Even the most seasoned, well-trained horses can develop bad habits. After running patterns year after year, they begin anticipating various reining maneuvers and try to avoid others. Charging in large, fast circles, dropping a shoulder in lead changes and leaning during the rundown to a sliding stop are some common problems veteran show horses develop.
Dell Hendricks says many riders try to prevent them from happening. But he advises letting the horse make a mistake and then correcting it. “If you prevent him from making a mistake, he’s never going to know when he’s wrong,” Hendricks explained. He said that many of the problems that veteran show horses typically develop can be fixed at home, while a few others must be addressed in the show arena. Here are a few of his tips. More will follow.
Jigging while entering the arena
While stepping into the arena, some horses get in a hurry and won’t walk calmly on a loose rein. “Those horses get to anticipating that hard run, and they just get tense,” Hendricks said. “Probably the most common thing people do at that point is to grab a hold of the [horse’s] face. And the more they hold, the more their body gets tense, and the more the horse gets tense.
“The only way to fix that problem is to turn them loose and get them to relax. And if they get really bad, where they just will not walk and want to jig and jog, then you have to just go to some schooling shows. When they go to jog, you’ve got to stop them, back them up a couple feet, then turn them loose. Give them an opportunity to be right.”
Won’t stand still
Horses get antsy while standing in the middle of the arena because they know they are about to begin spinning or to depart at a lope. “That’s a very common problem,” Hendricks said. “If they want to fidget one way or the other, or step forward or step back, you just have to do the opposite of what they do. If they step to the left, you move them over to the right a couple steps, then turn them loose.
“You don’t go in there and put them in a tight box. You go in and open up all the doors, find out where they go, and fix that every time they make a move. “And that takes time. I’ve created that problem with lots of horses by just showing and showing them, not schooling enough in between. You can get most of them to quiet down and relax.”
Stay tuned for more Quick Tips from Dell Hendricks.