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This is a discussion on Sidepassing within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Cues for sidepassing

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    11-24-2011, 08:07 PM

I've been trying to teach my mare to sidepass. It's gotten to the point where she is pretty good at the fence, but once the barrier in front of her is removed, she starts drifting forward as she is sidepassing.

I don't think it is that she's being silly and not trying. On the contrary, I think she's trying very hard, but I suspect she may be worried about stepping on herself, hence the moving forward. She does get worried about stepping on herself and I've run into this problem in other exercises. Even at the fence she seems very tentative and occasionally backs a step. I am making sure it is at a speed that she is comfortable with, so it's not like I'm rushing her or anything. I've actually gotten her to sidepass over a pole without drifting around a couple of times.

Any tips on how to get her over this? Any exercises that would help her coordination?
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    11-24-2011, 08:13 PM
Put a pole on the ground and position her with the pole right below your leg, when you're on her. Do exactly what you would do with the fence and it should work. If not make a box with poles, so she can't move.
    11-24-2011, 08:18 PM
Originally Posted by lubylol    
Put a pole on the ground and position her with the pole right below your leg, when you're on her. Do exactly what you would do with the fence and it should work. If not make a box with poles, so she can't move.
I kind of let the fence stop her from moving forward, though... if I try to use the reins to keep her from drifting, she'll drop her head and continue forward.
    11-24-2011, 08:40 PM
How are you asking her to sidepass?

The way I train mine, a sidepass is a combination of leg, rein, and seat cues (primarily leg and rein, the seat comes on more finished horses). Because I use very similar cues for a number of actions, I make sure that I am using a very clear combination of cues for any semi-complicated maneuver.

For example, when I ask for a sidepass to the right, I pick up on the reins a bit to stop forward motion, I drop my left hip, and apply left leg. If they start moving more forward than sideways, I use a bit more rein. If they start going backward more, I let a bit of rein out. That is the exact same way I get a half-pass as well, just with different amounts of pressure on the reins and leg.

If I was riding her and she just dropped her head and continued forward when I picked up on the reins, I would likely get after her a bit. Not hard, not as punishment, just enough to let her know that when I pick up on the reins, that means that the "forward" direction is blocked and she needs to go a different way.
    11-24-2011, 08:56 PM
My cue for sidepassing is very clear. She's nervous about stepping on herself or something like that.

As for using the reins, she is a western horse and I never use the reins for anything but asking her to drop her head. I don't want to confuse her.
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    11-24-2011, 10:14 PM
By using your reins for one thing and one thing only you are losing a huge amount of communication.

Your reins influence the head, the neck, the shoulder, and the opposite back foot.

If you aren't using your reins, I would guess she feels her shoulder is blocked so she is drifting forward.

For teaching sidepass, I open my leading rein right out so the shoulder has somwhere to move. My leading leg comes off and my outside leg comes on, my outside rein keeps the neck straight and can help push the shoulder. If they drift forward, more rein. If they drift back, more leg. If they lag the shoulder or hindquarters, a combination of leg and rein adjusts that.
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    11-24-2011, 10:25 PM
Exactly, horses can understand the differences between cues, even when the differences are subtle....if you know how to teach them.

When I apply leg, I can be asking for a haunch turn, a spin, a rollback, a sidepass, a simple turn, a forehand turn, a half-pass, or a bend in the body. It all depends on the other cues I am giving along with the leg. Because I am clear with my other aids and they have been taught the cues for the other things as well, it is a very rare thing for one of mine to get confused about what I'm asking and on the occasion that they do get confused, I know it's because I didn't ask properly or I gave conflicting signals. It just makes me a better and more effective rider when I screw up and learn from it.

Your reins can mean different things too. Mine will drop their heads without losing forward motion when I pick up on the reins because my other aids are telling them to continue forward. I can keep the exact same position with the reins and shift my seat and legs and they will plant their butt. It's all about knowing how to use multiple aids to get your point across.

It's a lot like speaking different languages. It's hard to carry on a conversation if you only know 10-15 words. Whereas, if you know 200,000 words and know how to make them fit together, you understand each other a lot better.
Hukassa likes this.
    11-24-2011, 10:45 PM
Does anyone know of any exercises to help her coordinate her feet?
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    11-24-2011, 10:46 PM
Ride her a few thousand miles through rough country and deadfalls, where she has to learn to be aware of where her feet are at all times.
RoosterDo likes this.
    11-24-2011, 10:50 PM
As it happens, she's as surefooted as they come out on the trails. She is uncertain about the sideways motion.
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