We have been taught to NEVER use the reins as a cue to start, NO SLAPPING them on the rump, as seen on TV!
Horse is more likely to "take offense" to butt slapping and kick. This also why you never use a short whip that can only reach the rump. Whip and lash end, should reach the horse/pony shoulder, so you use it on their sides. Whip is used in a touching manner, no slashing or whacking allowed. Whip is "your driving legs" because you can't touch him physically like a rider does.
For us, you ALWAYS have a whip in your hand, to signal the horse as needed. Same as giving a leg cue, to help a turn. If you have to reach and pull whip out of the whip socket, you will have "missed your opportunity", for timely signals or effective reinforcement to a command.
With the whip in hand, you do not give a command several times. You give the command, touch the horse, and get the desired result. Repeating commands with no follow-up, just teaches horse to EXPECT several commands before going. Sometimes it is REALLY important that he does as asked NOW!
Light on the reins is trained, not a "natural" thing. A RESPONSIVE mouth comes with work, driver giving a release when horse does as asked. Horse who throws their head if you take up reins, try to get them a bit collected for more impulsion, is NOT LIGHT, they have an untrained mouth. It is VERY EASY to be heavy handed driving, because of the leverage provided with rein length, less feel in that distance.
Not sure what kind of horse Sour is, but she should respond calmly, to both voice and soft whip touch without being afraid, for starting. Might be a draft horse thing, wiggling reins, but not what I am experienced with for starting off. We also would NEVER DREAM of hitting the horse with the end of the line!! Whip is much more effective, touches where you aim it and again, not hitting horse in the rump to incite a kick response
Last edited by goodhors; 04-28-2012 at 02:04 PM.