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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.

The Art of Listening

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - May 1st, 2017

Trainer TipsTrue horsemanship is a seamless marriage between timing and feel, and at the root of these skills is the ability to genuinely listen.

It can be discouraging when you attempt to have a conversation with someone who obviously is distracted or not engaged in the conversation. They may already be thinking of their reply while you are still talking, perhaps drawing from an experience in their past that presents either similar or contrasting to yours. Having a simple discussion can feel like a battle to be heard.

If you are feeling a lack of connection between you and your horse, you might help bridge the gap with an acute focus on listening to your horse’s responses to your cues. Every time I am riding and working on a specific issue, if I am not able to get the response I am looking for, the first thing I do is assess the manner in which I presented my cue.

The ‘when’ and ‘why’ of applying leg aids

by Sheryl Lynde - April 1st, 2017

Trainer TipsLearning to use your legs and seat in addition to your hands will develop balance, keep you safely in the saddle, and allow your horse to perform at his best.

Riders often believe they are using their legs, but as an observer, it’s clear to see space between their leg and the horses’ sides. The correct stirrup length plays a big role in the ability of the rider to use their legs comfortably. If stirrups are too long, the rider is constantly reaching for them as they ride, straightening their legs until they feel contact. In order to make contact, they reach with their toes and by pointing their toes down; the rider develops a habit of leaning forward. If the stirrups are too short, the rider places too much weight in the stirrup which can contribute to knee pain at the very least.

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 4 common mistakes riders make

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - March 1st, 2017

Trainer TipsWhen people come for a lesson or an evaluation, there are common mistakes shared by most riders. Let’s talk about the Top Four and the remedy for each.

1. Lack of Rein Management
Reins being either too loose or too tight pose risks to a rider’s safety. When the reins are too loose, the rider’s hands are out of position, as they rise to their chest or chin in order to make contact with the bit. To make up for a lag in contact and response, the rider develops fast hands and jerks to get the response they are looking for.

Having the reins too tight causes the horse to brace against the rider’s hands. Since the horse learns from release and not pressure, there are limited training opportunities. The horse becomes micromanaged, meaning there is constant contact. Therefore, the horse is given no release for the correct response, and the rider balances on the horse’s mouth instead of their seat and is easily out of control.

Fear: Resistance to our dreams

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - February 1st, 2017

Trainer TipsA certain level of fear is healthy — we call it common sense. Fear compels us to focus, to direct our attention to the present moment while attempting to push our personal limits by bravely testing the water outside our comfort zone. However, too much fear will inhibit you from advancing your ability.

By living within your comfort zone, growth will elude you. There is never an end-destination to becoming a horseman. There will always be another personal best to achieve, another goal to reach, in order to become the rider your horse deserves. It is the ride of your life.

Worries are chronic fears. There’s fear of getting hurt, fear of getting back in the saddle after being injured, and fear of judgement by others. We have to be a watcher of our thoughts — keep your eyes on what you want to accomplish, not on what created your fear.

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.

The cold-backed horse may just need more ground work

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - January 1st, 2017

Trainer TipsYears ago I was giving a clinic in mid-July, and I noticed that an owner would blanket her horse each night with a fairly thick blanket. A combination between the heat of summer and the weight of the blanket produced a pretty good sweat, so I asked the owner, “Why the blanket?”

She explained that when she purchased her horse she had been informed that he was “cold-backed”. Hence, the blanket.

The term “cold-backed” is not a physical description. It’s just an analogy that indicates they need to be worked on the ground or warmed up prior to riding. In the same way, people can be regarded as being cold because of their inability to show emotion or empathy. Again, this is just a description to identify a particular characteristic.

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.