An Exercise For When You Can't Ride: Teach Yourself What A Give Really Feels Like
July 10, 2014
Written by: Josh Lyons & Keith Hosman
Written by: Josh Lyons & Keith Hosman
To train your horse correctly you first need to know what a "give" feels like. To do this you have to raise your expectations. A horse can only ever be as good as we expect it to be.
Take your halter attached to your lead rope and throw the halter portion away from you onto the ground. Throughout this exercise imagine yourself on your horse's back: You're going to pretend like you are riding.
Take your left hand and hold the lead rope as if it's the left rein. Pull the halter slowly toward yourself.
From our Ask A Horse Trainer free article series: Getting your horse's attention is simple with this easy lesson plan.
Concentrate. Remember, pretend you're actually training your horse. Feel in your hand how much pressure it takes to bring that rope toward you. You should feel in your pinky how many ounces it takes. Throw it back out and do it again. This time close your eyes and really concentrate. If you get this lesson, horse training gets a whole lot easier. Really focus on what it feels like. How many ounces is it taking to bring that halter back to you? Think of a specific number now - and then later when you're training that horse. How many pounds? How many ounces? One or two? 5 pounds or 5 ounces?
How would you like your horse to be that soft? A pound or two from your horse doesn't seem so bad, does it? Actually, if you're training a horse, it's terrible. Having to put a pound or two of pressure on the rein to get the horse to "come back to you" is just terrible. Take the halter off the lead rope now and throw the rope back out, snap end first.
Do the same thing, drag the snap back to you. How does that feel? It feels pretty light, right? You feel a big difference. But that's still terrible. Now take the lead rope back in hand and throw the opposite end out, the end without the snap. That feels really light. It feels like nothing. It's still terrible.
The reason it's terrible is because when the horse really gives to you, there is no pull, zero. And it's not just neutral that you feel, but energy and movement coming back to you.
Now take the snap end of the lead rope in your hand and throw it back out. When it hits the ground, add as much pressure as you can to the rope - without moving the snap. Now a "give" is when you feel energy come up that rope. You don't pull back, you wait until energy comes up that rope. You feel energy come up that rope, and you let go. That's what you're waiting to feel when you're riding or training a horse. You'll put pressure on your horse and when you feel energy come back to you, when you see a loop in that rein, that's when your horse is really giving - and your training is really working - and you let go.
Tip: Teach almost anything to your horse with the "Clock Work Exercise." That's a chapter in the basic training book "What I'd Teach Your Horse" - and you can hear the whole section right now for FREE on audio when you click here.
To make my point, think of it this way: When you reach to shake somebody's hand, what's the first thing the other person does after you put your hand out? They put their hand out. What if you asked somebody to raise your arm, to raise it up and down, away from your side - but you resisted? Is the exercise tough? The exercise itself isn't tough. The "toughness" is caused by the resistance. The exercise and the training is easy. Keep that in mind when you begin an exercise - or your training - your horse is going to be stiff.
Get your horse to stop now, not later. If it takes 2 seconds to go from a walk to a stop - multiply that by 8 when he's excited. Click here to read the "Hip-Shoulder-Shoulder" 3-part series of article - and get that stop the easy way!
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Wanna teach your horse to drop its head and stay relaxed? When you're finished with this article, click here to read about the "Classic Serpentine."