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TRAINING THE HORSE TO STAND

by
John O'Leary
Horseman
2003

 


 

 

This system works on every horse....providing you follow it to the millisecond.

How many times have you been to a hack show and watched the finalists in the line up. Now, I thought they were supposed to be lined up for the judge and to remain stationary, but a lot of them keep doing little walk around circles, normally while the judge isn't looking. Although the failure to be able to make the horse halt has reached epidemic proportions allowing horses to have their own way has become an accepted thing now. The horses are not trained to stand and the owners' know it. So it's just like the parent in the Restaurant with the 'brat' of a child. They know that if they try to correct the kid in public they have no hope and so they surrender all control in return for the second worst scenario. So what is the answer for this horse?.

Preparation and training is the key and it should start with the very first ride by the breaker. It doesn't matter though, what age the horse is or how little training it has had. You can change them all and the key to this system is simply that you are making the good things easy and the bad things hard. Letting the horse work out what it prefers, which will be the good thing as you have designed it that way.

Getting back to the breaker or the young green horse for a bit. Every time you mount up, the most important thing you can do is to just sit there for a few minutes. Do nothing and if the horse tries to move, stop it. Do the training in the formative years of the young horse and it will be there forever. So why do people allow horses to fidget and walk off without permission? Especially in competition?

  • They do it because they know their horse will play up if told 'No'.

  • They know their training is not established enough to say no.

  • They don't know how to make a horse stand still without having a fight.
     

How do we train it then? Natural horsemanship of course. Dare yourself to rise above what is normal. Stop fighting with horses. Learn to make them fight with themselves. Turn yourself into a bystander, not a participant.

HOW DO NORMAL PEOPLE DO IT?

  • The first sign is that they always want a contact with the mouth of the horse. They cannot handle allowing a loop in the rein.
     

  • They always have the false belief that they can keep a horse standing by using more and more force on it's mouth. By putting the brakes on.

The result of this is that the horse pulls against the rider who is also pulling. Force meets force. How can that make the horse stand. You cannot. The horse can run backwards, go sideways, do turns on the forehand, hind, rear, buck, traverse, you name it.

HOW DO HORSES THINK THEN?

If you bring your horse to a halt, the horse thinks that it is rest time, and it should be, but the rider sits there holding against the mouth of the horse with both reins. The hand brake is firmly on. Given the fact that in order for the horse to genuinely relax it must lower it's neck, how can it relax if we won't allow it to. The other thing that goes through the mind of the horse must be this. "For God's sake you idiot, let go my mouth, I am standing, why do you insist upon still pulling on my mouth and making life miserable?" In my opinion, the horse is right in thinking this way. (Read Upside Down Neck)

THE OATH OF PREPARATION

  • You must first train your horse to be able to flex it's head and neck around onto your boot without thinking that it has to walk around in circles, the thing that most inflexible horses do when you pull on one rein.
     

  • Your must halt and stand with a serious loop in your reins at all times. You must never be able to feel your horse's mouth and it must never be able to feel your hands. (See Rein Snatcher)
     

  • When you pull on one rein in order to flex the horse, you must totally throw the other rein away and the horse must never feel a contact on the outside rein. This is a one rein move.
     

  • You must adopt the attitude of daring the horse to do it again rather than grabbing the reins 'In case the horse does it again'

Incidentally, around 85% of all horses that I meet cannot flex around to my boot without thinking that they have to spin. They are not laterally flexible, they do not have good mouths and they definitely cannot flex whilst standing still. This is the ultimate sign of the god mouth.

THE SYSTEM

  • You are standing at the halt on your horse. The horse goes to walk off without permission. You simply pick up on any one rein and flex the horse so that it has to walk around a very small circle. You must hold the rein solidly and not allow the horse to take your hand or snatch the rein back.
     

  • Allow the horse to wander around the circle as long as it likes. You sitting relaxed, with no emotion and a total belief in the system.
     

  • In the end the horse will work out that walking around a silly little circle is a waste of space and will go to stop.
     

  • WITHIN ONE HUNDREDTH OF A SECOND YOU MUST THROW A LOOP IN BOTH REINS AND GIVE THE HORSE "REWARD & RELIEF"
     

  • The horse learns via the ultimate training signal, that of 'Reward and Relief' That is how it identifies what we want, what is best, what is more comfortable. We make things uncomfortable so they can find comfort in 'Reward and Relief'
     

  • The naught horse will immediately attempt to walk off again. You simply repeat the process, time and again.
     

  • As time goes on and training gets established, you will find that you will only have to flex the horse a small way and it will stop sooner and sooner. You should be diminishing all of the appropriate aids until such time as you may only threaten the horse with a verbal "Whoa" prior to doing anything or maybe just a slight tug and release on the one rein will be enough.

In the end, the horse will go to sleep when you come to a halt. You will be sitting there making out you are a Cowboy, with loopy reins hanging down each side of the neck of the horse and in my case, I achieve that simply by placing my rein hand on the wither of the horse as I ride with both reins in one hand a lot of the time.

I can hear some English riders' thinking, "But what good is this to me as I have to halt on a contact" I can assure you that this system establishes the horse to the point where your halts in Dressage, Hacking or whatever other discipline you enter are always true and maintained. The fact that you are holding a contact on this occasion does not affect the horse detrimentally as it has enough Natural Horsemanship training on it to see it through the contact times.

So I guess I won't be watching and having a chuckle at you through the bino's at next years Royal. 

 

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