Dear Friend and Horseman,
Welcome to another "Horse Training Tips Insider".
One of my members emailed me for help. She is in the process of training a 2 year old reining prospect and has run into a few problems.
Her questions are really good and I think you’ll get a lot out of the answers… especially if you are training a horse and things aren’t going quite right.
Before we get started with the training questions though, I want to take a moment to congratulate one of my members.
This member has achieved an important milestone in her career with horses and deserves some recognition. I think you’ll enjoy reading what she wrote.
I’ve reprinted her email here so you can read it for yourself.
Here’s what she wrote:
This is a thank you instead of a question. I’ve studied your videos, asked some questions, and added it to the help I get from the trainer I ride with. My training business has grown and I have begun to have success with my cow horses.
I use your info to help me clarify concepts I’m struggling with, and have ironed out a few tough horses going back and reviewing your videos. Every now and then I surprise my trainer with something good.
I have to admit that rather than tell him I’m using your stuff, I just let him think I’m a genius. I’ve just been asked to be a part of his training stables. Yes, he's actually going to PAY me to ride!
Part of why he wants me is because he likes the way I’ve learned to think for myself. That’s a big THANK YOU from me to you.
My career with horses is taking off in directions I never dreamed of. I also managed to make the finals at the National Reined Cow Horse Association World Show in Limited Open Bridle, and came in 9th.
You’ve been a big part of my figuring out this fantastic sport. Gotta go review my cutting videos. I’m starting my new filly and will probably be hollering for help any time now.
Thanks again, Janet Huntington
What a fantastic achievement… 9th at the NRCHA World Show!
Doing that well in the Limited Open Bridle division when you are just starting your career is a hell of an accomplishment. I’d say you are on your way to becoming successful in the horse training business. Congratulations and I wish you continued success.
Special note to my subscribers: If you live in the Colorado Springs area, and need a trainer, you might want to contact Janet. She just may be someone who can give you some help.
By the way, before everybody emails me to ask, here are the Cutting Videos Janet referred to.
Okay, lets get started with the training questions
Here’s a question concerning a young reining prospect:
I have a 2-year-old reining prospect that I have started and now am training with help from your videos.
Can you explain to me about the running martingale…how to adjust it and what it is used for?
This filly has started to really toss her head when I ask her to trot off or lope. Would this piece of equipment help keep me from getting whacked in the face with her head?
She used to lope off fine but lately when I ask her to lope off she is doing silly things with her body and head and refusing. I have tried spanking her with the reins, thumping her with my legs/spurs.
She rears sometimes when I ask her to lope off. I am a very soft handed rider but will get firm when necessary…I just haven’t had one put up such a fight before.
She didn’t act like this the initial 3 months of her training but the last 3 months she has been giving me a fit. Thanks for your advice ahead of time.
Thanks for getting my videos. I really appreciate it.
Your question is very good and shows that you are really trying to get your horse trained. I respect that. Of course, without actually seeing you ride the filly, I can only guess what the problem is. However, from your description I think I have a pretty good idea.
First, I’m assuming your filly’s teeth are in good shape. A lot of 2-year-olds have wolf teeth, caps and hooks that can be very painful. Make sure you eliminate any physical problems the filly may have. Once that’s done, get on with the training.
The problems you are having with your filly are fairly common with a 2-year-old.
My colts will sometimes misbehave too, even if they were not having problems a month or two earlier. As a matter of fact, I have one that is going through this right now.
The reason for this behavior is because when a colt is first started, everything is new. He is unsure of what to do and worried he might get in trouble. He will usually be on his best behavior and sincerely try to please you.
After the colt has been ridden a few months, he is comfortable with being ridden and realizes that nothing bad is going to happen to him… and that maybe you really shouldn’t be the one telling him what he can or can not do.
This is the time frame when a colt will start testing you. He is testing your authority. He wants to know if you are the “dominant partner” in your relationship with him. If you are not, he wants to be.
Deb, its time to convince your filly that you are the boss. Do this by INSISTING that she responds to your hands and legs. If you don’t address it now, her behavior will only get worse.
In your email you said that you are “soft” with your hands. Well, sometimes this isn’t necessarily what you need.
“Good hands” are hands that teach a horse to RESPOND AND "GIVE" TO THE BIT.
Watch the Light and Supple video again. It’s the key.
Also, forget about using a running martingale. It just plain doesn’t work. I used one for years and never got much good out of it. Matter of fact, it HINDERED my training instead of helping it.
Use a GERMAN MARTINGALE instead. This is the best training aid there is for teaching a horse to flex and give to your hands. It will help your horse get a much clearer understanding of what you’re trying to teach him.
YOUR MAIN GOAL HERE IS TO TEACH THE FILLY TO GIVE TO YOUR HANDS… BOTH LATERALLY AND VERTICALLY.
Using a snaffle bit, check her up to the side, like I show in my foundation videos. And do it on both sides. Also, check her up straight back. Do this every day for several days. She needs to learn to follow and give to bit pressure un-questionably.
It would be a good idea to move her around while she is checked-up too. If you have a breaking pen, check her up and make her trot around and turn-back into the fence once in a while. You want her to learn to give to the bit no matter what moves she is asked to perform.
Teach your filly that she MUST move her hindquarters away from leg pressure. DO THIS FROM THE GROUND FIRST.
Get a stick that’s 3 or 4 feet long and pointy on one end. I usually go to a hardware store and buy a wooden dowel that is 1/2 or 3/4 inches in diameter. I’ll then take my pocket knife and whittle one end down to a dull point. Do not make it too sharp.
Hold the filly by the lead rope and press her with the stick where your spur would normally be. As soon as she even thinks of moving away from the pressure, release to reward her.
Do it again. Press her side with the stick and instantly release the pressure as soon as she moves away from it. Repeat this process (on both sides) until she knows (without a doubt) what you are trying to teach her.
Now, If she refuses to move off the pressure or gets cranky about it, just increase the pressure. You might even have to poke her a few times with the stick. Do it repeatedly if necessary. Let her know that you aren’t kidding.
Again, if she responds correctly, release the pressure as her reward. You may want to also pet her and tell her she did the right thing. Let her know that good behavior is the way to go.
When she willingly accepts this, get in the saddle and try to get her to move her hindquarters away from your leg pressure.
Press with the calf of your leg (you may have to bump with your leg) and as soon as she starts to move away, release your leg pressure as her reward. Again, you may want to pet her to let her know she definitely did the right thing.
If she resists or refuses to respond to your leg, press her with the spur. Again, release the pressure the instant she responds. Repeat this until she accepts moving off your leg pressure willingly.
If you will do these two things, I think your filly will behave much better.
Now lets address the filly’s other problems.
You said she will sometimes rear when you ask her to lope. Usually, rearing is just another test of your authority. She doesn’t respect you yet so she feels free to argue with you. Rearing is just her way of being defiant. (Kind of like a little brat having a tantrum).
I’d say there is a very good chance if you will do what I suggested and teach her to give to your hands and legs, the rearing will disappear.
It will automatically be taken care of because teaching her to respond to your hands and legs also instills respect.
Also keep in mind that a horse can’t rear when its moving forward. What she's doing is called "balking". and balking usually escalates into rearing.
If she needs it, spank her on the butt with a crop to get her going. Every time she thinks about balking, spank her to get her moving forward.
Again, I’m offering these solutions without actually seeing the filly. I could be wrong about the cause of her problems but I doubt it. If you need more info, look at this video.
I also want to assure you that your filly’s behavior really isn’t that uncommon. It’s not necassarally caused by something you did wrong or some big mistake that you’ve made.
If you’ll take care of this now and get her respect, there is no reason for her not to go on and make a good horse.
Larry Trocha Training Stable
Well, this wraps it up for this newsletter. I hope
you liked it.
Until next time, have fun training your horse.