Tuesday, March 22, 2011

breaking my western horse to ride english

I have a paint named Sasha that we bought a few months ago, she was started as a yearling showing on lunge line, they then broke her to ride western. she is a very calm and mannerful horse but it is hard to get her going at a trot or canter, we have to use a quirt, but she knows her stuff and is a very pleasant ride, I first learned how to ride western, and now I am working with my trainer and am riding english, my other horse rides english but he is green and I would like a more level headed horse to ride, so I would like to start sasha english, do you have any tips or any specific steps I should take to make mine and her english riding experience a good one?

Hello Jamie,
Thank you for writing to "Experts" and being concerned about training your horse correctly.
The beginning training of a horse should be able to be the same, whether the final result for the horse's "specialty" is to be English or Western.The fundamentals are the same at first.You have no way of knowing exactly how your horse was trained Western. You have to give your horse every benefit of the doubt...if he does not understand something, it is not his fault, and you need to add what he does not know and teach him in a kind, consistent manner.
It sounds as if he does not recognize the rider's leg as an automatic, "Oh, she hugged me with her leg, that means I go forward." response. As you know, a horse has to be taught to go"in front of a rider's leg". Possibly the people training him used harsh leg cues. Some incorrect western trainers even "spur train" their horses to go SLOWER when they feel a spur.
You need to start him over again in this respect-retraining. First of all teach him to lunge correctly. This is a learned skill. You may need to learn this from someone. Make certain that they do it correctly-that the horse learns that lungeing is a calming, suppling experience-not being chased around. The use of your voice is important. There are other replys I have written in HORSE EXPERTS that you might want to read to help in this.
Then have an expert lunge you ON your horse.When they say "walk, or trot", you will HUG, not kick, your horse with your calf and use your voice. Then when he goes forward, you will generously praise him.His learning to go forward will become a reflex.
You mention using a quirt.If a trained horse does not understand about going forward, first of all as a rider you need to be certain that everything YOU are doing is correct and that he is not uncomfortable, i.e. saddle fit.Then you could use a dressage whip lightly behind your leg-about as hard as you would hit your own face. If a horse does not go forward from a whip it is a danger sign that he needs more correct schooling-back to basics. If you hit him and he barely responds, NOT DO THAT AGAIN..you have to go back to the basics. These things, as you know, are not the fault of the horse, any more thasn it is a child's fault if they do not understand how to multiply numbers right away. It just needs to be explained, maybe in different ways,until your horse willingly and readily goes forward from your leg. Let me know about your progress.

1. Teach him to lunge correctly
2. Make certain that you are using the right aids and that you are clear in your "horse language".
3. Do not use spurs. Practice just a hug from your leg.The use of your voice, "walk, Tr.ot! ....good boy".
4. Have an experienced person lunge you on him. That way two people are explaining what you want from him.
5. Further training at first is just the same basics. You will encourage free moment from him, not collectecd gaits at first as you would if you were training him for western later on.

You can write again.I have articles on my website, www.MitziSummers.com
and my regular email address is Summersdressage@aol.com.or write EXPERTS .

1 comment:

  1. If getting an instructor is not one of your plans, then getting a good book geared to beginner horseback rider is the next best thing. In fact, to many it is their first plan.

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