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Training tips for reining prospect

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  • Training tips for reining prospect

    I’m a young and still learning trainer. I do take lessons but they a few and far apart due to personal reasons. I have a young mare who is to be my first ever reining horse, she is already started and knows how to do all the basics but it’s time that refine them and finish her.

    the most important thing that I’ve been working on is our transitions, she can get all of the gaits perfectly but she still needs to learn more of the specfifc cues. For the most part I’ve been just doing repetition, For example if I want a slower canter I push my inside leg forward (as I’ve been taught by my trainer) but she only slows down to pulling on the reins just a bit. So I do my cue then the cue she knows and the more I do than eventually I just push my leg forward and she knows. Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think about this (NOT the cue however)

    next thing is is speeding up our spins! Currently we have a very slow but well measured spin which I’m completly okay with for now since she’s stepping correctly but I will want to speed it up. This seems pretty simple just gradually ask for more speed without over doing it but maybe not? Thoughts?

    moving on is our sliding stops. I am pretty lucky to get a mare with fantastic stops, all it takes is a voice command and then we’re stopped. However I have no idea where to start with on the actual sliding aspect of that. I don’t know where to start on this and I haven’t started any sort of research or reading yet so this is up to you guys to help.

    Now I’m looking for more exercises to do, focusing on moving forward and staying straight but any new ideas are appreciated. Currently we’ve only been going over one or two poles at a time so nothing to crazy but what do you all suggest?

  • #2
    Well first I would definitely team up with your trainer, she will be able to tell you more than we can over the internet about your horse but I'll try to answer some of your questions.
    Cueing the slow down is all about repetition. Teach your horse what your cue means...for me, all my horses know slow down is cued by sitting back on pockets, slow body down, open inside leg and hum to them...if they don't respond as well as I would like I just softly pull them in the ground while still humming, back up and then go again. I do this is any spot in the arena however I don't try to teach the slow down to a horse when he's fresh that's just energy working against me. Get your horse loped down before .
    in the spin I like to teach correct footwork and then when I ask for speed if they don't I will take then out of the turn and hustle their feet and basically make it more work to not turn....then I'll ask again, I will do that til they understand that the turn is their happy place, as long as they turn and try to hustle their feet faster when I kiss i don't harass them which brings me to...please don't turn your horse with your leg or spur always on they will get sour and resentful to it. Cue your horse to turn and then correct and add reinforcement when necessary. To me it's very important to go through the aids in order so the horse knows exactly what's coming...i lay my rein on for speed, then kiss and then my leg comes. The horse understand the sequence and what comes next.
    AND as far as stopping, get sliders on your horse before you try to stop your horse if you haven't already, nothing sores a horse quicker than them slamming their hocks in the ground barefoot


    • #3
      There’s no “ Book of Cues” everybody memorizes and moms don’t teach their baby colts how to respond to universal cues.

      Much of riding is based on placing the horses body, controlling it’s balance and adding or subtracting impulsion rather then the rider placing this leg in that position it’s impossible to describe specific cues for specific reactions. All horses are built a bit different and react a bit different and riders are not identicle in size and skill. A 6’2 195 pound rider isnt going to place a leg in the same position as a 5’2” 115 pounder. But both can relate to the feel of displacing the weight on a horses’ haunch or shoulder to initiate a move and use their body to initiate it.

      IMO your time is better spent trying to understand what reaction you are trying to get and working with a trainer to understand how to use your body to set it up and execute it rather then what leg goes where when and how hard to get the desired result

      You know, if your are getting the same quality move with the way you are asking her to slow down instead of what you were told? Don’t see a problem with doing what works for you. That said, moving the inside leg forward to slow down might be to keep her from leaning on that shoulder if she tends to get crooked or drop onto the inside shoulder slowing down and have nothing to do with slowing down the speed. Some teach their WP horses to slow by getting them on three tracks to slow without touching the bridle, maybe that’s part of why 5he leg to slow. Have no idea.

      I was taught sit on your pockets on a Reiner and roll into the saddle to slow, no leg unless they drifted and then only enough to stay straight so you don’t screw up your next move be it a lead change, spin, roll back or a rein back all of which start straight or you are doomed. Always used more seat with weighting and unweighting my hips then leg anyway. That’s what worked for me.

      Anyway, don’t get fixated on cues instead of what you want the horses body to do. It’s hard to explain but it’s more feel then recitation of a memorized cue. In any discipline. There is a GP and Olympic Jumper rider named Margie Goldstein Engle maybe 5’ on tiptoe, her legs dont even get much below the saddle cloth on those 17 handers. She cannot sit in a text book Hunt Seat position with long leg and deep heel with calves brushing the sides of the barrel so the textbook cues didn’t work. She concentrated on what the horse needs to do and gets that done, not where she applies leg pressure. Likewise there are some really tall Reiners who can’t use their legs as a shorter rider would. Doesn’t matter if the job gets done and for both MGE and the tall Reiners, the job gets done very well.

      Think about that and influencing what the horse is doing with its body, not memorizing cues for your body parts.

      Hope this makes sense to you. Could be a breakthrough in your riding and teaching once you grasp it.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


      • #4
        Watch any reining competition video and you will see how, when going to a fast large circle to a small slow one, the cue is to slightly open the inside lower leg/foot a bit, is a general cue for that for any finished reiner.
        Watch this video at 2.01 and you can clealy see the foot cue there to slow and go into the small circle:


        Anyone can get on any one reiner they never rode before and it will work if you do that, is standard cue for reining horses.

        Any other may work too, just that one happen to become the standard.

        Just as saying whoa to stop also works for many horses, no matter what other cues they know.
        If you sit deep, pull on the reins, do whatever else anyone wants to use as a cue to stop, even from the ground, if you say whoa, most horses trained traditionally will stop.

        Reining is a very technical discipline all it's own, where you learn to do certain things a certain way and are scored on just that.

        Sure, sitting back lightly and riding against the motion and all that helps, but the basic cue used today is to move that inside foot out to indicate the slow down into the small circle.


        • #5
          Looking for a video that would show that clue in the previous post, I came across this one of a mustang, after 126 days of training from being started, by a trainer that obviously used reining techniques.

          You can see the sit down deep and feet forward for a stop and melt into the ground, the feet wiggling after that and the horse backing, etc.:


          That trainer did a lot of good work with that horse there in that short of a time.

          Those are specific cues taught to reining horses.
          Some reiners you can barely see their cues, others are more obvious.
          Here, after just a few months riding, the horse still green, more obvious clues are more clear clues, that later can be just a hint for the horse to understand them.


          • Original Poster

            Bluey that cue is EXACTLY what I’m trying to achieve! Sorry for the poor explanation but that’s what I’m trying to teach my horse!


            • #7
              Sorry I missed you were slowing from the large circle to the small...yeah you would definitely need a leg if you are continuing the circle and the horse might take that to mean slowing down elsewhere. That does make sense.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • Original Poster

                @fendeight that’d be my poor explanation sorry!