When Stacy Westfall performed her championship run at the National Reining Horse Association Futurity in 2003, the crowd was impressed by her control without the use of a bridle or neck rope. But after the competition, the question Westfall heard most: “How did you do a rollback without reins?” Husband Jesse Westfall says he hasn’t seen another rider perform a rollback without a bridle in a winning program. So how did she do it?
You turned your colt out to pasture for a winter break. Now it’s time to bring him in and pick up where you left off on his training last fall. Before you saddle up, however, “the key is to first get your colt ready to work again,” says Rick Gaudreault, an American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horseman, cow-horse trainer and clinician. “He’s rested and matured all winter. I can almost guarantee that if you saddle up on a frosty spring morning, he’ll feel really good and buck, and could injure you or himself.”
In the December 2005 issue of Western Horseman, champion trainer and clinician Terry Myers, Ostrander, Ohio, shares his groundwork exercises and safety strategies to teach your horse how to stand still – and not pull back. He recommends teaching your horse to tie using a large, truck-style inner tube tied to a secure, deep-set post along a smooth, flat wall. Teaching your horse to tie with the inner tube helps your horse know to move forward. The inner tube will give, then pull your horse back into position faster than your own hands can correct and reward. Your horse won’t feel the constant resistance of the rope; instead, he’ll feel pressure, then release when he moves forward and stops pulling back.
Midwestern Trainer and clinician Terry Myers recommends teaching your horse to follow a rope before teaching him to stand tied. The lessons will help him move forward toward the object to which he’s tied. However, if your horse has spooked during past tying sessions, he might have extra fear associated with tying. If groundwork and tying to inner tubes and highlines isn’t helping your horse, the following exercise might give him extra cues to help him to move forward and stand still.
The November ’05 issue of WH featured four of trainer Andy Moorman’s favorite drills for improving a horse’s collection. Here’s another collection-enhancing exercise used by the Venice, Florida, horsewoman.
During the interview for our June 2005 print feature, “A 10-Maneuver Groundwork Test,” Texas clinician Jody Cunningham of Grapeland also discussed escalating cues when working with horses. Here are his tips for bringing pressure to bear on your horse in effective, appropriate ways.