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Hanging Bridle – How much rein pressure sends a signal? Very little!

By LES VOGT / Horsetrader columnist - March 18th, 2010 - More with Les

Next in a series
After taking a look at the fundamental riding skill of using your legs in the last issue, we take a brief look this issue and next at the horse’s mouth.

Here’s a good exercise to remind you of how little rein pressure it takes to send a signal to your horse. To try it, just hang your bridle on a doorknob, like it would hang from a horse’s head. Now stand about five feet away, take one rein in your hand and just lift it until you make contact with the bit and it starts to move. You’ll see that it doesn’t really take a lot of pressure or movement on your part to get movement out of the bit.

You’ll see that it doesn’t really take a lot of pressure or movement on your part to get movement out of the bit.

You’ll see that it doesn’t really take a lot of pressure or movement on your part to get movement out of the bit.

Our goal is not to force the horse’s movement through the bridle, but to teach him to respond in a certain way when he feels contact — not necessarily pressure — from the bit. The faster you can train yourself to cue him with a lighter touch, the faster you will get the light response we all want to achieve.

Of course, your horse is not going to know that he’s supposed to respond to the light cues right away, but it’s important that you always start there, to give him a chance to be a hero and do it right, before you get stronger and more insistent with your cues. One of these times he’s going to surprise the heck out of you!

Throughout this program and in the ensuing columns, I’ll be laying out exercises for you to do with your horse. It’s really important that you stay with each one until your horse has reached the point where he’s conditioned to perform the movement perfectly, with just a light cue. If you can do that, over the long run, I know you’ll really be satisfied with your results!

Editor’s Note: More with Les is a regular California Horsetrader column. Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Although Les still rides and occasionally shows, his focus 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 the Web site: www.lesvogt.com

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