We covered the Stop and Back in the first post of this series.
Then progressed into the Hindquarters and then Forequarters control and exercises.
Today I want to focus on the Curved Back Up as well as incorporating the chain and a little philosophy.
After you have control of your horse’s body in all of these elements, curved backing comes very naturally and effortlessly. The horse is used to responding to the training stick on both sides of their body already, and it is only a matter of putting out poles and teaching the horse to navigate around them.
I start schooling my horses in a regular halter and a chain when he is soft, supple and responsive with the training stick and pressure-point halter. I’ve found the adjustment period with chain pressure is quite short-lived after the horse is already used to pressure on his face. I’ll continue to use the training stick throughout the course of my groundwork training—I might not use it all the time, but it’s a gentle reminder that helps reinforce responsiveness if you experience a delay. With all of the maneuvers I teach, I always give the horse a chance to respond without the training stick. Over time, they learn to respond to your body language alone.
Be Patient, Yet Firm
If you are schooling a yearling, be mindful of his developmental stages mentally and physically—gauge what your horse is realistically ready for. I teach all of my yearlings the methods outlined above, but my sessions are done in short increments and might only include working on one element per day, especially at first. After the horse is more seasoned to a training routine, I slowly increase my expectations. I believe if a horse has enough energy to be disobedient and resistant, they also have enough energy and metal stamina to listen to me and try for 20 minutes. Know when to quit a training session on a good note, but equally important is knowing when to work through a resistant patch and ask for a little more. Challenging your yearling on an appropriate level will never hinder them. Remember, you are teaching your horse to be your teammate.
To watch these exercises in action, please check out the full Optimize Your Groundwork training series CLICK HERE to learn more.