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Troubleshooting Tips More with Les

Y Losing forward motion

ou always want to be riding the back end of the horse up to the front, but the most common mistake new rid-

ers make is to pull the horse back instead of pushing him around. This will cause the horse to interfere with his front legs, and then he won’t want to turn anymore. If the horse should start to shiſt his weight back- ward rather than moving freely around the turn, you will want to walk him out of the turn right away and then go try again some- where else. I’ve said it before, but an important thing

to remember is that any time you feel like your horse would have to shiſt his weight in order to walk forward and out of the turn, it means he’s hanging back too far. You want to get him moving forward in a hurry before he starts to get comfortable there. If he’s hanging back, he’ll never be able to master the proper footwork or comfortably build up any speed. Set him up so he can move freely. If it starts to feel awkward, get out of it and start again.

Losing neck position If at any time your horse starts to reach

for the bit and liſt s his head, you’ll need to abort your turnaround at empt, kick him up into that circle and get the neck back. We don’t have to worry about the turn; the turn will happen, but we want him to turn pret y too, and to do that he has to be perfect! Some horses don’t really expose

themselves to a lot of mistakes until you start asking for a lot of new stuff , and then their neck comes undone. So when you fi nd

Foundation Training for the Performance Horse with Les Vogt

Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Today Les focuses is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit

fl aws in the neck in any of these exercises, you have to fi x them. Go off by yourself and set your trap; as he begins to start the exercise and you feel him start to liſt , stop there and have a chat with him about his neck, and then go back and try again.

Losing bend If your horse feels like he’s get ing tangled

up, or if you hear too much “scuff , scuff , scuff ” from the front legs, you’re not get ing enough clearance in front. And that means you’ve lost either your bend or your forward motion. If the bend is right, and he’s stepping forward and around, just keep him at it in a relaxed manner while he learns what to do with his feet. Don’t EVEN worry about speed at this point, just forward motion, soſt turning and cadence.

When to add speed Work on perfection.

Every time you ask for more speed, you will reach a point where your horse will start to klutz up or give you some stiff ness. In both instances, you’ll want to push him into a fl exion right away. If he got stiff in the neck, or his head came up, deal with that. If he just lost his coordination for a moment, let him walk a few steps and then try it again. Don’t shake his confi dence by holding him in something that isn’t working. Just


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(951)217-3933 • Don’t forget the neck!

go back and try it again, or for that mat er just go do something else. You will be able to increase your speed lit le by lit le, but don’t try to do it in a day, there are plenty of other things to work on! When you get it right, there’s nothing

wrong with just staying at that level for a while and working on other things. Repetition, done exactly the same each time, gets you a blue ribbon. It might seem like it’s not working some days, but just stay at it. You know it’s going to happen, so don’t get mad, just stay patient! Also, you can only work on so many things at once. If you try for big improvements in every part of your ride, you and your horse are going to get discouraged pret y fast. The more comfortable

your horse gets doing a movement in a perfect frame, the faster he will be able to handle more speed when the time comes. But if anything is wrong or forced here, it will become a real mess when you add speed. You’ll end up starting all over. Right back here!

We’ll come back to turnarounds a

few levels up, but for now just work on initiating the move and building your horse’s confi dence with the basic steps. Aſt er you get a lit le more hip and ribcage control, you’ll have the tools to take your turns to the next level.

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