I didn't start writing blogs to teach people how to train horses but, rather I wanted to share information on how to become better and (hopefully) more successful at their horse endeavors. To that end, on occassion I write about discussions we've had at the barn. Here I go again....
When I ride, people (not just clients) often ask questions and so I get a chance to explain what I'm doing and why. The other day, I was working with an older horse, a horse that can be a little afraid of moving up to the bridle when loping. Now this horse has a lot of natural head set and can pretty much "hang" in the bridle as long as nothing is asked of him. Well, that doesn't work for Trail and it certainly doesn't work when trying to improve a horse's collection.
So, I will let the horse hit my hands when it hits the bit. I don't pull or jerk, I just create a soft, pliable wall with my hands. I tighten my fingers on the reins but my hands stay put. After the horse hits this "soft wall", it will drop back to the bridle as I push him with my legs (being careful to not add too much momentum).
Using this technique, the horse will lean to move up to the bridle when asked and not to be afraid of the bridle because you're not hurting his mouth, you're just containing him. You've made it easy for him to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing.
This method is borrowed from classic dressage and it helps greatly if the horse has been bitted-up and worked properly from the ground during longing or ground driving. Talk to you next week! JD