More Body Control Needed

by Dana Hokana | May 16th, 2011 11:32 AM | No Comments

(A follow up question to Dana’s article titled “Seven Steps to Slow Your Horse Down”)

Q. I have tried everything except cross cantering, which I will not try because when I first got her she would not pick-up the right lead. Any help on slowing her down at a lope would be greatly appreciated. Also any advice on getting her to carry her head low?


A. Theresa, in reading your question, I feel like what you need for your mare is more body control.  If you gain control of her body you will be able to get the correct lead with no problem and even counter-canter, position her and put her anywhere you want.  Ii also want to encourage you to focus on her willingness.  As you gain control of her hindquarters, shoulders, head and neck pay attention to her response.  If she is not accepting your cues she will show it through her body language, such as her ears, tail and mouth.  She may also run off a leg cue or lay into a leg cue.  All of these show a lack of acceptance, which will back fire later if you don’t deal with it.  A well broke horse in my opinion will be willing to give to your cues.  If she shows unwillingness stay with it until she develops a level of acceptance.

I say all this because for you to reach your goals, I feel you need to gain control of her body and then gain collection to slow her down.  I would start by getting control of her hindquarters.  Get her to where you can isolate her hindquarters from her front end and push them over off of your leg.  This will build the foundation for you to be able to control her lead and eventually her speed. Pay close attention to if she is leaning into your leg as it sounds like that may be the case.  Also, teach her that when you touch her face she needs to give and flex in the head and neck.  Many hours in the saddle will be needed to have her a broke willing horse.  In my opinion the right way to control speed is with collection and then teaching them to stay where you put them.  When I collect my horse I encourage them to reach deep behind which gives them more lift, I also want them to “lock in” and get a rhythm cadence.  It sounds like as you gain more control of her head, neck and body you will be able to control her speed.  I would also really encourage you to have a qualified trainer evaluate her.  I hope this helps you!

Thank you,

Dana Hokana

About the Author

Dana Hokana is one of the top female trainers in the Quarter Horse industry, and currently operates Dana Hokana Quarter Horses in Temecula, California. Raised in Southern California, she has had a lifelong love for horses. Dana has trained multiple Western Pleasure circuit champions, winners at major futurities, and horses who have placed in the top ten in Western Pleasure at both the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the AQHA World Championship Show. Riding her own stallion, Invested Dimension, she captured an AQHA Reserve World Championship title in Senior Western Pleasure.

Dana’s DVD series entitled “The Winning Strides Series,” is designed to educate horse owners and riders from the basics of horse handling and horsemanship, to competing at high levels in the show arena. Skilled at teaching in an encouraging, relaxed, non-intimidating way, she carries these traits into the instruction in her video series. Dana will be a featured clinician at the Mane Event in Red Deer, Alberta, and has spoken at the Equine Affaire in Pomona, California and was a clinician at the Equine Affaire in Massachusetts and Columbus, Ohio, focusing on topics from grooming to western pleasure.

Now is your chance to have your questions answered by Dana! Just submit your question using the comment section below or the email link, and she will respond to select questions in future posts.

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