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Exercise #5: Are zones working together?

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - July 17th, 2014 - More with Les

71st in a series
After wrapping up lope departures last issue, now we’ll learn a new exercise that help us gauge if all the horse’s zones are working together.

The first objective is to test your competency at the previous exercises. Next, you are going to learn a super exercise that can help you with stopping, backing, lead changes, collection and more.

Things to Concentrate on
• Keeping the maneuver fluid and soft
• Keeping yourself balanced and relaxed as you cue the horse
• Making sure that you have the correct alignment at all times

How This Fits into the Program
When you can do exercise number five with ease, you’re going to have achieved control of every part of your horse, and that means that you have the tools to both create good maneuvers and to fix faulty ones.

Also, once you can maneuver number five in a serpentine pattern, you really have the basic skills and control you need to do a lead change, you’re just doing it in reverse. There are several other exercises we’ll work on before we’re ready to change leads, but they will all build on and reinforce the skills that you have learned as you’ve mastered these five exercises. Congratulations!

Exercise #5 allows you to find out if your zones will work together. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t; if they don’t you have to fix it. This exercise involves lots of signals in different directions. Aim for no resistance and good energy flow. Exercise #5 is also great for developing muscles, tendons and ligaments for stopping on one side at a time.

Making a horse relax
When you have control of all four zones, especially the head and neck, you can use this maneuver to take any tension out of the horse. How much should you use this? 20–30 times a day is not unreasonable. If you’re getting stuck, identify the problem part and work on it by itself, then sneak from that exercise back into #5: the Columbo approach.

Horses don’t have egos. They love being rewarded and understanding what you want.

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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