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kitten_Val 11-18-2010 07:08 AM

How to round a WESTERN horse?
I'm curious here. How do you round a western horse and keep it working from behind without contact/coming on bit?

Scoutrider 11-18-2010 11:11 AM

My gut answer here is, fundamentally, the same as one would round a dressage horse.

Contact isn't just about the face, bit, and reins. Its about acceptance and understanding of all the aids, natural and artificial, if applicable. A WP horse or a reiner, regardless of the drape in the rein, still has contact via the legs, seat, etc. Rather than coming onto the bit, the horse is coming onto the aids - all of them.

And because the head/neck indicators of roundness don't come from the rider directly fiddling with the head and neck on a draped rein, a correctly rounded western horse is "falling into position" there because of correct drive from the haunches, coming through the back and lifting/rounding there, and relaxing the shoulders, neck, and throatlatch. I'm not saying that its impossible to ride a western horse front to back, just that its harder to run into that pitfall on a draped rein - that's a lot of slack to have to deal with to pull the face in...

That being said, my understanding of roundness and collection comes from reading on dressage, not western disciplines... :oops:

kevinshorses 11-18-2010 11:28 AM

I would like to add that just because the reins are not tight doesn't mean that the horse can't feel them. When you ride a horse with a ported curb bit when you change the position of your hands you change the balance on the bit and the horse can feel that.

kitten_Val 11-18-2010 11:47 AM

Thanks, folks!

I was wondering, because I remember asking a person working with reiners around here how to bring horse up from forehand. She said you have to pull head/face up. It sounds rather weird to me because I'd think it has nothing to do with working behind (Scout, I'm talking from dressage prospective as well :wink: ). I may be wrong though.

Beling 11-18-2010 02:51 PM

From what I see, it's not at all the same as the English (dressage) approach. Their horses are taught to keep off the bit ("give me your face" is one way I've heard it). As for coming under, that happens because the Western horse is asked for more effort (speed) right from the start. The horse finds what is the best way to carry himself. (While keeping off the bit.)

Zeke 11-18-2010 03:37 PM

Are only english riders having a go at this question??

I cannot tell you why or how this works but when I rode with a reining trainer we always lifted the reins straight up an inch or two, maybe more if the reins had more slack (for more broke horses) or with both hands on the reins pulled up a bit more and a little towards our bellybuttons (on greener or less responsive horses) causing them to pull their chins in a bit and drop the head a tad more. We did this while driving with our seat and encouraging the horse to drive from behind. The cue with the reins last just a second or two, many reiners I rode would consistently hold themselves fairly round while they were at work.

Again, that's my lame-mans way of explaining the cue we used.
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MN Tigerstripes 11-18-2010 05:15 PM

Aren't Western horses supposed to "hold" the bit in their mouths? I would classify this both as contact and as accepting contact. Granted many of them aren't trained to "hold" the bit, but many English horses aren't trained to accept contact.

Silvera 11-18-2010 11:04 PM


Originally Posted by Beling (Post 820716)
From what I see, it's not at all the same as the English (dressage) approach. Their horses are taught to keep off the bit ("give me your face" is one way I've heard it). As for coming under, that happens because the Western horse is asked for more effort (speed) right from the start. The horse finds what is the best way to carry himself. (While keeping off the bit.)

This actually isn't true. When we train a western horse you do train them to accept contact and move properly. When I'm training my guys I start just the same as you would english. I use all of my aids, leg, seat, balance, and hands. I can pick up my western horse (in a western bit) any time I want to. The reason it looks like there is no contact on the finished western horses is because they have learned how to respond to very slight changes in hand possition and varying degrees of contact.

If I'm asking my WP or reining horses to frame up and give me a good head set I lift my hand and put it back a little to get the contact I need so my horse doesn't speed up. I also put my legs on and drive with my seat at the same time as picking up my hands.

A western horse doesn't learn where to hold their head just because we give them a long rein. They learn where and how to hold their head and how to engage their body by practice at home using a lot of the same technics of english riders.

And "give me your face" is an expression used not because they don't want the horse on the bit, but because they want the horse to soften to the bit. They want them to work with the bit, hold it, carry it, and move using everything that the horse is.

Most western horses are not asked for more "speed" from the get go. Heck, in most western diciplines we want them to learn "slow". Even when training a horse for gaming we ask for correctness if done properly. A horse can't turn a tight barrel if they aren't moving correctly. You need to put on the buttons before asking for things at speed. Just like you need to put in the fundamentals before asking a horse to jump high.

A horse can run quite fast withought being collected. In fact it's usually when you aren't asking them to move from behind and use their haunches that you will get a horse that runs faster. On the other hand, a horse can't move as well really slow if they aren't collected. They will run through their transitions if not collected and balanced and they have a much harder time maintaining a slower lope if they aren't collected and balanced.

Hope that helps. Sorry if that was a bit of a rant.

Zeke 11-18-2010 11:35 PM

Silvera, that was perfect.
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Silvera 11-19-2010 12:49 AM

Thanks, I'm sorry if it came out a bit like a rant. It really erks me the wrong way when people imply that the western horse is either not trained well, trained incorrectly, or responds out of "fear" or something like that. I ride and train both english and western and my horses do both. If they are trained properly then they don't care weither you are riding english or wester, it's just a different saddle and bit.

To imply that a western horse avoids the bit or isn't trained to hold the contact just because what you see in the show is a horse riding on a long rein is very incorrect to say the least. If you couldn't use contact on these horses then how do you think we teach them to stear in the first place, they don't come knowing how to neck rein or turn on the haunches or anything else we do. All of that needs you to be able to use your bit.

Again, sorry for the little rants :S it's just one of those things that's one of my pet peeves.

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