Training for western pleasure? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 02-18-2012, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
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Training for western pleasure?

I'm mainly doing hunter under saddle/hunters with my horse, but I would also like to give him a solid western foundation. He is learning to neck rein, and he has a nice slow jog, but his canter is pretty fast. How can I get him to slow down for western pleasure?
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post #2 of 5 Old 02-19-2012, 05:05 PM
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Slowing Down

The main thing that I would suggest is just plain circles. Start with smaller circles, forcing your horse to go slower, and then increase the size. I have two very energetic horses, and the only way I've been able to slow them down is just by getting on and putting miles on them. The more laps/circles that you do, the sooner your horse will realize that going faster only tires him out. Keep him controlled while you ride. Slow him down when he gets too fast, then release pressure on the reins and keep going. You may have to slow him down again ten seconds later, but that's ok. The important thing is that you release pressure after he slows down, otherwise he will become unresponsive to the bit. Remember to have patience; slow gaits don't happen over night. It took my TB all winter to get his jog down for pleasure. Hope this helps :)
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post #3 of 5 Old 02-29-2012, 02:52 AM
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Slow isn't the goal - just remember that. Collection and balance is the goal.

Get up and jog around your room at a natural, steady pace. Imagine that is the canter of a hunter horse. Forward moving, ground covering, and doesn't take an extended amount of energy to travel long distances (which is why people jog and not run for exercise). Now, jog some more, but imagine jogging in slow motion. You have to support your weight on your one leg, slightly bent, all while keeping good posture etc. This is what you're going to ask your horse to do. Going slow is HARD, it take muscle and tires them out much more that going at a nice easy pace. This is of course, if you're going to as them to lope correctly and not just trop around. So, you can't expect your horse to lope slow right off the bat, they have to develop the muscle and they have to be willing to do it - because after all, if you're going to show western - you'll more than likely have to have drape in your reins if you want to pin. So going slow can't be an uncomfortable or regretted thing for your horse - he should enjoy it to an extent and be comfortable preforming it.

Compare these two lopes:
(will start loping at approx 1:40)

The first lope is choppy and quick and the horse doesn't look like he's happy at all. His body is stiff in every way and he's not supporting himself on the hind end. If you watch his inside hind leg, what the hock and how far it drives under his body - not far at all. This shows that he shallow in his hind end and thus not rocked back and lifting the front end. Because he's heavy in the front, he must compensate and quickly "pedal" his forlegs to catch himself. If I was working with this horse and rider, personally I would put the horse in a smooth snaffle and simply get the horse's natural cadence and suspension back back asking him to preform that nice, "easy" canter (like you jogging around the room) and get that swing back in his hip (and thus, he must release the tension in his back) and allow the front end to lighten naturally and give him the ability to stretch his shoulders and get that "sweeping" front leg we light to see. That would be the building blocks to a good lope - you have to go 'fast' to go slow.

Now, appreciate the second video. This horse is obviously a good mover, but beyond that you can see that he WANTS to go the pace he's at and that's because his trainers have set him up physically to be able to preform it with ease. Watch the tempo of his legs, they are much "slower" than compared with the previous video and swing easily and the horse can sweep across the arena. This is a good lope - the lope you should strive for.

Now, to start - does your horse move at all gaits with a relaxed back? If no - then there's no point and going any further. You should be able to walk, trot, and canter with only soft feel of his mouth and he should travel at a consistent, relaxed pace. His natural pace. Until he is consistent under saddle at his natural, comfortable pace, you're never going to be able to make his comfortable at an unnatural pace. If he is relaxed, start adding lateral work to build up back muscle and make him lift his abdomen and then at the walk and jog ask him to start moving his shoulders/hip independently. This all will set him up to lope quietly and relaxed.

Good luck!
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post #4 of 5 Old 03-02-2012, 05:28 PM
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^you really can't compare those two vids! One is an average WP horse, the other is a WP champion and stud of WP horses! The difference between horse flesh is like the Grand Canyon.
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post #5 of 5 Old 03-03-2012, 12:10 AM
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Thats somewhat the point though! :)

For someone who doesn't know what the ideal lope is, you should learn what the best of the best look like - and why! Obviously her horse isn't become a loper like Krymsun, but it gives her a positive goal to look to. She'll have to work with her horses physical limitations, but by understanding how the lope is suppose to work - and the variations between a great lope and an average lope then she hopefully has the tools to best train her horse.
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training , western pleasure

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