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From John Lyons Trainer Keith Hosman


Round Pen First Steps [Downloadable PDF version]
A Downloadable Book

A sample from Day 3:

"Spook in Place" is one of many lessons your horse needs to be taught and here's what it's all about: You're out on the trail and something unexpected, perhaps a skunk, runs by. Maybe it's a motorcyclist, a plastic bag, a barking dog... it doesn't matter. As stated, we can't foresee every possible situation, and we can't expect to eradicate our horse's fear, so we need to teach our horse "how to deal." We do this by raising and lowering the amount of "fear pressure" we exert. We start by showing him what is expected at .01 "pounds" of pressure and build from there. Remember this: You know how uncomfortable you are when you're scared? You don't want to be that way, neither does your horse. He'd far prefer being relaxed. We'll build his ability to cope by building pressure, then releasing the pressure - over and over, as if strengthening a bicep.

First, what you'll need to do is look around your house, yard or barn for "scary things." That is to say, you need to go find 20 items that might scare your horse - but each to a different degree. The pen in your pocket will (most likely) not scare your horse as much as a blowing tarp and the cap on your head isn't as terrifying as a child's noise-making toy or a coffee can full of rocks. Find 20 objects (on all ends of the horror spectrum), outfit your horse with protective boots, and head out to the round pen.

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- 5 Days, 5 chapters
- Learn at your own pace

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Available Downloads:
"Stop Bucking"
"Rein/Speed" (for Nervous Horse Owners)
"Round Pen First Steps"
"Trailer Training"
"Your Foal: Essential Training"


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Hurry Up and Stop

By Keith Hosman and by Josh Lyons

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Hurry Up and Stop

Have you ever trained your dog to sit? What did you say to your dog after you told it to sit? You probably told it to "stay." Why did you do that? If the dog sits, he has to stay. In the same respect, I don't have a "stop" on my horse. I only have a "go" and a "back."

Now, I may only want the horse to stop - but in his mind he should be thinking "back up." If I were to ride forward and then stop - and then apply more pressure to the rein to back up, then I'm teaching three cues there. One "go," two "stop," three "back up." So in effect what I'd be doing is telling the horse "Four pounds of pressure on the rein means stop, six pounds means back up."

So, if I really want to make my stops quicker, I only teach "go" and "back up." Now, for you reiners, I'm not talking about how to lengthen the slide here - I'm talking about getting a quicker, more responsive stop. I'm teaching the horse that when I say stop that means stop.

My goal is to take away any hesitation time, with no pause between moving forward then moving backward. I work on "go" then "back up," "go," then "back up." Tip: Only work on this for about 10 or 15 minutes at a time. If you work too much on this the horse gets tired and it gets to be too much.

What you do is to simply ride forward then ask the horse to back up - each time with less and less hesitation. Now, it's not going to be pretty - but you've got to do whatever it takes to "go then back up, go then back up." Your goal is zero hesitation. Pretty soon, as soon as you touch that rein that horse just shoots back.

If I do this with my horse, for about three minutes, I can make his feet "pedal" underneath him as he tries to go from forward to backward immediately. He was moving forward but then, when I ask for the back up, he'll keep his hind feet moving underneath himself. As you're practicing this exercise remember: If you continue to allow the horse to hesitate (instead of whittling the hesitation down to zero) then you won't be making an improvement and in fact it later ruins your stop. For the duration of this exercise you will always be moving, either forward or backward. Nothing on your horse should stop moving.

After I've practiced this my stops have more energy in them; it's become "hurry up and stop." Not "go..." "quit..." "blah..." If I'm riding forward, I want my horse thinking about going backward - and vice-versa. Why? Because there's a difference between a horse that you're riding forward that's thinking "back" and a horse that's going forward thinking "forward." A horse that's going forward thinking forward is a horse that's trying to get to the end of the gate. He's a horse that's trying to get somewhere and you're trying to stay with him. A horse that's thinking "back" is a horse that's going forward waiting for you to ask him to stop. That's a horse that you've been really driving forward, thinking "move, move, move, move, move - now quit." That's a horse that's begun to make the connection between the movement of my seat - and the movement I expect out of him. Tip: When I quit riding he should think "quit." It's not a matter of me telling him to stop. To get there, practice taking out any hesitation between going forward and going backward.

A final thought: Anytime you add speed, you add emotion. If it takes me two seconds to come to a stop from a walk, then you can multiply that by about eight to figure how long it'll take to stop from a run. Your two seconds to stop has become sixteen. That's a big difference. Just think: At a dead run, how far can you horse travel in sixteen seconds?


Read previous article: Horses That Pull On the Bit and Head Tossers

Read next article: Get Your Back Up

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   Meet the author:  

Keith Hosman
John & Josh Lyons Certified
Clinician and Trainer

Utopia, TX (Hill Country of San Antonio)

Keith Hosman is based in San Antonio, TX and is available for clinics, lessons and training. He frequently travels to Los Angeles, CA and Kansas City, MO where he partners with fellow clinician Patrick Benson for clinics and demonstrations. You can find him on Google+ and Reddit



   Meet the author:  

Josh Lyons
Clinician and Trainer

Cross Plains, TN

Josh Lyons inherited his father's stamina, patience, and talent for getting positive results from both horses and people. As Josh says, "Knowledge and patience are the only tools that you need to bring with you into your barn."�Josh currently trains out of his ranch in Cross Plains, TN.


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Lyons Training 101: Issue Seven, Part 1
"Horse Riding Tip: Hurry Up and Stop"
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