one rein stops

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one rein stops

This is a discussion on one rein stops within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Young horse would not stop when i pulled the reins

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    12-13-2012, 11:14 PM
one rein stops

My farther is a succesful horse breaker and he uses one stops but alot of people don't I just wanrted to know if anyone else uses them
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    12-14-2012, 06:39 AM
I'm sure, by the sound of it, your father is a good horse starter. Bet he hasn't broken a horse yet Horrible term, "horse breaking".

Yes I use one rein stops all the time. For a young horse they make them very much less claustrophobic and give them less to push on.

A good question to ask yourself is "why would pulling on the mouth straight backwards cause the horse to stop?" It is because we have always been taught that this is the case that we assume that the horse "knows" this as well. In fact the horse has to be taught that a backward pull on the mouth means stop, it is not instinctive. Their instinct is to push into pressure, it is called "opposition reflex". So if the straight backwards pull does not work then a one rein stop is in order.

A one rein stop involves bending that neck around so that the head is not facing forwards. With the head facing backwards it is difficult for the horse to go forwards and they will tend to circle to a stop. The trick then is not to release the pressure until they are a) stopped (and I mean completely), b) they have yielded to the pressure and the neck is nice and soft in a bend, c) they are mentally thinking back to you (if you can see white in the corner of the eye they are still thinking forwards as their eye is turned that way).

This relaxation in a bend can and should be taught at the halt. Parelli call it a neutral lateral flexion. The idea is to release all tension and intention from your own body, then take hold of the rein quite near to the halter/bridle and ask the head to come around in the above mentioned way. It is not just the physical we are looking for it is the mental as well, and that is important. The horse must be thinking back to you. To start you may only get a few degrees of bend, but slowly this can be built up to the nose being nearly on your knee for up to a minute at a time.

This is an exercise I do EVERY time I get on a horse just to be sure I have brakes before I move off. With a trained horse it takes seconds, with an untrained one it takes as long as it takes.

James Roberts, my late instructor and a professional colt starter, did all of his first rides on young colts with just one rein. It was just a rope halter and a twelve foot lead rope. This was so that if the colt got upset he could not go into predator mode and try to pull on both reins to stop them, he had to use a one rein stop, it's all he had

Whenever I saw one of the colts get upset with his apprentice riding then you would hear James shouting "bend him to a stop Josh". As they got a lot of troubled horses and restarts in you heard this a fair bit when visiting them !

He suggested I do many hours of riding on our well trained horse, Bonitao, with just one rein and the halter. (In a safe environment I must add). This was to build in me the muscle memory of stopping a horse with just the one rein. I aspire to become a colt starter myself so it was especially important training for me. In fact I found it made me much more fluid in my whole riding style and I still go back to doing it from time to time. Snag with Bonitao is that he has big ears and I kept getting the rope caught on them as I changed reins. And I was expected to change reins on a weave pattern at trot

Once the horse is well trained then one rein stops should be rarely needed of course the stop should just come from your body energy and seat not the reins. The reins should only be used if the horse does not stop, initially with even pressure on both but with just one if the horse still does not listen.

If you pull back on both reins on an upset horse and get the neck flexed down then of course you are in a perfect position for a buck. If the head goes up then a rear is in order. With a one rein flexion then neither of those scenarios are so likely.

This is actually a good way to teach the horse to buck or rear. The horse gets upset and tanks of, the rider puts loads of pressure on the bit by pulling on both reins. The horse bucks/rears and unbalances the rider who momentarily releases the pressure on the reins. The horse learns, according to the principles of negative reinforcement, that the pressure goes away when they buck or rear and so "learns" that this is the correct response when galloping to pressure on the bit. It may take just one experience for this to be learnt and a long time to unlearn it. Another good reason for the one rein stop as the other hand can stabilise you in the saddle and you are less likely to become unbalanced and give those little inadvertent releases of pressure which teach the horse a wrong response.
    12-14-2012, 10:01 AM
I don't use a one rein stop per se. I'd use a one rein "stop bucking" or a one rein "don't rear", or a one rein "don't bolt in that direction", but using one rein to stop for the sake of stopping is a bit unnecessary & can teach a horse to stop on it's front legs.

Also in most cases the one rein stop is used (ie bucking bolting rearing), stopping is usually not the best way to solve the problem regardless of whether it's a one rein or two rein stop.
smrobs likes this.
    12-14-2012, 10:18 AM
Originally Posted by christopher    
i don't use a one rein stop per se. I'd use a one rein "stop bucking" or a one rein "don't rear", or a one rein "don't bolt in that direction", but using one rein to stop for the sake of stopping is a bit unnecessary & can teach a horse to stop on it's front legs.

Also in most cases the one rein stop is used (ie bucking bolting rearing), stopping is usually not the best way to solve the problem regardless of whether it's a one rein or two rein stop.
I agree Christopher, for a well trained horse. But for a green colt as the OP seems to be implying we need a way of getting them to learn that the two rein stop means stop. The outline I gave of using body first, then two reins, then one rein stop consistently will get them to understand that the two rein stop means stop and then eventually the body means stop.

Don't forget the reins are not there to stop a horse, but to shape the horse. The reins should only be used if the horse doesn't stop, not as the primary means of stopping.
If that were not the case how do we ever apply a little pressure to the reins to get collection without the horse stopping ?

And by "reins" I don't think it matters what they are connected to. Bit, hackamore bosal etc. The style changes but the principles remain the same.
Barrels4Lyfe likes this.
    12-14-2012, 10:24 AM
Pulling back on both reins - my thoughts on why we do it, and why it often works:

When a horse gallops, they stretch out. Their head moves to an angle that gives them good focus for where they need to look at speed, and they get an easy airway to feed the lungs.

If you pull with both reins hard enough, it brings the nose back and the head more to the vertical. That interferes with breathing and places the horse's focus close enough to his body to make the horse afraid of running. He simply cannot see where he is going and he knows it.

The horse can try to avoid that by raising his head, or pulling low. If you are strong enough, you can pull low or high to counteract that. It isn't pretty and it isn't fun, but it can be done. Tried and done both with Mia more than once. A lot more...

In a field, you can try to turn and then decrease the size of the circle. That works with most horses most of the time. As a total newbie, years ago visiting a ranch, Ol' Bombproof bolted with me, and he didn't turn even with his nose at my knee. I kicked the outside shoulder and that got us turned just in time to avoid a barbed wire fence.

On a trail, you may not have room to do sweeping turns. Folks who teach the one rein stop tell me it is a conditioned response you train them for rather than just turning a circle and making it smaller. If so, then I'm not sure how it is any better than a trained, conditioned response to pulling both reins.

I've never ridden in a curb bit, but I would assume the leverage would make it easier to pull the horse's nose to its neck.

A pulley stop can work on a trail, but it is a variation of pulling on both reins. It gives the rider more leverage and the positioning of the rein makes it hard for the horse to throw its head or bury it:

Horses for courses, and you clue-bag is never too big! My mare sometimes will get back in connection with me if I rub her neck with my free hand. But not always. See-sawing tiny left-right turns at speed sometimes gets her thinking about me again. But if she is very excited or scared, getting her to listen takes some time and often isn't pretty. It is a bit hard on my nerves, as well! And in an arena, I prefer to ride her and turn her until we are getting tighter and tighter...
Barrels4Lyfe likes this.
    12-14-2012, 10:45 AM
Originally Posted by Pegasus1    
...If that were not the case how do we ever apply a little pressure to the reins to get collection without the horse stopping...
Reins are a PART of the cue. Seat, voice, reins if needed is how I was taught for a stop. If I want the front to slow down with the back end still going, I use very slight alternate pressure - maybe a half pinkie - on each rein as that shoulder starts to move forward, while still balancing in a more forward seat and driving them, if need be, with seat and calf.

For a stop, my feet normally go forward and my weight back. My weight and a total lack of leg says don't drive, while the reins, if needed, form a "wall" in front of the horse.

Training also matters. I've read race horses are taught pressure on the reins means go faster. Mine were all taught on the ground that pressure on both reins to the rear means stop.
Pegasus1 likes this.
    12-14-2012, 02:54 PM
I like the emphasis on using reins to stop if needed.

I was taught to just quit riding. In other words match my energy in the saddle to the energy I want the horse to give when moving. I don't mean to use that energy to keep kicking or squeezing the horse to go either, once they are at a given gait mine are taught to maintain it with no further cues other than my body core energy and engagement. Thus is I let the core go loose and slump a bit then this says slow down or stop. This does alter my weight position in the saddle so I agree with the weight shift probably being a large part of the cue.

With Filly just a long sigh out (guess that might constitute a voice cue) and relaxation on my part results in a very quick stop. Took me by surprise the first time I rode her :) but then it was a cue I had taught her online.

I guess my emphasis is that if I have to use the reins to slow down then my downwards transitions are not good enough yet and need more work and we are certainly not ready to ride with a contact.
    12-14-2012, 06:44 PM
I do not use nor do I like a one rein stop. At the end of the day it does not work and if the horse is really moving out you will end up getting hurt. It is all about how the horse is started. If a horse is started correctly and has a good foundation there is no real need for it.

A proper stop has little to nothing to do with the reins. By the time I get on a green horse they already understand what whoa means and what many other cues mean and they have emotional control to the point that they know how to keep their feet still.
jaydee and tailskidwest like this.
    12-14-2012, 08:31 PM
How can you say "at the end of the day it does not work" when I have witnessed and been involved in it working many times ?
For the first few rides of a horse it most certainly has a place. I would say that to be so sure that the horse has the cue of "woa" and the emotional control you describe would take years. Besides, the emotions are different on the first few rides as they have never had a predator sitting on their back before.
I would agree that it is better if we never have to use one, but using a one rein stop on a runaway horse who is no longer listening to your voice cues is likely to be more effective than two rein stop.
    12-14-2012, 08:40 PM
My horses learn emotional control from day one. They also learn who from day one. I have been working and riding horses for a very long time. NON of my horses have a one reined stop on them. Do not need it will never use it even if one happen to take off. As a fullly running horse with it head pulled around is just asking for problems.

Stopping a horse is not just about a voice cue. It is about so much more. My horses learn how to keep their feet still long before a leg is ever swong over their back. I find that people want to get a horse loping to fast. My young horses never leave the walk for the first several months. Then there are anouther few months at the trot before they ever are loped. So by the time they are asked to lope they have a very solid foundation on them and know how to stop.
Tianimalz likes this.

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