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LEFT: Glory, a four-year-old Tennessee Walker fi lly owned and bred by Quilted Mead- ows, Tuckahoe, NJ, stands quietly downhill. T is teaches the horse she does not need to rush downhill. T is is a great tool to have on the trail if something happens that requires you to stop on a hill with no where to go. It is also a good stretch for the back! Photo by Liz Otwell. RIGHT: Here Glory is backing up the hill with handler Jenet e Buch. T is is a great strengthening exercise and shows the horse she can back out of a situation if going forward is not an option. T is helps the horse develop hind-end, belly and back strength to become more balanced and develop a bet er gait. Photo by Liz Otwell.

Rushing forward and going too fast can

be a balance issue, a stiff ness issue or basic disobedience. If your horse has always been ridden fast or allowed to pass every horse in front of him on the trail, he is only doing what he believes is expected of him. We can teach our horses to move at the speed we ask for through calm, consistent work in balance. Helping the horse fi nd a balanced posture

while standing and walking while you’re un- mounted goes a long way to helping him be balanced when ridden (Review “How can I help my gaited horse become more consistent in his four-beat gait?” in the May issue.) It is very helpful to start this “rehab” work in a

small, enclosed area. T is allows the horse to focus more on the new information being presented. When it comes to speed control, we can

introduce awareness from the ground. Walk with your horse and expect him to walk at the speed you are walking. If you want to go slower, ask him to “s-l-o-w” down by taking a big breath, slowing your steps and use a stick (a T EAM wand works great) to swing up and down once or twice in front of his face to ask him to take slower steps. Do several of these slower steps and then go back to the speed that was comfortable for him. Do this many times and praise him often. When this idea is clearly becoming understood and safe for the horse, then you can up your energy and step a lit le faster. With your energy, encourage the horse

to go a bit faster. If need be, gently and with the cadence you are wanting, lightly tap your horse on his rump to encourage the faster speed. Do this speed for a few steps (to start), praise him, breathe and “s-l-o-w” down again. When the horse is totally responsive to

your “slow down” and “speed up” cues from the ground, you are ready to transfer the in- formation to the mounted position. If you are


lucky enough to have a second person to help you with this transition it can be very helpful. First, the horse must stand quietly to be

mounted. He must understand he is to wait to quietly walk off until requested by the rider. Standing balanced at the mounting block and having a saddle that fi ts are imperative for this. T is is a great exercise for his mind, espe-

cially for horses that tend to step off before the rider is seated or before they have been asked to walk. Be sure to sit quietly, breathing from your belly and remaining relaxed so as not to give the horse a cue that makes him think you want him to step off . You should also practice dismounting and

just standing with your horse without any movement, repeating the groundwalking exercise if necessary. If the horse starts to walk off before you ask,

it’s important not to pull back on both reins, as this encourages the horse to lean on his fore- hand and barge ahead. Here again a ground person can be helpful, to reiterate the infor- mation that has been given from the ground. Walk just a few steps quietly forward,

stop and praise. (It is a good idea not to lean forward to pet the horse as you praise, as this can encourage the horse to lean onto his forehand.) You can stand there for a while and then walk a few steps again or dismount, repeat some groundwork and remount. As we reform old habits, we must repeat the

new ideas with praise to have them become the new habit. If your horse slows down while you are riding him, even if you didn’t ask for the slow down, take the opportunity to give the slow-down cue, breathe, relax and praise. “Pretend” it was your idea. T is is what you have been working toward, so you don’t want to scold the behavior! When it is time to go out on the trail with the new information, pick your trail-riding buddy

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