Ask Our Expert - Pete Kyle
National Reining Horse Association champion and United States Equestrian Team medalist Pete Kyle trains out of his Whitesboro, Texas, facility. Kyle is on the United States Equestrian Federation Reining Committee, and currently serves on the board of directors for the American Quarter Horse Association and National Reining Breeders Classic. The trainer and his wife, Tamra, stand reining champion Einsteins Revolution at Kyle Ranch. Recently, Kyle captured the freestyle championship at the Kentucky Reining Cup in Louisville, Kentucky.
Kyle lends his reining expertise to “Start the Spin” in the June issue of Western Horseman. For more on Pete Kyle and his training methods, visit petekyle.com.
Q: I have a mare that plays with the bit and shakes her head a lot while I’m riding her, especially when I’m trying to collect her. How can I discourage this behavior?
—Debra, Gainesville, Texas
A: First, I would check her teeth and make sure nothing was bothering her inside her mouth, as that is important to the maintenance of your horse. If all looks good in there, then I would go to a snaffle bit with a German martingale or use draw reins to help steady your horse’s face and be consistent with your rein pressure. This will be a steady pressure on her and more consistent, and should discourage her from shaking her head. Eventually, your horse will stop trying to resist by shaking her head and the aids will not be necessary, except for occasional reminders in training.
Q: How do I get my older horse to walk on a lunge line? All she wants to do is canter and she won’t walk. She will turn quickly to me and stop with the slightest, and I mean slightest, touch of the line.
—Valerie, Canton, Ohio
A: The fact that she will turn to you and listen is a good thing. I teach horses to engage and disengage with me. Where you stand when you start them off when doing ground work is really important. I start up near the horse’s head so the horse is even with me and stays engaged with me. If the horse takes off and starts to lope, I stop him and remind him to stay with me. It sometimes takes a little patience on our part to stop and start repeatedly, but if you stay even with him, then the horse will understand and learn to stay with you. If you move to the back near the horse’s hip, then you are giving him a sign to move forward. So stay even and do not push her, be patient, and she will learn to walk.
Q: I purchased a 3-year-old mare that has had some cutting training and I want to use her for versatility and maybe some local shows. Like a lot of cutters, when I say “whoa,” she stops deep and quick, but does not slide. How can I get her to still have a nice stop but get a little bit of a slide for the versatility classes?
—Susie, Birmingham, Alabama
A: I will take a horse that gets into the ground too fast and deep, and when I ask him for a stop and he does, I will walk him out of the stop to free up the front end. When I say walk him out of the stop, I mean I cue for the stop, make sure the horse is responding, and then push him forward with my seat and legs. I don’t rush this, but walk out of the stop. This exercise also gets the horse to relax and not try to go so deep, but just do a short stop. Also, at the end of the stop I will bend the horse around in one direction or the other, which also frees up the front end. One of the keys to having a longer stop is that the horse is not stiff in the front end.
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If you'd like to submit a question, please email Assistant Editor Kate Bradley at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 25. Please include your full name, city and state in your inquiry. Depending on the volume of questions received, some questions may not be answered. Western Horseman retains the right to edit submissions for clarity.