Back 2 Basics with Krista Wade0
Become a better Horseman and Shave Seconds off your time with these Top 10 Tips!
#6 Keep your Eyes Up – It is easy to keep our eyes up when we are chasing the steer but we need to make sure when we are teaching our horses in the dry work. We are the driver of the bus. If the driver of the bus looks down, the bus crashes. Our eyes control our body language and our body language controls the horse. For example when loping a horse in a circle I always have my eyes a quarter of a circle ahead of where I am going. This shows my horse through my eyes and body where we are going not where we are. When loping towards a fence about 7 strides before the fence turn your head and look the direction you want the horse to go. This will be a direct cue to the horse and help take any confusion and anxiety out of them, because they will feel secure in that you know where you are going. By practicing this way it will make you get into the habit of thinking ahead of the run/exercise and make you more of a leader for your horse. Be a “Defensive Rider” always be looking ahead. This will give you a major edge in your cues and getting from point (A) to point (B)
#7 Don’t let the little things go – Even if we don’t think the little things that bug us about our horses affect our run, they do!! Things like horses pulling back when tied, not standing still while saddling, not liking us spraying fly spray on them, dragging on the halter when trying to lead them, not loading in a trailer… All of these little day to day things that our horses do that seem insignificant to the actual “performance job” can make a lasting impact!! All problems we have with our horses are nothing more than a symptom of a cause. The cause usually is either lack of respect, lack of knowledge or fear. If we don’t get picky about making sure these causes are taken care of, the small problem of the horse moving around when saddling will become a cinchy horse which becomes a bucking horse which becomes an unusable horse just because we didn’t fix the problem first! A horse that drags on the halter becomes a horse that pulls on our hands and doesn’t steer or drive when and where we need them to. A horse that doesn’t load in a trailer becomes a horse that pulls back when tied becomes a horse that rears becomes an un-rideable horse. All of the problems that make us sell a horse or not perform on a horse started from something small and seemingly insignificant. Get on top of it now! Don’t let those little habits become big issues that affect you under saddle! All problems under saddle started with a problem on the ground, fix it on the ground first so you don’t have any problems under saddle!!
#8 Give your horse Mental Breaks – Don’t be afraid to go ride outside in the pasture, swim them in ponds, take them up and down gulleys, mix it up! Horses, just like people, can’t stay in the same arena going in the same circles, backing in the same box, day in and day out. They need variety to keep them mentally engaged and fresh. It’s like you sitting in a 8×8 cubicle day in and day out for 5 years. It gets old!! You have to get up stretch your legs, go outside, take a vacation; have a change of scenery so that way that cubicle doesn’t look so bad when you get back. Horses are the same way. Take them away from the job sometimes and give them variety, I promise it will give you a more mentally fresh and focused horse when you get back!! While you are outside you can work on all the same mechanics you do in the pen just do it with obstacles. Up and down gulleys, through brush, side passing to the gate to open it, track cattle in the pasture, take them swimming, lope them down a big dirt road. Change of scenery will freshen the mind and keep it interesting for you and your horse.
#9 Make the “Correct” Thing the Best Part of their day – No matter what it is; backing in the box, staying positioned on the steer, standing tied, saddling, bathing, softening, clipping, anything you can think of with a horse. Find a way to make what you want them to do the best part and most comfortable part of the day. If you can keep that mentality when approaching anything that your horse might not be perfect at, you will get your horse to grow leaps and bounds in that maneuver. For example: My horse won’t stand quiet in the box, he jumps around, rears up, tosses his head, etc. All that is telling me is he doesn’t want to be in the box. So, I will go and work him outside the box, lots of quick changes of directions, bending, rollbacks, etc, make him work! Then immediately go back and back him in the box. Put him on a loose rein and let him rest. Show him being in the box and standing quiet is the best place in the world to be!
#10 Relax!! – People always wonder how to get their horse quiet down in the box, not be so chargey and hot, and not get so anxious. Most of the time the reason my horse is being reactive and hot is because my body language is telling him to be that way. A horse will directly feed off of your body language. If you are tense and nervous your horse is going to be tense and nervous. As soon as you start to relax your horse will as well. Soften your shoulders, soften your hands, and relax your legs and seat. If you act like something is wrong, and act like something is life or death so will your horse, and then you will have a horse that is busting at the seams. Take a deep breath and slow yourself down mentally, this will really help your horse take the event in strides and not get overwhelmed. Body language is key in everything you do with your horse!
Horsemanship is key in being a great roper and just a great horseman. If you can take the time to work on the little things it will pay you back 10x over in the pen! For more information on our Horsemanship clinics where you can learn actual exercises to help you achieve these goals visit us at www.nrsevents.com or call us at 1800-GO-ROPIN.