It doesn’t matter if you compete or prefer spending time with your horse on a ranch or trail, you need to be able to steer him with your hands and feet. Being able to subtly guide your horse in the show pen will also help you mark higher scores, and it can help you stay safe when you’re doing a difficult manuever, like circling a cow, where you need to be able to quickly steer your horse.
A sliding stop is one of the most exciting parts of a reining pattern, but it’s also a maneuver many riders struggle with getting right when they’re in the show pen. When I work with a rider who is having trouble with stopping, it’s usually not the stop that’s the problem, but the rundown that happens beforehand.
It doesn’t matter what you do with your horse, being able to move his feet willingly is a skill that you should have in your toolbox. Having control over each foot can help you avoid trailering problems, and it can also allow your horse to get more comfortable going over obstacles like bridges or ditches that you might face on a trail.
If you’re not getting your lead change in the correct part of your pattern, chances are you’re leaving points on the table. While changing leads in the center of the arena might seem easy, many riders struggle with finding center and staying straight before, during, and after a flying lead change.
Mastering a maneuver like this takes time, patience, and a lot of practice. While you go from your fast lope directly to a walk in this drill, the end goal is to teach your horse how to listen for subtle slow-down cues so you can go from a fast lope to a slow one in the show pen and have your horse’s response become second nature.
When you’re riding in a one-handed bridle, you ask your horse to turn by neck reining. However, if you don’t know where to keep your hand when you’re guiding your horse, you could be ineffective with your cue. If you constantly ride with your hand left or right of center, you’re unknowingly giving mixed signals to your horse. If you keep your hand in that position at all times, you’ll eventually teach him to ignore the neck rein cue completely, making it much more difficult to guide him.
You don’t have to have an entire trail course setup to practice trail at home. In fact, there’s a lot you can do with just four poles set up as a box. While in competition you often see a 6-foot box used to turn in, but there are several ways you can approach this obstacle at home to improve your steering, cadence, and confidence riding over poles.
When done properly, an L-shaped back-through in a trail pattern should look almost effortless. Acing this type of maneuver requires hours of practice, teaching your horse to back with ease and cadence while listening to a combination of your hand, leg, and seat cues.
Do you have complete control over where every foot lands when riding your horse? Foot placement is crucial for precise navigation of any obstacle, whether it be poles or logs in a trail or ranch riding pattern, working through tires in an obstacle course, or navigating unsure footing on a trail. Where your horse’s first foot lands right before you enter the obstacle can make or break your execution. Here I’ll give you tips to ace that placement every time.