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Neck reining trouble with halting

My name is Cassie and I'm 20 years old.

I am leasing a horse, Abbey, at the barn I ride at. She's a registered quarter horse and a championship reiner. I am having a problem getting her to halt. I use a hackamore bit on her, and steer her one-handed. When I ask her to halt, I lean back, lift my legs off of her sides, and alternate the tapping back in the reins. She drops her head in the western pleasure fashion, but I end up having to take both of my hands and alternate pulling very hard on the reins to get her to stop.

In August, when I had ridden her for the first time, she responded very well; she even backed up when I lightly pulled on the reins. ( I wasn't used to the hackamore). Now, since the horses had a four week vacation from any type of training or riding, she is not as responsive as she should be. I know that I need to spend more time with her, but I only ride twice a week for an hour each time. Since there are younger, and less experienced riders, that take lessons at the barn of whom don't steer her by neck reining, I am worried that whatever progress I make, will be unlearned by the next time I ride her. Am I not cuing her correctly, or do I have to re-train her by using a bit? My friend Heather, who is an excellent all around horseman, is confused by Abbey's behavior in this regard, as well.

Any tips would be helpful.


Hi Cassie,

You are at a serious disadvantage because other riders are riding the horse. It is true that without consistency in handling or riding, any proper training on the horse will be undone quickly by inexperienced and unskilled individuals riding the horse. Consider getting your own horse more seriously. You could also try to work with the other riders leasing the horse as well to get them more on the same page as you.

As far as developing her stop again, stop pulling. Ride in a smaller area a bit with just a halter and leadrope tied up as reins. Start slowly and get the soft stop first at a walk and then, after she really gets it good at a walk, increase the speed gradually. This is a little like going back to the basics of her training. Also, you can try to stop using two hands. See how doing a one handed stop works for her. Just 'bump' her with one rein a little while steadying her head with the other rein. This works quite well for some horses. I really like the one-handed stop as even horses with very hard mouths begin to soften and stop easily. Its never about a bigger bit. Ride like a trainer with two hands for a while as well. Don't be too attached to one handed riding unless you are preparing for western shows. Your horse will fair up better with two handed trainer style riding (low hands, asking for a bit of collection, lightness, really good appropriate cues from the reins, your seat and legs, etc.) rather than forcing one handed riding on her without that being reinforced by the other riders riding her. One handed riding looks godd in the movies and western shows. But unless you are extrememly skilled at it and have taken training in it and you are the only one riding the horse, the horse will get very confused and frustrated by the inconsistency of horsemanship. To keep the horse happy and performing well, ride really well, try to get the others to ride as best they can as well and do not try to do much variation with her. Once you own your own horse it will be a different story. These are simply suggestions and I thank you for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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