Tag Archives: April Reeves

The German Martingale Part 1

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My Horse Slams Me Against The Wall When I Ride, And Won’t Do Circles Properly.

Question: In the indoor arena where I ride, my mare keeps slamming me up against the wall. I try to use my outside leg to push her off, but my teacher doesn’t like me coming off the wall.

My mare also doesn’t do circles very well. What can I do?

Answer from April Reeves: Get off the walls! We call it the “loser’s loop”, when people ride up against a wall or fence with no real clue as to why they are doing so. Ride at a minimum of 5 feet (10 if you have room) from any wall. One of my students rides in an indoor arena of 60 feet by 100 feet, and rarely uses the wall (on a continual basis. You do need to get close once in a while when doing certain exercises).

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My horse jumps into the trot: How can I prevent this?

Question: I have a horse that jumps forward into the trot when asked to move from a walk to a trot. Any suggestions on how to make the transition smooth? Thanks

April Reeves:  Hi Kristi! First off, the response from your horse to be “quick” into the up transition is actually a response I ask for, at the beginning. You do want a horse that responds to your cues immediately. I consider that obedience, and once that’s established, you can move on to refine the process.

Next step is to soften how you ask for the up transition. All your methods have to become lighter and softer if you expect the same from the horse, from the use of hands, legs, voice and seat. Get very familiar with what that feels like, because this is how you bring a horse into refinement and a finished bridle horse.

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What Does “Winning” Mean To You?

April and 'Rainy Buck Paige', 1975

Answer from April Reeves: I have always viewed “winning” as a competitive attachment. I realized, after years of showing horses, that winning was a crap shoot that depended on judge’s opinions and politics. I now walk into “competition” as a way to simply see how my horse and I can handle stress. I have found that stress only exists as a function of fear, and so now, showing and winning and competition no longer is a necessity for me, but a chance to go out and have a different kind of “fun” with the horses. What I have found is a whole new world where life is lighter, the word “win” doesn’t need to exist, and the end result is that, oddly enough, my blue ribbon count has soared….
My true “wins” are inside of me, not external of me.

Changes to April Reeves and Horseman’s U.com

Heads up everyone! Horseman’s U.com is coming down for around 3-4 months to be completely rebuilt! New video sections and articles are being developed over the winter, including:

  • Marketing Your Stable and Equine Business
  • Equine locomotion
  • Video and instruction on developing and building an equestrian center: how Horseman’s U, the facility, will be created.

Plus, April Reeves is moving to a new farm: details to come early next year on the location. The property will boast Eventing/cross country courses, including water obstacles, banks, ditches and permanent/non-permanent fences, permanent agility course, 2 roundpens (for ponies and warmbloods), jumping arena (so you don’t have to put the jumps away all the time), large all purpose sand arena (reining/sliding), pathway around perimeter of property, other open sand/grass/mixed rings and practice areas, and the ability to ride all around the entire property in the day! We’ll host week/days/day long intensive workshops and clinics for Western and English/Jumping riders, events, free riding days for trailer-ins,  and much more!

This site will remain the same, as it serves as a valuable resource for those seeking answers. Please continue to send in your questions and April will try to answer them.

If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see/read/watch on Horseman’s U.com please let us know! Hope to see some of you at the new facility next year!

We’re keeping the location a secret for now (simply because we haven’t quite bought it yet), but once we’re in, we’ll have a contest for the ones that can guess the location. Stay tuned for details!

How to handle a horse that won’t accept a bit

Comment from Horse Enthusiast: I knew one trainer (never used him, he was just co-owner of the barn I boarded at) who had a really bitchy paint filly- she was vicious when the owner gave her to him for nothing- and he managed to train her enough that she was handleable which was a big accomplishment considering if you showed up with a halter she would run you down, but she still pulled back when tied and riding she would blow up really badly on occoasion, or at least that was the state she was at when I left…
I don’t know her history or how she’s doing now as I haven’t seen her since spring… Anyway he wasn’t my ideal trainer as  he was the “old” cowboy type and would run the snot out of a bronc horse, no matter what age. (this filly was only three and he was cantering and loping her constantly and working her really hard).

But the trick he used to get this filly to accept the bit, because she was terrible of course, was to turn her out with the bridle. (no reins)

Would you ever even consider this in the most dire situation or would you just give up and go bitless? My big fear at the time was that she would catch the ring of the snaffle on a part of the fence or something and rip her mouth apart in a panic, but luckily she didn’t but she actually became easier to bit and was less resistant to it after a week or so. But still, I think that’s too risky…
Just curious :)

Answer from April Reeves: There are many ways to ask a horse to accept a bit, and although many of those ways end up with a horse that will “take” a bit, the question remains, “Is there a better way?” I have had to work with some of the toughest of bitters, and have barely had as much as a fight or future problem.

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20,000 Horse Enthusiasts and Growing!

Today I have had 20,000 visitors to this blog. I couldn’t reach that many people if I did clinics every day!

I hope that everyone that visits comes away with something, even if it’s small, that they can take back to their horse and work on.

We are always learning. As a clinician and trainer, I know I learn from you and my students every day as well. That’s the beauty about this industry: horses never cease to amaze and surprise us.

Through all these articles is a common thread: leave your ego and emotion at the gate before you see your horse – within every problem lies the solution – horses do not know the difference between English and Western – horses are more connected and sensitive than humans give them credit for – they cannot learn the English language.

A great big Thank You to everyone that made the 20,000! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. If it helps the horse, it helps the world…