Dear Dana: Every time that I bridle my horse’s head, as I release him he lifts his head back up — and comes right back out of the bridle. I must admit I am getting really frustrated with him, and sometimes I really jerk him. Then, he over-bridles but still pops his neck back up! Please give me some advice.
Dear Dana: I ride my horse four days a week after work. I have only 45 minutes to ride her every day. She is doing pretty well but not progressing. I feel like I am having a good enough ride, but we aren’t really getting any better. My little issues stay the same. Every day I work on the walk, jog and the lope each way and the back up as well as the side pass. Any suggestions of how I can accelerate my horse’s learning or improving?
DEAR DANA: I’m taking my horse to his first show. Do you have any tips on how to prepare him? I’ve taken him to one show previously, where I just rode him around to expose him to the sights and sounds. He was pretty good considering, but he was jumpy and whinnied a few times.
DEAR DANA: I have a 9-year-old mare that I show in amateur Western pleasure and trail classes. I have had her for three years. When I first bought her, we did quite well and even won at some good AQHA shows. In the last year, it seems like we have been going downhill. My friend says my mare looks like she is on her front end and has lost the lift she used to have. In my trail classes, she isn’t marking as good of scores and hits a lot of poles. What do you recommend that I do?
DEAR DANA: My newly purchased 3 year old foundation Quarter Horse has only had hunter under saddle training, although she was marketed as “good all around potential”. Actually, she has a very poor jog — when asked to jog slowly, she gets real shuffley and doesn’t maintain the two-beat gait. I would rather be going a little faster and have the true two beats vs. the shuffly look. Can you recommend ways to get feet moving more crisply?
DEAR DANA: I have a 2-year-old reining-bred filly that I have started myself. I am an amateur, but I’ve ridden for all my life. This is only the second horse I have started myself. My problem is that every time I stop her, she roots her head and neck out of my hands. I don’t want to be too tough on her mouth by jerking her, but I feel that a bad habit is starting to develop.
DEAR DANA: Do you have any tips to keep in mind for getting the most out of the new show season?
DEAR DANA: Days now are shorter and I can’t ride my horse as much as I could before. It is so much colder, and my horse has a lot more energy. It feels like I need to work my horse twice as long, and I have half the time. Any suggestions?
DEAR DANA: I have a Paint Horse that I really get along with. He is very responsive to most of the things that I ask him to do. He jogs and lopes slowly and with his head down. For the most part , he does what I ask. Recently I have noticed that when I ask him to stop, he does not respond right away. He puts his head up and pulls on my hands. When I do get him to stop, he tries to take a few steps forward. Also, when he has stopped, he doesn’t like to stand still. Please help!
- Andrea, Pasadena
DEAR ANDREA: What you are describing is a very common problem. I am going to teach you to redefine your ‘whoa’ cue!
Dear Dana: Do you have a plan for keeping your focus in place while you’re riding?
–Thomas, Bend, Ore.
DEAR THOMAS: I call it “mindful riding,” and there are powerful benefits to it. To ride mindfully is to pay attention while you are riding, to raise your consciousness to a level that will allow you to notice more and become more “in tune” or sensitive to your horse and your riding.