Neck Reining!! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 02-20-2013, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Question Neck Reining!!

Help! I have a show comming up and My horse Belle only knows direct reining, How do I teach her to neck rein?!
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post #2 of 6 Old 02-20-2013, 10:18 PM
Join Date: May 2011
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Subbing cuz I need to learn how to teach this, too!!
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post #3 of 6 Old 02-20-2013, 10:39 PM
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I'm no expert, but I think you just start by adding in the neck reining cues to your normal riding. By that, I mean ride on a loose rein with both hands and when you turn, touch the outside rein to the horses' neck whilst you give your other aids. Try not to touch the bit unless you have to. Eventually just the touch of the rein on the neck should turn the horse.
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post #4 of 6 Old 02-20-2013, 11:49 PM
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The first step is to teach your horse to move laterally off leg pressure. This means you are able to do a turn on the haunches, forehand, and leg yield and side pass. If you horse doesn't already do this well under saddle, you need to teach it to do it on the ground.

On the ground, standing next to your horse (lets start on the horse's left side since that's where you would usually lead it from) in your normal leading position, between her head and shoulder, face her neck. Take a step straight towards her neck, as if you were in a bubble, and you expected your bubble to push her away from you. If she doesn't move, give some encouragement by clicking, and then push her neck away from you with your hand. If she still doesn't move, give her a bit of a shove in the same spot, and with your other hand turn her away from you. When she steps away, take off pressure. Take a few steps forward, stop, and repeat the process. Do this until she is turning away from you when you just step towards her neck. Keep in mind horses are very perceptive to body language. Stepping towards her now, is different than stepping towards her in her box or out in the pasture. Step into her with confidence and purpose. Your body needs to be saying "Out of my way!". Another thing to note, is don't let her walk forward while you're asking her to turn away. Use your right hand on her neck, and your left hand to control her in case she wants to walk away. Ideally you want her to turn without any pressure on the halter, while keeping her hind end planted. You are basically teacher her turn on the haunches in hand. Then repeat the process on the horse's right side. You right hand will now be controlling the halter, and left hand directing the shoulder.

Once you have her turning her shoulder away from you, do the same with her hind end. Again go back onto the left side. Like turning the front end, the left hand controls the halter, and the right hand directs the body. While keeping her from moving forward, look are hip, move your hand towards her hip as if you were going to push it away from you and click. If she doesn't move it away from you, put your hand on her hip/flank and click. Still no moving, clicked louder (and more intensely), and give her a few pokes with your thumb until she moves it away. Take off pressure. Walk her ahead a few steps, stop, and repeat the process. She's good when you stop, look at her hip and raise your hand towards her hip and she moves it away without backing or trying to walk forward. This is the turn on the forehand. Repeat with the other side.

Doing a side pass on the ground is the most difficult for the horse to do because they have to coordinate their front and hind at the same time. Stand at the horses side, right where the saddle would be. Like before, left hand controls forward or backward movement, right hand controls the body (while on the horses left side). Look at the place on the horse's barrel where you leg will rest while riding, and step towards it with purpose. If she doesn't move, put your hand on her side, and press and click. Often the horse will move either the front or the hind, while trying to figure out what you're asking. If she moves the hind (more common in my experience) push her head in the same direction (away from you) to straighten her. Still keep her from moving forward or backward. If she moves her shoulder, push her hip over. Stop, and ask again. If at any point she moves both over at the same time (even if they are a step apart), take off pressure and walk her ahead. Repeat this until she moves away side ways without going forward or back ward, with no halter pressure, with you just walking into her side with purpose. And again, repeat with the other side.

This all sounds complicated, but it's basically the same thing, just on different parts of the horses body. Backing up is the same thing, just walking into the horse's chest.

Once your horse has this down pat, go back to turning the shoulder (turn on the haunches). But this time, before you push her away with your body bubble, put your hand on her shoulder and push her away. Right after, almost the same motion, ask her to turn on the haunches (move her shoulder away) with your body. If she moves anyway but moving her shoulder away, stop, and try again with the same aids. Do this until you can push your hand into the shoulder (lightly) and she steps her shoulder away. Repeat it, moving your hand further and further back until you're just behind the elbow, where the girth goes. What this is teaching her, is that any one sided pressure, on the front end of her body, means move away from the pressure. Whether it be your body's bubble pushing her away at her neck, your leg on the girth pushing her body forward, or a rein on her neck. And of course, do this on both sides.

Do the same thing with the hind end, moving closer and closer towards where your leg would be. Think about how far your leg goes back when asking for canter, or turn on the forehand. That's where you want to get to. And then go back to the center, to give her clarity that even though now all the aids are given on her barrel, that where your leg normally rests means side pass. In front of that means shoulder over, and behind that means haunches over. Even though moving sideways and moving the haunches over doesn't directly teach them to neck rein, it's an important distinction that needs to be made in the training process. The horse needs to understand that pressure in different areas means different things, and it's easier to teach now and have, then to go back later and try to reteach if the horse thinks that one sided pressure always means move shoulder over.

If your horse doesn't already move like this on the ground, do not try to teach it all in one day. Start with the shoulder. If it takes a long session and all you get her her kinda stepping sideways away, even if she's moving her hind end too, end with that. You're applying pressure, and she's moving away from it, and then you release the pressure. Try again the next day, and expect a little more. When she does the right thing, the faster you take off the pressure, the faster she will understand what it is you're asking of her.

Now, to translate it into the saddle! (Finally!)

Practice moving her shoulder, sideways, and haunches all on the ground right before you get on. Get on and walk her around a little like your normal warm up. Go into the middle of the arena (where there's lots of space) and stop. While holding the reins with both hands, with a soft rein (slack enough that you're not touching her mouth, but short enough that you could ask for a stop if she moves), move both your hands straight to the right until the left rein rests on the left side of her neck. Do not move them so much that there is tension in the left rein, and do not pull with the right rein. Think about the rein is pushing her neck over, like your body's bubble did on the ground. A split second after, put your left leg on a little further forward than it normally is (this is usually on the girth). If she doesn't turn to the right, gently pull her right (turn her) and then take off all the aids. Stop her, and ask her again, going the same direction, the same way. Do this until you can just move your hands over and she turns. If she walks forward while doing this, that is ok. Repeat it with the other side. If she gets this really fast, I would give her praise, and then carry on with a normal ride. If it's coming (she kinda turns, but she mostly walks forward) just do it on both sides, and carry on with your ride.

Once she's turning really nicely off just the movement of the reins, ask her to do it, but don't let her walk ahead. Ask for just one or 2 steps moving the shoulder over, and then walk straight out of it. After a few steps, stop and ask her for the same thing (same direction). Think about it like walking a box, where the corners you're doing turns on the haunches. Keep in mind, this is pretty tedious for the horse. If she gives you a couple good steps, but is feeling like she's getting frustrated, bored, or irritated, go do something else for a while that she likes, is good at, or is easy (go trot some figure 8s, or practice a canter circle, or whatever it is you normally do).

Eventually you should be able to walk the whole box without stopping, and when you put the aid on, she turns, without making a big arc for a turn. (Doing this both ways, as always!) This is when you're probably ready to try it at a trot and start to practice it one handed.

You can teach neck reining by just adding the neck rein to your normal turning, but this takes longer to get your horse really sharp to it, and he won't understand it as well when you back up the aid with your leg.

Some things to remember are:
-don't ever move your hand past the horse's crest (if you're neck reining to the right, your left hand should never cross over the mane. It will put pressure on the left side of the horse's mouth and confuse her as to which way she should turn)
-always ask as gently, and quietly as you can at first. Think "Ask, tell, demand"
-be patient. If she's not getting it, reward the smallest step in the right direction, even if there's something not right about it.
-when she gets something right, take off all the aids right away! Nothing tells a horse they're doing something right like taking all the pressure off.

I hope this is helpful and makes sense. I'll come back in a bit and edit it, I haven't read over it for spelling/grammar mistakes yet.
beau159 and jamesdean57 like this.

Last edited by ponypile; 02-20-2013 at 11:52 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 02-27-2013, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Northern, Minnesota
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Simple: when you direct rein, place the opposite rein on the neck, before asking to turn, that way the horse learns that when you put the rein on their neck it means you are going to turn and they will anticipate it!

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GarretKaylaShi is offline  
post #6 of 6 Old 03-01-2013, 01:13 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
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My mare learned to neck rein off of leg pressure. I would lay the rein across her neck and applied my leg. She very quickly learned that moving away from pressure on her sides also meant the same on her neck.
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