Teach My Horse to Stay Collected
by Troy Green
Q. Hi Troy!
I have a 5 year old gelding that was started slow but is really coming along. Last year, he had the year off since I had twin boys. What is your advice on teaching the horse to stay collected? My gelding does for several strides, but then loses it so I have to pick him back up. You can ride him on a draped rein on his right lead but seem to have to help him a lot more on the left lead. Any advice would be appreciated.
A. Hi Tanna,
It’s normal for many horses to be better in one direction than the other. Your gelding is obviously stronger to the right. The best way for you to help him to the left is to treat him like he is a younger/greener horse. Ride with a shorter rein and using your hands and legs get the step you want. Once you help him to get the right rhythm and step, turn loose or drop your hands a bit. At first you will probably only turn loose for a stride, maybe two or three at a time. As he gets better you will be able to ride for longer periods on slack; first five strides, then 10, then half way around the arena, and so on. It’s all about consistency. You need to keep him “under your thumb” so to speak. As soon as he starts to change, catch it then. Often when people ride with too long a rein they miss the small window of opportunity where the correction is needed. If it takes too long for your fix or correction, the horse will not learn to keep their rhythm as well. If you can get comfortable folding your reins like an accordian and or wrapping them around your fingers you can learn to work down the rein and take up eight inches or more in seconds. Timing is everything and the better your timing, the better your horse will be. I’ve had some people when they are learning to fold and wrap their reins that have taken headstalls home and practiced with the headstall on a chair in front of the tv, just working their way up and down the reins with their fingers, learning to maneuver with speed and precision. This is another reason why I prefer a thinner rein that is of a high quality leather-soft and pliable. So to make a long story short, it’s time and repetition that will help your horse improve his self carriage to the left. Get in and out with rhythm and you will see results.
Thanks and best of luck!
Troy Green is a firm believer in the importance of a good foundation for every horse with balance, rhythm, and self-carriage being key. A good foundation equals longevity in the show pen. Troy has won over two dozen All American Quarter Horse Congress Championships in western pleasure, versatility, reining, halter and western riding, and has coached clients to over 50 Congress championships. Troy has three AQHA World Championships and two National Championships under his belt, and has won at all major futurities. He spent three years on the national board of the NSBA.
Troy Green has an extensive background working with youth and amateurs at all levels and of various disciplines. He specializes in pleasure futurity and all around horses.
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