Western Pleasure Advice

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Western Pleasure Advice

This is a discussion on Western Pleasure Advice within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • How can i keep my western pleasure go consistent
  • Westeen pleasurr training aids

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    12-02-2007, 08:40 PM
Green Broke
Western Pleasure Advice

Hi I need some advice on training my horse..He is a 3 year old Poa and I want to train him for western pleasure and I ahve no clue what I can use to make him keep his head low when I jog him & lope him. He keeps it down pretty good at a walk and some times at a jog he is very laid back for a 3 year old. I just need some help on what I can do to get him to improve before the new show season in March If anyone knows anything I would sure appreciate it
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    12-02-2007, 09:08 PM
Green Broke
I forgot to mention im also doing him in barrels to with him
    12-02-2007, 10:32 PM
Running martingale should help nicely. But only as a training aid. I would stop running barrels and start training if you are really interested in Western Pleasure....JMO hope this helps! :-D
    12-03-2007, 12:35 AM
I agree, barrels are in general a more "head up", adrenaline sport whereas WP, you want the head low and relaxed. Working on lateral flexion can be really helpful. Get him giving to the bit and dropping side to side, and over time it will transfer to going straight with head down. Do a lot of serpentines and circles, releasing from the serpentine/circle when the head is in the desired position. I am not a bit WP person, but these exercises have really helped my boy with his head and self carriage.
    12-05-2007, 10:38 AM
I would also suggest letting off on the barrels if you are serious about pleasure, for know anyways. I know a lot of horses that show both and do great, but it is best to start out with pleasure first. Teach the horse to be relaxed and as others have suggested use a running martingale and do lots of circles and serpintines. Get the horse balanced at whatever pace they can manage it, and then start slowing them down. Once they know how to do pleasure teaching them barrels will be a snap. But make sure you use a different bit and tack too, if possible, so the horse knows when it is time to get up and go or be relaxed. You probably won't be ready for barrels for the upcoming season, but most likely by next year you will be ready and raring to go. Believe me, if you have a slow learner, like I do, it can take a while, but they will get it. I show both english pleasure and games on one of my horses and she excels in both! Good Luck
    12-05-2007, 03:00 PM
I would try what AKPaintLover suggested. You really want the horse to be soft and flexible and relaxed, and barrels is a high energy event, so maybe pick which event you want to do the most and maybe abandon the other......maybe just for awhile.

I would, however, NOT suggest a martingale. There are so many better ways to get a horse to relax and get the WP look without using a mechanical device to force him to do it. But that's just my opinion.
    12-05-2007, 04:00 PM
I agree with spirithorse. In general, I try to avoid restricting aids. Best case scenario, they make the horse dependent on the device, and they don't learn to do it properly on their own. Many settings don't allow various training aids, so why use them in practice? Worst case scenario, your horse becomes frustrated by being restrained in an unnatural way that his/her body has not been properly conditioned to do, and develops a plethora of emotional/behavior issues. I think it would be best to take your time and teach it right in the first place. I see martingales recommended and used commonly all over, but I can't think of any situation where they would be necessary if there wasn't a whole somewhere in the training. If you need a restricting aid, think about what is missing, go back, and fix that. Then see if you still feel the need for the aid.

I am not going to say all that and act like I didn't learn through experience. I barrel raced for many years and tie downs (made of wire) and sever bits (gags and bits made of chain) were common practice. I also began to observe horses with severe emotional/behavioral issues, huge holes in their training, dangerous habits, head pressed against tie downs all the time, etc. As I continued to observe this and see countless horses go lame, become injured, and see people go off in ambulances, I got burned out!

I perused other disciplines and began to learn about true horsemanship. I leaned that you can teach a horse to do most anything in a loose ring snaffle (or even a rope halter), you don't need to use tie downs/martingales, draw reins, etc. to teach advanced skills.

Good luck however you decide to proceed. One thing that might be helpful is to remember that when teaching pretty much anything, the most important thing is the "release" when they do something right. This way you reinforce the actions and behaviors you want. If you want head low, and you are driving your horse in a circle at the trot adding a little inside rein pressure to ask him to drop his head, and he drops his head a little, release the rein pressure and let him move out of the circle.
    12-05-2007, 06:15 PM
I totally and completely agree with what AKPaintLover said!! My horse was a team penner before I owned him, and his old owner rode him in a mechanical hackamore and a tie down, and I'm STILL working through brace issues and Rango's unconfidence with contact, but he is getting soooo much better these days.
    12-06-2007, 12:43 PM
Green Broke
I do not use a harsh bit on him since I have only been riding him for about 9 months and I don't get to ride him every week due to school so he gets quite a bit of resting time and I use a totally different bit when I run barrels and when I ride in the area and do western pleasures but I do use the same saddle since I only have one saddle and its a Big Horn Barrel saddle. It fits him really well.

My friends also told me the other day she wants to show in him English???? im not sure about this since his mostly working on barrels right now since I didnt have a idea on what I could use to get his head lower.....?
    12-11-2007, 09:28 AM
AKPaintLover is right on with her advice.

Lateral flexion - big releases - no gimick training aids - separate WP from barrels

A 3 yr old has too much to learn in one discipline, much less two. At this point in his training, you need to decide what you want to focus on. A year or two from now, when your horse has become very consistent in one discipline, should you think about adding more to his repertoire. Barrels and western pleasure require two completely different mindsets for the horse. A 3 yr old is too young to be able to perform well at both of these. Now, western pleasure and english pleasure do complement each other well so those disciplines can be taught at the same time.

Personally, I would start my focus on western pleasure. The basis of WP is also the basis of barrels. You can always add speed later on when the basics are 100% consistent. Believe it or not, barrel racing is not all about speed. You still need lateral flexion, giving to the bit, leg cues to move the horse's body. Work on these things as you focus on WP and later on barrels will be that much easier to teach to your horse.

Good luck!

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