Good Stops and Backing

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Good Stops and Backing

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  • Good stops with horses

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    10-28-2010, 08:20 PM
Green Broke
Good Stops and Backing

My lease baby and I have a NATRC ride in two weeks, but we're running into some problems with good stops and backing up.

Some background: She's a 18-year-old TWH mare. I ride her every weekend, but other then that, she doesn't get worked often. She is ridden in a snaffle mouth curb with maybe three inch shanks. Her bit hasn't been changed for years.

It currently takes her about 15 feet to come to a complete stop from a running walk, and several steps from a flat walk. This just doesn't seem safe to me. How can I make her stops better?

Also, she HATES backing up. She was never taught by her former owners. I can currently get three steps out of her. She tosses her head and braces against the bit. Tips?

Thanks everyone!
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    10-29-2010, 04:40 AM
Are you asking her to stop by just pulling straight back on the reins? Enforce your seat cues. Sit deep, make yourself 50 lbs heavier, and say "woooooh" quietly. Squeeze your reins, don't pull them. If she still isn't stopping, tilt her nose in any direction. Not a full one rein stop, just enough to stop her momentum. Do all of it gently. Stopping should be associated with quietness, calmness, and relaxation ;]

As for backing... start from the ground. Keep the halter on her if necessary to reinforce something she *should* already know: backing from the ground with halter pressure. What I usually do is take the reins in one hand and the leadrope in the other, and ask her to back with both pressures. Then slowly let off of the rope pressure until it's just the reins. That's the simplest way to do it... there's lots of other technicalities and different ways to do it I'm sure.

Good luck!

Ps, because of your avatar, I imagined your horse as a big mule the entire time (even the the post says TWH) ;]
    10-29-2010, 10:31 AM
The big thing to remember is that the halt and reverse are both FORWARD movements. This cannot ever be overemphasized. Also, there should never be a pull on the reins.

For a halt, give a deep exhale, still your seat - stop following the motion of the gait, close leg, melt into the tack (as Snookeys put it, make yourself 50 lbs heavier), and close hand. Not a pull here, just a cessation of the following motion of the reins if you're riding with contact, or a slight lift of the hand if you're neckreining. You're just closing the door forward. Don't slam it in her face with a pull, just gently close it in front of her.

To back up, again think of it as a forward movement. My big problem was that I was looking down, collapsing my chest. Look up, imagine that your ribs are a sail filling with wind, create energy with the seat and leg as though you are going forward, but block that positive motion with another gently closed door from the hands. I also tilt my pelvis slightly forward from the seat bones, farther from my pockets. I'm not sure if that tilt bit is totally kosher classical form-wise, but it seems to help Scout.

To illustrate what pulling does, think about that overused action-movie problem of the room with the walls closing in. That is stressful, claustrophobia-inducing, etc. Now think about just approaching a stationary wall. You know it's there, it isn't going anywhere, and you can't walk through it. The only other option is to back away if you want to move.

Good luck, and enjoy your NATRC ride!

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