dog & horse books: breeding, training, showing, judging, performance

With the summer show season beginning to gear up, horses and riders will benefit from a bit of tuning up before competing in the big shows. If you compete in Western Trail classes, some helpful tips from Laurie Truskauskas may help you polish your performance and be consistently in the winner’s circle.

Do you find . . . 
that your horse has trouble backing up between the poles? If he is not comfortable backing, dismount and using the reins, ask him for a step back between the poles. If necessary, tap him in the chest in conjunction with the rein aids. When he seems to understand that, mount and ask a person on the ground to tap his chest while you cue him with the reins and your seat. 

To prevent him . . .
from walking out of the poles, ask for only one step at a time and stop between steps. You want the back up to be soft and pretty, so take your time to teach him patience and to wait for your cue. If he rushes to get out of the poles do the same, but count to 20 between each step, or back two steps, halt him, then go forward out of the poles. Keep him attentive to you so that he waits for your cues and does not act on his own initiative.
If you have difficulty . . . 
with your horse sidepassing over the pole, ride up to a fence and ask for a side pass there. Using your reins to keep him straight, cue with a solid leg on the side you want him to move away from and “open the door” on the other side by moving that leg slightly away from his side. Ask for only a step or two at a time until he is comfortable with what you are asking him. If he is not responding with you on his back, dismount and, placing pressure where your leg would be, ask for a sidepass. Return to the saddle, remembering to stay centered and balanced. Ask for the sidepass. Use an assistant on the ground if necessary. Keep the pressure up until he moves, then immediately relax your cue and praise him.
If your horse believes . . .
there are monsters under the bridge, work with him close to the bridge without asking him to cross it for several days. Hand walk him across it both ways, then mount and ask him to walk over. When he voluntarily crosses it, praise him and stay calm, cool and relaxed. If he balks, aim his nose at the center of the bridge. Hold a rein in each hand to keep his nose pointed straight ahead. Urge him forward by bumping him with your legs to move him forward. When he offers a step, stop bumping and praise. Resist the urge to bump harder; simply bump in rhythm until you are able to get a step out of him. Immediately reward him for any try.
Does your horse hesitate . . .
at the gate and refuse to allow you to close it? Break his training into small steps, first by standing parallel to the gate and moving off. Once he is comfortable with that, open the gate wide enough for him to pass through. You may have to let go of the gate while training this until he understands what you are asking. When he is able to walk through the gate, ask for a sharp turn so that you may prepare to latch the gate. If he is unsure, push the gate away from him so he understands that it is not solid and will not be there for him to walk into. If he swings his rump out when backing to latch the gate, use your leg to move him over and hold his hip parallel to the gate. Remember to praise him at each try that he offers.
 LPHOTO9-8.jpg  first by standing parallel to the gate and moving off
ask for a sharp turn so that you may prepare to latch the gate  LPHOTO9-12.jpg
 LPHOTO9-14.jpg use your leg to move him over and hold his hip parallel to the gate
Using this information and the rule book, create several different patterns to practice with. When you and your horse are comfortable with these, then you are ready to impress in the show ring!
From The ABC’s of Trail Class by Laurie Truskauskas   (http://www.alpinepub.com/trail_class.html)