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A "cowboy whoa"

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  • A "cowboy whoa"

    How do you install one?

    I had a horse once who would stop on a dime with just the utter of a "whoa." He was a freak otherwise but this was his one redeeming quality. It didn't matter how badly he was losing his mind if you said whoa, he stopped. It was odd because the rest of the time there was this huge disconnect going on in his brain....

    I'm pretty sure it was put on him via the use of some extremely large/harsh bits and some rough hands.

    So how would you go about installing a completely fail safe whoa on a horse? I mean the kind where you say WHOA and they STOP no matter what you are doing and do not move AGAIN even if you are standing there for 25 minutes.

    Just curious.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    I don't know but I have known a few horses with these special brakes installed and they were all put there by, well, cowboys! Not big bits and harsh hands, but actual cowboys/western trainers who were very good at their jobs.
    http://burpclothsandsaddlepads.blogspot.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      Lots and lots and lots of repetition. My western pleasure gelding has a stop on a dime whoa, trained while he was still in a snaffle as a three year old. He will also ground tie, tell him whoa, walk away, get something you forgot, and come back and he is still in one place.

      I don't think you need to use harsh methods to train it.
      There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

      Comment


      • #4
        Not necessarily with bits or harsh hands.

        I've installed some on a few horses on the ground first while lunging. Whoa means WHOA and don't move until otherwise told. Undersaddle, they just hear whoa and park it.

        I'm curious to see how others have installed their handy dandy brakes.

        Edited to state, whoa means just that: STOP, not slow down, not think about stopping, just WHOA.

        I hate it when people tell their horses to whoa when they really just want them to slow down or change gaits or something. Hard for the word to be concrete in so many different uses.
        Semi Feral

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          I figured there had to be "real" ways of installing this nice feature.... I mean I can put a whoa on a horse but I'm talking the really serious stop that you can get from any gait in any moment.

          It's ironic because I am riding a little horse right now whose former life was as a cowpony in WY. He's not done much since coming here to NY 18 months ago. He is so much fun in every way but man the horse WILL NOT STAND STILL EVER when we are outside. I kind of don't care because he's not malicious at all, just wants to be moving and doing a job. If we are working and I say whoa he will offer a downward transition but he doesn't have that really serious WHOA on him like I would have expected given his background.
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think the key is whoa means whoa, stop and stand each and every time you say it - consistency. And to enforce it when training, I sit back, say whoa, then apply the reins until they stop. I only say the word once. As soon as they stop, release the pressure. Repeat as necessary (but I don't mean drill on it in one training session). On a greenie, I will work on this near the end of the ride, as they are more willing to stop and stand after working for a bit. With enough repetition, some horses will actually stop as soon as you sit deep, if they are sensitive and tuned in enough. Most will slow when you sit deep, and then stop when you say whoa.

            If the issue is that the horse stops but won't stand still, as soon as they try to step forward, ask for a backup, and try again. Timing is also tricky with a horse that is in a hurry, you need to be the one to ask them to move foward again before they want to. Also, when you want them to stand, you need to release all cues and relax, so that the horse can relax. One thing that helps with a rushing horse is to walk a bit, then stop and just chat with someone, so that the horse realizes that standing still really is a good thing, and because you are chatting, you are not transmitting any nervous energy to the horse.

            My neighbor marvels at the fact that I can be riding, and she can come by, I stop and we stand and chat for a good 10 minutes, and my horse just stands. This works both mounted and on the ground.
            There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post

              I'm pretty sure it was put on him via the use of some extremely large/harsh bits and some rough hands.
              Not at all. I've done it many times and in fact it becomes quite solid before you ever get to the curb bit. You don't even have to use 'whoa.' You don't even need a bit, a halter or bosal will do just fine. I trained a mare as a teenager to stop on the SSSSSS sound. Had a lot of fun over the years using the verbal cue on her while others were riding her.

              Consistency and repetition are what you need. You teach the verbal cue while still in ground work before you ever back the horse. And reinforce it after you start under saddle whenever you happen to work them on the ground. Even leading.

              Mind you, that's just the stop. The stand still til I tell you to move is a different thing. Again, consistency and repetition. Random and senseless halting while you are working in the arena or on the trail. Heck, take a book with you, halt, read a few pages. Or just mosey around the stable area and halt and chat with people. Really, for me, it's the most important 'gait,' and few people think it's important to teach. Or just don't think about it, I guess. But it takes just as much practice as good solid gaits or good solid jumping.

              Comment


              • #8
                I installed it on my trail horse last summer, working with a reining trainer. Here's how we did it from the saddle.

                Sit down, stop your body and say WHOA like you mean it. If horse doesn't stop within 2-3 strides, say it again and add hands. If horse consistently ignores WHOA and requires hands, get a bit more insistent and add a few steps backwards to the process (e.g. stop and backup 4 steps).

                Once horse is stopped, expect it to stand still. If he takes 2 steps forward, you ask for 4 steps back. At first, only ask him to stand as long as you think he can do it so that you can reward success - for my greenie this was sometimes as short as a count to 3 or 4 at first. Gradually increase the time.

                We worked at WHOA at the walk until he consistently had it. Then we added it at the trot, the lope, the gallop, etc. The key for me was meaning it with my voice, my body and my reaction if he ignored me. At first we mainly worked on this when he was already tired or relaxed.

                As for standing after whoaing? I had my best success working on the whoa and standing on trails or during cool down or warm up - times when I wasn't in a hurry and could just be really still and patient.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Use your body and your voice, over and over again. No harsh bit, no rough hands. And be firm - say it like you mean it, and expect it when you say it.

                  I worked with a horse a few summers ago who had issues with whoa. She was a wrangler horse who often ended up at the back of the line on trails, and she HATED it. She'd attempt to run forward the entire time, completely ignoring the bit (she went in a snaffle) and anything the rider did. Anyway, one method we used was to take her places that had enough space to canter for awhile, preferably with a bit of incline. We'd canter until she attempted to break, then keep going some more. After a bit longer, I'd ask for a halt. I think it worked because it taught her to rebalance herself, and as MunchinsMom said she concentrated better after she was a bit more tired/towards the end of the ride. We did this for about half the summer a few times a week, varying the length of the canters. We also did lots of transition work walk/trot as well which seemed to help. I never rode this horse in a stronger bit than an egg butt snaffle.
                  "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                  "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by UrbanHennery View Post
                    I installed it on my trail horse last summer, working with a reining trainer. Here's how we did it from the saddle.

                    Sit down, stop your body and say WHOA like you mean it. If horse doesn't stop within 2-3 strides, say it again and add hands. If horse consistently ignores WHOA and requires hands, get a bit more insistent and add a few steps backwards to the process (e.g. stop and backup 4 steps).

                    Once horse is stopped, expect it to stand still. If he takes 2 steps forward, you ask for 4 steps back. At first, only ask him to stand as long as you think he can do it so that you can reward success - for my greenie this was sometimes as short as a count to 3 or 4 at first. Gradually increase the time.

                    We worked at WHOA at the walk until he consistently had it. Then we added it at the trot, the lope, the gallop, etc. The key for me was meaning it with my voice, my body and my reaction if he ignored me. At first we mainly worked on this when he was already tired or relaxed.

                    As for standing after whoaing? I had my best success working on the whoa and standing on trails or during cool down or warm up - times when I wasn't in a hurry and could just be really still and patient.
                    I agree with this, very effective with time and patience. Western trainers use a lot more of the "back" command than we do and it is very useful for teaching "whoa".

                    My horses are all trained to have two different commands, "whoa" and "easy". "Easy" means slow down but not stop. It is my favorite and I use it a lot. so much nicer to use that on course with a hunter if I need to make an adjustment, you never have to touch the reins. I say it very softly,though, so the judge can't hear.

                    "Whoa" I use but not much, it is hard on the hocks to go from a canter to a stop with voice command only as they tend not to be as balanced as they would with supporting aids. I use it more from a walk or sometimes trot, to make sure it is still there.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      The horse I spoke of in my first post was definitely muscled into the "whoa." I saw the bit his previous owner was riding him in, and he had some other lovely training issues that developed as a result. "Whoa" was so installed that it also involved backwards and up at times. Well, it did if you touched his face at all, even the tiniest bit.

                      I was able to undo the backwards and the rearing (though I don't think rearing is ever truly undone) and we were left with just a nice "whoa" but poor pony definitely had some crap training prior to coming to me.

                      Now opposite is this little guy I am riding who feels the need to be moving his feet constantly. We refer to him as a Labrador because he really acts like one.... always happy and asking ok what are we doing now.... I'm trying to be careful about stifling the energy because I don't want to end up with a horse that goes backward or up when you won't let him go forward.

                      He's so much fun to ride but it would be nice if we could get the stand still thing down, especially on trail. If he were allowed to trot or canter the entire trail ride he'd be fine. Walking, forget it! Apparently that's boring.
                      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MunchkinsMom View Post
                        I think the key is whoa means whoa, stop and stand each and every time you say it - consistency.
                        This is what I was going to say. Success in training a horse to do anything is always dependent on handler consistency.
                        ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
                          The horse I spoke of in my first post was definitely muscled into the "whoa." I saw the bit his previous owner was riding him in, and he had some other lovely training issues that developed as a result. "Whoa" was so installed that it also involved backwards and up at times. Well, it did if you touched his face at all, even the tiniest bit.

                          I was able to undo the backwards and the rearing (though I don't think rearing is ever truly undone) and we were left with just a nice "whoa" but poor pony definitely had some crap training prior to coming to me.

                          Now opposite is this little guy I am riding who feels the need to be moving his feet constantly. We refer to him as a Labrador because he really acts like one.... always happy and asking ok what are we doing now.... I'm trying to be careful about stifling the energy because I don't want to end up with a horse that goes backward or up when you won't let him go forward.

                          He's so much fun to ride but it would be nice if we could get the stand still thing down, especially on trail. If he were allowed to trot or canter the entire trail ride he'd be fine. Walking, forget it! Apparently that's boring.
                          What you have is a series of training issues. Depending on what type of system you use there will be different approaches to each problem. But the issue, at the end of the day, is how the horse is trained. That's the duty and responsibility of the human.

                          G.
                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Best Whoas are taught on the ground

                            Preferably without a bit because honestly as a western rider I want a horse stopping without reins. It's sit in your pockets and verbal whoa and that tail better be tucked and I wouldn't mind a nice STRAIGHT pair of lines in the sand behind me.
                            Now to get that starts on the lunge line with all the other verbal cues. We do use back up a lot cause it's an easy way to get the but under and also it's for the ropers cause they want the slack taken off when they have a calf or cow on the string.
                            Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                            Originally Posted by alicen:
                            What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                              WBut the issue, at the end of the day, is how the horse is trained. That's the duty and responsibility of the human.

                              G.
                              Agreed wholeheartedly.

                              I'veridden said horse about 5 times now, and will only get maybe another 4-5 rides on him before he leaves. If he were to stay longterm I think I could have his happy feet worked out in a few month's time, as he's smart and sensible just has had no consistency.

                              Anyway, while riding this horse last night I was thinking about old horse, with his stop on a dime feature and just got to wondering.....
                              We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by leilatigress View Post
                                Preferably without a bit because honestly as a western rider I want a horse stopping without reins. It's sit in your pockets and verbal whoa and that tail better be tucked and I wouldn't mind a nice STRAIGHT pair of lines in the sand behind me.
                                Now to get that starts on the lunge line with all the other verbal cues. We do use back up a lot cause it's an easy way to get the but under and also it's for the ropers cause they want the slack taken off when they have a calf or cow on the string.
                                Yeah that is the kind of stop I am talking about. The one where you sit down and think whoa, and they do it.

                                Said pony will do this to some degree, not consistently, and once he stops for a second his feet are moving sideways, forward, back and he wants to GO.

                                I'm really hesitant to do the backing up thing as I've seen it turn into an evasion. Thoughts?
                                We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I don't have any advice, but this thread is interesting and I can't wait to see the responses.

                                  As a kid, we got a new mare into the lesson barn I rode at. I was the first to ride her and while in my lesson, one of the other students told her horse to whoa, well...the mare I was on WHOA'd and off I came! I flew up over her head and she stood there looking at me like I had 4 heads! "What are you doing down there? You asked me to stop!?" The previous owners didn't mention her amazing response to whoa!
                                  From then on, the BO was always careful to warn everyone of her whoa!
                                  She was always my go-to...I loved that mare! She was the biggest chicken ever, and dealt with it by turning tail and running but she could always be stopped with a a quiet whoa.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    If the horse decides to use it as evasion a roll back or 10 will correct that in a hurry. Point of a western horse is to get them to work off the back end while still staying balanced. How you get there is done many different ways and each is determined by the trainer and the horse. I do use the round pen for 40% of my ground work and I do not ever introduce a new gait or transition while riding. I do it from the ground, but I'm also not trying to get extended trots, piaffes or passages. I do basics not anything finished and certainly nothing that can go to a recognized event as anything other than green.
                                    Now for Happy Feet, that one feeds off of your energy and it's the calm cool nothing phases me trainer that will get the most from it. That one requires someone to really click with and a good leader but not a harsh one. Keep praise to a minimum if he over reacts to it. Meaning a good boy gets a new dance or foot shuffling. I'd get off of that one if he's dancing on the line and praise for a couple of steps of no dancing and build from there. I like the phrase Easy as that means calm down whatever we are facing will not kill you. They want that word when facing a new challenge since it means rider acknowledges there is a new challenge and I need not to get frazzled cause rider will take care of me. All about the trust and answering the questions they ask.

                                    Stallion at our barn is a dancer on the line and I despise it. There is nothing to impress and I am not impressed with the display so I will literally stand there in one spot until he decides to stop. No yanking, no smacking, no speaking just stand there like a statue and ignore it. He can't get to turn out cause we ain't moving, he can't get to food cause we ain't moving so he will stop and ask me why. The moment he stops I say good boy and try again. It took about 10 minutes to get the idea across and now we go from A to B without the damn dancing.
                                    Last edited by leilatigress; May. 11, 2011, 10:38 AM.
                                    Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                                    Originally Posted by alicen:
                                    What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
                                      How do you install one?
                                      I'm pretty sure it was put on him via the use of some extremely large/harsh bits and some rough hands.

                                      Just curious.

                                      ummm horses cannot be bullied into the "whoa" you are talking about.

                                      they learn it thru repetition and fairness...very good hands, good timing and patience..

                                      as a horse undersaddle only reflects its rider...they are content to be where they are or they would just get up and go.

                                      Tamara
                                      Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                      I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post
                                        ummm horses cannot be bullied into the "whoa" you are talking about.

                                        they learn it thru repetition and fairness...very good hands, good timing and patience..

                                        as a horse undersaddle only reflects its rider...they are content to be where they are or they would just get up and go.

                                        Tamara
                                        Ok but I'm 100% sure the horse I had, who whoa'd like that, was taught it under duress.

                                        My point is I want to know how to teach it without the threat of bodily harm. lol.
                                        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

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