WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #105
TURN TO SLOW DOWN
Clenching the reins just makes your horse want to go faster. Do
BY JULIE GOODNIGHT,
IF YOUR HORSE IS NERVOUS and forward, a negative pattern can
develop. When he wants to go, you might clench the reins, tense
up your torso, and ride defensively.
This in turn signals your tension to him. The tighter you hold
the reins, the faster he wants to go-to escape the pressure in
his mouth that never seems to go away.
It becomes a chicken-and-egg dilemma-you cause his behavior, he
The solution? Loosen the reins and try something different. The
moment he charges forward on his own, gently slide your hand down
one rein, then lift up to ask him for a small turn (either
direction is fine). Hold him on the turn, with his neck flexed to
the side, for about half a circle, then drop that rein, pick up
the other in the same manner, and ask for a small turn in that
The change of direction from side to side-not the circling-is
what slows your horse down. As soon as you feel him slow, release
the holding rein and let him go straight on a totally loose rein.
If he speeds up again, repeat the process.
If your timing is good, your horse will begin to automatically
associate slowing down with going straight on a loose rein (which
he much prefers to tight turns), and your problem is solved.
Julie hosts "Horse Master With Julie Goodnight" on RFD-TV and
presents clinics nationwide from her home base near Salida,
Colorado - juliegoodnight.com).
To be continued from time to time