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From John Lyons Trainer Keith Hosman


Your Foal: Essential Training [Downloadable PDF version]
A Downloadable Book

A sample from Day 1:

Note: I use the kiss cue to mean "move something," maybe it means "those hips," maybe it means "your shoulders." I rely on the horse to read my body language (and they've got a gift for it) to understand which I'd prefer. I tend to gesture toward the hips with my arm or walk toward them in order to get them moving. And, remember that "peeling" gesture with the arm during the inside turn requests? I kiss and make a movement similar to that in order to cause the horse to turn in toward me. Don't over think this; the cues or gestures you naturally make will work just fine as long as your focused and stay consistent because it's the repetition that makes them mean something.

Congratulations, you've taken a big step in your foal's training! Now you can ask the horse to turn and face you (for haltering, bridling, grooming, etc.) and you can ask those dangerous legs to step away. You've gained respect and you're far less likely to get mowed over, should he become startled because now he respects your space. You've also developed a way to ask the horse to stand near you, to be comfortable and to be still. (He's far less afraid - but not bomb proof, don't be fooled. We'll continue to reduce his fear tomorrow when we delve more fully into desensitizing.) And, now that you have the ability to move his hips away upon request, you need to be adamant with your colt: Don't allow him to stand facing away from you (when you approach, as you're feeding, etc.) For one thing, it's just plain rude; it's dangerous for another. Being expected to face you also instills a healthy respect and that's our goal in these pages. Horses that are carefully and consistently schooled on their manners rarely turn into biters, kickers or worse.

- Print out from home
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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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Lower Your Horse's Head

By Keith Hosman, John Lyons Certified Trainer

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Lower Your Horse's Head

Learn how to make your horse lower his head while standing still.

While plenty of my articles teach you how to drop your horses head while you're actively riding, (to travel in a more "collected" frame, to "calm down," etc.) this article will show you how to do so while you're standing still. There are two reasons you'll want to know this material: One, if you're standing around (daisy-chain style) hanging out with your equestrian buds, you'll want a way to tell a mischievous horse "quit playing games with that appaloosa and behave yourself. Drop your head, leave it there, quit antagonizing me and the appy." Two, you can take this material and extrapolate. Learn this routine at a standstill, mull over what you pick up and try the concepts out while walking, trotting, loping, spinning, barreling... etc. (Yes, the approach to bringing the horse's head down here is slightly different from the things you might try while moving but I'm not going into it because that'd be really, really boring.) Oh - actually, there are three reasons to learn this exercise: This is a pretty neat trick once you get it down pat and it makes you look really cool. (That's the reason I'd learn it, personally.)

I teach this routine to students in my clinics - and you would be amazed at how many observers will jump up, wanting to know how to do this themselves when they get home. Performing this "trick" on horses, teaching a horse to instantly drop his head after he's spent the morning with his head craned to the skies, is a great sales technique, frankly, for the Lyons methods. It's very simple, takes mere minutes to teach - and, if you read this and it ain't working later - you're either trying too hard or you're not applying enough motivation to your horse to "figure it out." More on motivation and what-to-look-for later. (As a rule of thumb, John Lyons' son Josh frequently teaches this in under two minutes... from the moment he first picks up the reins. Once practiced, however, mere mortals such as you and me should expect this to take... more than two minutes.)

Your goal will be this: When practiced to perfection, you should be able to pick up your reins gingerly with two fingers (like holding a stinky sock) to a height of about two inches - and the horse will drop his head like a rock in a pond. While reading and practicing this you should: Be thinking of how you can put these concepts to work for you (in whole or in part) when you're riding later.

What you should know about this exercise: If you own a gaited horse, practicing this material may make you think you've broken your horse, and not in a good way. (But you haven't, keep reading.) You'll teach the horse to drop his head when you pick up the reins - and at some point, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, you may find him either carrying it too low because he misunderstands or because he's obnoxiously evading your bit pressure. Regardless of why it happens, (or to whom) remember that it's our release that tells the horse where to carry his head. If you work through this material and suddenly you've got a peanut roller on your hands, simply hold pressure on the reins till the head finds the level you're looking for (what's "natural" for your horse) and release your pressure. (So, nutshell: If you teach this at a standstill, and your horse begins dropping his head incorrectly later while moving, simply hold your pressure until the head is in the right position. Hint: You may need to lock your fists against the saddle to keep the horse from pulling the reins free, giving himself an unwarranted release.)

Hop on your horse, take up your reins evenly with both hands and...

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Read previous article: Leading Stubborn Horses

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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



Related Products and Articles

To see articles and training products related to the article you just read, see the following topics:

Bad Habits and Vices
Behavior and Characteristics
Calm Down Cue
Connect Rein to Ear
Connect Rein to Neck
Connect Rein to Nose
Demand Cue - see also Calm Down Cue
Drop Head
Head Down Cue - see also Calm Down
Lowering Your Horse's Head
Riding with Other Horses
Tie Downs or Training Forks - also see Martingales

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Disclaimer: Equine training can be a hazardous activity which may subject the participants to possible serious injury. Keith Hosman, his associates, and other trainers listed on this site will not assume any liability for your activities. Our newsletter, books and videos provide general information, instruction and techniques that may not be suitable for everyone. No warranty is given regarding the suitability of this information, the instructions, and techniques to you or other individuals acting under your instructions.

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Lyons Training 101: Issue Thirty-one, Part 1
"John Lyons Horse Training: Teach Your Horse to Lower His Head While Standing"
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