Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Handbooks for Reiners Promotion

Spin Fixes and Stop Fixes (ebook editions of Handbooks for Reiners) are FREE until midnight January 14, 2014. Don't miss out!

Click here for Spin Fixes











Click here for Stop Fixes











Both are available in paperback as well at Amazon.com. I love the printed copy but the ebook edition is accessible on iphone, ipad etc for ease-of-use in the arena.



Friday, September 13, 2013

Stop Fix #15: Longer Sliding Stops

The problem: The horse stops correctly but does not slide far.

Why does this problem happen?
1. The horse does not possess the conformation to hold a slide for a distance.
2. The horse "vees" and therefore has to pick up his feet. (See Stop Fix #10: Correct a "Vee" Slide)
3. The horse slides crooked (to the side) and therefore has to pick up is feet. (See Stop fix #9: Correct a Crooked Stop)
4. The horse is not confident enough to stay in the slide for a distance.
5. The ground is not conducive to long slides.
6. The horse is not shod correctly.
7. The rider is not assisting the horse to slide a distance.
8. The horse is not running fast enough to the stop to slide a distance.

 How to correct this problem:
1. If my horse is not built to stop long distances, I cannot expect him to.
2. If my horse "vees" when he stops, I correct that problem before I ask him to slide any great distance.
3. If my horse slides crooked, I correct the crookedness before I ask for long slides.
4. If my horse is frightened about stopping, I know I must re-establish trust before I ask for long slides.
5. I do not ask my horse to stop on poor ground. I go to good ground or correct the ground in my arena.
6. If there is a problem with my horse's sliders, I call my farrier.
7. I check myself (body posture, hands, etc) to make sure I am helping, not hindering my horse's stop.
8. If all of the above are correct, I will ask for more accelerated speed in the rundown to the stop. If my horse is not accustomed to stopping from a faster rundown, he may need time to adapt.

 Note: It is important to understand that the horse must learn to stop correctly and at slow speeds before he is asked to stop with the speed required to slide 30 feet or more!
 
 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Stop Fix #14: Correct "Scotching"

The problem: The horse anticipates a stop and "scotches" (repeatedly tries to stop) on the rundown. This results in a poor stop because the horse has slowed down before the stop and has lost the frame – his balance has shifted from back to front and he has lost the momentum for a nice slide.
Why does this problem happen? If my horse is trying to shut down all the way to the stop, it's for one of two reasons:
1. He has been stopped in the same spot too many times.
2. He has become sour about the rundown.
How to correct this problem: I lope a lot of straight lines end to end of the arena without stopping in schooling sessions, even more if I know my horse wants to scotch in the rundown to the stop. When he is running freely without thinking about stopping, then (and only then) I ask for a nice stop.
Another valuable exercise to correct this problem is fencing (See Exercise 2 in Stop Fix #1: Straighten the Rundown because "scotching" is a rundown problem and fencing fixes rundowns. This is how I do it: I run my horse all the way to the fence and let the fence stop him. If he tries to slow down in the rundown, I keep him running with my voice ("cluck"), body (ride!) and legs (bump) - firm but never harsh correction. (If I am too harsh, he will become afraid to stop.) Then I let him rest at the fence a minute, facing the fence. I repeat this, back and forth to the fence, until he goes all the way to the fence without trying to stop. Then I either let him rest a long time at the fence and repeat or I quit for the day.
Note: The value of a horse willingly increasing speed to a rundown is enormous. If he anticipates the stop and tries to stop on his own or if he slows down before a stop, his stop will be rough. When he accelerates, his balance is on his hind quarters and he is already in stopping position before he is asked to stop; if he scotches (slows down) his balance shifts to the front, he loses the momentum he needs for a nice slide and the stop will be bracey.
Note: It's important in schooling to find different places in the arena to stop because the horse remembers where he has stopped. Then he may anticipate and try to stop early.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Stop Fix #13: Accelerate to the Stop

The problem: The horse resists the rider's request to increase speed into the stop.
Why does this problem happen? Unless there is some physical reason the horse cannot accelerate to the stop, the only reason he doesn't is because he doesn't want to and doesn't respond when his rider asks. This happens because the horse has not been taught to accelerate when the rider asks or possibly because he has been stopped hard too much (he is sour).
How to correct this problem: If my horse does not accelerate in the rundown, the stop will be compromised. His stride will flatten and his weight will be more on the front, which means he will hit the ground hard when he stops. Although I don't want him running like a race horse (he might be thinking more of running than of stopping and ignore me), he must have some acceleration so his shoulders are elevated and his hind legs are well under him. In this position, he is capable of a nice long slide.
Exercise: Since the key to acceleration is to increase speed just a little every two or three strides in the rundown, I want to school my horse that way so that he responds when I ask in the show pen. One of the best ways to do this is to lope lots of straight lines with no stops in training sessions, sometimes asking for accelerated speed, sometimes not. I want my horse to begin to accelerate just a few strides into the rundown but I make sure he is collected and straight before I ask. Then I start riding deeper and deeper in the saddle all the way down the pen and let him run. (This is important – I must allow my horse to run if I am asking him to run!) If he does not increase speed with my body rhythm, I "cluck" to him and back it up with a bump with both legs if he does not respond to the "cluck". Of course I don't want my horse simply running with no collection and his head in the air. If that happens I will fix that first, asking him to give to the bridle and drive with his hind quarters (basic collection). If my horse has been well schooled, I can accomplish that in the first few strides of the rundown.
If I am consistent about this program, it will only take a "cluck" to remind him in the show pen. The object is for him to 1. Wait for me to ask and 2. Believe me when I ask.
Note: Every horse has an optimum acceleration at which he can stop. It's important to know how fast my horse should be running for a smooth, controlled stop. If the horse is not strong enough to stop from a powerful, fast rundown, asking him to do so will surely result in a trashed stop.
A good seat is important to a controlled, accelerated rundown. If I sit on "on my pockets" (not forward), with my shoulders squared and my rein hand forward riding every stride deeper and deeper, I will not only encourage a great rundown but will also be in a great position for the stop.
Note: One thing I see happen is the rider waiting too long to ask for acceleration into the stop. Half way down the pen is too far! As soon as my horse is collected and straight I ask him to increase speed – gradually! (See Stop Fix #3: Correct Break and Run Rundown if increasing speed gradually is a problem).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stop Fix #12: Wait to be Asked

The problem: The horse executes a sliding stop but anticipates and initiates a rollback, which results in a downgraded maneuver score or even a zero score.
 
Why does this problem happen? If the horse rolls back after a stop without being asked once, I can attribute it to mental error. If he makes a habit of anticipating a rollback after a stop, it's time to correct the problem.
 
Note: A horse can catch a rider by surprise with an uncalled-for rollback. It's happened to me! Sometimes that happens because the rider has schooled stop/rollback too much just prior to the performance.
 
How to correct this problem: I do not want my horse to ever anticipate a rollback. From the beginning I train my horse to wait for me to ask – whatever the next maneuver is. That way I am always in control. I do not "practice" rollbacks much either. He knows all the parts anyway and if he is responding only to my requests, he will have no difficulty executing pretty rollbacks in the pen.
 
Exercise: If my horse is a little too anxious to roll back after I stop him, I school him like this: Anywhere in the arena (up and down the arena or diagonal), I run him down and stop him. After he stops, I don’t release my body aid. That tells him to be prepared for something else and that he should wait to hear what I want! (My hands will clear that up for him.) I might back him up and then rollback either left or right (not necessarily the direction my horse thinks it will be). Then I switch it up – lots! Sometimes I stop, back up and rollback to right: sometimes I stop, back up and rollback to the left; sometimes I stop, hesitate a long time, rollback; sometimes I stop back up and relax; sometimes I just stop and rest.
 
Note: Stop/back up/rollback is never included in a pattern but that doesn't matter – this is about schooling my horse to wait to be asked. Backing up before a rollback (in schooling) gives me a chance to align his body if it is not aligned in the stop as well. I can make sure everything is correct before I ask for a rollback.
 
My horses pick this up very fast. When they do, it's a great feeling – almost a game – mixing it up and feeling my horse waiting for my signal for the next maneuver after the stop.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Stop Fix #11: No Skipping!

The problem: The horse begins stop correctly, but does not stay in the slide. He picks hind legs up and puts them down again like a stone skipping on water.
Why does this problem happen? Probably the number one reason a horse skips in the slide is the rider. If the rider's timing is not good or unsure, the horse's timing will not be either. The horse feels "stop, don't stop, stop, don't stop, etc" and so that's how he slides – in the ground, out of the ground, etc. If the rider gets ahead of his horse and then throws his shoulders back with one sudden movement for the stop, the horse may skip as well.
Skipping may occur if the horse is not confident enough to commit to the ground or if he is not capable of staying in the ground when the stop is approached with great speed. (I once saw a "longest slide" contest at a reining show and many of the horses skipped because the riders, trying to win the contest, had asked with maximum speed.)
How to correct this problem: If I, the rider, am causing the problem, I can correct that. I don't want to ride forward in the rundown and suddenly throw my shoulders back when I want to stop. I do want my shoulders to be behind the motion in the rundown and when I prepare to stop so my horse is running out ahead of me. If I ride every stride, getting deeper and deeper in the saddle in the rundown, then all I need to do is push into the stirrups, sit down, lock my back and say "whoa".
If I can find nothing wrong with my position and my horse still skips, I must slow things down and review his basic training. All the basic requirements for a correct rundown and a correct approach to the stop come into play – straight and soft in the rundown, wants to stop, will stop without rein pressure, will accept rein pressure if needed – to achieve a sliding stop with no skipping. If these things are not solid, I school my horse until they are. Then my job, as the rider, is to deliver a very clear, consistent message to my horse for the stop. If I believe, he will.
Another exercise that may help is fencing (See explanation of fencing in Stop Fix #1: Straighten the Rundown) because it can teach the horse to break at the loin and become more committed to the stop.