him a chance to do it right. When he does give you an effort, make sure he knows it was the right one. He just made his first move toward a great sliding stop! Nothing you see in a reining class is done overnight; it’s done through years of consistent training, but the hardest part can be the consistency.

Why hip control is so important

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - June 16th, 2016

More With Les graphicHaving control of the horse’s hips will prove to be quite critical for almost all of your reining maneuvers. You’ll need it for departures, lead changes and turnarounds particularly. Since many of the body control exercises that we’ll be working on in the next level will require you to have some hip control, you need to get started on it early in the program.

Point to Remember:
On this and most other things, you teach your horse. We’ll never be strong enough to make a horse do anything, but we can be smart enough to make him want to do it, and that’s what riding is all about.

Exercise 4: Hip control on the fence

40th in a series

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - June 2nd, 2016

More With Les graphicLast issue, Les demonstrated use of a light brace rein to keep shoulders out of the way. Now, let’s work on turns on the forehand.

Start by walking along the fence. Pick a point to stop the horse and then make a very light contact with your inside (away from the fence) rein while you reach back with your fence-side leg and push or bump your horse’s hip around. You’re creating energy with your leg to push the hip, and your brace rein contact will lightly block him from pushing through with his shoulder. With the fence in front of him you don’t give your horse any other options but to move his hip. Do this exercise repeatedly (it’s called a turn on the forehand) both directions. Start by just asking for a step at a time and then increase the number of steps as your horse’s responses get more consistent. Remember to keep life in your reins and leg as you ask for this exercise.

Exercise 3: Body control on the fence

39th in a series

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - May 19th, 2016

More With Les graphic

Last issue, Les started Exercise 3 with highlights on the brace rein and ribcage control. Now we’ll go to work.

Exercise number three is basically sidepassing, but it will have one big difference for most of you. While most novice riders start sidepassing by moving the shoulders and catching up with the hips, I’m not going to let you do it that way. Letting a horse lead with his shoulders creates such a disaster when it comes to lead changes that we simply never let them lead with their shoulders when we use our leg in the middle, or the back, position. We are always using a light brace rein to keep their shoulders out of the way, or at least neutral.

Ribcage and hip control on the fence

38th in a series

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - May 5th, 2016

More With Les graphicLes gave us last issue a primer on developing your horse’s movement. Now we get into the details of Exercises 3 and 4.

The Brace Rein
Remember how you used your rein to move the horse’s shoulders? First making light contact for bend, then lifting your hand and moving over to direct the shoulders? Well the brace rein is the same concept, except rather than using it to move the horse’s shoulders, you’re just asking him to keep them out of the movement by just maintaining a slight bend with his neck. Whenever you are using the brace rein, you want to make sure that your other rein is way away from the horse’s neck.