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Train old horse to neck rein or new boyfriend to ride with contact?

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  • Train old horse to neck rein or new boyfriend to ride with contact?

    Not sure if this would be better in the Trail forum but I thought I would start here.

    Situation: my boyfriend likes my horses and wants to ride. Great! He rode horses western when he was a little kid and learned how to neck rein on what I imagine were relatively well-trained horses.

    The horse he's riding is my Trakehner, who is a retired show horse. He was trained in both dressage and jumping and goes in an eggbutt snaffle. The first ride yesterday went great, but the concept of riding with contact is completely foreign to BF. I got a western saddle but we're using his regular bridle. The goal here is easy going walk/trot rides around the property and eventually in the adjoining park.

    So, a couple questions:

    1) Would it make more sense to teach the horse to neck rein or the rider to ride with contact? Neither pick up new things particularly quickly. The horse is usually quiet but he does have some "go" in him and isn't a babysitter outside of the arena.

    2) If it makes more sense to teach the horse to neck rein, should he go in a curb bit? I don't think he's ever had a curb in his mouth, but I'm not sure. I've know how to neck rein and ride with a curb, but I've never trained a horse to do it.

    My initial thought is I'm better at instructing humans than training horses and on the chance the horses gets a little lively about something riding with direct contact would be better.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Why does he need to trail ride on contact? I don't know anyone who does that regardless of their style of saddle. Horses need to be able to use their head and neck going up and down hills. Teach your boyfriend to direct rein in the direction he wants to turn.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home

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    • #3
      With enough direct rein work as well as your boyfriend using his leg to help cue a turn, your horse should pick up neck reining relatively quickly. I've never actually taught any of mine to neck rein; they just pick it up as they go along. And they neck rein fine in a snaffle. For most horses I've ridden that do neck rein - the majority of the steering isn't coming from the bridle, it's coming from the seat and legs.

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      • #4
        Although I work with beginner riders being told to neck rein daily, I really don't get it. In my mind, neck reining is for skilled riders on finished (western) horses. Otherwise you just have a lot of static/muddled communication and not a lot of control. So then you need a shanked bit for brakes rather than for subtle communication, roundness and vertical flexion on very light contact.

        I agree with Laurierace and Tee; I rarely use much contact on the trail and while I usually direct rein, my rides have generally picked up neck reining through context. If I'm cueing a turn with my seat, squeezing my outside leg and pressing the rein against the outside of the neck and there is a fork in the road, it really should make sense to the horse to turn. If they are confused, quickly catching the inside rein to directly cue the turn reinforces the lesson.

        Your boyfriend doesn't need to be asking for vertical flexion on the trail. Your horse who goes well in an eggbutt doesn't need a shanked curb in addition to less experienced hands. Anyone who rides a horse should (IMO) know how to direct rein. But you can compromise by teaching your horse to go nicely on a loose rein, and if your boyfriend is fair with his aids, you could go for any number of stronger bits on the line between an eggbutt snaffle and a shanked curb bit.

        If the BF won't be riding in the front of a group of horse or on narrow trail, instruct him to use a one-rein stop if the horse gets too strong. I don't like the one-rein stop as the universal solution to all problems, but it could be useful here.

        Lucky you finding a guy who wants to ride!
        Last edited by HillnDale; Sep. 17, 2012, 12:00 AM. Reason: (edited for a glaring typo. gazing typos left as they were.)
        An auto-save saved my post.

        I might be a cylon

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't think horse will do better for BF with constant contact. BF will probably be too heavy on the reins just because he lacks skills horse is used to. Plus if he already is hanging on the reins constantly, horse never gets relief, won't notice the pull if he wants to spook or go faster.

          A suggestion is to put horse in a mechanical hackamore, with nothing in his mouth to bug him. Then teach BF to use outside leg WITH outside rein, to get horse to fake a neck rein response when asked to turn. All our horses can do the fake neck rein thing, fools everyone. I would also have BF use BOTH HANDS on the reins, which will keep his body balanced and not leading with one shoulder or weighting one hip. That is hard on a horse being ridden for distance or over a couple hours time out on the trails.

          The mechanical hackamore should not need constant contact, but will give some leverage pressure if horse gets very strong to slow or stop. I use a mechanical hackamore for little kids who have poor balance, might be hanging on the reins, but NEED to be able to stop the bigger and stronger horse. Kid MUST win every time! Person safety ALWAYS trumps horse comfort for that moment of stopping!! Horse has to stay under kid's/rider control. With no mouthpiece, horse mouth is not getting pulled or ripped on by rein leverage. Leverage with curb strap, still keeps horse controllable for the rookie riders.

          I would suggest a mechanical hackamore like this model, with addition of a fleece noseband over the rubber part. Makes it quite comfortable to the horse nose. I would remove that chain curbstrap, probably try a leather one if your horse is not used to leverage bits. Some horses can just work better in chain curbs than they do in leather. You will need to ride and see how he responds to make your choice. He sounds like a bigger horse, so you use the curb strap or chain that works for him, to get him stopped.

          http://www.jeffersequine.com/rubber-...D3/cn/1101511/

          I would NOT recommend the English Mechanical Hackamore, because I have seen horses run right thru them. No stopping power, even with the chain curbstrap. I believe the lack of stop is because the cheeks are not fixed firmly to a solid noseband, leather straps just fold up, sides dig into horse face with no real leverage action. I have only seen them used by folks who see them as kind and fuzzy, no real knowledge of needing to STOP a powerful horse. Never see them at any Western activities, because they don't work as needed to keep control of the horse. So do NOT buy this model:

          http://www.jeffersequine.com/jeffers...DQ/cn/1101511/

          I think you can finesse both the horse and BF, teach them a few new things, so they can cooperate on trail rides if you use the mechanical hackamore. It will let you have a more enjoyable ride, not worrying about BF losing control of a big horse who is not a beginner ride. Horse is comfortable, not being nagged in the mouth with untrained hands while you are out.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you all for the replies. Yes, I am definitely lucky - he likes the horses, the Poodle, and even the cats. The smell of manure does make him gag, but I think he's being a bit dramatic.

            A bit of clarification - by "contact" I mean having a light feel of the horse's mouth so one could use a direct or leading rein. BF learned that reins should be very long and you ride from your seat and legs and use a neck rein. He understands everything except using a direct rein. I don't have concern about him hanging on the horse's mouth, but rather concern about not having any contact at all.

            Originally posted by goodhors View Post
            I think you can finesse both the horse and BF, teach them a few new things, so they can cooperate on trail rides if you use the mechanical hackamore. It will let you have a more enjoyable ride, not worrying about BF losing control of a big horse who is not a beginner ride. Horse is comfortable, not being nagged in the mouth with untrained hands while you are out.
            A hackamore is a great idea and one I had not thought of. I *am* concerned about stopping power outside of a controlled environment. The horse is not huge, but a solid 16hh old-style warmblood. He's 25 but still has some "get up and go" in him, and does see the occasional goblin. BF is doing a nice job of learning to read the horse's body language and watch his ears, and he chooses to wear a helmet, which is good. Horse is doing a nice job of channeling a western pleasure mount and is walking around quietly.

            I think I'll set up some cones to weave through to practice steering; it should help both horse and rider. BF did very well last night riding to specific letters and halting or turning at a designated spot, and he was decent with some large serpentines. I'm trying to keep the rides short and fun and frequent - yesterday was 15 minutes, today will be 15-20.

            Thanks again!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by TrakHack View Post
              A bit of clarification - by "contact" I mean having a light feel of the horse's mouth so one could use a direct or leading rein. BF learned that reins should be very long and you ride from your seat and legs and use a neck rein. He understands everything except using a direct rein. I don't have concern about him hanging on the horse's mouth, but rather concern about not having any contact at all.
              I've ridden trail horses that direct reined with no contact, no problem. From watching, I find that the folks used to VERY loose reins tend to figure out pretty quickly that they need to shorten their reins a bit so that they don't have to move their entire arm to signal a change in direction, but the reins can still be loose with no regular contact. It's just keeping them from being so long that you look like a windmill when you're trying to take up the slack to turn.

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