Neck reining/side stepping

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Neck reining/side stepping

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  • Easy way to teach your horse to side pass
  • Side steppng horses

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    01-10-2013, 12:29 PM
Neck reining/side stepping

Any good tips on how to teach a horse to neck rein and to side step?? Thanks!
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    01-10-2013, 01:48 PM
Green Broke
I believe the term you are looking for is sidepass, not side step.

Before you try to sidepass your horse should already know how to:
1) move the shoulders over, with your leg cue
2) move the hindquarters over, with your leg cue

The easiest way is to start facing a fence. That way you don't have to worry about your horse going forward. Let's say we want to sidepass to the left. You want to keep your left leg OFF your horse to "open the door". Keep your right leg in the center of the horse, so that you'll be moving both the shoulders and hindquarters over at the same time (although you can break it down to move shoulders, then hindquarters, then shoulders, then hindquarters, etc to shimmy the horse over until it gets the idea of moving the whole body at once).

You want to tip your horse's nose away from the direction you are going (very slightly). So in this case, tip the nose to the right. You want to just barely see the horse's eye -- but no more than that or your are tipped too much. So use a direct right rein to achieve this. You may need to apply a little left neck rein to help balance the horse.

I also use the verbal cue "over .... over .... over" in a low voice. You want to consistently bump the horse with your right leg (to ask them to move away from it to the left). Do not kick harder. Do not pull harder. Just stay consistent with all your cues until you get a correct response.

Also, your weight in the saddle should be ever so slightly on your right butt bone. Don't over-do it becuase you don't want to off-balance your horse.

Chances are, your horse will try to go forward, or will move on the hindquarters, or will back up, or will do something wrong. That's normal at first. Just keep your cues steady andn the very, very instant you feel your horse move his body to the left, STOP asking, and praise. When he gets good at a baby step, then start asking for a full step. When they are good at that, then ask for 2 steps.

You may need to have someone watching from the ground because your horse should be crossing the "moving leg" over the front of the other leg. So when sidepassing to the left, the right legs should cross in front of the left legs.

Typically, I will practice one side at a time, with a break in between of doing something else. Then later, I'll practice the other side. In the starting stages, this seems to be less confusing to a horse. When they get more consistent at sidepassing, then you can ask them to move one way, and turn right around and ask the other way and they'll understand.
Army wife likes this.
    01-10-2013, 01:51 PM
Green Broke
Now as far as neck reining, a lot of that has to do with your seat, legs, and body, and really not so much with the reins.

When training a horse who only knows how to direct rein, I always still lay the neck rein against their neck, and always also cue them to turn or change direction when my legs.

Eventually, you'll be able to try only a neck rein and see if they respond. If they don't, you can always reinforce the cue with a direct rein if they need it.

NEVER should your hand cross over the middle of the horse when you are neck reining. If you do that, you'll apply pressure to the wrong side of the bit (becuase it will engage the bit) and you'll just confuse your horse with two different signals.

And if you are using your body correctly to ride, you really should be able to cue your horse to turn with your legs only, and reins just if you need them to reinforce.
GotaDunQH likes this.
    01-10-2013, 02:24 PM
That's really helpful, thanks!
    01-10-2013, 02:28 PM
A true neck rein is when the horse move to the touch of the indirect rein to its neck. Meaning when I want the horse to go rein they feel the left rein on it's neck and when I go left it feels the right. The way I teach mine is I start off with a leg cue. Lets say I want to start off teaching left. Your horse needs to know how to move its hind quarters to your leg pressure to do this effectively so if your horse doesn't know how to do that I'd teach that first. Anyways I give the cue with my left leg to move after that I move my hand with the rein over to the left side I the neck so the right rein is touching the neck. The horse may be confused at first so what I do is I use my free hand to bump the reins lightly to show them that what I'm wanting is left. When the horse takes a step in the right direction I immediately release all pressure (hands and leg) then I give lots of praise. You do the same thing to turn to the right just do the opposite of the directions. Do it a couple of times each day your teaching or riding your horse eventually you can start removing the bumps towards the end when they are starting to get it I'm just bumping slightly with my finger that has the rein. Remember you want to always give cues from your seat first not your hands if you do that when your horse is finished out your will barely make any hand movements because you control you horse from your seat. My finished horses do almost everything this way I don't hardly move my hands at all anymore except to give light cues.

Now as for the side pass I suggest you yeah your horse how to neck rein first. Also I like to teach my horses to side pass on the ground first. I do this because a lot of horses have a hard time understanding moving thier front and back end together. I do this by putting the horse up against a tall fence or the side of a barn you need to keep the horse from moving forward. I start off by teaching the horse to step over with its fore quarters first by tapping the base neck with my lunge whip when the horse takes a step over I stop and release pressure. When I have the horse understanding the front movement well I start adding in the hind quarter movement. So I tap the front they step then I tap the hip till they step I get both movements then I praise. Basically as they get better I tap the front horse steps the hip horse steps in a quick movement cause I want the horse to associate moving its whole body. When they are doing this well I start looking for the side pass where the horse steps over its front leg while moving its hand in conjunction. So I may tap neck,hip, neck, hip, and so on till I see a side pass or the start of one then I release pressure and lots of praise. Eventually and this is going to take several days to teach you can have the horse side passing on the ground both directions. Just work on each direction everyday for 10 15 minute sessions. Then once your horse is doing this well you can move on to the saddle using the same method as described above by beau.
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    01-10-2013, 03:44 PM
Originally Posted by Peppy Barrel Racing    
Now as for the side pass I suggest you yeah your horse how to neck rein first.
I disagree that this is necessary. The majority of horses I ride have never been 'trained' to neck rein. They side pass at a walk and trot.
beau159 likes this.
    01-10-2013, 03:58 PM
Originally Posted by mls    
I disagree that this is necessary. The majority of horses I ride have never been 'trained' to neck rein. They side pass at a walk and trot.
That's just how I train I like mine to neck rein first cause I establish better control from my seat. To each their own everyone trains differently that's just what I prefer
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    01-10-2013, 07:33 PM
Agree with MLS, I teach the side pass with direct rein. One hand "opens the other door", the other hand guides the horse "through the door" with help from leg cues.
COWCHICK77 likes this.
    01-11-2013, 11:42 AM
Side Pass

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!
    01-11-2013, 11:55 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by tailskidwest    
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.
I just want to point out that neck reining can be done in ANY bit, including a snaffle. It does not have to be done in a leverage bit because the bit has nothing to do with neck reining. If you are engaging the bit when you are neck reining, then you are doing it wrong. Which I do agree, a lot of riders do neck rein incorrectly.

As I mentioned in my own post above, your hand should never cross the horse's neck for neck reining, and the rein cue should only be applied if the horse does not first respond to your seat and leg cues.

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