The quicker you get your job done with the cow in the fence work, the better chance you have of a big score.
That said, many scores have gone way down, because the rider decided to go with 2 turns on the fence instead of 3.
Dun It With Chics- One of my all time favorite fence horses. He could circle so fast, I never had to worry about 3 turns, but that’s the exception not the rule!
There’s a little bit of strategy involved with making that decision.
If you’re in the prelim’s and you don’t need a big score to make the finals, you might take a third turn to be sure you don’t get outrun when you circle.
However, if you’re already in the finals, and you’re going for the Big Burrito, you might go with 2 turns if your horse is an excellent circler.
Then, there’s always the cow coming off the fence, and going out towards the middle after your second turn. You’re just flat stuck with circling without a third turn, in that case.
There might not be a worse feeling in showing, than starting to circle, only to have the cow grab another gear.
It’s like being caught on the end of the whip. There’s really no repairing that.
You can switch quickly to the other side well before you’ve completed your first circle, and gain a bit of ground (be sure to come back and circle the original way though), or loop it back for another turn on the fence. Either way though, you’re not fooling the judge!
Just make the best of it.
In general, 90% of the time, it’s better to take a third turn, so until your level of experience dictates otherwise, I’d just plan on it.
This is a continuation of riding smarter not harder horsemanship skills.
Here are Tips #11-13
• Be creative.
I usually try to teach my horses something a certain way, but if I’m not getting through by the third attempt, I take a different approach. In other words, I won’t force a horse to learn something “my way.”
Let’s say I’m asking for the transition from the large, fast circle to the smaller, slower one, and my horse won’t slow down. I can lope him until he wants to slow down, then reward that thought. This works with many horses, but if it doesn’t, I may try breaking him down to a trot, then to a walk, then to whoa and rest.
I may also try pulling him into a circle to slow him down. Or, as a last resort, I may draw him “into the ground” and back him up to reinforce my point.
Ultimately, you must figure out what works for each horse, as each learns differently.
Some trainers have a “my way or the highway” mentality. When a horse fails to respond, they say, “This horse doesn’t ‘fit’ me, or boy is he dumb” What they’re really saying is, “I’m not very creative.”
• Be systematic.
Don’t try to teach your horse something you haven’t laid the foundation for.
Also, don’t get into an argument you don’t have the tools to win. Before you ask your horse to move laterally, for example, you must first be sure he understands the concepts of giving to bit pressure and moving away from pressure on his sides.
• Go back to get ahead.
Start every schooling session by asking your horse for something he already knows well and is comfortable with. Then, after he’s shown you a few times how solid that is, sneak another little bit of learning in there.
For example, go back to walking a good circle before you ask for that little lateral step. Break all learning down into small chunks, always returning to the last thing your horse did well (especially if he gets confused), then inching forward from there.
This keeps him in a positive frame of mind for learning.
Teaching a horse to stop brings out all kinds of problems, not because the horse wants to be bad, usually it’s our lack of timing, and balancing on the reins that causes their resistance.
Troubleshooting. Common problems in basic stopping, and how to fix them:
• Not trying to stop at all:
Use the doubling and/or circling maneuvers. Getting pulled around and/or circling will start to feel like a lot of work to your horse, so he’ll learn that simply stopping is easier. Once his feet stop moving, release all aids and sit while you praise him.
• Stopping reluctantly:
Get a bit more assertive with your hands as you’re backing him a step or two once he does stop. Then sit quietly for a while and scratch his neck.
• Stopping on his front end (he’ll feel as if he’s propping on his front end and you’ll feel like you just got “dashboarded” in a car).
Shift his center of gravity back by sitting back yourself and picking up your reins chest height, (don’t pull down toward your hips) and holding them steady while you bump with your legs in neutral position until your horse picks up his shoulders and backs up off the bit. It will feel as though his shoulders have lifted up into the area under the front of the saddle and his back has rounded. Then, the next time you ask for the stop, make sure you’re driving him with your legs to keep his hind end engaged as he stops and then backs up off the bit. Also, be sure you give him a chance to stop before you pull, and let him rest when he does.
• Stopping crooked (by leaning or dropping a shoulder).
You’ll probably notice that your horse leans to his left side (because of that natural asymmetry of horses) and/or towards the magnet of the barn or the out gate. This causes him to kick his hip out to the right when stopping.
First, don’t ask for the stop if your horse is moving crookedly—go around again and use your reins and legs to straighten him out, then ask. If, despite your best effort, he still stops crooked, back him for a few steps on the straight line you were originally on, then turn him 180 degrees away from the barn or whatever was the magnet.
For example, if he’s leaning left then you’re correcting him to the right, bring your right rein back towards your right outside belt loop and let your left hand come toward that same belt loop, only stopping at his neck (without crossing over it), as you push him with your left leg at the cinch and roll him back to the right. This will help you get his shoulder realigned, so he keeps them both picked up.
Hope these ideas help!
Your horse’s willingness to stop when you say “whoa” is essential for control and basic training. It also provides the foundation for one of reining’s most thrilling maneuvers, the sliding stop. But first, we’ll have to be satisfied by an attempt from our horse, at ceasing forward motion. It’s not going to look anything like the stop we’ll need in competition, where the horse is balanced, off the bit, driving from behind with his back round and his head low, gliding into the dirt (I get goosebumps just thinking about it!)