Sunday, May 23, 2010

Horse Training – Developing a Side Pass to Open Gates

Developing a side pass in your horse is not only for the function of being able to open gates on horseback, it allows you to better control your horse in all aspects of riding even at the lope and gallop. Plus I reckon I could always use the side pass to move the horse sideways to where I left my beer.

Anyway the side pass is the same with any other skill or task you ask of your horse,…it starts on the ground and it is based on the horse learning from pressure and release.

I start on the ground and using finger pressure on the horse’s flank (where the barrel and the butt come together), I ask the horse to move his hind end away from me. I also use the voice command “over”. Even if my horse moves just a little, I take the pressure away rewarding his effort. Then I try again until he moves by crossing one foot over the other.

I do the same on the front end. It may take several tries until he steps over the other foot. You probably need to hold onto on side of the reins to keep his head straight, but real quick like your horse should figure out what you want of him and be sure of what you are asking as you remove the pressure as he moves.

Once the horse can disengage his front and rear ends, I hold him up close and perpendicular to a fence to block forward movement and, using a short lunge stick or crop, I ask the horse to move sideways crossing both the front and back feet together in a side pass. Initially you may have to use the crop stick to put pressure alternatively on his back end then front end, but this will soon lead to just pressure on his barrel where your leg, calf and spur are going to be cueing him to move in the opposite direction.

One of the reasons I think all riders or horse owners should develop a side pass on their horses, even if you have no gates to open, is your horse just becomes a better horse being able to disengage both front and rear ends independently and at the same time. It is useful when moving forward to “push” the horse laterally, and is a skill that doesn’t require a rider to be jerking or pulling on the reins forcing the rider to use the idea of pressure and release.

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