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Adjusting to neck reining?

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  • Adjusting to neck reining?

    More for me than for my horse, who seems to understand the basics. Note: I'm your basic low level ammy English rider.

    As some of you know, I have a degenerative disease (Dupuytren's) in my hands. It's becoming ill-advised to hold a rein in my right hand; I'd already switched my hold to take pressure off the two worst fingers (ring and pinkie), but now the space between middle and ring, which I'd changed to, is showing signs of the disease.

    The mare does basic neck reining, though she isn't always cool with right turns -- this is a combination of her and me probably. Neck reining seems to work better in her Little S hackamore than her regular snaffle bit.

    For me, it's ow ow ow in my left shoulder, which may mean I am too tense there. I carry a dressage whip in the right hand, and if I hold it whippy end up, and rest it back against my shoulder, that seems to be a reminder to keep my right shoulder back, and not grab the reins with my right hand. (My right hand is, of course, dominant.)

    I am not looking for drop-dead gorgeous neck reining, just tips on getting used to it! I may or may not be able to ride for a lot longer; luckily the mare is old and tolerant and not bothered if I fumble the reins.
    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

    1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

  • #2
    A good western horse is not turning just off the neck rein. He is turning off your body weight and off your outside thigh. the rein along the neck is just backup. You shouldn't be pressing so hard against the neck that you feel it in your shoulder.

    it sounds to me that riding as much as possible off your seat and weight is going to be a good thing for your hands. that's something you can do in any discipline. If you have a good independent seat and you ride with consistent posture and aids, most horses will learn to change direction with weight aids quite naturally.

    Yes, horses often prefer to be neck reined in a shank bit (including a hackamore) than a snaffle bit. they can feel the cue coming in a shank bit whereas a snaffle bit only comes into play with full contact.

    most horses are happier to turn one direction than the other. You would need to fix this problem with basic training in bend and flexion, and if you aren't able to do this because of your painful hands, by another trainer.

    But it might very well be your own issue of how you are carrying your weight in the saddle.

    Comment


    • #3
      Neck reining is actually a lot of leg and seat. I will move my inside leg off the horse and increase pressure with my outside leg, and pivot my shoulders slightly to the inside and turn my head as I move the reins.
      "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by quietann View Post
        More for me than for my horse, who seems to understand the basics. Note: I'm your basic low level ammy English rider.

        As some of you know, I have a degenerative disease (Dupuytren's) in my hands. It's becoming ill-advised to hold a rein in my right hand; I'd already switched my hold to take pressure off the two worst fingers (ring and pinkie), but now the space between middle and ring, which I'd changed to, is showing signs of the disease.

        The mare does basic neck reining, though she isn't always cool with right turns -- this is a combination of her and me probably. Neck reining seems to work better in her Little S hackamore than her regular snaffle bit.

        For me, it's ow ow ow in my left shoulder, which may mean I am too tense there. I carry a dressage whip in the right hand, and if I hold it whippy end up, and rest it back against my shoulder, that seems to be a reminder to keep my right shoulder back, and not grab the reins with my right hand. (My right hand is, of course, dominant.)

        I am not looking for drop-dead gorgeous neck reining, just tips on getting used to it! I may or may not be able to ride for a lot longer; luckily the mare is old and tolerant and not bothered if I fumble the reins.
        You have to decide which kind of neck reining you want.

        The drapey rein, horse in true self carriage all on it's own, you use all other aids to guide, the reins in one hand only move a couple inches to prepare the horse?

        Or the kind of two reins in one hand because you are doing something else with the other and still keep contact with the bit, as in so much else in western riding that may require speed and roping?

        Whatever way you want to handle the reins, it all starts with teaching the horse to respond to all aids and then phase out the reins to a minimum, no matter what you have on it's head, or a neck strap or even nothing, the horse listening and responding properly to all other aids.
        For that, reining would be a good start.

        Reining is not only about doing the show required reining movements.
        Those are only one way to teach the horse to respond.
        Those are later refined to show standard if showing is the goal.
        Once they learn the basics, you can ride using that training to do most any other you want to do.
        Many roping and cutting trainers today start their colts reining because of that making handling the horse later easier, a bit like using dressage to make a jumper easier to handle around a course.

        That all above is just one more way for you to explore what all you may want to try, to get your horse to respond in a way that will help you communicate without needing the kind of contact with both reins you seem to be working with now, that hurts your hand.

        Comment


        • #5
          While the other responses have covered a lot of great information, to speak to the hackamore that you're using - the Little S Hackamore is one of our most popular hackamores and has been for quite some time. It is part of our Stage B, meaning that we recommend it for transitioning to neck reining, it's fantastic as an all-around piece for horses that have natural rate, and provides great flex and lift for barrel racing, slow work, and training.

          However, if you have been using it for a while, and are finding that your horse may need something with some more neck reining potential, it may be time to move to Stage C, where neck reining is a way of life. Something like the 993 Nice 'n Gentle Hackamore, or the hackamores by Charmayne James, Molly Powell, or Jim Warner may help you find that extra bit of sensitivity.

          What we would recommend, if possible, would be to try to have a trainer watch you ride, so that they can help you figure out which may be the best option for you and your horse

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you everyone!

            Of course I get the usual feedback from those with a more Western background "You dressage people need to let go of your horses' faces!" The mare thinks so, too.

            Remember I am becoming more impaired in my hands ... I am not likely to get perfect seat and leg cues, but the less I use my hands, the better. Mare is good to the left, a little resistant to the right. We have a chiropractor coming Tuesday to look at her. No doubt some of the problem is me, as my upper body is not symmetric, or even close, thanks to a bad riding accident about 10 years ago. So part of the problem with turning right is that *I* can't turn my upper body to the right as much as I can to the left.

            I've been working on voice training her for a while now... I am not looking to go bridleless but am adding voice as a tool, to make up for my hands.

            CircleY -- The Little S has been a great hackamore for this horse. She is not fond of anything that goes under her chin right behind her lips, like a regular curb chain or a flash noseband. The Little S with the higher curb chain suits her better.

            As for getting a trainer to look at us -- I am working on it! A nice Western trainer who won't laugh at my English ways would be helpful.
            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

            Comment


            • #7
              I have been working on something with my boy. I drop the reins and make him turn with leg pressure, right leg at the girth and left leg behind the girth to go right and vice versa, both legs equal pressure (very light) to go straight. He has gotten pretty good at it. I started at the walk and would twitch the reins to support the movement in the beginning, but I can now direct him on the buckle at a sitting trot and make him go in circles or figure eights with only leg cues. This is not so I don't have to use my hands, I just want him to be very responsive to my legs and listen to them better and it has worked, his lateral work has gotten much better. Maybe this can help your situation?

              Comment


              • #8
                You train your horse for how YOU need to ride with your ailments. As an example, Amberley Synder has taught her horses how to barrel race and control each part of their body without leg or seat cues and ONLY the reins .... since she's paralyzed from the waist down. (If you are interested in watching the TV episodes, here they are one and two Very interesting! )

                Just remember that you can train your horse to ride however you need it to respond. After all, that's what training is! You train the horse to respond a certain way to a certain cue.

                So if you would rather make your horse better at seat and leg cues b/c that works better for you, then do that. It's all about pressure and release. Reward the horse when they do what you want by removing the pressure (cue). Then they learn that's what you wanted. Make sure to release the pressure immediately so they get an immediate reward and can make the connection.

                As far as the neck reining, you rein the horse how is most comfortable to you. Don't worry that it's not "accepted" or the "right" way to neck rein. You are obviously not jerking on the horse or anything of that fashion - you are just limited in what your body will allow you to do. Use the same "pressure and release" theory and your horse will eventually learn what you want him to do.
                Last edited by beau159; Nov. 29, 2018, 06:42 PM.
                It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Quiet Ann-Riding primarily from your seat and leg should have been part of your basic education in dressage. As far as hunt seat goes, I agree that the riders can look locked in position. But not if you've been listening to George.

                  It is not too late to start more actively using your legs, and you will find that correct use of your legs will place your weight where it needs to be, without you thinking about.it

                  When for one reason or another my student needs a walk lesson, we usually go reinless. It does wonders for them.
                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As I was saying

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImzUgnhV-EU

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEfm606tDZ8
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by quietann View Post
                      Thank you everyone!

                      Of course I get the usual feedback from those with a more Western background "You dressage people need to let go of your horses' faces!" The mare thinks so, too.

                      Remember I am becoming more impaired in my hands ... I am not likely to get perfect seat and leg cues, but the less I use my hands, the better. Mare is good to the left, a little resistant to the right. We have a chiropractor coming Tuesday to look at her. No doubt some of the problem is me, as my upper body is not symmetric, or even close, thanks to a bad riding accident about 10 years ago. So part of the problem with turning right is that *I* can't turn my upper body to the right as much as I can to the left.

                      I've been working on voice training her for a while now... I am not looking to go bridleless but am adding voice as a tool, to make up for my hands.

                      CircleY -- The Little S has been a great hackamore for this horse. She is not fond of anything that goes under her chin right behind her lips, like a regular curb chain or a flash noseband. The Little S with the higher curb chain suits her better.

                      As for getting a trainer to look at us -- I am working on it! A nice Western trainer who won't laugh at my English ways would be helpful.
                      When you turn, try taking your inside leg completely off the horse and move it a few inches away from her barrel. Think of it as "opening the door" so she can turn in that direction with nothing presenting opposing pressure. I do this when I side pass. It will not give you a real "correct" turn with her shoulder standing up, but it sounds like you are looking for safe, easy and responsive, and it can help as she learns. You can refine once she really gets the gist of it.
                      "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Palm Beach-it's a basic tenet of riding to bend the horse around the inside leg.

                        If the outside knee and thigh turn the shoulder around the inside leg, the horse will turn.
                        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Ok today went pretty well. I focused on keeping my shoulder down, so I didn't get sore. Carried a dressage whip upright and pressed against my right shoulder as a reminder to keep that shoulder back. We went on a little trail ride, and in the outdoor arena for a bit, and then the indoor. The only place I really needed my right hand was when dealing with opening and shutting a gate... It was partway open so just needed to be shifted, and I put the reins in my right hand while using the left on the gate. She doesn't like being right up against a gate, but she was all right.

                          I can be really "handsy" but at the same time I'm pretty comfortable just holding the reins in one hand, walk trot and canter. The mare is plenty sensitive to weight cues, and as I said originally, she "gets" neck reining. I am very lucky to have this particular horse.

                          ​.Beau 159, you're right - I'm looking for what works as someone who rides for pleasure and now has some challenges.
                          You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                          1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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