Monday, June 7, 2010

Horse Training - Beginning Neck Reining

In response to a reader question about him not liking Hackamores since the rider has to "plow rein" or pull the horse's head over to the direction he wants it to go, I offer this post.

Plow reining is most often used as a derogatory term to mean riding with both hands or otherwise using a direct rein. It connotates a new rider and/or a green horse where signals need to be very clear. First of all there is nothing to be ashamed of riding and controlling the horse with both hands or using direct reins.

Where neck reining comes in very handy is with reined cow horse or working ranch horse competitions where the horse and rider are cutting and controlling cows. The rider will ride one hand on the reins and the other on the saddle horn and the horse makes dynamic changes of direction to control the cow.

When roping, or trail riding for that matter, the ability to control the horse with one hand on the reins is necessary, as it frees up the ability to hold a rope, radio, firearms or just hold onto the lead line on a horse you are ponying. In any event controlling the horses head is more of a suggestion than the means in which to change direction. The reins should be subtle cues to "tip" the horses head in that direction with the seat and more so the legs providing the heavier cue.

From almost the very beginning when I first put a Hackamore on my horses, I will begin to teach the horse to associate a rein on his neck with the opposite direct rein to tip his head. I'll do this without leg cues at first than add them shortly after.

The following video just gives a visual on associating a neck rein to the direct rein and that progression. Safe Journey.

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