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  1. #1
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    Question Suggestions about teaching neck reining?

    I would really like your ideas/suggestions/experience in how to teach a youngish horse (8yrs old) how to neck rein.

    This is a rescue horse who is a bit delayed in some areas of training due to her history. Though I've only had her about a month, and we are still getting to know one another, I have found that she does know how to do direct reining just fine, is getting MUCH better on her cues. I have just started working with her about learning how to disconnect the rear quarters and front quarters, etc.

    It would be great if I could smoothly teach her neck reining...she's very willing and quite smart, so I don't anticipate resistance, just need an efficient way to show her how this works.

    I have only taught one other horse to neck rein but that gelding already "sort of" had the idea...this mare is clueless on neck reining at this point in time.

    All ideas/suggestions are welcomed! Thanks in advance!



  2. #2
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    I think of "neck" reining as "leg and seat" reining.

    Use your inside leg to get bend and your outside leg a bit less to indicate "forward into the bend". You can shift your seat a bit too. I find shifting to the outside just a little (I have a lot of weight) helps bring his haunches over and his inside hind more under him.

    In the beginning you can reinforce with the direct rein, but you'll want to feel for her getting the idea. When you direct rein, lay the outside rein along her neck and use the inside rein just ever so slightly to aid in the bend. Even in western, you still want them in the outside rein.

    I practice every ride doing serpentines without using the reins... just legs and seat.

    Oh, and start with just the walk until you feel like she's 'got it'.


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  3. #3
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    Simply a matter of establishing leg/foot cues to go with the direct reining and working from there. Once the horse responds to the leg, begin laying the rein on the neck then re-enforcing with the direct rein if response is slow.
    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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  4. #4
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    Thank you both for your clear and well worded answers! I can actually picture doing what you suggest!

    This mare is very willing and smart, so I would imagine with doing what you have explained and some riding time, we'll do just fine.

    Appreciate the help!



  5. #5
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    Some riders are basically hand riders and those teach horses by using the reins for everything.
    Of course, horses being horses, they really are always listening to all we do, including the little cues we give when we just think of asking for something.

    When we want the horse to move to the right, we may look where we want to go, or look down at the horse and already lead with our body where we want to go, or whatever each one of us does.
    That is part of what horses learn to listen to, along with what our hands do on the reins.

    All that at times confuse a horse, that thinks we want to go to the right, but a hand rider just pulling with the reins and moving the hand to the right is at the same time maybe not seeing he is also pulling with the left rein and so the horse's mouth is being pulled to the left while being asked to move to the right.

    Confused yet?

    My point, be sure what you want to ask and how you want to ask that, then figure all the little steps required to teach first so the horse can understand clearly what you want.

    If by neck reining you mean a horse that is so light in the bridle you can ask it to move any one way with your reins in one hand and barely asking with your hand moving a few inches only, your seat and legs aiding that, as reiners are asked to, then you have to start with a horse that is already well trained to listen to all that.

    Your mare may be already on the way, the concepts you can use to train her further seems to be what you need.
    Try getting help from someone that knows already, best by riding a few minutes on a horse that is already trained well, so you get the correct feel for it.
    Once you have some basics, to train becomes immensely easier.
    No sense in trying to reinvent the wheel on your own.


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  6. #6
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    Bluey is spot on! My hand basically doesn't move, I hold it in a pretty steady position when it come to left/right. By looking thru my corners, my body twists just a teensy bit, my head turns and that shifts enough seat and weight to *steer* in that direction.



  7. #7
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    You can find some excellant videos on youtube too.

    Start trying to ride more with your legs and seat. Do it quietly and slowly.

    Do this a a walk. An instant before you turn her to the right, look to the right and lay your left rein against her neck, then turn. Keep doing it and do it to the left too. Go slow. You need to teach her just to look to the right when you lay your left rein against her neck. Once she's doing it at a walk, you can practice while at a standstill. You just want her to bend her neck. Don't leave the rein laying on her neck. Keep using the cues you are using now, but add the indirect rein. Do it both ways and be consistent. If you and your horse get through this small step, you will be on your way.

    Oh. I assume you aren't pulling on her now. I assume you are just barely bumping her to get your turns.



  8. #8
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    Thumbs up

    Wow, y'all have really helped again...it's like you know stuff and then lose it occasionally or it's just lost in the details until someone says, "hey, remeber to do....XX"...!

    I'll certainly keep it in the front of my mind to "look where I want the horse to go"...yes, I "know" that and usually do that as a matter of course, but keeping it in my mind clearly will help this mare NOT get confused by me!

    Oh, Bluey, yes of course I'm confused! Seriously, though, your info is great...thank you!

    ezduzit, I appreciate your description of how you work it...again, something I "know" but haven't had to THINK about for a while...thx!

    rtph, good suggestions for looking up YouTube vids on this...always helps to SEE someone doing it and lock it in your mind for your own real world plan...oh, and no, I don't think I am pulling on her...but, again, I'll try to be more aware just in case!

    Really appreciate your info and suggestions, everyone! This mare is a real gem, and such a sweetheart and willing horse...it's important to me that I give her my best...I'm no pro, but I'm certainly better for her than her previous (now jailed!) owners that used chains and pitchforks on her to "train" her! Never ceases to amaze me the idiocy that some people do to animals ...this mare is absolutely kind, intelligent, very well mannered, gets on fine with my other horses, good for farrier and vet, responds beautifully to all commands and cues so far...I really cannot imagine WHAT possessed those people to beat her, pitchfork her and starve her nearly to death ...anyway, rant over, but she IS a lovely horse and is responding nicely to our little home here and the other horses I have very nicely and she and I really have a good connection...so it's great to get your ideas/pointers/suggestions so that I can continue to give her a positive training situation (ie, teaching her to neck rein). I'm going slowly with her, but so far she seems eager to "do things" and learn so this is one I'm working on for her.

    Thanks, all!



  9. #9
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    I'm not advocating this method now (that I've grown up and learned much more about riding/training!) but when I was younger, I had a horse that I wanted to teach to neck rein.

    I'm not sure now who told me this "technique" but I crossed the reins and then threw them over the head. So, just below the bit, the reins were crossed. Then, I just reined one handed. When I moved my hand to the right of the neck, it applied right rein pressure (because the left rein really was attached to the right side of the bit so would apply pressure there when left rein was shortened). This also provided the left rein pressure to the neck at the same time. Surprisingly, it worked. Within a month of riding like this, he neck reined without crossed reins like a champ.

    Ah, the things we do before we know any better...
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  10. #10
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    A couple of thoughts:
    1. Vaqueros used the mecate reins for a reason - horsehair is prickly, so when the right (for example) rein was laid against the horse's neck (and the key HOWEVER you're doing it is to simply LAY THE REIN against the neck with absolutely NO contact with the bit), the horse moved away from the prickles. Of course, these were used primarily with a bosal, although nowadays if you see them at all, they're also used with a snaffle.
    2. It's amazing what turning your head - even slightly - does to your weight. You may have to sit in a hard, straight chair to feel this at first, but...you actually shift your weight onto the seatbone on the side toward which you're looking. So looking where you're going actually does give the horse a weight aide. This is also handy to remember when working on flying changes. :-) Or slight bending lines WITHOUT flying changes.

    Carol
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    Equine Photography in the Northeast


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  11. #11
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    Default Neck Reining

    Since your mare direct reins well, simply lay the outside or indirect rein on her neck when you direct rein her. Make sure not to cross your hand over the crest of the neck as this will pull he nose to the outside and confuse her. Do this every time you direct rein her and gradually decrease the direct rein until she responds to the neck rein.

    Be sure to keep the indirect rein light on her neck because if a horse can feel a fly she can feel the light rein. If she does not respond to the indirect rein then just correct her by direct reining.

    Example>
    Right Turn would be squeeze right rein, touch neck with left rein.
    As she progresses in her training just ask her with the left rein first and reinforce with the right or direct rein.

    I have used this method successfully to teach my reining and cutting horses. This will keep them very light and responsive to the reins. Most horses pick this up quickly, less than 30 days training.

    Good luck. I hope I explained this clearly.


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  12. #12
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    Ipcutter, those are really clear instructions...and, likely very appropriate for this mare! Thanks so much!



  13. #13
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    OP, glad I could help, would love an update after a few sessions. Feel free to pm if you like.



  14. #14
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    Sure! I've been ill recently (past few days) and so not riding, but hopefully will do so in a couple of days and I absolutely will let you know what happens. She's such a terrific mare and smart and willing and I would imagine that she'll come to this fairly quickly. It would be such a nice addition to her skills!



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    I'm not advocating this method now (that I've grown up and learned much more about riding/training!) but when I was younger, I had a horse that I wanted to teach to neck rein.

    I'm not sure now who told me this "technique" but I crossed the reins and then threw them over the head. So, just below the bit, the reins were crossed. Then, I just reined one handed. When I moved my hand to the right of the neck, it applied right rein pressure (because the left rein really was attached to the right side of the bit so would apply pressure there when left rein was shortened). This also provided the left rein pressure to the neck at the same time. Surprisingly, it worked. Within a month of riding like this, he neck reined without crossed reins like a champ.

    Ah, the things we do before we know any better...
    Thank you, suckerforhorses, I certainly wasn't going to recommend this technique, but this is what I saw being done to teach neckreining back in the late 70s/early 80s. I wondered if anyone else was going to mention it/had heard or seen it.
    "However complicated and remarkable the rest of his life was going to be, it was here now, come to claim him."- JoAnn Mapson



  16. #16
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    Following up on lpcutter's post- indeed both of mine respond to a very light feel of the rein, at the base of the neck, simply with the one hand on the reins moving 2-3 inches. (Loopy reins, no contact with bit on either side).

    This doesn't mean, though, that I don't continue to work them two-handed with some regularity when working on 'my' riding or gymnastics etc.

    And conversely, every so often I will drop the reins completely, fold my arms, and just do serpentines, circles, figure 8's, etc, using seat and legs.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beverley View Post
    Following up on lpcutter's post- indeed both of mine respond to a very light feel of the rein, at the base of the neck, simply with the one hand on the reins moving 2-3 inches. (Loopy reins, no contact with bit on either side).

    This doesn't mean, though, that I don't continue to work them two-handed with some regularity when working on 'my' riding or gymnastics etc.

    And conversely, every so often I will drop the reins completely, fold my arms, and just do serpentines, circles, figure 8's, etc, using seat and legs.
    We used to say, train with all your aids and combinations of them, perform with whatever aids are appropriate to get the best performance, whatever that may be.


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  18. #18
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    Shoulder, shoulder, shoulder. Neck reining begins with control over the shoulder(s) which translates to how the horse is positioning and using its front legs and where he puts its pivot foot.

    You need to have good inside bend to start. Inside leg holds the pivot foot, outside leg controls the shoulder. The inside shoulder needs to move first. The head and neck should follow. If the shoulder drops or sticks, you lose the pivot foot.

    I'm oversimplifying here...it's complicated, really. Neck reining is all about the horse's body position and degree of flexibility. "Invisible" rider cues only come after a large amount of training on a finished horse.
    Fan of the Swedish Chef



  19. #19
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    GoFish, thanks for that pointer...indeed, I realized as I read your post that the inside leg DOES "hold the pivot point"...guess I just hadn't "seen" that clearly...I'll be aware next ride!



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