Dear Friend and Horseman,
Welcome to another Horse Training Tips Insider.
In this issue, I’m going to answer a question that was sent to me by one of my members.
I think you’ll find the information helpful if you have a reining horse… or any kind of show horse for that matter.
Okay, lets get started.
I am having an odd problem with either my horse or myself- I am not sure which one of us is the problem. I know this sounds weird but please read on.
I have a 5 year old gelding, trained to do reining and working cow.
At home he is close to being perfect in everything, at the neighbors arena he makes very few mistakes, and in the warm up arena he is okay and relaxed before our class… until its our show time and he walks into the arena.
He may start his class okay until he sees the judges or figures out he’s the only one there and he just gets goofy. He can’t stand still when he’s suppose to, he races through the center like he’s going to a fire, and he forgets how to stop.
I tried correcting him during class time and we were told to leave the arena, that there was no more schooling allowed during class time according to AQHA rules.
How do i get him over this?
I give him the benefit of doubt that maybe it was me- but I have had other people ride him in class and he does the same to them. I have had judges stand up from their chairs!! This is serious!
He knows all of the maneuvers, he can slide 25 feet off of whoa, at home or practice, but during class if they took the fence away, I’m not sure where we would be today. How do I change his attitude to be good in the actual class?
Sounds to me like your horse is simply “show-smart” and cheating you when you’re competing in a class.
Keep in mind, without actually seeing your horse, I can only go by your description and guess here.
However, your problem is so common with reining horses, I’m pretty sure I know what’s happening.
Your horse’s behavior is usually associated with a reiner that has been shown enough to start anticipating the reining patterns. He’s anxious about being shown and is in a hurry to get through the pattern.
The bad news is that once they get this way, you will never be able to totally “fix” it. However, you should be able to “manage” it.
If you would have paid attention to this behavior when it first started, you could have prevented your horse from getting so bad.
All you can really do now is enter several classes and school him whenever he isn’t working correctly. Go to small schooling shows until you get this handled. At the larger reinings, they have what is called a “paid practice”. Go there and school.
At home, never put a whole pattern together. Work on getting him tired and then let him stand there and rest for SEVERAL minutes after executing a maneuver.
The idea is to always keep him guessing about what is going to happen next. Do not let him anticipate ANYTHING.
Also, at the shows, make sure you are loping him enough prior to the class to get him good and tired. Ride him for a couple hours until he is really looking for a rest.
Sounds like you may be handling him too carefully. When he makes a deliberate mistake, let him know you won’t tolerate it. Stop him and correct him. Remind him that he is a horse with a job to do and you are serious about it.
Also, make sure you are riding him at the show, the same way you ride him at home.
If your horse is working well at home, chances are you are riding calm and relaxed. If you go to the show and you’re nervous, you are going to ride stiff and tight. That alone is enough to cause most horses to freak-out and make mistakes.
I know this sounds overly simplistic but many people pay no attention to it.
It may be a good idea to get help from a local reining trainer about this. Make sure the trainer has had some success in reining, as this problem will require “reining specific” expertise.
I would also suggest you get my Performance Training Package of DVDs. The DVDs will show you how to school and correct your horse.
Larry Trocha Training Stable