Ground work for neck reining
As some of you may know I'm working with a TWH mare for a friend of mine with MS. I've been working on getting her to neck rein for about a month now. She seems to be getting it, but not as fast as I would like =\ I cross my rein over her neck and use my seat legs to reinforce what I'm trying to teach her. If that doesn't work I open up inside rein and give it a *light* bump. She is ridden in a plain old full cheek snaffle.
Today I was doing ground work with her trying to think of how I could work with her from the ground so my friend could also work with her. I put the line of the rope halter on the opposite side of her neck (if I sent her on a right circle the line was over the left side of her neck) and held pressure until she gave her head towards me. By the end of 20 minutes I had her giving and turning into me with light pressure.
Any other exercises from the ground I could do with her?
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I can't think of ground work that will progress her neck reining skills.
Miles works best. Most of the time they seem to just improve with practice. On some, I will use natural objects to encourage the turn in response to the reined cue. Like a visual cue. Trees, sagebrush, a rock, a turn in a trail. Anything.
some trainers reinforce neck reining by riding with a flag (once the horse is desensitized to a flag all over their body, and ABOVE their body) in their hand. When they ask for a turn right, the rider uses the flag on the horse's left side at the shoulder/neck area to "push" the horse over, while at the same time applying the neck rein. This reinforces the neck rein. Be sure to give a reward of release of rein and big praise to back up your request for learning.
Anything that involves your horse giving to slight pressure will ultimately help your neckreining since broken down that's what it really is. Your horse should be willing to move any part of its body over with slight pressure. The more responsive the horse is in general the easier neckreining is.
So yes, having the horse responding to gentle pressure on its neck on the ground will help. I had a filly I raised once and while she was still too young to ride I did a lot of that sort of thing. She ended up being SO easy to train, she acted like she already knew everything when the time came, and I think that's because she had already learned most of it :)
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