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We’re going to be asking the horse to yield and bend to either side in a willing, balanced manner in response to pressure from a single rein.

You’ll quickly find that most horses are more comfortable turning one direction and loping on one lead vs. the other. To get them to be light, responsive and flexible in both directions is a challenge of training, and it will take some time and practice. It would be like a right-handed person trying to write with his left hand, and the first day you ask your horse to be responsive on his bad side, that’s exactly what he’s going to feel like.

It will be awkward and more difficult for him, but have some patience and help him to learn this new skill. As you advance through your program, you’ll find yourself spending more time on one direction of spins, circles, lead changes, etc., than the other to get it right, and that’s perfectly natural. Over the long run, you’ll sometimes be surprised to discover that your bad side has become your good side because of all the extra work – that’s not unusual at all.


The Reverse Arc

Once your horse is moving his shoulders on a diagonal line both ways (without much work or effort on your part or his), we’ll add to the level of difficulty by asking him to actually step around in a circle with his shoulder leading – a movement commonly referred to as the reverse arc.

You’ll want to start as you have in the past, however, now you will tighten up the cues even more until you start doing about a 30-foot circle instead of just your diagonal line. At first a quarter circle is just fine, then a half, and finally the horse should be able to continue this way as long as you ask him to. One of the great things about this exercise is that as you go around, you are actually teaching the horse to step across with his front legs, just like he will do in the turnaround. Only now, with the reverse arc, you have much more control of his shoulders.

The reverse arc exercise will be used again and again throughout this program as you tune up your turnarounds, lead changes and circles. Do it both directions until it’s easy for both you and your horse before you move on.

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 www.lesvogt.com

You can read previous More with Les columns at: http://news.horsetrader.com

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