Western Pleasure Training

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Western Pleasure Training

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  • for western pleasure training which trot do i want to ride my horse
  • "pleasure training"

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    06-22-2010, 11:04 PM
Exclamation Western Pleasure Training

I'd like to do some western pleasure with my horse.

She has faster gaits, so I need to slow them down. Without getting on her face too much, and by keeping her head in a nice frame. How?

And what is the ideal western pleasure head position? Could someone show me pictures?

And how loose of a rein do I need? How would I go about training to keep my horses head in the correct position on a loose rein?

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    06-23-2010, 07:32 AM
I use Mecate reins, and love them. The only time I have pressure on my reins is when I'm correcting my horse. If you can get slobber straps, they will help you see when you have pressure on your reins or not.

To achieve the slower gaits you need to make the horse understand that it's easier to go slow. Meaning if the horse really wants to break into a fast trot you need to ride that fast trot. And if the horse wants to finally slow down you say "no we're going to keep trotting". Until you can feel his feet and body slow down. It took my horse about two-three weeks of constant 6 days a week riding. Now it takes alot to get him up to even the slow trot. He realized that it's easier to go slow.

Don't even lope the horse until you can get him slow and calm at the walk and trot. And if he gets going to fast break him down. Meaning as soon as he gets too fast in the walk or trot make him bend. A horse has to slow his feet down if he goes in a circle. So break him down by bending him as soon as he picks up speed.

For her head: At the stop, pick up on your left rein. And as SOON, (this is key and can make or break training) as you see your horse drop his head even a centimeter, you release the pressure and drop the rein. It will take awhile for your horse to understand that when you pick up on your left rein it means "drop your head". -- Just remember it's all about timing. So keep working at the stop. Then at the stop if once you pick up your left rein he will drop his head immediately; do it at the walk; then the trot.

Just remember! I feel like I can't stress it enough once you see your horse drop his head a tiny bit you let go and release all pressure. Otherwise the horse will never learn. And if you don't release the pressure the horse gets no reward. Don't attempt this at the walk if your horse doesn't get it at the stop.

After doing this for awhile your horse will understand that once you pick up on your left rein you want him to drop his head. And it will help you to drop his head at the walk, trot, and lope.
    06-23-2010, 02:00 PM
White Foot, I'm not understanding why you would pick up only the left rein to get the head set. When you are showing you are riding one handed, therefore must pick up both reins, it doesn't make sence to me training only the left rein. If you could explain your reasoning that would be great.

Pro, I will try and answer your questions based on what I do. I have a 3yr old Morgan x that I ride western performance (WP, Horsemanship, trail, little bit of reining). Storm did tend to move faster then I needed for WP, he is very forward thinking so I know what you mean about needing to get your horse to slow down. What I found worked was to go for long rides, 3-5hr trail rides. When I'm out on my rides I do equil parts walk, jog, lope. If they start off going fast that's fine, after a few days of this they will learn to regulate their speed to enable themselves to handle the length of ride. Basically this means if I'm going to walk for a mile then I want to jog a mile and lope a mile. The key is to keep the time at any gate long enough that they want to slow down because they don't know when you are going to stop. Once the horse starts out rides going slow then you can add in days where you only go for 15min or so but still doing every gait. The key here is that they don't know how long you are going to be out so they will conserve their energy just to be on the safe side.

Also when you are riding these typse of rides it is good to go on a long rein, this way they get used to responding on the longer rein without you having to worry about checking them back.

As for the head set, in the AQHA rules it says that "the horse should carry his head and neck in a relaxed, natural position, with his poll level or slightly above the level of the withers." Basically they want the headset to be as natural as possible for the breed/confermation of the horse being ridden. That being said, at the local level most judges are not registerd with AQHA so are judging on the old way of thinking, which is long and low.

How I train my horses to have a head set is to pick up the reins so I can feel contact with the curb chain, I hold the contact steady until the horse drops their head, even if it is only a fraction. When they drop their head I release the pressure. I keep doing this until the horse stays in the possition I want without needing to correct them. The best thing to do is to see where they naturally hold their head and work towards getting them just a little bit lower then that. If they are consistantly working a little lower than natural then they will be pretty good when you show. I don't have any pics of a good WP headset unfortunatly.
    06-23-2010, 05:30 PM
You have gotten some wonderful advice so far. One thing that I cannot praise enough is circles. Millions and millions of circles. These will also teach a horse to rate and get them balanced. I don't go for the uber low headset but I do like my horses to be relaxed, balanced, and level.

I did a search and though I couldn't find the picture that I was looking for, this one shows what I consider to be an ideal headset for a western pleasure class. It is level and the horse looks relaxed but not lethargic.
    06-23-2010, 06:26 PM
There is one thing to keep in mind regarding movement of the WP horse, which contributes to the slow gaits - the horse must be collected. Depending upon whether or not your horse understands and is able to achieve collection on a loose rein, you may need to start out using a snaffle bit and keeping some pressure on the bit to teach collection and get their back end up under them. Once the horse can collect, you can begin loosening the reins and working on the headset.
    06-24-2010, 07:20 AM
Originally Posted by Silvera    
White Foot, I'm not understanding why you would pick up only the left rein to get the head set. When you are showing you are riding one handed, therefore must pick up both reins, it doesn't make sence to me training only the left rein. If you could explain your reasoning that would be great.

While the horse is in training you can use both reins. Then once you and the horse are rehearsed in the one rein soon all you will do is pick up a tiny bit and the horse will automatically drop his head. Even with one hand you can pick up slightly higher on one side, by using your pinky to slightly jiggle the left side.
    06-24-2010, 11:29 AM
I still don't understand why you would only use the one rein though. What is your reasoning behind that? I understand that you do it and that it most likely works for you, I just don't understand why you would do it that way. It doesn't really make much sence to me. If you could explain why you do it I would apreciated it.
    06-24-2010, 01:41 PM
Thanks guys!

So the horse I'd be using knows how to collect, but I have to have rein contact.

What I need to do is start giving her a longer rein for however long she'll stay collected once I've released, then as soon as she comes out of it pick up me reins again and start again?

And another question:

If she drops her head to low (she tends to stretch it way down) I've been told two different things by two different people.

1) Push with you legs until she brings it back up and stops invading it.


2) pick up her head with the reins and hold my hands up higher.

I kinda like the idea of the first way better, because then my hands aren't too high, and then I'm not always on her face.

Opinions, or other suggestions please:)
    06-25-2010, 12:00 AM
In my opinion, if she is dropping to low then she isn't collecting properly. She needs to be pushing up from behind and tracking underneith herselve to be proper. If she isn't then that may lead to being to low, or you aren't releasing the pressure soon enough. I wouldn't try and "pick her up" with the reins because then you would have to "hold" her in her frame as aposed to her carrying herself in a correct frame. Generally speaking if she goes to low then she is probably working off of the forehand and you need to help move her onto the hind end.
    06-25-2010, 12:09 AM
It's not all the time. I've had some lessons on her, and about 95% of the time she's good. But sometimes she tests it.

So push with my legs then and drive her forward?

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