Teaching my mare to sidepass - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-07-2011, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Teaching my mare to sidepass

I have a 5 yr old appaloosa mare that I'm trying to teach to side pass.

I've started from the ground as one trainer suggested and she does great on the ground. I've applied pressure just behind the girth line while keeping steady pressure on the lead rope (halter) so she doesn't go forward. In this way, she sidepasses beautifully.

Under saddle, we have total fail. :) My fiance has worked with us while in the saddle and when he's directing her from the ground, she seems to get it, but with just leg pressure -- nothing except her confusion.

My exact queue when side passing to the RIGHT (thinking this out in my head - so if I type an error I'll correct). Shift my left leg back slightly and apply leg pressure. At the same time I told the Right Rein steady (contact but no pressure) while leaving the Left rein very-slightly slack.

Most of the time she tries to just move forward - so I've tried holding contact with both reins to try and encourage her not to go forward.. but then she usually gets confused and goes back.

It's possible she's picking up the wrong queue from my seat?

Anyhow - any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :)
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-07-2011, 08:13 PM
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When I teach a young/green horse to side pass/leg yield on the ground, they're usually wearing a bridle. I take the inside rein in one hand, give a vocal command "over", click to them, gently press/tap a dressage whip against their side/hindquarters, and do a pull and release with the one rein. If the horse is having trouble translating when undersaddle, I'll go back and reinforce the vocal command and instead of using the whip, I'll bump my fist or the stirrup against their side where my leg would be.

Once on the horse and asking for the sideways movement, I really open my outside rein in the direction I want them to move while maintaining a light contact. I open this rein so that they don't feel trapped and realize that I'm "opening" the way for them to go. I use the vocal command and have found that clicking often helps a lot. I reward and praise any thought of moving sideways and on some horses a gentle tap with the whip right behind the active leg is used.

If your mare is going forward, try teaching this with her head facing the fence/wall so that she can't walk away.

Remember to keep your body centered and balanced. I believe it's correct to slightly weight the seatbone in the direction you are traveling, but think of it as taking a "step" into that stirrup. A lot of riders, including me, often concentrate so hard on this that our bodies end up twisted! So try to be aware of that.

Hope this all makes sense!

"He doth nothing but talk of his horses."
~William Shakespeare
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-08-2011, 02:20 PM
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IslandWave, thanks so much! I'm also trying to get my (extrememly stubborn) mare to sidepass, and what you said is so helpful! I'll have to try that tomorrow :)

Worth The Wait <3
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-08-2011, 06:28 PM
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I'm glad I could help! :) Lately I've been teaching a lot of horses to leg yield, so it's something I'm getting much more familiar with.

"He doth nothing but talk of his horses."
~William Shakespeare
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-08-2011, 06:39 PM
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I taught both of my trail horses to sidepass. I don't show and have never had formal lessons, so I don't know how "correct" this is, but it works for me and both of my horses didn't sidepass when I bought them.

Say I want my horse to sidepass to the right, this is how I do it:

From a halt, I tilt the horse's head just slightly to the left. I also hold the right rein sort of steady, but I don't give him total slack nor really pull on that side, just some soft contact. Then I give some pressure and release with my left heel. Sometimes farther back than what I eventually want to be able to do it, if the horse doesn't seem to understand. Then I nudge with the left heel, keep the head slightly tilted to the left, and make sure my right leg is "open." I also like to give the command "over" in the hopes that they will learn what that means.

One thing I thing is important, is that you may have to make some small corrections with your hands if the horse either goes forward or backward, but don't let up with your left leg (if you are trying to go right) if the horse is going backwards or forwards or you will teach him that is the correct response (by releasing the pressure). The horse will search for the right answer, so make sure you don't accidentally reward him at the wrong time.

I kind of taught my mare (by accident) that backing up was the correct response because she would start backing when I would request a sidepass, and instead of waiting for the correct response, I would just quit nudging with my heel and start over. So I accidentally trained her to go backwards as well as sideways! We're pretty much over it now, and she sidepasses great, but sometimes when I ask for a sidepass, I will still get a back instead, and that is totally my own fault!

I guess the reason I posted this, is if you don't get success, try tipping the horse's head in the opposite direction you want to go. That seemed to help a lot. I also open my leg (by taking it off the horse's side) to encourage that as the way I want them to move. In other words, I am blocking movement in one direction and giving them an opening in the direction I want them to go.

I also practiced from the ground like you are doing as well. Even at the tie rail I would poke him/her in the ribs and say "over." Both sidepass and let me do gates out on the trail now.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-08-2011, 11:57 PM
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teach your horse first a turn on the forehand and a turn on the haunches
You can also teach them simple leg yielding with still some foreward motion, like a halfpass. These are foundations for a correct sidepass, one in which the horse keeps his body straight, and leads with neither his hip or his shoulder, crossing over correctly back and in front
As mentioned, you can use a barrier of some sort in the beginning, to keep ahorse from going foreward.
sidepass to left
Right leg pressure at girth, right rein against neck, left leg off of horse to 'open the door.
Since reins control the front of the horse, and horses are taught to move away from pressure, the right rein tells him to move front end left. Since legs control the horse from the whithers back, the right leg at girth tells horse to move the rest of his body to the left-put it together and you have a correct sidepass. Do not tilt head. Entire body should be straight
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