Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Tum Tum, Washington
First, I must tell you I'm not a big fan of neck reining. Neck reining is done with a leverage bit and the big problem with this is most riders end up with the horse's head pulled opposite the direction of travel. This really messes up the horse's balance. All the rider has to do is lean into the turn (which a lot of riders do) and you have the recipe for tipping the horse over. Your horse has to really be good at leg cues to be good at neck reining. The indirect rein cues him to tip his head, your leg tells him to move his front end over to follow his nose.
As for the side pass your horse has to know (and you have to know how) leg cues. To start, teach your horse how to pivot on the forehand and pivot over the hocks. You need to learn how to coordinate the rein and leg cues. And yes, this is done with a snaffle bit and direct reining. It starts with a warmed up horse to include backing the horse. The go to the center of the arena or round pen. For the uneducated horse, start by walking small circles. Teach the horse how to "drift" (nose tiped in the direction of travel, inside leg pressure at the cinch) out to make the circle bigger. Take the inside leg off and make the circle smaller. Let the horse walk out on a straight line. Repeat as necesarry. Its is much better and helps to keep the horse calm to use bumps on the reins and with your leg as opposed to steady pressure. Bump the inside leg in time with the inside elbow coming back. You want the horse to keep stepping forward and across as the circles get smaller.
Once you and your horse are comfortable with this lesson, start in the center of the arena/round pen, tip the horses nose to the right and apply just enough back pressure with the supporting rein (in this case the left rein) to forbid forward motion. You'll know if its too much pressure as your horse will start to back. At the same time add right leg pressure back farther than you think you should and using the bump with your leg get the horse to move it butt over without moving its front feet. Initally be happy with just 90 degrees of pivot. Let the horse walk out. Keep repeating this till you get a full 360 degree pivot, 90 degrees at a time. Go both directions.
Now do pivots over the hocks. Similar technique, but your leg is forward. Tip (not bend) the nose right, forbid forward motion with supporting rein, outside leg cue forward (at the cinch), bump to get the horse to move, the bump in time with the elbow coming back (timing is for both the directing rein and the leg cue). Same as before, be happy with 90 degrees at a time till the horse figures out what you are asking.
Once the horse is willing to do both these pivots, then you are ready to move to the side pass training. In the arena, walk a straight line about a horse length away from the rail. Start at one end so you have lots of ground to cover. About half way down the rail, tip the horse's nose towards the fence (use the fence to prevent forward movement) at the same time leg cue the horse to move its butt over (as in pivot on the forehand) using the bump technique but in time with the horse's position, move the front end as in drifting. Do not try to get the horse 90 degress to the fence. 60 degrees is plenty to start with. You have to give the horse some place to put his front feet so he doesn't step on himself. The butt moves, then the front move to keep up. Trust me, the coordination of cues is much harder for the rider! Ask for a step or two, then let the horse walk out. Now you know what needs more practice, pivot on the forehand, pivot over the hocks, or drifting.
Remember, the horse can only think of one thing at a time. Your cues must be one at a time and allow for reaction time and be consistant. Go slow, be happy with a little at a time and gradually ask for a little more. Once the horse and rider have it all figured out, ask for a little more speed. Horses are capable of doing the sidepass at the lope! But it takes a lot of training and time!
I may not be good, but I am slow!