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Questions About Western Riding

This is a discussion on Questions About Western Riding within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Western riding with halter
  • How to shorten rope halter

 
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    01-25-2011, 08:12 PM
  #11
Showing
You have already gotten good answers from the other posters but I will go ahead and throw my 2 cents in.

My answers in blue.

1. Why are the majority of western horses in shank bits? Why can't you just use a snaffle? From my understanding, most western horses are started with either a rope halter or snaffle.
Cori had it right, shanked bits are designed so that you can use almost invisible cues with the reins. What you can do with a smidge of pressure on the reins in a snaffle bit, I can do in a curb by only moving my hand a few inches and never tightening the reins. The shanked bits are what allow us western riders to ride on such loose reins and still have good communication.
But what about the horses that are taught to neck rein? Shouldn't it not matter what they have in their mouth or on them? My understanding is that when a horse is taught to neck rein they are taught to move off of the rein on their neck.
Using a shanked bit is about more than just being able to neck rein. It's true that the bit should not be effected at all when you neck rein but if you need to pick the horse up with his mouth for any reason, to either get them back to a level headset or if they begin to get strung out and you need to collect them again, then you can keep your loose reins and only lift your hand an inch or two to get your desired response. With a snaffle, you would likely have to shorten the reins enough to actually make contact with the bit.

2. When people say that they ride in a rope halter do they mean a bosal/hackamore or a plain rope halter? If it is a plain rope halter, how do you attach the reins? Do you just tie the leadrope?
That was an excellent picture example Poseidon, I will just tie the lead rope to the halter when I use one for riding. Most western riders don't use the term bosal unless they are for sure using a rawhide bosal hackamore. A rope halter with a mecate rein set (like Poseidon posted) is also sometimes called a soft hackamore or a loping hackamore.
Why use a rope halter? Why not use a bosal/hackamore? Couldn't riding in a halter cause a horse to think halter=work and perhaps make it difficult to catch them?
Because a rope halter is easy, it's fast, and most people have one handy. A good bosal hackamore will cost well over $200 and unless you know how to properly use one, it's more trouble than it's worth and pretty easy to screw a horse's nose and jaw up with one. Most horses who are actually used for hard work every day begin to associate just being caught with hard work and that is one of the reasons why they get hard to catch. My horses that are easy to catch in the winter get hard to catch in the summer simply because they are used for heavy work on a nearly daily basis.

3. What do you strive for in your riding? I know, that as a dressage rider, I strive for an even gate with impulsion and a even contact on the reins.
I strive for softness, relaxation, a level topline, responsiveness, cadence, and heart all on a loose rein.

4. Why do they tend to start horses earlier? I went to a AQHA sale and all of the horses that sold for any decent money were two to three years old and could neckrein, walk, jog, lope and one man even took the bridle off of his horse (a two year old mare, she was a sweetheart) and steered her by placing his hand on each side of her neck. Of course, I'm more used to horses being started at three the earliest.
With the AQHA, APHA, and ApHC futurities, horses are started showing at 2 years old. Most breeders to try for foals to be born early in the year (Jan, Feb) so that they are closer to actually being 2 when they are started. A foal that was born in say........July would have to be started under saddle at approximately 18 months in order to be close to show ready for the futurities it's 2 year old year.

That is an excellent video Poseidon. He is showing a quick and easy way to teach neck reining.
     
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    01-25-2011, 09:19 PM
  #12
Green Broke
How I taught my girl to neck rein was to direct rein, and lay the opposite rein on her neck, and eventually she picked it up and now I don't have to direct rein, just neck rein. And smrobs hit the nail with all the other anwers!
     
    01-25-2011, 09:29 PM
  #13
Yearling
Thank you everyone for your answers.

Okay, just one more question.

What's your favorite Western discipline and why?
     
    01-25-2011, 10:09 PM
  #14
Showing
Haha, that's a bit of a difficult question for me. Is ranch work considered a discipline? What I do is basically a combination of roping, trail riding, cutting, reining, pleasure, with the occasional dash of work similar to barrels or poles .
     
    01-25-2011, 10:25 PM
  #15
Yearling
Sure, ranch work counts :)
     
    01-26-2011, 11:24 PM
  #16
Weanling
Barrels and Poles for sure! Who doesn't like a little speed. I also like to throw in a little western pleasure work on another horse at my barn. Oh and trails just to relax once in a while, me and the horse :)

Also everyone else hit it dead on on your questions. And before I teach neck reining make sure the horse goes by leg aids pretty well. Otherwise it turns out to be a sloppy mess. This goes for any equine riding sport I guess.
     
    01-26-2011, 11:35 PM
  #17
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksly    
Let me begin with the fact that I know nothing of western riding. I've ridden a few western horses and even have a western saddle and use it for trail riding but I don't really know much about that part of the equestrian discipline. I just have a few questions for all of the western riders here.

1. Why are the majority of western horses in shank bits? Why can't you just use a snaffle? From my understanding, most western horses are started with either a rope halter or snaffle.

A shanked bit is what is required when showing western. For the simple reason the western horses are shown One handed and have little to no bit contact. Most western horses are normally started in a snaffle. Then moved up to a shank bit once they have a really good start.

2. When people say that they ride in a rope halter do they mean a bosal/hackamore or a plain rope halter? If it is a plain rope halter, how do you attach the reins? Do you just tie the leadrope?

This is not really a western thing. Rope halters are not meant to be ridden in. If you want to ride western without a bit you would use a Bosal.

3. What do you strive for in your riding? I know, that as a dressage rider, I strive for an even gate with impulsion and a even contact on the reins.

This will vary by discipline. For me the definition of a reiner is a horse who is willingly guided. There is no contact on the bit for the most part. There should be very very little hand movement.

4. Why do they tend to start horses earlier? I went to a AQHA sale and all of the horses that sold for any decent money were two to three years old and could neckrein, walk, jog, lope and one man even took the bridle off of his horse (a two year old mare, she was a sweetheart) and steered her by placing his hand on each side of her neck. Of course, I'm more used to horses being started at three the earliest.

Thank you in advanced for your answers.
Western horses are started early for many reasons. Mine are all started at the beginning of their 2yo year. As it takes 2-3 years to train a reining horse. The Reining Futurities are at the end of their 3yo year. I have found over the years if you start one early in their 2yo year you can take it slow get a good basics on the horse so when they are ready to move up they are ready.
     
    01-26-2011, 11:39 PM
  #18
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksly    
But what about the horses that are taught to neck rein? Shouldn't it not matter what they have in their mouth or on them? My understanding is that when a horse is taught to neck rein they are taught to move off of the rein on their neck.

I'm not trying to question your knowledge. I'm just curious.
The simple reason is that a snaffle does not give the horse the feel needed. Even with neck reining there is more to it then just that. A shanked bit gives very subtle cues needed with a western horse. Along with seat and legs.
     
    01-29-2011, 12:51 AM
  #19
Weanling
Ok I biggest thing about why quarter horse are started sooner than warmbloods. Quarter horses are ready sooner. Most I should say. Now we have crossed alot of TB in to our breed and some horse are not ready at two. A good trainer will see that and let them stay.
I strive for the same thing as you do just on a loose rain. My QH can do all of the same things as my sister in laws dressage horse.
     
    01-29-2011, 01:41 AM
  #20
Banned
Ray, I hate to disagree but I must. All horses grow at the same rate. If by 'ready' you mean their knees and hocks are closed, all horses hit that mark around 2 years old. The trouble really comes in with the back. A horses back isn't "closed" until late 5 early 6.

Some horses fool us. Take smrobs big boy Rafe. He is a belgian/QH cross and as a yearling, if you didn't know better, you may have just saddled him up. He just looks fully matured. He isn't.

QH are started early showing just exactly why smrobs (and TB breeders) say. Because the futurities start at 2.
     

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