Transitioning to a Curb

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Transitioning to a Curb

This is a discussion on Transitioning to a Curb within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    09-13-2010, 03:13 PM
Question Transitioning to a Curb

Alright, I know I should just search the forum, but I'm feeling lazy today... Sorry

I'm going to be transitioning Soda to a curb bit at some point this fall/winter. Not for long term use, but I'd like him to be able to be ridden in one and he's getting pretty close to the point where I think he'll be ready for this next step. Couple of questions though:

1. Good transitioning bits? I want something mild of course, preferably with some sort of roller.

2. Is there any special way to transition a horse? I think it'll be relatively easy once he is solid w/ leg/seat cues. Basically to the point where I'm not needing to use the bit at all. Then change bits, cue him with my leg/seat aids, and show him what the corresponding neck reining signal is.

3. He doesn't really neck rein yet in the snaffle... Should I teach that first while using the snaffle?

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    09-13-2010, 03:30 PM
I would do the neck reining in the snaffle first, since you can plow-rein to emphasis your point at first. As for transitioning, I would just put in in a very gentle curb when you feel he's ready. Something with short shanks, low port, maybe with some rollers.

I like curbs on a horse that's ready for them, I find the engraved/fancy show ones to be quite striking on a Western horse
    09-13-2010, 03:39 PM
That's kind of what I was thinking for neck reining. I've been doing a little bit of it, generally using my legs/seat to turn him and adding the neck rein then using the direct rein if necessary. I haven't worked on it a lot yet. I've been looking at getting some heavier reins to help increase the feel along his neck, mine are very light and thin.
    09-13-2010, 04:06 PM
When I teach a horse to neck rein I do it in a snaffle. Start by creating a bridge with split reins but only hold it with one hand. I hold it in a way that I can first lay the reins across the neck, then I can tug slightly back and to the side that I want to go so that it gives direct AND indirect rein pressure at the same time and then if they still don't get it I can take my free hand and tug lightly on the opening rein. Then as they pick up the cues the minute you shift your hand they know to start moving away from it. I like it because it also sets them up to learn that picking up on the hand means that a cue is coming or that you want them to collect as they naturally will collect a little before turning as they learn to move off the neck rein aid. Always enforce it with seat and leg but you want them also to be able to go off the neck rein alone if needed. I have also found that doing a lot of indirect reining like asking them to move the haunches, leg yield, etc while interspersing neck reining training helps with a horse that seems to not understand what you're asking him to do.

As for a curb bit, if your horse is truly ready you can put them in a simple tom thumb, a small ported single piece, something with a roller, etc. You just have to play with bits til you find something you both like. Go for shorter shanks that don't have a whole lot of rotation to keep it simple and comfortable. Just remember that you don't want to have to direct rein with a curb ever, although contact on a curb and direct reining with a curb are two different things.
    09-14-2010, 01:00 PM
I love it when my horse makes me feel stupid. So last night I hop on Soda for a quick 10 minute ride (he was begging when I was working in the barn).

Decide to try and work on the neck reining thing. He picks it up perfectly in three tries. It's really nice having a smart sensitive horse. LOL

I did basically what you suggested Nittany, but I only have single reins so I worked with that. First I asked with the neck rein, reinforced with the leg/seat, then told with the direct rein. The first time he was like "um.. ok", second "I get it", third "we're going right, eh?"

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