trouble with neck reigning
First of all, I'm a beginner (if you couldn't tell from my handle). So I realize that there's an aspect of control to this issue. But I'm hoping someone can give me a little advice above and beyond "you just have to show the horse whose boss" LOL. Basically, I have trouble steering horses that are trained to neck reign. They just don't listen to me. It's like I'm doing something to confuse them. It's happened with 3 horses now so I know it's definitely me :lol: I lie the reign against the neck and use my leg aid but I still can't keep a horse moving along a fence, for example. If I can get it against the fence in the first place, it will just end up veering towards the middle as soon as I let off. Should I be lying the reign on the neck until the horse turns as much as I want or should I be doing quick, little movements against the neck? I know I can just use 2 hands and tug the appropriate reign but I'm more interested in uderstandng why I can't neck reign! This issue has led to me being brushed in the face by low-hanging trees, walking through tumbleweeds and craters in the ground and also way too close to things LOL. Any insight would be great. (I just signed up for lessons so can't ask my instructor yet).
I lay the reign against the neck...if I don't get the result that I'm looking for, I give a little tug on the opposite reign. A lady told me that when she was teaching her horse to neck reign (I've never tried it myself), she hooked the right reign to the left side of the bit and the left reign to the right side of the bit. Sorry if that's confusing, but that's the way she told me. That way when she would make the exagerrated movement to turn the horse left, the right reign would lay against his neck but tug a little on the left side of the bit.
I hope I got this right...I'm so tired right now that I'm confusing myself...LOL
From what you are saying, it sounds like you are either not reining correctly or the horses aren't properly trained to neck rein.
Say we are asking a horse to, oh let's say go right, while neck reining. When holding your reins, you let the rein slide through your hand until your hand is a bit of a ways down the right rein. Close your hand back against the rein, then slowly bring your hands outward. Make sure you are NOT pulling "back", you only pull outwards. (Your left rein should "lay" on the horses neck before you get to the point of pulling on the right side of the bit) If they do not respond to the rein laying on their neck, I will then ask with my leg for the turn, as well as the rein still laying on the neck. If there is no response to the leg, then you continue pulling the rein outward until you get the turn. As you pull outward you will gradually pick up more and more contact with the right side of the bit.
(note* pulling back is never the correct way to ask for a turn, even when riding in english disciplines. You always ask by bringing your hand outward. When first teach a horse to "steer" it may be neccesary to bring your hand outward from the elbow, but as you progress the horse should turn efficiently off of your leg, with your hand flexed outward from the wrist to maintain conact and bend. Bringing your hand back pulls on both corners of the mouth, which does not equate easily in a horses mind to "turn". This applies. no matter what discipline you ride)
To train a horse to neck rein, it is basically the same process. You aren't "pulling" the horse over with the rein. The rein is the "warning" that the bit is about to come next. Conditioned response and all that. Lay the rein on the neck, if no response ask with leg, if no response continue pulling outward until you get your turn. It may take a while for some horses to pick it up, especially "english" trained horses who are used to saw/direct reining, but this is the best way to teach them.
Criss-crossing the reins under their neck creates an insensitive horse. It took my four year 10 minutes to learn to neck reining using the process I described above. When you crisscross there is no way to use gradual pressure in your training. It creates more times then not a confused horse.
One other thing to consider is make sure that you aren't keeping your reins too short. Sometimes even a well trained horse will be confused by reins that are too short.
Let's say you want the horse to turn to the right. So you would lay the left rein on the horses neck and give pressure with your left leg.
That is the simple idea, but let's make sure you are not accidentally giving a wrong cue somewhere else.
Keeping the same example of turning to the right, you should make sure you are NOT making any contact with your right leg. You want to "keep the inside door open" so your horse has a direction in which they are free to move.
You also should make sure that you are not trying so hard to lay the left rein on the horses neck that you are accidentally causing bit action on the left side. If that happens, your neck rein is telling the horse to turn right, but the action on the left side of the bit is telling the horse to turn left. This is really confusing for the horse! So make sure you are keeping a loose rein when you neck rein.
Another thing that may help in doing a right turn, is you can bring your right leg (the leg that is applying pressure because the horse should move away from pressure) slightly forward toward the horse's shoulder. This just encourages the horse to turn their front end only, and keep their weight and balance on their hind legs. Essentially, this is a rollback if you would turn 180 degrees where the horse crosses their front legs over one another while keeping the right hind leg planted (for a right turn).
If the horse is not responding to your neck rein to turn right, and you are holding the reins in your left hand, you can then use your right hand to pick up on the inside rein and give a direct cue to the bit to reinforce what you are asking the horse to do (turn right).
If the horse wants to drift into the center, so be it! Let's go to the center and WORK. Do anything you want in the middle of the arena but keep that horse moving. Do circles, serpentines, backing, and anything as long as his feet are moving. Then go back to the rail and continue what you were doing at a nice easy pace of walking (and relaxation). If he still wants to go to the center, then he has enough energy to WORK some more! Make the horse work where they want to go and soon enough, they will learn it is much easier to just stay where you put them (on the rail, in this case).
Another thing you can do is turn circles toward the fence. So if you are walking in a counter-clockwise circle around the area and your horse is not really listening to your right neck rein cue to stay on the fence, do a full 360 degree right turn into the fence to say "hey! We need to stay on the fence". Then continue walking. If he still wants to drift into the middle of the area, do it again. Eventually, he'll figure out that its just easier to just walk straight along the rail instead of having to do all these turns.
It just takes some FIRM consistency!!
Like I explained above, laying the left rein on the horses neck (with no bit contact from the left rein) and reinforcing the cue with a direct rein pull directly on the right rein is the proper way.
By your explaination of criss-crossing the reins, you are doing the opposite and telling the horse to go one way with the bit, but telling him to go the opposite way with the neck rein cue. Super confusing for the horse and for the rider.
I found this on Youtube and she explains everything I talked about!
This is all helping a lot. I appreciate the positive nature of the comments too :wink:
I agree with the other comments posted. Some very good advice there.
I will also add something that someone else alluded to... the horse could have something to do with it.
You are a beginner, about to start taking lessons. What horses are you riding? If you are at a typical (typical around here anyway) commercial barn, I doubt they are putting a new rider on "well trained, soft horses." If you are riding what around here would be a typical beginner hack/lesson horse then a big part of this could be the horse taking advantage of you.
Most horses will try anything to get our of work. They all know when a beginner is on their back. Even with a "better" horse, they will test you and see what they can get away with. Your comments about tumbleweeds and low hanging branches indicate to me a serious "respect" issue at play.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to explain how to "show the horse who is boss." It is not a "force" thing. It comes from experience and training. Don't worry - you will get there in time if you keep at it. There are a lot of subtleties to riding. It simply takes lessons and practice.
Also keep in mind "neck reining" is much more than just reins. A well trained neck reining horse uses the reins as a secondary means of turning. The main cues are being done from the waist down ("leg" and "seat").
Is it possible you are so concerned about veering to the middle or coming close to that low hanging branch that your thoughts (and possibly eyes) are focused on that? If so, you could be actually telling the horse to take you there.
In addition to what you are doing with the reins, your eyes/head and body should be pointed where you want to go. A good way to think about it is to point your navel where you want to go.
Hope this helps.
I have heard about what the original poster is referring to. I have never seen it done, but the concept makes sense.
By crossing the reins, you get to add some direct reining to the neck rein. If you are going left, the horse will feel the rein on the right side of the neck. In addition, the crossed rein will put pressure on the right side of the bit, "pushing" it to the left. The idea is to do this one handed. Done right, the pressure is consistent - all on the right side cueing the horse to turn left.
As stated, never seen it or tried it. If set up correctly, the concept makes sense. In practice, however, it might be hard to do correctly. From what I have read it does work for some people.
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