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Troubleshooting Tips

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - July 1st, 2017

More with LesLosing forward motion
You always want to be riding the back end of the horse up to the front, but the most common mistake new riders make is to pull the horse back instead of pushing him around. This will cause the horse to interfere with his front legs, and then he won’t want to turn anymore. If the horse should start to shift his weight backward rather than moving freely around the turn, you will want to walk him out of the turn right away and then go try again somewhere else.

I’ve said it before, but an important thing to remember is that any time you feel like your horse would have to shift his weight in order to walk forward and out of the turn, it means he’s hanging back too far. You want to get him moving forward in a hurry before he starts to get comfortable there. If he’s hanging back, he’ll never be able to master the proper footwork or comfortably build up any speed. Set him up so he can move freely. If it starts to feel awkward, get out of it and start again.

Turnarounds: More exercises

Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - June 1st, 2017

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On the Fence—Extending the Turn
Here’s something to try after you’ve been getting the crossover steps for a couple of weeks. Once you’re gett ing those three steps or four steps, you’re basically doing half a turn. So here’s a way to help the horse finish off the turn. Set yourself up just like you did for the last exercise, but this time what we’re going to do is start by turning your horse away from the fence and then let the fence finish the turn. But your horse is about six or more feet long, so how is that horse going to go through that little three-foot hole? Well, he’ll have to squat down behind to draw down, and he’ll have to be bent. So start turning away from the fence, get your first three steps, keep your bend and keep driving your horse. The fence will take care of the next three steps. You can do this in a corner too, and it’s a really good trick.

Turnaround exercises

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - May 1st, 2017

More with LesThe exercises we’ll work on here are just the beginnings of the turnaround. Even if your horse really starts to get it, I don’t want you to even think about speed at this point. What you’re looking to establish is the turning cue, the basic footwork and smooth cadence. When he really learns the movement, adding the speed won’t be a problem; however, to try for speed before he’s confi dent with the movement can scare him, frustrate him and make him start to dread, rather than enjoy, his training.

Getting the turnaround right

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - March 1st, 2017

More With Les graphicWhen you first start the exercise, I think it’s a good idea to push him up with both legs and then open your inside leg as you start the turn to help the horse find the move that you’re after. Also, approaching the turn with some inside leg will discourage your horse from leaning on your inside rein as you start to turn. If you feel him starting to lean, you might want to go back to exercise number two for a while and lighten him up. One thing to be careful of is that if he starts to lean or twist his head in the turnaround, he could end up shifting his weight to the outside hind leg, rather than the inside. We’ll be riding him into the turn with both legs once he gets the hang of it, but opening your inside leg at first is fine and can help your horse along.

The Start of the Turnaround

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - February 1st, 2017

More With Les graphicSo how do we start to teach the turnaround? We start by walking in a circle about 10 feet in diameter. You want to use your circle to establish the correct bend, so bring your circle down to where your horse’s spine is bent evenly and you can just see the corner of the horse’s eye.

Now let’s stop here and think about the difference between this forward circle and the turnaround. In the turnaround, we will want to maintain the same bend and the same cadence (or rhythm), at least at this level. We want the front legs to keep moving, we want the outside back leg to keep moving, but we just want to slow down, or even stop, the forward movement of the inside hind leg.

Turnaround: Starting Spins

Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - January 1st, 2017

More With Les graphicNow that you’ve established some body control in your horse with the exercises you’ve worked on in the previous levels, it’s time to start doing something really fun! The turnaround, when it’s done well, can be one of the most exciting parts of a reining pattern, both to ride and to watch!

The Elevator Bit

After looking at collection and rating speed the last couple of columns, Les takes a break to look at bits.

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - December 1st, 2016

More With Les graphicThe elevator bit might look a litt le odd, but it’s a tool I developed several years ago, and I really like what it can do for some horses. If a horse has learned to get away with things in a smooth snaffl e it makes riding them a lot of work. If this is your situation, and the horse is ready, that is, he’s picked up everything we’ve worked on so far, you might want to try the elevator bit.

Now here’s the way that an elevator bit works. Since the curb is so loose, the bit will stretch the horse’s mouth upon contact, just like a regular snaffle does, but at a certain point, he’s going to feel the chain too.

Handling the Chargey Horse

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - November 17th, 2016

More With Les graphicNow that we have learned how to “rate” our speed, let’s take a look at handling too much forward motion.

Now I’m going to tell you how to deal with a horse that’s a bit chargey. That is, he has a lot more forward motion than you enjoy, and not as much control as you would like. It’s a common problem, but you’ve got to fix it.

I’ve learned how to deal with this kind of horse by working on their neck and by reverse psychology. If he wants to go faster and push me, that is, if he wants to choose speed, I don’t like that idea much. I’m paying for the feed here, and I should get to make those choices. But what do I do? I can’t whip him; he’s too big. So I’ll make him think I agree with him and let him go, but when he wants to slow down, I’m not going to let him. And all the time I’m going to keep his shoulders up, occasionally asking him to frame up, but I’m going to keep him going right along. When he wants to slow, sentence him to three laps more. He’ll be saying, “Hey buddy, I’m getting a little tired here.” He’ll look back at you (and that alone makes it worth it) and say, “Why don’t you slow me down?” And you say, “Why? I’m starting to like this!” You want to ride him until he’s thrilled with the idea of stopping. Don’t cripple him, mind you, but make him look forward to you deciding when it’s time to quit. Then ride to the middle of the arena, let him stop, get off, unsaddle and give him his reward.

Too Much Speed?

After showing us in last issue’s column the importance of having the neck, Les offers tips on rating your horse.

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - November 3rd, 2016

More With Les graphicDo you feel like you’re off to the races every time you ask for a lope? While many horses will stay relaxed right from the start, some, especially those who are a litt le scared, or horses that have been held back all their lives, will want to take off like bullets! A horse like this is no fun to ride and can become dangerous if he’s not controlled. Here are some tips and exercises to try if you want to rate your horse back a litt le at the lope. By “rating” we mean being able to control the speed.

Collection Problems

After discovering last issue how collection can promote lightness, Les shows us indicators of what might lead to problems.

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - October 20th, 2016

More With Les graphicIn my clinics I run into a lot of horses that are fairly advanced but often they have got a hole in them. And the common problem and the common fix are going to be the same and it’s the neck. Often times these horses have an attitude in certain places. Every now and then they decide to rebel, to defy you. And what area of the horse shows defiance first? The neck! If it stiffens up, it’s the first signal that you are about to go for a ride that you’re not asking for.

So, before you can have what you want in terms of performance, you have to have the neck. Defiance is caused by an attitude, and an attitude can happen with horses just like people. But it’s got to be like someone in the military, if you have an attitude you’d better keep it to yourself, and that’s the way I feel about a horse. They all have different mindsets, but if they have an “attitude,” let’s overcome it by insisting that we get respect from them.