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Running Martingales: A good fit?

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - December 18th, 2014

LesVogt_170pxFifth in a series
Les takes a look at why a martingale serves a purpose in early stages of training.

I will use a running martingale occasionally, and I recommend them for many riders. I like a heavy leather one, and I want it adjusted so that the rings of the martingale can go all the way to the horse’s throatlatch when he’s standing relaxed. That means his head, or your hands, would have to really get up there before the rings actually pulled on the reins. The martingale is not there to pull your horse’s head down; its main function is to add weight and balance to the reins during the learning process.

Another Choice: High or Low?

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - December 4th, 2014

LesVogt_170pxFourth in a series
Before entering the arena, we take a closer look at the details of our snaffle bit.

I tend to ride with the snaffle fairly low in the horse’s mouth. Often I’ll have it a half-inch or more off (below) the corners. I find that the lower I have the snaffle the lower a horse’s head will tend to go.

Normally we want their heads low since our ultimate goal is to get the horse’s back rounded and his weight distributed to the hindquarters so we can maximize his performance. The one time I might be careful here is if I’m on a horse that has heavy shoulders, because if he carries his head too low it will be hard to keep his weight off of his front end.

Equipment you’ll need: Snaffle Bits

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - November 20th, 2014

LesVogt_170pxThird in a series
Before entering the arena, we take a closer look at an important piece: snaffle bits.

Now let’s talk about snaffle bits. Snaffles come in an enormous variety of shapes and forms—fat or skinny, smooth or twisted, straight or curved, heavy rings or light rings, D-rings or O-rings, even inlaid and wrapped! And once you’ve decided on a particular bit, you can still change the response you get from it according to how high or low you place it in your horse’s mouth! So where do you start?

Choosing a Bit
On baby colts or fussy mouthed horses I always start with a medium-sized curved bar snaffle. As the horse progresses, you might find you’ll need to move to a straight bar snaffle to keep the horse’s respect and his attention on you.

What are the Five Easy Pieces?

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - November 6th, 2014

Second in a series
Here are the ‘Five Easy Pieces’, and Les urges you to commit these five to memory as his column in each Horsetrader will refer to them.

Let’s start again: The Five Easy Pieces

By Les Vogt - October 15th, 2014

More with LesFirst in a series
In the next few installments, Les Vogt takes you through exercises of his Five Easy Pieces. When you’ve mastered them, you should be able to put any part of your horse’s body where you want it, without resistance.

Doesn’t it take your breath away to watch a sensational reining or cow horse perform? It does to me, just like it did back when I was a kid and I saw my first stock horse in action. But the best thing about it is that these horses just keep getting better and better. First, because we’re breeding them better, and second, because we’re riding them better. And the biggest key I have found in developing that brilliant performance is the time that I spend getting complete body control during the foundation stage of my training on a young horse.

Troubleshooting turnarounds: Here’s a review

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - September 18th, 2014

75th in a series
Last issue, Les showed us in detail what turnarounds should look like; here’s what to do if they don’t.

If the horse keeps trying to go forward once you’ve asked him to start the turnaround, just keep him in the proper bend and keep pushing his pivot foot up underneath him with your legs. He’ll eventually figure out that stepping into the turnaround is the easiest response to the cues that you’re giving him.

Correct the front, and the back will follow

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - September 4th, 2014

74th in a series
Les continues his instruction on turnarounds that we focused on in our last issue.

If your horse still continues to step out behind rather than keeping his hind legs still, gallop him into his spins and chase him back out – you’ll see me demonstrate this on the video. You can also pop him with the rein down the outside leg just as you come into the spin. If the neck and angle are right, his back leg motor is going to be powering up and getting underneath him. So you’re powering him into the turn and then just letting the turn happen. Loading and unloading.

More on turnarounds: Start at neck

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - August 21st, 2014

73rd in a series
After Les outlined the points to concentrate on last issue, now we’ll get to work.

In this session, we’re going to go back to turnarounds. As always, the most important part is the neck: start at the front and work your way back. With the body controls that you have developed in your exercises, you have the ability to fix almost any problem. Moreover, remember, if you’re having trouble in the turnaround, don’t fix the maneuver, stop the maneuver and fix the problem.

Better turnarounds: Add some speed

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - August 7th, 2014

72nd in a series
After wrapping up exercises last issue that tested our horse’s transitions, Les moved into improving turnarounds.

Exercise #5: Are zones working together?

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - July 17th, 2014

71st in a series
After wrapping up lope departures last issue, now we’ll learn a new exercise that help us gauge if all the horse’s zones are working together.