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Next chapter: Collected stops

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - October 3rd, 2013 - More with Les

52nd in a series
Last issue, Les wrapped up his detailed lessons on turn-arounds. Now we’ll open the door to stops.

Objectives
To start to develop the form that will build the foundation for sensational stops.

Things to Concentrate on
– Really driving your horse with your legs, so that stopping becomes the reward instead of the work.

– Not even thinking of letting the horse stop until the neck is perfect. At this point that is much more important than the stop because it’s a prerequisite to the stop. Don’t think stop – think form!

– Maintaining softness in the poll by keeping your hands moving throughout the exercise, when you’re going and when you stop. Let him know that lifting is not an option. Think of it as going from a vertical flexion at the walk to one at the standstill, if you have to, whatever it takes to keep you from locking up your hands when you let go of your legs.

– Letting your horse just melt into a stop, even if it’s only from a walk.

How This Fits into the Program
This might seem like an unusual way to start our training for the stop, but we do it because it’s the best way to develop the correct form right from the beginning. That correct form, which will get you the big stops you want in the future, is developed more in your approach than in the actual stop itself. If the approach is right, the stop will just happen. So we develop our approach by getting the horse really collected. Our legs are driving his back legs way up underneath him, while our contact on the reins keeps the horse collected and the neck really soft. This causes the horse to load up energy by raising his back and lowering his neck, so that when you finally tell him he can stop going forward, by releasing your legs, his back legs will be way up underneath his belly in perfect stopping form.

When you start to feel it happen, even at the walk, you’ll know you’re on the right track to some amazing stuff later on. But don’t rush it! Work on it until it’s perfect!

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

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