Dear Friend and Horseman,
Welcome to another “Horse Training Tips Insider” newsletter.
Today I’m going to give you some tips on how to get your horse to stop better. With each tip, I’ll also give you a link to a training video which will show how to do it in action.
15 Training Tips For Improving Your Stops
#1. When stopping, sit on the cheeks of your butt, round your lower back, relax your shoulders, keep your thighs loose and your knees open. A lot of folks tighten up when they ask for a stop.
They will arch their back or clamp with their thighs. This almost always ruins the stop. As a matter of fact, a lot of folks are in the habit of riding on their thighs. This body position makes it almost impossible to get a good stop.
Use your rein hand at about the same height as your belt loops. When using two hands on the reins, make sure you are bending your arms and bringing your elbows back toward your hips with a “set and release” motion.
Here again, if you don’t use your hands correctly, you won’t get your horse to stop correctly. I explain this in detail and give an example of how to do it in the “Teach Your Horse to Stop Light and Collected, volume 1”
When it comes to stopping a horse on his hindquarters, TIMING is everything. When stopping from the lope, you must say “whoa” when the horse’s hind feet are in the air and just starting forward.
This lets the horse shoot his hind legs under his body. If you say whoa when the hind feet are already on the ground, you force the horse to stop on his front end.
I explain this in detail and give an example of how to do it in the video, “Teach Your Horse to Stop Light and Collected Volume 1”.
If you haven’t mastered timing the stop at the lope, perfect your horse’s stop at the trot. Timing isn’t a factor when stopping from the trot. Get your horse stopping well at this gait before practicing stopping from the lope.
#2. Teach your horse to back well. A good back up always helps the stop. There are good examples of how to teach this in the “Foundation Training for the Stop and Back Up” and the "Western Riding Know How" videos.
#3. Some horses stop better if asked for the stop while they are collected up and flexed at the poll. Actually, a lot of horses won’t do a good stop until they understand what it is to be collected. You can learn how to do this by watching the “Teach Your Horse True Collection” video.
#4. For smooth, balanced stops on the hindquarters, it’s important to get your horse supple. Don’t even think you can get by with a horse that isn’t light and supple, because you can’t.
Having the horse supple is what allows you to position his body for a good stop. Without having the horse supple, you won’t be able to teach him the correct “form” for a good stop. You can see how to do this the right way by watching the video “Teach Your Horse to be Light and Supple”.
#5. If your horse is heavy on the front end, say whoa and immediately roll him back.
Rolling him back in the middle of the stop, takes the horse's front end away from him. He’s forced to stop on his hocks. It works well at the trot as well as the lope. I show you how to this in the “Teach Your Horse to Stop Light & Collected, Volume 2" video.
#6. Lope your horse until he’s tired, then ask him to stop. After the stop, sit there and let him rest for 5 minutes or so. This will make him look forward to stopping and actually enjoy it.
#7. Teach your horse to travel straight. A horse that is loping straight will stop a lot better than one that zig-zags all over the place.
Teach your horse what it is to be “FENCED” in the arena. Fencing will help teach a horse to run straight and stop hard. If you need to see how to do it, watch “Teach Your Horse to Stop Light and Collected, Volume 2".
#8. Teach your horse to stop when you quit riding (passively sitting). If you aren’t “actively” urging him forward, he should stop… or at least slow way down.
#9. In a snaffle bit, if the horse won’t respond to a light rein, "DOUBLE" him.
When done correctly, doubling will really lighten a horse up and get him to pay attention. The correct way to double a horse is shown in the videos, “Foundation Training for the Stop and Backup”, "Teach Your Horse To Stop Light and Collected, volume 1" and "Western Riding Know How".
#10. You can really lighten a horse up and get him to stop hard just by the way you handle the reins when stopping. Ask for a stop with a series of pulls (or sets) and releases.
The first pull should be very light. The second pull should be heavier. And the third pull should be even stronger.
If you are consistent with this, your horse will start responding better in just a few rides. You will see examples and variations of this method in all three of my stopping videos.
#11. Ask the horse to stop while he’s building speed, not when he is slowing down. If you ask for the stop while accelerating, his front end is elevating and his hind legs are driving way up under his body to push off. This is perfect to get a big stop on the hindquarters.
If you ask for the stop while the horse is decelerating, he will dump on his front end. This rule applies when stopping at the trot as well as the lope. If you need to see how to do it, watch “Stop Light and Collected, volume 2”.
#12. Experiment with different bits. If your horse is in the snaffle, try a smooth wire or wisted wire snaffle. Maybe it is time to step him up to an Argentine snaffle or a curb bit. On my web site, you will find training equipment that is specifically designed to help your horse’s stop. Go here to see examples of different kinds of snaffles.
#13. If your horse is in the curb bit, try adjusting the bit so it sits lower or higher in the horse’s mouth. Try different mouthpieces. Using a variety of bits keeps a horse’s mouth fresh. Also try tightening or loosening the curb chain and alternate between using a flat curb chain and a dog-chain curb. Go here to see examples of curb bits.
While you’re on that page, be sure to study the information there about the “Bitting Process” I use. It works great.
#14. Some horses may require a little different stopping technique. Try asking for a stop with your spurs. Teach your horse to back up by setting the bit solid and asking for backward steps with your spurs.
Once the horse learns to back up quickly and lightly from spur pressure, ask for the backup (say whoa, set the bit and apply the spurs) while the horse is still moving forward. If you have done this correctly, the result will be a very good stop.
Make sure the horse understands this at the WALK before asking for it from the trot.
And he should have it mastered at the trot before attempting it from the lope. Once the horse understands this concept, you will hardly need to use any spur pressure at all. I explain this in detail and give an example of how to do it in the “Teach Your Horse to Stop Light and Collected” volume 1.
#15. When all else fails, you might try using a shoulder cue to get a better stop. This one works like a charm but is hard to accurately describe on paper. In a nutshell, you train the horse to back immediately in response to moving your feet forward toward the horse’s shoulders. Very little bit pressure is used.
The result is a good stop with a “finger-tip” light rein. If you want to see how to teach it to your horse, watch “Teach Your Horse to Stop Light and Collected” volume 2.
Well, that wraps up my 15 training tips for getting good stops. Try them and see which ones work for you and your horse the best.
Until next time, have fun training your horse.
Larry Trocha Training Stable