Category: Training

What makes a barrel racer?

Most people in the horse world have at least heard of barrel racing: a somewhat controversial rodeo event that consists of a three-leaf clover pattern around three barrels and the…
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Equine Stage Fright: Fixing Rough Lope Transitions

Transitions are a sticking point for many riders, especially the lope transition. Even if you get everything perfectly set up, asking for a lope transition can often lead to balking,…
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The difference between the reining horse and the cow horse

Reining horses and reined cow horses, the flashy show-offs of the western showpen. We admire them with their grace, beauty, and refinement, but what is the difference between the two…
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Mastering the Reining Spin

There are many methods for achieving a reining spin, but the method we will discuss today involves 3 exercises: the backing exercise, the star exercise, and the spiral exercise. Prerequisites…
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Teaching the Western Roll-back

The roll-back is a vital maneuver for the western showpen, especially for reining and cowhorse class. Fortunately, it is a relatively simple maneuver once you break it down. Prerequisites 1.…
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The Secrets of the Sidepass

Sidepassing is an important maneuver to master for the western showpen. Many pattern classes – especially ranch horse classes – will ask for sidepassing maneuvers. Sidepassing can be done over…
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Long and Low

In classical dressage, there is a concept called long and low, also known as stretching which is used in the very beginning stages of collection to develop a correct topline.…
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The Anatomy of Collection

Collection, the great holy grail of horsemanship. It’s the unicorn many amateur riders spend years of practice and thousands of dollars chasing. In its simplest form, collection is raising the…
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The difference between a halt and a stop

No matter your discipline, at some point in the show pen you are going to be asked to halt. The halt is a deceptively simple maneuver that is often overlooked…
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Common Mistakes That Many Riders Make When Catching a Horse

Catching is one of the most common problems faced by horse owners. So, if you are struggling with catching your horse, know that you are not alone. Most of us…
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Why the “Rescue” Label Can Do More Harm Than Good

This is a direct follow-up to Friday’s article on The Secret to Turning Every Horse Into Your Dream Horse. When you hear a horse labeled as a “rescue,” what is…
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The Secret to Turning Every Horse Into Your Dream Horse

I’ve had several friends ask me “how do you always manage to find these amazing horses?” They look at the horses I have and seem to think that I have…
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Ranch Halter: The Most Overlooked Versatility Class

Ranch Versatility has taken the stock horse show circuit by storm, providing a fresh arena for competitors to flock to. Versatility is generally made up of six classes -- ranch riding,…
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5 Things Your Horse Should Know Before Going to a Horse Show

I know, a little late to the party. With summer drawing to a close (please don’t remind me), most show circuits are winding up as well, but it’s still not…
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Why your horse is the best trainer you will ever have

As equestrians, we are always (or should always be) on the lookout for good teachers we can learn from. As amateur equestrians though, we don’t always have the resources to…
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Clicker Training: Dogs vs Horses

Clicker training is a controversial topic in the horse world that gained popularity along with the rise of the natural horsemanship movement. Some hail it as a humane way to…
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Is “anthropomorphizing” really as dangerous as people say it is?

Oh yes, I just went there. This is a huge taboo to some people who insist that horses are working animals who should be classified as livestock while others prefer…
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Training a Bombproof Horse

This one of the most common questions in the industry: how do I get my horse bombproof? First, I don’t like the term “bombproof.” It implies that a horse will…
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Patterning: Barrels, Poles, and Beyond

There are many different philosophies out there about how to “pattern” a horse on barrels or poles. One prevalent method that I see a lot though is what I refer…
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Dealing with Chronic Illness as an Equestrian

So far, I have kept most of my blogging focused on the horses. However, given my current struggles with seizures, I think this is a good time to address the…
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Slower doesn’t mean collected

There seems to be a bit of a disconnect for some riders in the western show pen. There is still a misconception for some riders that slower somehow means collected.…
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Why being on the forehand is detrimental to your horse

Last week we discussed the importance of knowing the ‘why’ behind everything you do with your horse. Here is an important ‘why’ that is sometimes skipped over because so many…
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1 Exercise To Collect the Trot and Extend the Walk

For some riders, getting that collected western trot and a forward walk that doesn’t look like the horse is wading through molasses is a constant battle. I have found that…
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Teaching the Western Backup

The western backup is one of the maneuvers that is seen as simple by so many, but actually takes quite a bit of training to get all the pieces in…
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The Trained Monkey Bandwagon

In riding, we tend to focus our efforts and education on learning the “how” of everything. “How do I warm up my horse?” “How do I know my saddle fits…
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Standing While Mounting

This may seem like such a small and insignificant exercise, but it far more important than many people realize. Too often I see people who need someone to hold their…
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The Fear Monster

We’ve all faced this one at some point in our riding career. Maybe you had a accident with broken bones and shattered confidence. Or maybe you lost the one horse…
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Bonding with Your Horse: Are you his friend or his leader?

It is common to hear horse owners talking about their “bond” with their horse. Some see “bonding” as a sort of mystical art that is the pinnacle of horsemanship while…
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Why “Heels Down” Is Right Out

No matter your level of riding, we’ve all been there. Constantly fighting to keep those heels down. It’s a mantra that get drilled into us from day one. But is…
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4 Keys to a Good Warmup

 The warmup is a vital part of training that is too often overlooked. Sometimes you see riders walking their horses in the warmup letting them get strung out and lazy.…
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Toddlers in Timeout: Is this really a human phenomenon?

Even if you’re not a parent, you’ve probably been an aunt, uncle, or cousin to a toddler at some point. So, you’ve probably experienced the joys of dealing with a…
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9 Good Horse Training Habits

1. Let the horse catch you We’ve all been there. It’s 4am the morning of the show. Everything is packed. The trailer is loaded and sitting in the driveway. You’re…
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Teaching a Horse How to Learn

This is a follow-up to my June 16th article What does it mean for a horse to have “a lot of heart?” At first, this one sounds like an oxymoron,…
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Practice Until You Can’t Get it Wrong

Riding is like any sport. It takes practice to get good, but it is not enough to practice until you can get it right. If you want to become truly…
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What does it mean for a horse to have “a lot of heart?”

Have you ever been mystified when hearing a trainer or rider comment that they like a horse with “a lot of heart?" This is a phrase that is often thrown…
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Why you don’t need an arena to train and how a lack of facilities can be an advantage

There is a common misconception that you need a "proper" arena to train horses. I’ve heard too many people justify giving up on their show dreams by saying: “Well I…
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The Big Bit Band-Aid

One of the big controversies in the horse world, particularly in the western arena, is over-bitting. The show pen seems to have developed the mentality that bigger is better and…
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3 Exercises Every Horse Needs to Know (Part 3): Yielding the Hindquarters

This is part 3 of a series covering my 3 most important exercises that every horse needs to know to make them a safe riding companion: Lunging Lateral flexion at…
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3 Exercises Every Horse Needs to Know (Part 2): Lateral Flexion of the Poll (not the neck)

This is part 2 of a 3-part series that will cover my 3 most important exercises that every horse needs to know to make them a safe riding companion: Lunging…
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3 Exercises Every Horse Needs to Know (Part 1): Lunging

I’ve had several people tell me, “I would be so scared to try that with my horse, you are so brave.” It makes me chuckle when I hear this because…
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3 Secrets to Improve Your Riding

As riders, we are always looking for that magical secret to develop our riding. There are a few simple keys that I’ve discovered that advanced my riding overnight. The most…
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