3 questions about leads, reins and horse language
   

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3 questions about leads, reins and horse language

This is a discussion on 3 questions about leads, reins and horse language within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Universal langage of horses as far as kissing and clucking?
  • Questions about leads

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  • 1 Post By Eagle Child
  • 1 Post By DoubleS
  • 1 Post By Wallaby
  • 1 Post By aforred
  • 1 Post By Wallaby
  • 1 Post By wild old thing

 
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    07-28-2012, 10:03 AM
  #1
Weanling
3 questions about leads, reins and horse language

Hi. I have three or so questions about western riding.

And after a few weeks of working at it, this week we finally got a decent lope happening, which is not to say I can do it well, but I can sustain the momentum (without doing something to stop her) almost consistently almost without break. So Lilly and me, we are finding our together rhythm. YAY!

During the lope, my instructor had me "lead" while loping around the arena counter clockwise. THEN with the SAME lead I was loping in a tight clockwise circle. (She told me if my horse breaks, she's been trained to jog one step then if I immediately ask for the lope, she will give it immediately. AND SHE DID! But why and how, I have no idea. Do you?)

Why am I leading in this way? Description: reins in left hand over across the neck towards the right side during a tight clockwise turn. THEN during a straight going in counter clockwise canter, once we have our momentum, I drop my hand to her neck to give her rein, but that initial lead has me baffled.

I'm thinking the lead is for balance when we were loping around the arena...I think she said that's why. But I'm not sure. (so much happens during a lesson, and so quickly)

I wonder when I'm using the same lead when I'm in a turn in the opposite direction.....wouldn't we fall over if I overdid it and then the horse overdid it?

I hope I've described this so you understand what I'm saying: I'm using the exact same lead but going in opposite directions. I don't understand why.

Here's another question: How do you gather up your reins gracefully, without twisting or jimmying them? For example, Lilly likes A LOT of rein, likes to drop her head low and get into her jog which is fine. I can steer her with my leg, seat and all is well. But then, during a lope, I need more control, so she gets LESS rein (not to say head way up but I need more hand). How to accomplish this quickly without bungling or giving an unintentional command?

LAST QUESTION: I know I'm learning a language, a means of communicating to my horse. So my question is this: will most trained horses respond consistently to this same language? I recognize all horses are different. But is there a consistency to this? In other words for example, when I want to turn with hindquarters, will the same movements elicit the same actions on most horses? Is what I'm being taught, a universal language?

Are all (or most) horses trained to understand this same language?

I hope this wasn't too wordy. Forgive me if I was and I appreciate you reading this far.

Thank you in advance. :)
     
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    07-28-2012, 10:29 AM
  #2
Foal
I'm interested in the answers to these same questions, WOT, because my western instructor is not so hot at explaining things...or I'm crappy at getting what he's saying.
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    07-28-2012, 11:35 AM
  #3
Weanling
From what I've always understood, leads are for balance. The thing your talking about (with the same lead going the opposite direction) sounds to me like your trainer is teaching you to counter canter, but I'm not sure... Most horses pick up the right/easiest lead for the thing that they're doing naturally (or at least with a couple of tries and some direction, they'll eventually get the right lead), but they have to actually be trained to counter canter (using the seemingly wrong lead). I've found that once I have a horse doing a lead change easily, I can just ask for a canter but at the same time a lead change, and they just get off on that lead for the counter canter.. Idk if that's the right way but it's how I do it. Sorry, OT.

The reins question: I just use my left hand (I ride right-handed) and pull/push the reins through my right hand however much they need to go. Either that or you can creep and crawl up/down the reins; but that's harder and takes longer

The language question: No. Every horse is different, and every horse is trained different. Unless you're always riding horses by the same trainer, almost every horse you ride will be different.
For example; I ride at a place where we are taught to ride with our legs and seat, and the first lesson I took riding her horses (I had ridden lots before on my own horses, but it was my first actual lesson) she had me riding bridleless; and I was astounded that it worked! So I went home and tried to do it with my pony who'd had NO formal training by a professional trainer, (he knew how to move off my leg to an extent, but I couldn't like steer him very well with just my legs.).. I hopped on him in the pasture trying to steer him with my legs, and he just looked at me like I was stupid and decided to just go canter around the pasture. (I brought him to that trainer now and he's almost as good as their horses now, lol!).
Then a few weeks ago, I went to visit my cousins in *insert far away state*. She rides too, but she rides English, and I went to *watch* one of her lessons. She told her instructor that I ride too, and soon enough she'd talked her into letting me ride in her lesson too :P.. These horses were trained so differently that my horses and my trainer's horses..
When you use your inside leg on those horses, they trot, and when you use your outside leg and lean forward a little, they canter. It's so weird! But awesome! And they also have verbal commands for back up, and they really listen to seat commands for everything. It's cool :)
So long story short, all horses are different and you'll come accross tons of different ways of riding them!
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    07-28-2012, 12:32 PM
  #4
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleS    

The language question: No. Every horse is different, and every horse is trained different. Unless you're always riding horses by the same trainer, almost every horse you ride will be different.
This is very true training-wise.
However, most trained horses are going to be motivated by the similar things body language-wise. For instance, most horses, if you swing something at their hindquarters and cluck, will shift away from you. Most horses, if they haven't already decided you have no leadership over them, if you act big and say "ah-ah-ah" will kinda look at you to assess the level of threat you are presenting. Depending on the horse, they might even bolt away if that's what their life expierence has taught them to do. For most horses, a good correcting touch is a short one - if you push a horse away, it doesn't work, but if you jab your finger into said horse (don't reccomend this in the flank/belly area), usually they'll move away.

Undersaddle "language"-wise (I would call that undersaddle cues, personally), it depends on what they've been trained to understand.
I think a lot of it might be regional too. I know here, in Oregon, I can get on pretty much any horse, squeeze my legs+cluck once for a walk, Squeeze+cluck multiple times for trot, and squeeze with one leg+kiss for canter, keep kissing for gallop.
But, in youtube videos, I have discovered that people in other places sometimes kiss for trot, sometimes cluck for canter - VERY strange.

Most horses have a similar foundation and most will half respond to whatever is closest to "their" cue. However, you probably won't get a great response unless you are using the really correct, for that horse, cue.
I know with my mare, I bought her without any discussion with her owner on what her cues are so I've spent the last 4 years discovering things that get her to do behaviors I had no idea she did!
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    07-28-2012, 01:16 PM
  #5
Weanling
Oh these are great answers! So helpful. I'm looking forward to trying all my mad CT suave old lady moves on whatever horse I'm riding in CO in a couple of weeks. (hope it's my beautiful Muffin girl, but you never know.)

Thanks DblS, although to be honest, I still don't get the lead thing. I suspect it's going to have to be a matter of doing it and then at some point it will click and I'll understand why I'm doing it. My brain and body haven't gotten that together yet because she DID say balance, but I'm not exactly sure how it works or how I'd use it to my advantage.

Many of the horses used at our barn are used for both English and Western, so they understand how to do either. The outside leg back press kiss kiss is how we were taught to get a canter. Say trot cluck cluck squeeze heels down is how to get a trot. Hips for more, leg for less, whoa for stop but she's easy. I say walk on and she's walking, no problem unless she's all wild from a canter and then she'll want to keep on and I'll have to impress upon her a little bit. She rarely needs a lot of impressing. She's a great horse who understands me a lot more than I understand her.

So what I'm getting is there IS a formal way to train, nearly universal, but it can be done a little differently. English reining is (I think) where we depart, because there is that two handed thing and I would rather not use two hands, particularly now that I'm happy using my left hand to rein.
     
    07-28-2012, 01:21 PM
  #6
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleS    
From what I've always understood, leads are for balance. The thing your talking about (with the same lead going the opposite direction) sounds to me like your trainer is teaching you to counter canter, but I'm not sure... Most horses pick up the right/easiest lead for the thing that they're doing naturally (or at least with a couple of tries and some direction, they'll eventually get the right lead), but they have to actually be trained to counter canter (using the seemingly wrong lead). I've found that once I have a horse doing a lead change easily, I can just ask for a canter but at the same time a lead change, and they just get off on that lead for the counter canter.. Idk if that's the right way but it's how I do it. Sorry, OT.

The reins question: I just use my left hand (I ride right-handed) and pull/push the reins through my right hand however much they need to go. Either that or you can creep and crawl up/down the reins; but that's harder and takes longer

The language question: No. Every horse is different, and every horse is trained different. Unless you're always riding horses by the same trainer, almost every horse you ride will be different.
For example; I ride at a place where we are taught to ride with our legs and seat, and the first lesson I took riding her horses (I had ridden lots before on my own horses, but it was my first actual lesson) she had me riding bridleless; and I was astounded that it worked! So I went home and tried to do it with my pony who'd had NO formal training by a professional trainer, (he knew how to move off my leg to an extent, but I couldn't like steer him very well with just my legs.).. I hopped on him in the pasture trying to steer him with my legs, and he just looked at me like I was stupid and decided to just go canter around the pasture. (I brought him to that trainer now and he's almost as good as their horses now, lol!).
Then a few weeks ago, I went to visit my cousins in *insert far away state*. She rides too, but she rides English, and I went to *watch* one of her lessons. She told her instructor that I ride too, and soon enough she'd talked her into letting me ride in her lesson too :P.. These horses were trained so differently that my horses and my trainer's horses..
When you use your inside leg on those horses, they trot, and when you use your outside leg and lean forward a little, they canter. It's so weird! But awesome! And they also have verbal commands for back up, and they really listen to seat commands for everything. It's cool :)
So long story short, all horses are different and you'll come accross tons of different ways of riding them!
This is really funny to me and I'm smiling thinking about all the tricks your mare knows but you don't know she knows. And she ain't telling!!

Man oh man...how I wish I had been doing this for the last fifty years, because I am so loving these animals. They're so capable! I was trying to steer my horse backwards and turning too....like trying to park a trailer...and she was trying with me. I know they get frustrated if you make them do stuff badly, because I guess they want to get it right and move on. Are horses perfectionists in their big horse hearts? It's a thought. I tend to think the horse I ride is quite perfect. I am the dolt that rides her.
     
    07-28-2012, 02:10 PM
  #7
Started
For the rein gathering, take a pair home with you, and while you're watching TV or something, just practice walking your hand up and down the reins. You'll get it down in no time.

You don't have to worry that your horse will fall over while counter cantering. If her balance gets compromised, she'll slow down, but it shouldn't be an issue.

Horses trained in the same disciplines will usually have similar cues. Just make sure you ask before you get on a horse you don't know intil you have a lot of experience.

The horse that gets frustrated at doing something "wrong" is probably a little confused about the cues it's getting. Those are also generally the horses that want to work for you.
Posted via Mobile Device
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    07-28-2012, 02:45 PM
  #8
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by aforred    
For the rein gathering, take a pair home with you, and while you're watching TV or something, just practice walking your hand up and down the reins. You'll get it down in no time.

You don't have to worry that your horse will fall over while counter cantering. If her balance gets compromised, she'll slow down, but it shouldn't be an issue.

Horses trained in the same disciplines will usually have similar cues. Just make sure you ask before you get on a horse you don't know intil you have a lot of experience.

The horse that gets frustrated at doing something "wrong" is probably a little confused about the cues it's getting. Those are also generally the horses that want to work for you.
Posted via Mobile Device
what a great idea, about taking a set home. We're off for the week, so I'll practice with my dog's leather leash!

All great points and I agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes, I speak "horse" so ineptly, I'm just lucky my girl is adept as she is at interpretation.

But I've seen it up close, when a horse will get frustrated. I watched a woman nearly lose control entirely last week. Throughout the lesson she kept yanking hard at the reins. AND spoke so loud to her horse she was practically yelling. At one point the horse made a dash in the direction of the barn. There was a 5 foot gate between the horse and the barn. Fortunately they stopped him. But it was scary.
     
    07-28-2012, 03:42 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by wild old thing    

All great points and I agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes, I speak "horse" so ineptly, I'm just lucky my girl is adept as she is at interpretation.

But I've seen it up close, when a horse will get frustrated. I watched a woman nearly lose control entirely last week. Throughout the lesson she kept yanking hard at the reins. AND spoke so loud to her horse she was practically yelling. At one point the horse made a dash in the direction of the barn. There was a 5 foot gate between the horse and the barn. Fortunately they stopped him. But it was scary.
I think some horses know and appreciate it when their rider is trying to understand. :)
Maybe it has to do with the rider's mental state/level of relaxation. I know my mare, who I use in the lessons I teach to small kids, will try her hardest for the kids who are really listening and responding to my guidance. Even if they're doing it "wrong", and she knows it, she'll still do her best to give them the response closest to what they're asking for.
For other kids, the younger versions of that lady you mentioned, who don't care to communicate with Lacey and are just trying to "get it done" without learning the process, she has no patience. They either offer the correct cue and they get a good response or they get nothing. During those lessons, stress levels get higher and higher on both parts until I step in, go back to something easier and end the lesson. Those kids don't usually stick around for very long - fine with me and Lacey!

Anyway, stay a student of the horse and I think your horses will keep trying their hardest for you. Most horses I've met have no patience for know-it-alls and all the patience in the world for people trying their best. And you sound like you're trying your best.

Also, don't worry too much about leads, Your knowledge of them will come. :) I mean, I've been riding for years (though certainly not as long as some) and can feel the correct lead but if you asked me straight up, I cannot tell you, at all, which lead is the proper one for going one direction or the other. I can tell you if my horse is right or wrong but not why they're right or wrong.
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    07-28-2012, 04:49 PM
  #10
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallaby    
I think some horses know and appreciate it when their rider is trying to understand. :)
Maybe it has to do with the rider's mental state/level of relaxation. I know my mare, who I use in the lessons I teach to small kids, will try her hardest for the kids who are really listening and responding to my guidance. Even if they're doing it "wrong", and she knows it, she'll still do her best to give them the response closest to what they're asking for.
For other kids, the younger versions of that lady you mentioned, who don't care to communicate with Lacey and are just trying to "get it done" without learning the process, she has no patience. They either offer the correct cue and they get a good response or they get nothing. During those lessons, stress levels get higher and higher on both parts until I step in, go back to something easier and end the lesson. Those kids don't usually stick around for very long - fine with me and Lacey!

Anyway, stay a student of the horse and I think your horses will keep trying their hardest for you. Most horses I've met have no patience for know-it-alls and all the patience in the world for people trying their best. And you sound like you're trying your best.

Also, don't worry too much about leads, Your knowledge of them will come. :) I mean, I've been riding for years (though certainly not as long as some) and can feel the correct lead but if you asked me straight up, I cannot tell you, at all, which lead is the proper one for going one direction or the other. I can tell you if my horse is right or wrong but not why they're right or wrong.
Oh I just love this story about your Lacey...see, I believe this more and more, that at heart horses want only to be a part of us, to give whatever they have and to know they did good. My girl is a terrorist to most people. She was abused and starved and she can be awful, really scary. But with children, she is stunning and gentle and will literally fall asleep with them crawling all over her, mauling her. (I've decided she has made up her mind I'm an old idiot child.)

Lilly will give me anything I ask for. ANYthing. If I ask wrong she will always give me something resembling something orderly. She's an orderly horse. She only balks if I ask her to halt because she likes to keep moving. She will do it and she does it well, but she'd rather not and lets me know. I don't know enough about horses to understand why, but standing still does not make her happy. This horse is not a couch potato and she's pregnant, to boot. All I did when I was pregnant was sleep. And eat everything that wasn't nailed down. In that, she and I are sisters. (laughing)
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