What are some of your tried and true favorite drills to do at home with your free-runner?
My dude is bred all run, built all run, and typically is all run when you ask for speed. Getting him to rate and collect himself has been a struggle. He will if your just cruising through, but ask him for more speed and he loses it. Only thing on his mind is RUN...Im talking a hard, strong, run. He will take multiple steps by a barrel. He is not a newbie to the barrel scene, the person who had him before me spent years treating him like a training baby and never really "asking" for much more. No fault of his own honestly, thats just the way she rode him. I know he has it in him to do it, I have seen it when my hubby entered him while I was preggo. He will have an outstanding run once then the next 2 he falls apart.
Rustynailfl - 2022-08-03 12:36 PM
Your horse would benefit from training of his mind.
You can drill him all day long, but if you don't do something to "flip the switch" so he listens to you instead of him rocketing into flight mode (RUN), the cycle will continue.
Learn how to control his mind, and the rate (thinking side of the brain) will come. Because you'll have control of the body if you have control of the mind.
Think horsemanship, like Phil Haugen.
If you absolutely must have a drill, then head to a Paul Humphrey clinic.
But it all starts with horsemanship, getting your horse soft, responsive, and broke.
When I was competing on my rocket mare I would either simply exercise her (lots and lots of long trotting with some loping), or we would do slow dressage work. Both of these works were done in ring bit only. She knew when her combo bit went on that it was show time. She was still explosive out of the gate but it did help with her responsiveness on the pattern, especially when she went from right hand pattern to lefty. We never went through the pattern at home except at a walk, even when I needed to get used to the lefty first barrel approach. One thing that happened along the way is that I learned that even a free and hard running horse needs to be pushed up into the turn. That can only be learned on the pattern at speed and isn't something that can be drilled on. It's a mind game for the human - my trainer told me to use my ba!!s and just do it, and that's what you have to do.
r_beau - 2022-08-04 11:10 PM
Your horse would benefit from training of his mind.
Completely agree with you on this! My husband is more of a "man-handler" when it comes to horses and I honestly believe that the few months he rode him for me may have just sent him over the edge. I am hoping to bring him back into me, which is why we have literally only been trail riding and working on softness. I need him to realize that I am not him. I will look into your recommendations. Thank you!!
lonely va barrelxr - 2022-08-05 7:45 AM
I have heard it said; push harder turn harder.. im sure not for every horse but I it was the way with my mare. The harder I pushed her, the harder she would turn. If I didnt push, she would get all kinds of strung out.
Rustynailfl - 2022-08-05 10:27 AM
Good to hear. Some horses cannot handle it when they do not have a RELEASE, or have the release at the appropriate time. You will never win a muscle match with a horse. Never. Which is why their mind is so important.
Think of this. Let's say you husband asked the horse to turn to the left, with a left direct rein. Let's say he didn't use his body (seat and legs) to prepare or warn the horse first, and just abruptly picked up on the direct rein to pull him over to the left. Let's also say, horse starts turning left but your husband does NOT release the rein. He wants him to turn more so he keeps pulling, and pulling, until the horse is in the desired direction.
(Not saying your husband did this - totally example purposes here.)
So a few things have happened. We have not given the horse an opportunity to be attentive to our cues. Meaning, we've not given them and chance to first respond to the weight and leg cues. The ultimate softness is when you don't even have to touch the reins at all.
Secondly, the horse was NOT given a release. We are all guilty of releasing our cues TOO LATE. Ideally, when you pick up on the left rein to ask for a direct left turn, you should be dropping your rein and leaving the horse alone the very instant they shift their weight to comply. NOT after they have already moved. Big difference.
And allowing the horse to have responsibility. Allowing them to continue in the maneuvar until we tell them otherwise. For example, if your a reiner and doing a spin, you ask your horse to start with your outside leg (maybe a little tiny neck rein). You allow your horse to move their body off your leg. And then they keep going. You are not nagging on them. You are not touching them. You are just letting them work it. Boy, can they fly when you leave them alone and let them OWN the maneuvar!!
So those are some very fine details to remember when working on softness and bringing a horse back to you. Be on your mark with that release. You want the horse searching for the right answer. Not frustrated because they gave you the right answer but you didn't release correctly.
In a perfect world, this training would carry over to your barrel pattern so that all you had to do to get your free runner ready for the turn, is sit on your seat pockets, and then lightly put more weight on your outside seat bone. And they would bury in that turn. Because you've taught them that! (And how cool would THAT be?) You've given them the confidence to complete that turn on their own, with super light cues from you. You can stay out of their way, and let them work and do their job.
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