Teaching your horse to stand square - The Horse Forum
Old 12-21-2008, 03:50 AM Thread Starter
Weanling

Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 341
• Horses: 1
Teaching your horse to stand square

How on earth do you teach your horse to stand square whilst being lead? I'm planning to take my mare in some halter and showmanship competitions and I've read that the horse needs to be able to square up. How do I teach her to do this?

& also to pivvot?
SallyRC123 is offline

Old 12-21-2008, 05:49 AM
Foal

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 74
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Squaring Up

When you stop your horse and he doesnt square up simply just lift his feet up with your hands and put them in the correct spot. Insist he stays there for a few seconds and reward him. Continue this and he will learn to square up on his own.

As for pivots ... I would not have a clue.

Hope that helps!

Liz

"If you act like you've only got fifteen minutes, it'll take all day. Act like you've got all day and it'll take fifteen minutes." - Monty Roberts
LizAndCollin101 is offline
Old 12-22-2008, 07:13 PM
Weanling

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Sultan, WA
Posts: 471
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I'm working on getting my horse to square up right now too, so I've been reading a lot and asking everyone for advice. Here's how I've been doing things so far (from the ground):

1. Walk straight, eyes up, straight line.
2. Ask for a halt with your body language first, then either rein or voice aid if needed.
3. Turn 180 degrees and look where her back feet are. If they are square, then cheer!
4. If not square, then observe how far apart they are. If they are a whole stride (step) apart, then ask her to step forward. If they are a short distance apart, then ask her to back. "1 step forward, 1/2 step back" is what I've been told, and I've found it true that my horse takes shorter steps backwards than forwards.
5. Now that her back feet are square (or square-ish) check out the fronts.
6. Again, "1 step forward, or 1/2 step back." Most likely, it'll be 1/2 step back.
7. Now that she's all squared up (or close enough) give lots of praise!

TIPS:
-Don't drill on getting square for hours. Just do a little, then maybe work on those pivots or something else for a while.
-After you get the backs square, while working on the fronts, she might move her backs again. No worries. Either start over (walk straight forward a little, halt, etc) or just focus on those back feet again, make them square, then return to the fronts.
-Don't be a perfectionist! If she's never been trained to square up, then give praise for the slightest attempt. Just moving the foot you were asking to move, in the right direction, is a success! She'll get more precise over time.
-Square up all the time! Bringing her to the cross ties for grooming? Square up! Having her stand at the mounting block? Square up! Putting her in her stall for dinner? Square up! Whenever you ask her to stop, ask her to square so it becomes natural.
-Remember, less is more! Don't yank on your mare's bit for her to back a tiny step. Just lean towards her a bit, and stare at that foot that you want her to move. Maybe take a baby step with your foot like you want her to do with her foot. While learning this new task, she'll probably be paying very close attention to your body language!

For showmanship you'll also need to learn to back straight and trot in-hand in addition to standing square and pivoting. Remember to practice these too! You may think backing is easy, but it better be straight! Try to back your horse straight through obstacles (cones, barrels, well behaved dogs ) so that she'll still back straight in the excitement of a show!

~Gina~
Monte - 15 year old Paint/TB
Auric - 13 year old Arab
Equina is offline

Old 12-22-2008, 09:15 PM
Weanling

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Michigan
Posts: 557
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I agree with Equina's directions. If you always place their feet for them they will not learn to square themselves.
LauraB is offline
Old 12-22-2008, 09:31 PM
Weanling

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Michigan
Posts: 557
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Sorry for the double post but it was too late to edit my previous one
LauraB is offline
Old 12-23-2008, 01:08 AM
Weanling

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 378
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I definitely need to work owith my horse on this =)
Those are some GREAT directions

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equineangel91 is offline
Old 12-23-2008, 01:41 AM
Trained

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Michigan
Posts: 5,023
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To teach mine I have just tugged really lightly on the halter/lead rope to guide him where to go and he'd begin to move slightly and when he squares up I praise him. He learned really fast that way.

TM Tardy's Chick "Hunter" - 13 yo Paint
Remmy - 18 yo Morgan/QH cross
Gunner 3/31/11, Heidi 7/2009 Miniature Sicilian donkey
RusticWildFire is offline
Old 12-23-2008, 10:17 PM
Showing

Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 12,251
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Great post everyone. I have been wanting to teach Cobalt to do that. Something good to know and have him do on his own. He's pretty good already but need to start drilling him with it while he's a little guy.

my2geldings is offline

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