Tag Archives: western training

My horse throws his shoulder: How can I fix this?

Question: My horse keeps throwing her shoulder and I was wondering if there was some thing I can do to prevent it and because she does this it makes it hard to get her to turn easily without trying to go the other way.

Answer from April Reeves: Getting the shoulder from dropping is a task that requires a great deal of sensitivity and timing. I will walk you through it and you can take it as you feel comfortable.

As with any gait problems we’ll start at the walk:

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Is there hope for a 3-year-old mare with her flighty nature and inability to learn?

Question: Hello, I have been training horses since I was 12. I’m no expert by any means and have lots to learn.

But as of right now I am currently working with a 3 year old quarter horse. She is the most nervous insecure horse I have ever worked with. Her previous owner told me they had started her under the saddle already and she had accepted it, which I found through further training was a lie. I have been constantly working with her since October and am hardly moving forward. I started right from scratch with basic halter training. Now, I have ridden her only because I was pushed into it by her owner. I stopped because I felt she was not ready, every time I sack her out its like its all new to her. I have used many objects such as a bag on a whip, a cowboy hat, a blanket, just a plain stick, and she still flips each time I bring out an object. Even if it was an object she has previously seen! She is having major difficulties with switching eye to eye. And frankly I am running out of ideas. I’m not sure if I should just move on and ride her in hopes I can work it out of her on her back.
Answer from April Reeves: I have run across a mare like this. You may have to back off from using objects to desensitize her as it makes them worse.

Where this problem originated was back in her history somewhere. Owners never tell you the whole story. It’s up to you to assume the worst and work from there. People can really ruin a young horse.

This mare will take a great deal of consistent gentle handling. Get rid of bags on the end of whips and other cool toys that work on other horses. With this mare, you will be doing basic work. But it’s not the work you are doing, it is HOW you will carry out this work.
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What does a typical day of training look like?

Question: Can you give me an outline of one of your typical rides? I just want some kind of idea of what you do with the horse, what you try to do yourself, and how long you took. Oh, also what you were trying to achieve. Thanks, Mandy.

Answer from April Reeves: I will give you a day in the life of a somewhat green Andalusian that is going very nicely (Mya) and has no real issues. She already has 100 days on her. She is not being worked for anything in particular, just as a pleasure and trail horse. This is just Grade 2 foundation work. I will put links in to find the exercises in case you are not familiar with them. The writing is short, more of a guideline.

Groundwork:

– Follow, stop, back, trot off, stop, back, turn sharp, back… Does the horse respond quickly? Obedient? Politely? Groundwork link

Sending exercise to test if horse is fresh or ready. I will ride right away if the horse feels right. No spooking, must have both eyes on me. I don’t mind the horse having energy. I do mind if the horse is not ‘with me’. 5 minutes or more.

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My horse keeps needing harsher bits and hackamores. Help!

5-ring-bit

This bit, in the wrong hands, is abuse

Question: Hello I have an 8 yr. old reg. quarter horse and he is the most wonderful, trustworthy horse ever!. But the problem is throughout training  him (since he was 2) I have had problems with his listening to a bit or hackamore. I have everything from a snaffle to a severe curve bit. Same for the hack – I have a hack that has a metal band and a snaffle bit on it and he does listen but I hate it! I feel like it is abuse :(. Im at my wits-end its to the point that I don’t want to ride him sometimes and will pick one of our other horses. I need some new advice if you could help me I would love it. Thank-you

Answer from April Reeves, Horseman’s U.com: You have good gut instincts, as the harder the bit, the tougher the horse is going to be, and some of the equipment you have is abusive, even in light hands. There are very few harsher bits that have any purpose being near a horse, and they must have some result that is acquired without heavy handling.

Horses that do not respond to tougher bits and equipment are not bad or insensitive. They are a result of improper training.

Problem is, humans resort to harder bits because they don’t want to take the time to train the horse properly. The horse just gets use to the pain and pressure, which causes the bit to stop working, so the human seeks a harder bit, and so the evil process proliferates. Some humans don’t care about the horse’s well being either. This is life.

Whenever you get a tough mouthed horse, lower the harshness on the bit – find the softest one on the market and use it. Why? Horses will fight pain. They will become resistant and irritated, and that always plays out in “bad” behavior (human’s interpretation). The behavior is not bad to the horse: he’s just trying to protect himself. When you take the pain away, you give the horse a chance to work for you. A happy horse free of pain is a horse that will work harder, learn faster and bond with you better.

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What are the differences between rein aids in Western and English riding?

Western draped rein

Western draped rein

Question: What are the differences between rein aids in Western and English? I have a western horse that I want to teach English. Will he get confused with the two different styles?

Answer from April Reeves: In my world, there are no differences in the basic rein aids. The only difference is the amount of contact you have, as you move up into higher level disciplines. In the dressage and hunter/jumper world, you have connection (contact, on the bit) with a straight line from bit to elbow, and from ½ to 2 pounds of weight in each hand. As you move into collection, the aids may be the same, but the feel changes.

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How do I determine what size of Western saddle to buy?

saddle-reiner_small

Reining Saddle

Question: How do you determine what size of Western saddle to get your horse?

Answer From April Reeves: I will give you enough information to be able to purchase a good saddle that not only fits the horse, but fits you as well.

One thing I like to stress, when looking for a saddle, the cheaper they are the worse they fit. Cheap saddles do not last due to the lack of quality in almost every area: leather, stitching, tree and fleece. They often use plastic (cheap) and staples. Quality saddles use nails and screws, rawhide, fiberglass and flex trees.

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