Today I'm going to talk about the advantage of cueing your horse slowly, specifically how going in slow motion relates to the rein lift.
Lifting your reins is a technique that is used to get horses to drop down into the bridle and lift their shoulder. I use it on all our horses regardless of their discipline but it's especially useful for Western Pleasure horses. Some of the added advantages of a rein lift are that horses have a tendency to not overbridle (go behind the bit) and it really gets a Western Pleasure horse set for their longer rein.
So, here's the deal: this technique really works best if you lift slowly, get the horse to commit to the bridle, then slowly release. When you lift slowly, you don't surprise the horse and he has a chance to respond. This makes for a smooth, flawless picture of the horse relaxing down into the bridle. In releasing slowly, the horse stays in this nice frame much better. There is no herky-jerky reaction from the horse and the image becomes one of consistency and fluidity. In other words, the horse looks well-broke and your judge sees a pretty picture.
I tell my students to generally apply a three-second rule. About three seconds of lift followed by three seconds of going back down. Don't forget though that the key is commitment - your horse must commit to the bridle before you release - and don't forget too to use your leg when asking for that commitment! See you next week, JD.