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Are You Ready to Move On?

Master these skills before you try to train

By LES VOGT / Horsetrader columnist - June 3rd, 2010 - More with Les

  • When your hands start to feel resistance does an alarm go off in your head telling you to get them moving? You don’t want to move to the next level until you have trained your hands to work the snaffle, not pull on it, and you’re doing it at the walk, the jog and the lope.
  • If you lay a leg on your horse and he doesn’t respond, do you instinctively start bumping him with your boot top rather than just squeezing harder? If you’re still squeezing with your legs and not using them in a rhythmic fashion, you need to stay here until the movement is second nature at all three gaits.

  • When you’re riding, are you staying totally relaxed, with no stiffness or tension in any part of your body? If you are holding tension in your shoulders, legs or anywhere else when you ride, you need to let it go. Your body needs to stay loose so you can effectively use your cues.

  • Can you stay balanced in the saddle without ever having to rely on your reins or stirrups to help you? You’re hands and legs will have their own jobs as we move along, You need to be secure in the saddle to use your legs effectively for cueing your horse.
  • Can you shorten and lengthen your reins without even thinking about it? Once you’ve mastered them, you’ll find these long reins are great to ride with. If you’re still getting tangled up in them you need more practice. Maybe in front of the TV at night?
  • Can you use the tail of your reins effectively? If you’re still hitting yourself or missing your horse, you need more practice. Carry a rein as you walk around the barn area and practice until you have the move mastered.
  • It’s really critical that you master these skills before you try to train your horse. The skills will make your cues far more effective, and really propel your success with the rest of the program. If these concepts are brand new to you, we suggest that you spend the next couple of weeks working on yourself and your own habits before you start to work on your horse. In the long run, you’ll really be glad you did.

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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