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by Downunder Horsemanship

Training Tip: Ex-Barrel Horse Won’t Walk on a Loose Rein

Question: I have a 10-year-old mare who was used for barrel racing in the past and now has a difficult time walking without me holding her back. I have the videos and have been following them; however, I can’t seem to get her to walk out on a loose rein. Maybe there’s something I’m missing? If you could help me out, that would be great. – Rose B.

Clinton’s Answer: It sounds like you may be going through the exercises too quickly. When we get a horse in for training, we spend an entire week doing nothing but the Fundamentals level groundwork exercises. This gets the horse using the thinking side of his brain and tuned in to us.

After a week of groundwork, we begin the Fundamentals riding exercises. One of the first exercises we teach the horse is One Rein Stops. The exercise teaches your horse to go the speed you want off just light leg pressure, and it teaches him to rate your seat and stop as soon as you drop your weight down deep in the saddle.

On average, you should spend 10 minutes at each gait. If you’re on a really hot horse, do a full 10 minutes at the walk, then the trot and then the lope.

I realize that practicing nothing but One Rein Stops for the next couple of rides, or even weeks, sounds really boring. But you have to do it. Because if you don’t, you’ll never fix the problem that you’re experiencing now.

Have a horsemanship question or looking for more training tips? Check out the No Worries Club.