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Sunny06 12-30-2009 06:33 PM

Reining Moves and Head Positioning Help
Sunny is very light on my legs and cues. In fact, his gas pedal is a bit sensitive as well. But we're working on that.

So I was thinking... Sense he's so responsive, I thought I'd like to try some reining tricks such as sidepassing, spinning, and even try some lead changes or *gasp* jumping into canter.

I was at a show one time and we all had to back-up one horse length. He's very very good at backing. So good in fact, that the judge herself said he was the best "backer-upper" she'd ever seen! So today, I tried seeing if I used the word "back" without any rein pressure at all (like I always do) if he'd back up by himself and sure enough, he did! No rein pressure whatsoever! I was so excited and happy!

So anyway... I'd like to learn/teach first lead changes and sidepassing. Which one of these 2 do you think would be best to learn first?

I'm going to say what I would do to teach each thing, and please tell me if this is right or not and what you would change:

- For a sidepass, I'd park him perpendicular with a fence, pull on the rein opposite the way I want to go, and use my leg on the same side I'm pulling the rein on as if to "push" him sideways.

- For a lead change, I'm clueless, ha ha. Help. :-o

Another thing is, and I think this is a natural gaited thing, but he keeps his head up, yet curled in. Not exactly above or under the bit, but when we canter he is very hollow. He even canters that way on the ground. At a walk, he holds it regular. I actually think he's lowering it to feel the bit. And this is pretty much with any bit. I used a snaffle today and he was still hollow (and wasn't using much pressure either).

So, yeah I have no clue how to help fix that... I considered a running martingale, but I don't want to "mask" the problem. I want to do it right.

Gidji 12-30-2009 06:47 PM

With sidepassing, put a post on the ground. Walk up to the side of it, so your foot is in line with the post. Having a post on the ground to sidepass makes it so much easier. I won't comment on how to train him to sidepass, because I don't know of how he's trained, so I'll leave that up to you.

nrhareiner 12-30-2009 06:56 PM

First and foremost when it comes to reining and reining maneuvers you MUST have complete control over every part of your horses body. Once you can do that then you can move up to side pass and lead changes.

Keep in mind that lead changes are NOT a change in direction but simple a change in leads and it comes from the rear of the horse not the front so if you can not push your horses rear over at every gate especially the lope you will not get a consistent lead change.

Sunny06 12-30-2009 08:09 PM

^ You rein, don't you? Oh boy! I found the cream of the crop! lol :D

So, if he carries his head higher, does that mean I don't have complete control? He listens, he just carries it higher.. I'm going to have to probably teach him lead changes first, right?

nrhareiner 12-30-2009 08:59 PM

a higher head dose not necessarily mean he is out of control. He may or may not be collected with his head high.

Lead changes are one of the last things I teach a horse. If you get full control over the horses hips and body the lead change will just come.

Sixxofdiamonds 12-30-2009 09:21 PM


Originally Posted by nrhareiner (Post 505683)
Lead changes are one of the last things I teach a horse. If you get full control over the horses hips and body the lead change will just come.

I totally agree with this. After I have done many, many, MANY small circles at a lope (both leads, counter-cantering, too) where a horse is moving smoothly and consistently I start working on lead changes. Remember that the horse must be in pretty good condition to be able to do it. My guy recently had a year off and it took us about two months to get back to lead changes. He knew how, but to do it smoothly it took a while to get back into shape.

If I were you, I would start with just getting the horse supple and responsive. Start by asking her to move forward, but at a diagonal - away from your leg. I try not to use any direct reining, just neck reining. But remember to keep your horses' body straight. Practice this at all gaits until you have the horse moving it's entire body away from your leg. Then, start asking for a more side-ways movement at a walk, little by little keeping your horses' body moving all together. Make sure the shoulder isn't moving more than the hindquarters or vice versa. After a good deal of practicing, your horse should be able to move well in a straight line (I sidepass over a pole for my reference) while keeping his body straight and his movement consistent. This may take a while, depending on your horse's athletic ability and what the two of you are capable of at the moment.

After you have that down pat, I would move onto pivoting, and once your horse can totally rock himself back onto his haunches you can move into spins.

I don't know what you mean by jumping into a canter. If you mean cantering from a standstill, then that can be accomplished after your horse has the athletic ability to do so.

For lead changes, I typically do figure eights. I will lope counter-cantering small circles (after practicing what I wrote in paragraph number one) and then transfer into figure eights all in one lead. Be sure that your horse knows the difference between asking for each lead.

Then, I will ask for the correct lead circle, do a few circles, ask for a trot and then ask for the other lead while transitioning into a figure eight. Then we'll go on that lead for a few circles. After a few days/weeks (depending) of that, I try to get it down to one trot stride and then no strides of a trot whatsoever.

We practice a lot of figure eights with lead changes, even now. After you have those, you can ask for them traveling in straight lines or whenever.

Some people will counter-canter a circle and then ask for the correct lead to try to transition into lead changes. I do what works for me.

Good luck!

Sunny06 12-30-2009 10:50 PM

This helped a lot! I can't wait to start tommorrow. Thanks :)

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