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Preparation Concepts


Eric Hought

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Disengage The Hindquarters

Plenty wasn’t showing any inclination towards the turn around or lead change. Each approach I used with her did not seem to work. I began to question her ability to understand. As it turned out, I needed to question myself and my method to ask for these behaviors.

As I questioned my techniques, I determined the need to modify my training procedures. I decided it was time to place her back into a snaffle bit and begin using the single rein stop. That was the beginning of many good things to come. The single rein stop sequence goes like this: In the standing positions slide the right hand down the rein to arms length, pull firmly to your right hip until the nose of the horse is about 4” from your ankle area. Simultaneously push with the right leg against the barrel moving the hindquarters away from the leg. Once the hips are disengaged, release the leg. Continue holding the rein until the nose of the horse is about 4" from your ankle area. Wait for all feet to stop moving and for the horse to be soft in the face. Now release the hand on the rein. Alternate right and left sides to maintain balance.
Have patience, it takes time for a horse to understand the drill. It took Plenty 6-8 exposures before she really understood. A horse will go through a variety of wrong behaviors as they search for the right answer which is the release. Be patient, consistant with your hands, balance, legs, but most importantly, the release. Once you learn this technique, it becomes a good tool whenever things get out of control. The technique places the responsibility of diligence on the rider. A horse only understands black or white-no gray-so we cannot say to ourselves, “that was close enough.” The drill will become the comfort or safety zone for the horse who will recognize that it is coming to help them get out of a storm.

How many situations and advanced skills can be attributed to disengaging the hindquarters? Beginning from the standing position a side pass to open a gate, departures, turn arounds, lead changes, stops, a humpy horse in the morning and many more. This simple exercise is key to basic and advanced skills, and is valuable in emergency situations, too. Disengaging the hindquarters supples the head, neck, shoulders, barrel, hips and mind. The outcomes are priceless.

The major change in Plenty, as a result of the single rein stop and suppling, was her acceptance of me as leader. Suppling alone made her mind and body a great deal softer.

I now must sit as still as possible because she is listening to my every move. She guides and stops with almost no contact because she feels the signal from my body language slightly before the signal from the reins. She wants to be comfortable so she listens intently tuning into feel and hearing every signal. She is willing and her response is immediate. Remember prepare to prepare, get ready, get ready.
Any time your horse takes charge and tells you how fast to go…disengage the hindquarters with the single rein stop. You then regain control because you are the leader.

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