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It's gonna get better, right?
2nd time out & I could feel the anxiety hours later. I look at people relaxed in their saddle and wonder if that will be me someday. The horse, Sophie was really good. I'm pretty sure she knows enough to know that I really don't and she hasn't been cross or taken advantage of me. Starting off was rocky (we really need to lunge them first) she started to do that hopping from front to back (not nearly as much as she could've) and than we were walking sideways. When I finally got her in the right direction and walking we did well. A couple times she felt like she was gonna start moving into a fast pace but I got her to settle back into a walk. If she breaks into a a trot, canter or run ... I really don't know what to do. She's so powerful and I'm sitting on top of her. I wish I weren't so fearful.
Hang in there Bethany, it does get better the more you learn to trust your horse. One thing I would strongly suggest before you go out on another trail ride is for both you and Sophie to learn the one rein stop and disengaging the hindquarters. The one rein stop is simply pulling the horses head around with one rein until the horse stops. It sounds simple but your horse has to learn to be soft and give to that rein or she will stiffen up and all the pulling in the world won't get her head around. The one rein stop is your emergency brake. You can use it to stop that bouncing, bucking, running off, going too fast etcetera.

I'll try to tell you how to teach it but I'm not really good at this. Watching a video is so much better. OK, you can start on the ground with just a halter and lead rope on your horse. Stand at the horses side facing the horse about midway between the shoulder and haunches. Gently pull the lead rope towards the horses back so the horse turns his head towards you. Place your hand with the lead rope on it on the horse's back and keep it there. your horse will probably turn its head but also turn in circles. Stay with your horse with your hand glued to his back until he stops and more importantly "gives" to you by giving you a little slack in the lead rope. As soon as you get some slack, immediately let go of the rope to reward the horse. Then start all over again. I think the first time I tried this with my mare we walked in circles for 10 minutes before I got her to stop and give. Keep doing this over and over until your mare does it easily on both sides. You can't do too much of this. After you get her doing this easily on the ground you can do it with the bridle from the saddle. Slide your hand about halfway down the rein and pull the rein back to your hip bone. Hold until the horse gives then immediately release. Work on this both sides until she does this easily. Now you are ready to make her stop from a walk. Get her in a walk and only let her walk a few steps then slide your hand down the rein, pull it back to your hip and hold until she stops her feet and gives some slack. Make sure you have enough slack in the opposite rein she can turn her head. You may go around in a lot of circles the first few times. Thats OK just hang in there till she stops. Practice at a walk on both reins. The trot a few steps and shut her down with the one rein stop. When you feel really brave go to the canter and let her canter a few strides and do the one rein stop. One word of caution, if your horse is at a very fast canter a one rein stop may get her off balance and cause her to fall with you. To avoid that start her in a circle with one rein and make that circle smaller and smaller, she'll get slower and then you can do the full stop.

Once you get the one rein stop you can add the disengaging of the hindquarters. Lets say you are doing a one rein stop with the right rein then you would put your right leg back and push the hindquarters over with it. Once the horse takes on step in the right direction release the pressur with the leg to let the horse know it has done the right thing. Keep repeating until you can get two or three steps in both directions. Disengaging the hindquarters takes the energy out of the hindquarters so you can stop bucking and other bad behaviors.

Others on the board, please feel free to chime in and help clarify!


I think you did a great job of explaining it boiscarc. It just takes lots and lots of practice like you said, until it comes second nature to you and your horse.
Bethany, I think we can all remember being that person looking at other riders and thinking, will I ever be that relaxed on a horse? I know I can. It will happen with time and lots of riding. The flip side is this. One day you may have to guard against being too relaxed on a horse! The day will come when your fear will temper down until it is just an awareness of what can happen instead of outright fear. You sound like you're off to a good beginning!
A good rider has a thinking mind, fine emotions and a sensitive hand.-Tu Yu,72 BC

Great explanation, boisdarc. Now it just takes practice, practice, practice. The one-rein stop and disengagement of hindquarters is a nice safety net that all riders need to use.

Man does not have the only memory,
The animals remember,
The earth remembers,
The stones remember,
If you know how to listen, they will tell you many things.
- Claude Kuwanijuma - Hopi Spiritual leader

Bois, you did a great job describing the one rein stop. I will add that one of the first things my trainer had me do was multiple one rein stops. Rocky had a tendency to take off with me (bolting) and the trainer had me do 50 one reins stops everyday for 5 days, 25 on each side. He stressed to me that IF I did that with no cheating on the count, I would see results. At first I was afraid to allow Rocky speed up, so I did lots of them from a walk. Then as I got braver and more comfortable with the maneuver, I had him trot and worked on them. Doing multiple ORS also develops muscle memory in you, so you remember how to perform it under pressure. The trainer also warned me that after about the third day my horse would probably start voicing his displeasure and act up a little. Rocky did by shaking his head, balking and even a small crow hop, but I continued, got over the hump and it made a world of difference in my horse. He figured out that I could control him and began to respect me. That was a turning point in my relationship with my horse.
In my opinion, one rein stops are essential to safe riding.
Nancy (and Tag & Rocky)
Free & easy down the trail I go......
Originally posted by Bethany

Starting off was rocky (we really need to lunge them first) she started to do that hopping from front to back (not nearly as much as she could've) and than we were walking sideways.

Hi Bethany. Yes, it will get better with time, as you get better, and Sopie gets better. The others have explained the one rein stop well. As far as your comment above, that is one thing I always do. Once I'm tacked up, I take my horse out to a clear area and just lunge him a little on the lead rope. This tells me right off whether he's going to be in an enthusiastic mood! Also, it lets the saddle settle in before I re-tighten my cinch. I get him going both ways at a walk and trot. Very often he does a little hopping around to start with, and then it's over.
Then, when I mount up, the first thing I always do is bend him several times. Feet must stay planted and he is to bend his head all the way around to my toe on both sides, then soften his face and drop his head. Only after we have done this bending and stretching for a couple of minutes do I then let him walk off. The last thing I want him to do is show me how frisky he is when I first mount up.

I think your confidence will build with each ride, if you take things easy and set the ground rules.
"You learn a thing a day, you store up smart" - Festus Haggen

"A man’s soul can’t be hidden,
From the creatures in his care." -
Hard Candy Cowboy by Debra Meyer

It also depends on how you ride your horse. For example: I rode my mare over to my cousin's house, and she told me she had ridden before. I took her at her word, and the first thing she did was tighten the reins and put her heels into my mare's sides. My mare had been used in gaming (running barrels, doing pole bending, that sort of thing), and this was her cue to all out run. My cousin had never ridden a horse any other way and didn't know any better. Years later, she acquired horses of her own, and I helped to teach her how to ride correctly. She was amazed at the difference and was able to relax and enjoy riding her own horses.

So, I hope that you aren't doing anything along these lines. You have to learn not to take a death grip on the reins or dig your heals into the horse in an effort to keep your seat. If you aren't doing these kind of beginner mistakes, then forgive me for bringing it up. Some people never learn how to ride a horse correctly and not send conflicting signals to the horse.

It would also be to your advantage to read the sticky post on lunging. It will tell you how to use lunging as a tool to see if your horse will respond to you when you want her to before you ever step up and onto her back. It's more than just finding out if she's full of energy or a way to take off that edge before you ride. It's a way to make your horse focus on you and gives you more control over your horse once you're ready to ride.

"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
[quote]Originally posted by hmeyer
"Then, when I mount up, the first thing I always do is bend him several times. Feet must stay planted and he is to bend his head all the way around to my toe on both sides, then soften his face and drop his head. Only after we have done this bending and stretching for a couple of minutes do I then let him walk off."

I'd like to learn more about how to teach my horses to bending & stretching. How did you work with your horse to teach this?

The one rein stop, disengaging hind-quarters and exercises like this are tools I want to learn to use. A large part of my fear is my lack of knowledge. Thank you all for your advice & encouragement.

Just making Sophie and Ivan wait for their feed has made a big difference in their behavior. They’re not so frantic at feed time. Using my thumb to back them up has worked wonderfully. I use the “Squashing Resistance” exercises, written by Keith Hosman & John Lyons from the newsletter files. These small things have brought big changes in my relationship with the horses. I like to learn your technique for bending and stretching too.
"They" say that lateral flexion is the key to vertical flexion, which is key to controlling your horse and collection. And believe me "they" know more than I do!
You can start teaching your horse to bend from the ground with just a halter. Slight pressure and an immediate release when he starts to bend is the way to start. Some people use a carrot or other treat to encourage him to bring his head around, but I don't think that's necessary. Pressure and release will work and you always have that with you.
In the saddle, I'd start with a snaffle bit. Use a slight tug with one rein, then an immediate release when he starts to come around. Soon he'll bring his head around willingly and hold it there. Take a little bit at a time, don't expect him to come all the way around right off. You can also add in a leg cue at the same time, and in time he'll start bringing his head around with just the leg cue. I really think it is your choice what cue to use so he knows what it means. My trainer just uses a slight twitch of the calf and his horse brings his head right around. My horse and I aren't there yet.
When he brings his head around I give my horse a good rub on the neck and encourage him to hold it there for a few seconds.
Hook also mentiioned in another topic that it is a good idea to always have your horse stand still for a minute after mounting so he gets used to not moving off immediately and will stand quiet for mounting. This short waiting period is a good time to ask him to bend a few times.
Here is a link I found which probably explains it better than I can:

"You learn a thing a day, you store up smart" - Festus Haggen

"A man’s soul can’t be hidden,
From the creatures in his care." -
Hard Candy Cowboy by Debra Meyer

Does anyone know of a good video that I could see this one rein stop and disengaging the hindquarters? I don't think I understand this and would like to view it.

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