I like to have this basic training on my horses BEFORE we start barrel training
--walk, trot, and lope on a loose rein, relaxed
--stop softly from any speed or gait
--soft in the bridle, breaks at the poll, flexes from side to side
--direct and neck reining
--simple and flying lead changes
--sidepassing, move shoulders, move hindquarters
--bend and counterbend
--and of course, "perfect" circles
Now when we talk specifically about body control, if I need to move the horse's shoulders out, I want to be able to do that. Or if I want to move the hindquarters in (very important for barrel racing), I want to be able to do that.
You can start teaching all of this from the ground, and then transfer it to the saddle.
Let's say I want to move the shoulders to the left. You want to make sure you have your left leg off your horse, to "open the door". With your right leg, you want to move it slightly forward, and then bump bump bump pressure. You may need to use the reins to hold your horse steady and to prevent them from walking forward. The very instant that you feel your horse move his shoulders in the correct direction (in the beginning, don't worry about the rest of his body .... just his shoulders) and you may need someone watching on the ground to help you, but the very instant he moves shoulders correctly to the left like you are asking, you need to immediately stop asking, and praise.
When your horse is consistent with moving one teeny step, start asking for one whole step before you stop and praise. And a correct shoulder movement to the left, in this case, the right leg shoulder cross over in front of the left front leg.
Eventually, you should be able to keep the hind end stationary, and pivot all the way around, moving the shoulders, in either direction.
You could use a neck rein or a direct rein to help the horse understand what you want t hem to do. But I do like my horses to be able to move their shoulders based on my leg cue only.
You use the same concept with moving the hindquarters. If we want to move the hindquarters to the left, you will use your right leg, slightly back, to cue your horse.
Eventually, you'll be able to to move the hindquarters all the way around, pivoting on the front feet (turn on the fore).
Just remember: the VERY instant you get a correct response, you must stop cueing your horse, and praise. That release of pressure is what they are searchiing for.
When you can control the shoulders and the hindquarters individually, then you can teach the horse to sidepass, which moves both simultaneously.
You can also teach perfect circles at this point. Let's say we want to make a perfect circle to the left. You will keep your left leg pressure on the horse, in the center. You will apply right leg pressure back a bit, to keep the hindquarters in. And you will use a direct left rein to bring the horse's nose in. This creates a nice bend on the horse's body. If they start to drift out of the circle, use your reins, or change your outside leg position to bring them back in. If then cut the circle too tight, use your reins and your inside leg position to bring them back out.
Making perfect circles is something you can use to practice a perfect barrel turn, without having to use a barrel. And teaching your horse to stay on that perfect circle, with minor adjustments from the rider through your leg cues, makes it much easier to quickly and automatically "fix" a barrel turn if your horse gets off.
And teach these legs cues to your horse also aids you when doing spiral exercises, because you have that leg control.
One mistake I see a lot of people making, is if you are walking or trotting the pattern and you choose to stop your horse in front of the barrel to teach them to rate, is you NEVER want to allow the horse's hindquarters to move away from the barrel when you do that. Always, always, always, keep that horses hip IN. This keeps the hindquarters engaged in the turn.
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It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.