The Horse Logic Blog

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reining saddle-less and bridle-less neat video


posted by Sara at   |   1 Comments  

Bridleless Reining (Free style) Pattern

This is "classical reining". It is western's version of classical dressage. Anyway it is a neat video.


posted by Sara at   |   2 Comments  

Another video on Rolkur

Here is another video that I found. It talks more about Rolkur and how this effects the horse.


posted by Sara at   |   0 Comments  

Repost of Classical Dressage Versus Rolkur Method

Here is a repeat post that is the video about the Classical Dressage versus Rolkur. Check it out.


posted by Sara at   |   0 Comments  

Funny Video (not horse related)

Check out this video, it is hysterical.

posted by Sara at   |   0 Comments  

Monday, September 10, 2007

Holistic Equine Products

I am now a distributor for Dynamite Products. More information can be found at:

Thanks and if you have any questions just let me know:)


posted by Sara at   |   0 Comments  

Teaching your horse to Lunge: Part 1 Introducing the circle and transitions

By: Sara McKiness of Horse Logic.

Lunging a horse is used for many reasons; however I am only going to touch on a few.

First, you can use lunging as part of a training program. This allows the training to not only build a relationship with the horse, but also to condition the horse. Second, lunging is a great way to establish good communication on the ground with your horse. Third, it is a great exercise to build up your horse’s muscles. There are many exercises, that when used properly, can assist in building up your horse’s muscles and top line. Fourth, lunging is used to help take the edge off of a nervous horse, or one that has not had much turn out. Lastly, lunging is also used in riding programs to assist with teaching riders feel and balance without having to steer the horse. There are many other ways to lunge your horse, but these are the main ones.

Now that you know some of the many reasons that lunging is useful I can show you how to properly teach your horse to lunge. This will benefit your relationship with your horse, and also to help your communication with him. By having better communication you can have more fun with your horse and also be able to do more things with him.

Equipment needed for training a horse to lunge:

1. Halter that is correctly fit
2. Lung line, one that is soft is preferable
3. Lunge Whip
4. Gloves for protection
5. Helmet, I recommend always having one on when working with horses.

Start by checking the fit of your halter on your horse. Loop your lunge line in a neat and tangle free fashion. You do NOT want to ever wrap the lunge line around your hand. Put on your helmet and gloves on (I highly recommend gloves anytime you lunge a horse, they are an added measure of safety and will also give you a little extra grip with the line). Now you can attach the lunge line to your horse's halter. I prefer to attach the line to the ring underneath the noseband, this way if your horse suddenly changes direction you will not have to worry about him getting tangled up in the line. If the line is attached at one of the rings on the cheek pieces, it can tangle up on his head if he were to change directions on you. Now you are ready to move into the arena.

Make sure that you are the only one in the arena. It is not safe for other riders to ride around a horse that is untrained for lunging. It is also important to have an arena that has secure gates, in the event that your horse does get loose on you. This way he will not go far, and also can be easily caught again to resume work. Remember to always secure all of the gates in the arena, before you start with lunging any horse.

When you enter the arena, make sure to close the gate behind you. Take your horse to an area that you feel comfortable starting the lunging training. Keep in mind that the fewer distractions the better.

Start with walking your horse on a larger 20 meter circle; this will help introduce the shape that you are going to be asking for while lunging. You want him to pay attention to you. This is the same thing that you were teaching him when showing him how to lead. Make sure that he is constantly looking to you for the correct answer. The better that your horse is paying attention to you the easier it will be to show him how to lunge. One way to find out how well he is paying attention to is ask for some transitions to halt. If he halts praise him and ask for walk again. Another way to keep him paying attention to you is ask for some trot transitions, and then back down to walk. This keeps him from getting too bored. You can also tell if he is listening to you if one of his ears is tipped towards you. This shows that he is paying attention to you and not something outside the arena. If something else catches his attention his ears will automatically tip in that direction. Just keep this in mind when working with him.

Once he is really paying attention to you, try directing him on the same shape just several steps away from him. At this point you will have to make sure that he does not follow you into the circle. If he does try and follow into the circle, just ask him to step away from you again. You can ask him to stay out away from you with the handle of the lunge whip. You press slightly into his chest and when he moves away take the pressure away. Another way you can direct your horse away from you on a lunge circle is to get slightly behind his hip line and "drive" him forward. Praise him when he is back out walking on a 20 meter circle with you at his side. Again, when he is responding well to halt transitions and paying attention to you try to take several steps away from him. This will put you about 3-4 feet away from his shoulder towards the center of the lunge circle.

Once he is paying attention to you from this distance try to ask him for a quiet trot. You are asking for the trot to make sure that he will give you the transition up while maintain the shape you are asking of him. Which in this case it is a 20 meter circle with you standing towards the center, which will start getting him to pay attention to you while you are maintaining a little distance from him.

Go ahead and take several more steps away from your horse. Keep him out on the "circle" while you take the steps away. He may or may not try and follow you again. If he does NOT attempt to follow you ask for a halt and go and praise him with scratches. This goes back to the grooming in training him to lead. He will appreciate all of the positive attention and look to keep performing the tasks that you are asking of him.

After rewarding him with scratches, take several steps away again. He should stay out on the circle now, as he is starting to understand what you are asking of him. If he does not just ask him to step away and repeat many times until he can stay at the distance that you were before.

Now that you are able to have him walk on a somewhat lunge circle take several more steps away from your horse. At this point you should be almost completely in the center of a 20 meter circle. While you are not at the center yet make sure to walk in a circle as to help your horse to understand that you want him to stay out on the circle, but also to keep moving. If he slows down, just get behind his hipline and drive him. Quick note, when you are behind his hipline make sure that you stay away from the kicking zone. By driving him from behind you are still staying towards the center of the lunge circle, while walking a small circle. You can drive him by clucking or swishing the whip gently at his hindquarters.

After you are able to drive him on the lunge circle while maintaining distance from him, you can now start to stand in place and have him move around you in a lunge circle. One of the things to look for in your horse is slowing down. If you can keep him moving (quietly) then he is more likely to figure out what you want him to do. Forward is a very important step in training. You can't shape your horse without forward. You have to have energy to shape, but you not want the scared energy. Your goal is to have a good "calm" energy, where your horse is not excited and still paying attention to you.

When you are able to keep your horse out on the actual lunge circle there should be at triangle between you the horse, and the lunge whip. You are going to be at the center of the circle, the lunge line will be a wall of the triangle, the horse is another wall, and the lunge whip completes the triangle. The whip is used to encourage forward motion and energy. However it is not intended to create excitement. When using the whip always start out easy and quiet. The goal is not get the horse all worked up and excited, it is to maintain a calm and relaxed horse.

Now that your horse can maintain an actual lunge circle at the walk ask him for a trot. You ask him for trot by giving a slight jog in place, and can also reinforce with a slight clucking sound. Once he moves forward into trot praise him with a good boy, but make sure to keep him trotting. You want to make sure that your horse is still being responsive while maintaining the circle shape. If he wants to dive in at all just get behind the hipline and drive him forward (while staying out of the kicking zone). Once he is moving more forward and maintaining a circle, ask for a down transition to walk, then to halt. Praise him with lots of scratches and praise. He will really start to associate all of the praise with doing a good job, and this will help to motivate him to work even harder for you. It also builds a good solid relationship and also builds good trust between you and your horse.

After praising him, ask him to go back out on your lunge circle. Now you are ready to move onto canter. In this gate, your horse can get away from you the easiest. I just want you to keep this in mind. There are a couple of little things that you can do that will help to eliminate any chance for your horse to leave your lunge circle at the canter.

Once he is walking nicely and still keeping his focus on you ask for a trot. After several circles of trot, ask for canter. You ask for canter by giving a little skip and or making a kissing noise (You can also use another verbal command that you feel is appropriate. These verbal commands are just the ones that I choose to use). While you are making your kissing noise, he should respond by picking up his trot pace. If he does not go into canter after half a circle use the whip very quietly to encourage the transition. Once he is at the canter make sure that his head does not look outside of the lunge circle. You can accomplish this by giving a slight pull on the lunge line in order to position his head. Once he has moved his head into the correct position give some slack back into the line. You will probably have to repeat the positioning many times before your horse finally understands where he should be putting head. This is normal, and will gradually go away. After a couple of circles at the canter ask for a down transition by giving the verbal que of "easy", if this fails to get a sown transition, you can give the line slight jiggle. If the first jiggles does not work just increase the pressure very slightly until you get a correct response. If your horse decides to run away at the canter on the lunge line, you can follow the lunge circle and direct your horse into the wall. This will give him no choice but to stop. This is a pretty unusual occurrence, especially if you have taken your time with your horses training, and also built a good steady relationship. After you have stopped him with the wall, just go back and ask for trot to walk transitions. Once this can easily be accomplished you can resume asking for the canter. Again make sure to keep a slight position of his head to the inside.

After he completes a couple of nice circles at canter, ask for a downward transition to trot, then walk, and finally halt. Give him plenty of praise. Now you can repeat the same steps in the opposite direction.

As your horse becomes more responsive in his lunging training ask for many different transitions. This will help prevent your horse form becoming bored. Also try to find the time to practice these simple steps at least 3 days per week, for around 15 minutes at a time. Pretty soon your horse will be lunging very nicely and be very responsive.

Always remember to remain calm with both yourself and your horse. Good horse training is very calm and relaxed. Next month's article will elaborate on lunging with side reins and also how to introduce tack.

Learn something new every month from Horse Logic. A new article will be featured every month in From the Horse’s Mouth by: Sara McKiness from Horse Logic.

©Horse Logic 2007

Sara McKiness
Horse Logic
Saint Charles, IL

posted by Sara at   |   0 Comments  

Saturday, September 1, 2007

How to Safely Introduce Your Horse to Leading Part 2

How to Safely Introduce Your Horse to Leading:
Part 2: Teaching Your Horse to Walk With You
By Sara McKiness of Horse Logic

Before we get started I want to refresh your memory as to the necessary equipment.

Here is a list of the necessary equipment:

1. A halter in good condition and correctly fitted to your horse.
2. A sturdy lead rope in good condition.
3. A dressage whip.
4. A riding helmet ASTM/ SEI certified.
5. An indoor or outdoor arena (not a round pen, you need a "flat" wall).
6. Gloves (optional, but good protection for your hands).

Okay, we have our equipment check, the halter is on, our helmet in place, lead rope attached and whip in hand, and we are now ready to take the horse into the arena. Walk the horse in a quiet and relaxed manner when handling the horse, because horses communicate via body language. Close the gate behind you and choose a spot that has the fewest distractions, so your horse will have an easier time paying attention to you. Be at least 20 feet away from a wall in case your horse gets spooked and reacts in a dangerous manner. You will have somewhere to run and you won't be trapped by a wall.

Teaching your horse to lead starts with grooming as this lays the foundation for future training. So start grooming with your fingertips at the shoulder while loosely holding on to the lead. Once you and the horse are comfortable, move on to scratching the belly and hips. Give your horse scratches and try to find those itchy spots they want scratched. If you see their lips quiver or they lean into your scratching, you know you've found an itchy spot. You may also notice your horse turning his head towards you and even trying to bite you. Don't worry, he's not mad at you, he's just trying to return the favor by scratching you with his teeth. Calmly, but firmly, turn him down by pushing his head away. You can push on his cheek or even put a little pressure under his jowls. Don't get him excited though; keep him calm but show him you are the leader. Keep scratching all around his body especially those places he can't reach himself like his withers. This grooming session should last about 10 or 15 minutes, and is also a good start for any training session as it will help your horse relax.

By taking the time to get to know your horse through grooming you will establish and reinforce a positive relationship. This positive relationship will carry over to all of the training that you and your horse will accomplish. Grooming builds trust and allows training to happen very quietly. You want your horse to view you as a safe person and a member of your two horse herd. He should view you as the herd leader. If you mistreat and bully your horse into submission the relationship will not build trust, which will hinder any future training. Your horse will not view you as a safety zone if you are acting aggressive and creating a negative excitement. You need to show your horse that a leader equals trust and safety. Remember good horse training is very "un-exciting".

Now you're ready to begin teaching your horse the shapes that are involved with basic leading. These shapes are: halt, stepping when you step, backing up, turning away, turning with you, and trotting with you.

Begin with the horse between you and the wall, and begin by standing at your horse's shoulder. (The purpose of the wall is to keep the horse straight.) Have the lead rope in your right hand and the whip in your left hand and stand with your right hand closest to the horse. Take a step forward and wait several seconds for your horse to follow you. If he doesn't take a step forward, reach behind you give him a slight tap on his haunches with your whip. Start out with the softest tap possible. If this does not give you a response, you can add slightly firmer taps until your horse gives the correct response by moving forward.

After your horse gives you the correct response of taking a step when you step, and moving forward you can ask for a halt. The first step in asking for halt is for you to stop. Next face your horse with the whip in your right hand, ready to create a wall if you need to. The way to create a wall with the whip is to press the handle into the horse's chest lightly at first. This creates enough pressure that your horse should stop. By using the whip in this fashion you are also not creating excitement in your horse. If your horse keeps trying to walk through your "wall" of pressure (the whip handle), then you can add a small amount of jiggling the lead rope. This is used to get the horse's attention focused back on you. That way he can better understand what you are asking of him. You now want to repeat asking your horse to walk, and every five to seven strides asking for a halt. By repeating this for around 20 minutes each day your horse will really understand the concept of leading after about a week.

Now that you have practiced these steps for a couple of days, your horse should be paying attention to you and listening very well. We can now move onto teaching your horse to back up. The same principle applies with teaching your horse to back as the first two steps. First of all when you are starting to teach your horse to back up, make sure that you have warmed him up for about 10 minutes performing walk and halt transitions. This helps to get his attention completely on you. Start by asking for a halt, now you take a step backwards, and see if your horse follows. If he does not follow you, turn and face him (like when you were teaching him to halt), now you can apply a small amount of pressure with the handle of the whip. When teaching a horse to back you want a pressure that presses on his chest until he starts to back. The pressure should also start soft and gradually get firmer. You only want to make the pressure firmer only if your horse is not responding to the quiet pressure. As soon as your horse shows any movement backwards take the pressure away, and praise him. Now repeat by taking a step back, and waiting several seconds for your horse to follow. Repeat the previous steps if your horse does not follow you with taking a step backwards.

Once your horse has mastered moving forward in step with you, halting and backing up, you are ready to move on to slightly more difficult shapes. The first shape that I start to teach a horse after backing up is turn on the haunches. This is where your horse will yield to your body pressure and move away from you, while maintaining his weight on the haunches, and pivoting on a hind leg. First to teach your horse this shape you need to move to the center of the arena. Now you ask your horse for a halt, and then while facing your horse take a step towards their shoulders. If they are really paying attention to you they should start to move away from the pressure of your body. If they do not start to move away from your body pressure, take the handle of the whip and press it gently into your horse neck. As stated above only apply more pressure if your horse does not move away. As soon as your horse takes the slightest step away from the pressure release it. This will help to reinforce that the horse is to move away from the pressure. A very common problem that occurs when asking for the turn on the haunches is the horse will not want to stay and pivot on their haunches. You can correct this by stopping the forward motion at the same time as asking your horse to step away. To stop the forward motion you can apply pressure with the handle of the whip on their chest or you can jiggle the lead rope slightly. After your horse takes a small step away from you let him halt, and praise him. Now you can ask your horse to take another step away from you. You should repeat the steps discussed above until your horse can do a 180 degree turn.

The final shape in leading is the turning with you. Your horse should also be able to pivot on his haunches towards you the same as in turn away you horse pivots on his haunches. This shape should also be taught in the center of the arena, as to not be stuck in a dangerous position. The first step in teaching your horse this shape is to have your horse halt. Now take a small step away from their shoulders. Again if your horse is paying attention to you he should follow you. If your horse does not follow you (which after learning all of the above shapes he should understand that you want him to follow with you while maintaining his position with you at his shoulders.) give a small pull on the lead rope. By giving a small pull on the lead rope it should give him enough of an indication that you want him to follow you. Again do not increase the pressure unless your horse is not responding to the quiet pressure. You can also give your horse a very slight tap on his haunches that will encourage him to follow you. Just make sure that your horse does NOT take forward steps, or try to get away from you. If your horse does try to get away from you interrupt him by jiggling the lead rope, and go back to working him with the halt and walk transitions. This will get his attention back on you, and also will help reinforce that you want your horse to follow you and also to yield to your body pressure. Once he is paying attention to you once again, you can go to center to ask him for the turn with you. This should now be fresh in his mind that he should be following with you every step.

The last shape to teach your horse in leading is to follow you while trotting. To ask for this shape, take your horse back out to the rail. Make sure that your horse is between you and the rail (the rail helps to keep your horse straight). Ask your horse for a step forward, after several steps of forward ask for a halt. Repeat this until your horse is completely paying attention to you. Now you can ask your horse for a forward step, once he has stepped forward ask for the trot. To ask for the trot, first you jog in place, and cluck to him. If he does not respond to this lightly tap him on his haunches. You can tap until your horse starts to trot, then immediately stop tapping, as this is a reward for trotting is to release the pressure. After your horse has trotted several steps with you ask for a walk. To ask for the walk you start to walk, and your horse should follow your lead, but if he does not jiggle the lead rope as to get his attention. Once you have his attention and he is walking ask for a halt. Once again you ask your horse for walk, and walk with him for several steps, then ask for trot. Keep practicing these steps until your horse does them without resistance, and also with his attention completely focused on you. Once you have achieved this you and your horse will communicate on the ground almost effortlessly. Your horse will just follow your every step, and also pay attention to everything you will do. This is very beneficial to any further training, as it carries over to lunging and under saddle work.

I recommend practicing the lead shapes at least 15 minutes per day, for at least 4 days per week. Horses need consistency in order to really understand what we are trying to teach them.

When teaching your horse anything new it should always only be a small baby step from what you have just taught your horse. That way if your horse is having trouble learning any of the new pieces of training you can go back to what he already knows.

By following these simple steps, you and horse will have the beginnings of a rewarding relationship. Your horse will also learn respectful ground manners. This makes it easy to work with your horse in many different situations.

***If you feel uncomfortable during any time of training your horse, stop and consult with a professional trainer. Especially if you are having a hard time teaching your horse any of these steps, please seek a professional trainer. It is better to teach your horse correctly the first time, than to go and “undo” any bad training. This will save both you and your horse any frustration that could negatively impact your relationship. ***

You can visit my blog for the previous article which explains halter fit with a diagram. My Blog’s address is: .

Learn something new every month from Horse Logic. A new article will be featured every month in From the Horse’s Mouth by: Sara McKiness from Horse Logic.

©Horse Logic 2007

Sara McKiness
Horse Logic
Saint Charles, IL

posted by Sara at   |   0 Comments