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Western training for an English horse?

Hi Franklin,

I need advice: My husband and I recently adopted a 12 year old mare, Lucy, a Morgan/ Draft cross about 16 hands and 1600 lbs. We've come to the conclusion that she was trained to ride English, not Western as we were told. She doesn't neck-rein, is used to split reins and a Kimberwicke bit, etc. Is it possible to train her to ride western, or should I learn to ride English? What would be the easiest, since I am 53 years old and have only ridden Western. I haven't a lot of experience training, my first horse, that I got when I was eleven, was the perfect Western pleasure horse. I have grown fond of Lucy and don't want to confuse her at this time in her life. She is very smart, personable, "bomb-proof" and a joy to ride. I don't intend to show her or anything, just trail riding. Any suggestions?

Thank you, Nancy

Hi Nancy,

You could probably teach the horse to neck rein yourself by understanding a bit more about training principles and being consistent over time. Also, you might consider an English riding lesson or two, just to enhance your own horsemanship and equestrian abilities. Never to late to enhance our horsemanship skills. Your horse will love you for it as it is great, compassionate and skillfull leadership that develops the strongest bond between horses and humans.

This horse will probably move away (yield to) pressure fairly easily. If you look to the right and lay your left leg on the horse and/or activate your left leg/heel, left 'seat', whatever, it will probably prompt the horse to move to the right. This is what you want and a basic element of training horses. If, at the same time you lay that left leg on the horse, you move both reins to the right (without pulling back which would confuse the horse) it reinforces the horse moving to the right. Repeating this process over time, in both directions, whne you change directions, trains the hrose to move to the direction you are moving the reins. Some leg reinforcement is always a good thing when steering a horse whether English or Western style. Appropriate use of your legs, seat, hands and body are all important to good equestrian skills. The better rider you become, the better horse person you become and the more bonded your horse will become to you as well. Playing with your horse on the ground is also extremely important in developing your relationship with any horse. Try having your focus not be you riding the horse all the time. But consider having the horse itself and its sense of safety when with you, become your focus for a while. Dancing and playing on the ground with a horse is where any solid relationship of trust and respect is first formed with a horse.

There is a world of horses that is magical and so much fun and has nothing to do with humans riding the horse. Consider that possibility as a way to create an incredibly tight and strong bond with your horse as well.......

Sincerely, Franklin

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