Saturday, March 29, 2014

Quick Tip #91 Lightness Is Taught With Quickness

Even today most horse people respond to a horse that is hard to handle by using a more severe bit. This is a tremendous mistake. If a horse is hard to stop one needs to go lighter instead of heavier.

Get back in the round pen with a rope halter on the horse. Work him from the ground and teach him that if he responds to the slightest degree of pressure you will remove that pressure instantly. And if he does not respond you will escalate the pressure.

What matters is not the amount of pressure used but how quickly the pressure is released when the horse responds. Don't wait until the horse has completed the action to release. When the horse begins to think about considering the possibility of yielding to the pressure, that is the time to release. If the horse fails to follow through immediately resume the pressure. When one is consistent with this 100% of the time one will eventually get a very responsive, light horse.

That is why little children who are not strong enough to man handle a horse can control the horse. The key is not how much pressure is applied. It is how quickly that pressure is released.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have found that Snow on Her is a good case study in this...she was always a bit heavy in the snaffle...I suspect she was made that way in her earlier life, and I suspect my inexperience may have contributed...once I began transitioning her to the jaquima, she has become lighter and lighter, and now that she is giving to the bosal, and breaking more at the withers than at the poll..she just gets better. Stops on either rein with easy pressure and using less and less rein in the turns. Every single (and I mean every one) instance in training a horse can be broken down to simple pressure and release...pressure and instant release translates directly to "good leader" in the horse's mind.
Months ago, I thought I had an idea of what " light"was ....until I began watching videos of highly trained bridle horses who were trained in the old Californio Vaquero I won't get into the relative merits of bits, and certainly not into curbs and spades, as they both require a level of skill that I do not posess...but...a spade bit for its rough reputation is not a leverage bit...a horse must be very nearly perfectly trained and reliable before their use. (and ONLY by those with the know how and experience) The example of lightness that sticks in my mind is a video of a straight up bridle horse, 10 year old gelding in his eighth year of training, a single tail hair was tied between the curb chain and rein chains, and the horse was stopped from a gallop....sliding to standing...without breaking the hair. That is what is possible.
What is practical, particularly for our purposes down in the swamp, is for each rider to play a mental game with themselves, make sure the tack on your horse is fitted properly, and as you ride, make it a game to see just how little pressure you can exert on the horse to obtain the required action, it will take focus and concentration, but when you win the game, you will be amazed at the results...the horse will respond better, you will not have to work as hard in the saddle, and the horses will be more eager to be with you.
Watch sometime as riders are bridling their will note that some simply slip the bit big deal, and others are a fight to bit...the concept of lightness extends to the ground as well.
If you are having trouble with the idea, don't be afraid to ask for help.
I don't mean to sound preachy this morning, but I would much rather be on a horse at the moment. I am fighting the bit of this weather. Old ma nature needs to lighten up a little too. -Lloyd