Working on teaching neck reining - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-10-2012, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Working on teaching neck reining

I have been working for several months trying to get my horse to neck rein. He was primarily used to direct reining and competing english and cross country. I would like him to be more versatile because I prefer western riding and my daughter likes to ride english. He moves better to the right doing circles and figure 8's but to the left I still have to pull on the left side of his mouth. What would make him so one sided? It's kinda strange because when riding english he always moves better to the left and is harder to the right. Does the mane desensitise his feeling of the reins on his neck?
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-10-2012, 10:34 PM
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Pretty much all horses have a good side and a "bad" side. or rather a stiff side.

It may be that the horse has more trouble going left either becuase of some stiffness in his body, or because of the way you are reining him going left. If you pull too much backward, or way off to one side, you actually end up putting direct pull on the off side. I mean you ask him to go left, but if you bring your hand too far backward or too far off to the left side, you put pull on the right side of his mouth. This is confusing signals and can force him to "cock" his head ears left, nose right and that is the start of forcing him into a very unbalanced way of going. Would this have anything to do with the canter issues you spoke about in another thread?
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-11-2012, 02:40 AM Thread Starter
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I don't think so because I haven't started working him at a canter yet while neck reining. I always direct rein fore canter because it is so bad. lol. What you say makes sense. I am probably trying to pull his head too far around because he doesn't respond to just laying the reins on his neck in this direction. How can I help him respond? I use leg pressure as well to try to get him to turn the right way.
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-11-2012, 01:03 PM
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I bought my horse has a hunter/jumper who only knew direct reining. After starting him in Dressage, which uses a lot of the leg aids for steering and controlling the hind end, I can now neck rein him in just a hackmore by adding outside leg to which ever way I am turning. He has taken to neck reining really well just through dressage. So if you don't already use your legs to help turn and bend the horse, I would ask someone to help you out with that. The leg is a GREAT gateway aid to fine-tuning your horse's steering.
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-11-2012, 06:16 PM
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I have a horse that I am working with right now that just yesterday he came up stick on one side. The horse would spin a top to the right, but to the left he wouldn't respond to my cues. Horse's are like humans they have a dominant/natural lead or hand. This isn't a bad thing, just like humans it requires work to get it worked out. I cannot shoot a basketball with my left hand, but if I work at it I am sure I will be able to. The left and right side of a horse is a little different, but if you are consistent your horse will be able to work both sides equally.

When you are sitting a top a horse, you are that much closer to God.
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-11-2012, 09:47 PM
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Here are my suggestions: tale what you can use and leave the rest. =)

Work in an area with as few diatractions as possible, for you and the horse.

Keep your body "quiet". By this, I mean really focus on your whole body, and only use the parts you need to cue your horse. And pay attention to your posture. Make sure you aren't leaning to the side or forward or backward. And look where you want to go.

Instead of solid leg pressure, use a series of bumps. Sometimes solid pressure just gives the horse something to lean against.

Keep your rein movements small. Pick your hand up slightly, because you don't want to drop it below the height of his withers, and move it to the side just enough to lay the rein on his neck. Shouldn't be more than two or three inches.

Until he's more solid with the cue, braid his mane so you KNOW he can feel thay rein on his neck.

Kai made a great point about the dressage training. I even found that taking dressage lessons improved all of my riding quite dramatically.

Good luck!
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-14-2012, 11:32 PM
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My 2 cents worth.

Start out with direct reining, until he responds well to the leg cues, then graduate to neck reining. He will begin to associate the rein cues with the cues from the legs. In order to get him to respond quickly and willingly to the leg cues, though, you may need spurs. I give a leg pressure with the calf once, twice, then a touch with the spur. Next comes a pretty good jab with the spur, and I'll keep bumping him with it until he responds. He learns pretty quick to respond to the first cue. An added benefit to this method is that you control most of his movements with the legs and his neck reining becomes almost imperceptible. If you're into shows, this gets points.

The leg cues I give are pretty simple: In front of the cinch to move the front end, on the cinch to side-pass, behind the cinch to move the rear, pushing in the direction I want him to go with the outside leg. I put a little pressure in the inside stirrup, as if leaning into the turn as well. The harder I give the cue, the tighter the turn I want. I expect the horse to continue to respond to the cue until I stop giving it. The legs control the body, the reins control the head.

There's more to it than this simple explanation, but you get the point. Start out just being satisfied with his effort to figure out what you want and reward him for the slightest movement in the right direction. One step, then ask for two, then keep going. Take your time with it.

If you're going to use spurs, though, learn how to use them. They are training tools, not weapons.
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-15-2012, 01:04 AM
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I got my horse to start neck reining by first getting him to go off leg cues.

He is the same as your horse - does it better to the right, and still learning how to do it better to the left. I think it's because we do our rollbacks to the right and so he was already used to my leg on him for rollbacks, and now we are working leg pressure on both sides, so he just has to realize that I'm asking the same thing, just on the opposite side.

I also find that riding bareback helps to give better, more clear, leg cues. Then you can combine the neck reining as well.

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