In past training issues, we discussed starting the turnarounds or spins on our young horse and starting them on cattle. In this issue, I am going to discuss more on body controls on our horse. Learning to develop and control every part of the horse’s body is essential no matter what disciplines you train or show in, even if you just want a good broke, responsive riding and trail horse. We work to gain complete control and softness of the horse’s body by adding motivation and control while directing movement into any maneuver we want. Then with repetition and consistency, we can make them solid at each maneuver.
I like to break the horse into four different body parts for training. This helps to simplify and to give you specific goals to work toward. Many times in horse training and with life in general if we have no plan or specific goals in place, we never get where we want to go. Our plan is to have a finished performance horse. Our goals are to be able to spin, do sliding stops, and lead changes as well as work a cow. But our first goal is to gain complete control of the horse’s body. By dividing the horse into four parts it gives easier and more obtainable steps to reach our goals. With time, repetition and consistency we can accomplish our plan. Remember that training must be broken down into a step-by-step process. We build a solid foundation and continually build from it.
The four regions of the horse we want to break and gain control of are the mouth, face, and poll, shoulders, the ribs or midsection of a horse and finally the hips and rear end. By gaining control of these four parts of the body you develop tools to train with and feels like you have put automatic buttons on your horse. With these, you can train your horse to do any maneuver.
The first part of the horse’s body we want to gain control of is the mouth, face, and pole. We have discussed this portion in detail in previous articles. Next, we want to gain control of the mid-section or ribs which teach the horse to move off our leg. We accomplish this by teaching the horse to side-pass which we also have discussed in earlier articles. Next, we move to the shoulders and introduce an exercise we call the counter arc. If I want to counter arc to the left I take my right rein and tip the horse’s nose to the right, then bringing my hand across his neck pushing his shoulders over at the same time. I take my left leg off of my horse and apply pressure with my right leg pushing his body to the left. This enables you to gain control and isolate the shoulders. If you have any trouble, refer back to the previous step, which was the side-pass, getting your horse to move off your leg.
The next part we want to gain control of is the hip. Remember back to when we were asking our horses to do something new because our job is to make it as easy as possible for them. Your goal is to teach your horse to take that correct step. The easiest way to start gaining control of the hip is to ride parallel to a fence or wall. If I am moving the hip to the right I will have the wall on my left side as a barrier on my left and to block forward motion once I start pushing his hip around. I then want to take my left leg off the horse showing him the way out, which is like opening the door for him. Then reach back behind the back cinch and press with your left leg while holding his head and shoulders in place with the reins. I will press until I get a step even if it is only one. I can build on that one step then another. Once I get the horse quiet and consistent with this I will bring him out into the middle and ask him to move off my leg.
If it takes six months to gain control of these body parts or put the automatic buttons on your horse where he is willing and relaxed, soft and fluid as he moves, you have done a great job. Nothing good comes easily but the results are well worth it. With this accomplished, you are that much closer to your goals and plans for your horse.
Until next time,
good luck and God bless,
If you have any questions or would like more information, log onto Monty’s website at www.montybruce.com
Expect Success. We Do.
If you have any questions or would like more information, log onto Monty’s website at www.montybruce.com.
Best of Luck to You and God Bless America!
Monty Bruce is a multi-time Reined Cow Horse and Reining Futurity and Derby champion. Monty, his assistants, and students have won numerous World and Reserve championships and are continuing to succeed in the show pen.
The Monty Bruce Training Center is a full-service equine facility that specializes in Reined Cow Horse, Reining, and the Performance Horse. The Center strives to provide superior care and training for all equine needs. Visit MontyBruce.com for more info.
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