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Collected Stops

Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - September 1st, 2017

More with LesMore With Les graphiche most important ingredient to a stop is collection, and collection is achieved through weight reversal from the forehand to hindquarters. How does it happen? Something I haven’t talked about yet is that to me, horses have two motors. They have a front motor and a back motor. In other words, their front legs are motivated by one motor system and the back legs by another. That’s why a horse can be loping in front and trotting in back.

Consequently, the front legs can be slowed down, so they are carrying less of the weight, and the back legs sped up—they don’t have to be equal. So to collect a horse, we need to slow the front legs down and rev up the back legs. We might liken that to a cartoon character like Bugs Bunny, whose back legs are trying to pass the front, and the top line is round. We really only get that exaggerated in a sliding stop, but since that’s what we’re looking to achieve, developing the correct form is critical.

I went for years, easily 10 years, where I went to stop a horse by just pulling him. We hammered them. We ran ’em and ran ’em and stopped ’em and stopped ’em and then ran ’em again! And we had no idea that there was a proper form. Nobody talked about it; the bar just wasn’t that high yet, and we didn’t have that much structure in our western performance riding at that point. Now that we do, we can take many horses that would not have made it in that day and time and make them good stoppers, and we have a lot more fun—as do the horses, I’m sure!

So, what is the proper form for the stop? The horse needs to approach the stop with collection and power so that his top line is round and his hind legs are up under him. That way when he goes to stop, his hind legs are already reaching way up, and since he’s soft in the bridle, his back can just fold as he pushes his back legs into the slide.

The approach
So to approach a stop we have to have no resistance in the neck, the front legs have slowed down, we’re riding the back legs up to the front, and we’re getting some lift on top, or rounding of the back. The form has to stay consistent. Soon you will be able to feel the difference when your horse is correct. In fact, you’ll be able to see it in any horse that is approaching a stop. You will be able to tell, as I can, whether or not a stop will happen by the way the horse approaches it and by how he is moving.

And once you’re able to really feel that correct form, you’re going to need to insist on it every time. It’s not a matter of odds. Don’t think that you will get “lucky” and get a nice stop if the approach isn’t perfect. Don’t think you’ll get it again tomorrow just because you got lucky today. That’s the way we used to do it, but with what we know now, there’s no reason for it. You don’t have to just hope for a good stop; you can create it, but to do it, the approach has to be perfect.

Just like with everything else, there is a program for developing great stops on your horse, and the exercise we call the collected stop is the fi rst phase. This stop exercise is critically important because it is where you begin to teach your horse to stop with the correct form.

–Les

Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Today Les focuses is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit www.lesvogt.com.

Recapping Turnarounds

Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - August 1st, 2017

More With Les graphicLast issue, Les wrapped up our section on turnarounds. Here are some points to recap.

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

More with Les

 

 

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.