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Perfecting Exercises 3 & 4

Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - May 1st, 2018

More with LesAfter lessons in collected stops, Les will move us this issue into Exercises 3 and 4 in his training program.

Objective
• To perfect your control of the horse’s whole body and hip
• To be able to move your horse’s body laterally without lett ing the shoulder lead
• To get to the point where you can move through exercises one through four both directions on a semi-loose rein

Collected Stop: Final Notes

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - April 1st, 2018

More With Les graphicIn the last couple of columns, we have covered a lot of detail. Here are some wrap-up notes to remember. (Find all “More With Les” columns at: http://bit.ly/HTmorewithles)

Teaching the horse to assume the stopping position
• Drive with the back legs, but keep front legs going
• Power comes from the loin
• To use the loin, back has to be round
• Neck has to be down for back to be round
• For the neck to be down it has to be soft!

How to create the ultimate collection is from the back to the front: Make the horse go and let them stop
Start at the walk: You want to stair-step up, and don’t be afraid to go back
Don’t make a big deal out of anything that you don’t want to be a big deal: If you go after a problem directly you will get the horse defensive

Four more zones to ‘stops’

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - March 1st, 2018

More with LesLast column, I introduced you to an entire stopping program that began with “whoa” and proceeded to the next phase, the “signal stop.”

Random Stop
So, when he has learned the signal stop, we go into the next phase, which is going to be random stops. We take what he knows now, and we teach him that he is going to gallop or trot around the arena. As with the other steps, this one has to be in all of his gears or gaits as well. He has to graduate up to the gallop. Now, at this stage in the game, the walk probably is not going to count, but he has to master the trot and the gallop for sure, and he has to be perfect in both.

Seven Steps To Big Stops

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - February 1st, 2018

More With Les graphicNow, I’m going to introduce you to the whole stopping program so you’ll know where we’re going with this. Although we’ll only cover the basics – the collected stop – in this level, this will give you an idea of where we’ll be headed as you advance in this program. We’ll call the stopping program the “Seven Steps to Big Stops.” The seven steps are sequential, and you have to pass each step, and get a good grade in each phase, or you can’t go on. I guess you could but you’re going to get an “F” in the next one. It will take time, but you will get it, and like everything else, you have to work at achieving perfect form at each step so that you can get perfect performance.

We might say that a horse stops well, but there is really so much more to it. Stopping means to cease forward motion, but the stop itself is really the least of my worries. First, the approach has to be good, the form has to be perfect, and there can be absolutely no resistance – if any of these elements aren’t great, the stop won’t be great either.

The Sequence Stop

More with Les - Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - January 1st, 2018

More With Les graphicSequence stop means a three stepper basically. You’ll have three or four steps from the beginning to the end for the stop. If you’re having problems keeping your hands moving, try the sequence stop. Remember, if you like the neck, you’re going to back him out of the stop. If you don’t like the neck, you’re going to drive him forward again, so why would you stop moving your hands? And don’t worry about timing here; you’re just searching for flaws throughout those beats.

Two things to avoid

Horsemanship is negotiation and a good negotiation is when I get what I want, and you think you got what you wanted!

by Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - December 1st, 2017

More With Les graphicWhen you are ready for the stop and you take away your legs, don’t say “whoa.” We don’t want a crisp hard stop yet. We want a beautiful energy transfer from the front of the horse to the back, one that just melts. What you are going to feel when it’s right is that there is actually an energy current that goes from his poll, down his spine and to his hind legs. You can stop a litt le harder but don’t say “whoa” at this point; you’re lett ing him melt, and saying “whoa” means “get it into the ground.”

Be careful too that you don’t do a weight transfer with your body as you approach the stop or as you take your legs away. If you do that, you will throw in an element of timing that you are responsible for, and why do you want to do that? Keep your body still so the horse is just reacting to your legs.

Polishing collected stops

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - November 1st, 2017

More with LesAs we discussed in my last column, your goal in a collected stop is to make going forward a lot of work for your horse. Make him really step up and put some effort into it.

To let him stop, we’re going to keep our hands moving while we stop driving him with our legs. The result you’re looking for is that he will stop with his back legs underneath him since his back is so round and his poll is soft. You’re not looking for a hard stop here, but for perfect form—neck soft, back round, hind end underneath.

Steps to great stops

Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt for the Horsetrader - October 1st, 2017

More With Les graphicJust 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 first phase. This stop exercise is critically important because it is where you begin to teach your horse to stop with the correct form.

I think it works so well because when you do it, you’ll be pushing your horse into the stop mode rather than pulling on him. We push the horse by clucking, riding him up with our legs and softening his neck. When he assumes perfect posture, then we can let him stop. He develops great form, and the stop becomes the big reward instead of a punishment or something he starts to dread.

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.