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Belgian Paint
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, I have a 14 year old Draft cross. She is very forward, and we are still working on down transitions. I want to start the baby steps to riding on a long rein. She knows how to slow down based on my seat, but sometimes she doesn't listen. What I really want is her to go a steady speed at a loose rein. I have her on a d ring myler comfort snaffle. Can I do long rein stuff without a curb?
 

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Of course you can do long rein stuff without a curb. You can do long rein stuff with a rope halter! What matters is the training, not the bit.

Getting a horse to think about slowing down "on their own" is a combination of getting them in the right mental mindset and also teaching them to stay calm without contact. Some horses that are accustomed to contact get a bit anxious when you first loosen the rein, and in forward horses, that anxiety often increases their speed. Starting at the walk with loose reins, pick up your inside rein and bring her around in a somewhat tight circle until she decides that it's time to stop, then release the rein. Repeat until she reliably stops, and stands still willingly before you ask for the walk again. Teaching this doubles as a way to slow down without picking up full contact and also as a way to teach relaxation. Next would be trotting - ask for the trot on a loose rein, and if she starts extending her trot too much or picks up the canter, pick up your inside rein and circle until she decides it's time to walk then stop, and release. Repeat. Then cantering - same idea. You don't need to do this whole thing in the same session. You can start just with walk and trot, or even just walk if you wanted.

Also think about what your goals are for riding with a long rein. I'm assuming you'd want to teach her to neck rein rather than having to gather your rein every time you want to turn. Later on without overlapping with the beginning of the above exercises since you want to take it one step and one skill at a time, you can start teaching neck reining by asking for the typical neck reining cue followed a second or two later by gently and simultaneously picking up the rein to ask directly for a turn. Eventually, she will feel the neck rein and anticipate the turn before you ask for it directly.

Warwick Schiller has a lot of videos on Youtube about riding forward horses and about neck reining, among other things. Here's one that comes to mind.

 

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Belgian Paint
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Of course you can do long rein stuff without a curb. You can do long rein stuff with a rope halter! What matters is the training, not the bit.

Getting a horse to think about slowing down "on their own" is a combination of getting them in the right mental mindset and also teaching them to stay calm without contact. Some horses that are accustomed to contact get a bit anxious when you first loosen the rein, and in forward horses, that anxiety often increases their speed. Starting at the walk with loose reins, pick up your inside rein and bring her around in a somewhat tight circle until she decides that it's time to stop, then release the rein. Repeat until she reliably stops, and stands still willingly before you ask for the walk again. Teaching this doubles as a way to slow down without picking up full contact and also as a way to teach relaxation. Next would be trotting - ask for the trot on a loose rein, and if she starts extending her trot too much or picks up the canter, pick up your inside rein and circle until she decides it's time to walk then stop, and release. Repeat. Then cantering - same idea. You don't need to do this whole thing in the same session. You can start just with walk and trot, or even just walk if you wanted.

Also think about what your goals are for riding with a long rein. I'm assuming you'd want to teach her to neck rein rather than having to gather your rein every time you want to turn. Later on without overlapping with the beginning of the above exercises since you want to take it one step and one skill at a time, you can start teaching neck reining by asking for the typical neck reining cue followed a second or two later by gently and simultaneously picking up the rein to ask directly for a turn. Eventually, she will feel the neck rein and anticipate the turn before you ask for it directly.

Warwick Schiller has a lot of videos on Youtube about riding forward horses and about neck reining, among other things. Here's one that comes to mind.

Thanks so much! I will try this.
 

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I find videos by this trainer to be very interesting. There is a LOT that comes before being able to do what he is doing, but you may take something away from this:

 

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If that is a "Reactive horse!", I'm the King of England. And lots of forward horses are NOT going to always slow based off of seat. Bandit would if he was bored out of his mind, but he's a trail horse and there are far too many things for him to think about on a trail to pay any attention to my "seat".
 

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I think the horse in the above video is not "reactive," but rather is a nonreactive type that has been trained to respond to cues immediately without thinking. So as he says, she is trying to canter if he touches her with his leg, and he wants her to not be responding without thinking. But I think that is a different issue than what the OP is discussing.

Warwick Schiller has some great videos. Something you might notice in the video posted is that while the horse does relax more on a loose rein, and becomes more steady at the gait, she still is zooming around at a pretty good rate. I believe the focus is more on relaxing than on teaching the horse various ways to rate the gaits.

What I don't understand is why both trainers feel they should not use the reins except for turning the horse. I find using rein cues a perfectly acceptable way to teach a horse to stop.

If you want to teach the horse to rate, the easiest way is to use the reins. If you want to go on a loose rein all the time, you can give a cue, and then when the horse responds, make the reins loose again. So if the horse is trotting away, you can pull back on the reins, wait until the horse slows, and then release. Keep reinforcing that the horse stays in the speed you are looking for.

If you want the horse to go off seat or voice cues, then you can use a cue along with the reins, and then transition over to just the seat or voice. But you'll have to be very clear and consistent. That is one issue with seat cues, if you want the horse to respond then you have to make the horse respond every time or they will learn to ignore them. For example, if you wanted the horse to transition down every time you lift your weight off the seat, or lean back, then you can't be doing those things at other various times when riding.

It will take many cues to teach a horse that this certain speed of trot is what you want them to stay in. You might have to wait for them to speed up, then cue back down, then wait for speed, then cue back down, until the horse realizes you want them to consistently stay at the slower speed. I personally like to have three trot speeds that a horse will stay in. Teaching a horse to stay in the trot you want requires timing of cues and then releasing the cues when the horse is cruising where you want them to be. You can easily add a voice cue for the different speeds if you wish. I've taught a horse verbal cues on the lunge line first, then reinforced them under saddle. I ended up not using the voice commands I taught, however, because it was just easier to give a cue with the bit and my horses learned those very easily.

If you want to never cue with the reins, and only your seat, that will require nuances that are beyond me if you want a horse that will have various gears and stay in them.

You're speaking of graduating the horse to a long rein. That is what I do, I wait until the horse can give me a consistent gait, and then I give more rein until they are able to go along on a loose rein each time.
 

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Belgian Paint
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think the horse in the above video is not "reactive," but rather is a nonreactive type that has been trained to respond to cues immediately without thinking. So as he says, she is trying to canter if he touches her with his leg, and he wants her to not be responding without thinking. But I think that is a different issue than what the OP is discussing.

Warwick Schiller has some great videos. Something you might notice in the video posted is that while the horse does relax more on a loose rein, and becomes more steady at the gait, she still is zooming around at a pretty good rate. I believe the focus is more on relaxing than on teaching the horse various ways to rate the gaits.

What I don't understand is why both trainers feel they should not use the reins except for turning the horse. I find using rein cues a perfectly acceptable way to teach a horse to stop.

If you want to teach the horse to rate, the easiest way is to use the reins. If you want to go on a loose rein all the time, you can give a cue, and then when the horse responds, make the reins loose again. So if the horse is trotting away, you can pull back on the reins, wait until the horse slows, and then release. Keep reinforcing that the horse stays in the speed you are looking for.

If you want the horse to go off seat or voice cues, then you can use a cue along with the reins, and then transition over to just the seat or voice. But you'll have to be very clear and consistent. That is one issue with seat cues, if you want the horse to respond then you have to make the horse respond every time or they will learn to ignore them. For example, if you wanted the horse to transition down every time you lift your weight off the seat, or lean back, then you can't be doing those things at other various times when riding.

It will take many cues to teach a horse that this certain speed of trot is what you want them to stay in. You might have to wait for them to speed up, then cue back down, then wait for speed, then cue back down, until the horse realizes you want them to consistently stay at the slower speed. I personally like to have three trot speeds that a horse will stay in. Teaching a horse to stay in the trot you want requires timing of cues and then releasing the cues when the horse is cruising where you want them to be. You can easily add a voice cue for the different speeds if you wish. I've taught a horse verbal cues on the lunge line first, then reinforced them under saddle. I ended up not using the voice commands I taught, however, because it was just easier to give a cue with the bit and my horses learned those very easily.

If you want to never cue with the reins, and only your seat, that will require nuances that are beyond me if you want a horse that will have various gears and stay in them.

You're speaking of graduating the horse to a long rein. That is what I do, I wait until the horse can give me a consistent gait, and then I give more rein until they are able to go along on a loose rein each time.
Oi folks! The above video is NOT MY HORSE.
 

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I’ve been following this thread because my answer is, “ I don’t know”. I just know that I have never had a horse that won’t settle and go on a loose rein.

My biggest motored horses were my Arab/Saddlebred and my first Tennessee Walker. My Little Morgan/Arab could also get pretty feisty on a cold morning.

The answer for me, I think, was to just let them sort of have at it for 10-15 minutes a d they settled. I’m talking on the trail.

This is my beloved Duke (RIP) around 2011, he was 24. He is coming home and watching DH take his picture. It’s hard to see but he is on a loose rein and I’m just plopped up there watching the neighbor’s calves play in their pasture. Even though he is headed home, and has to dig in to get up a very steep hill, he is still on a loose rein.

IMO it takes practice, and it takes letting the horse show out a few minutes when they leave the driv, but they cant be a wild an either. I always told my horses I would meet them half way.

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