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30 Issue 3 2013
We recently did a Cow Horse Clinic at my facility and it was a ton of fun.
We had a big range of talent, from the very green horse and rider to the
quite advanced horse and rider. I found myself repeating the same thing over
and over from the greenest to the most advanced.... "Turn them loose....turn
your horse loose.....turn them loose." It didn't matter the level of rider experi-
ence or the level of the traiing of the horse, I said it repeatedly. to everyone
When we hold onto the bit of our young horses, it makes them dull in
the mouth and unresponsive. They do this to protect themselves. They will
either fight you and get fractious or shut down and get dull and unrespon-
sive. On our older more finished horses, they have a tendency to get resent-
ful towards us and our hands. When a more finished horse knows what his
job is, but we have a hold of them and are pulling on them, it can get in the
way and irritate them.
The majority of the time, I see riders holding onto their horses. I know
much of the time it gives the rider a sense of security. They are afraid to give
the control to the horse in the cow work and in the reining. I'm not saying we
shouldn't take a hold and pull on our horses. We have to when we need to
help, when we need to correct them and when we need to communicate with
them. But when we need to take ahold of them we need to make it count,
then get out and leave them alone (when you can).
Have you ever been around a person that talks all the time????? Just
chattering and chattering continuously. They talk so much that about half
the time you start to ignore them. You hear them, but you don't really pay
much attention to what they are saying. Then there will be someone else
that doesn't t talk much, but when they do... it's typically something very
When I was a kid, I had a great deal of energy and was not afraid to
get into trouble. My poor mom used to spank me over and over again. It was
NO BIG DEAL to me. I could count on one hand how many times my dad
ever spanked me and I remember it very clearly to this day. It was not a fun
experience, but he definitely got his point across and I would never forget the
lesson. He told me once, "He hated so much to spank us kids. He wanted
so much to get his point across so he wouldn't have to do it often, and he
was right.
Horse training is the same way. If we are constantly in their face, hold-
ing onto the reins, they either get dull and ignore us or they get resentful and
fight us. So, we need to remember as we ride, if we have to take ahold of
them to communicate, do it, and then get out of the reins. That is where most
have the problem; as they turn the horse loose. Kind of turning them loose
with your hands moving around is not giving them relief.
Remember get into them; communicate with them, then get out (it is
release and reward). This keeps them responsive, lighter, and paying more
attention to you when you do pick up to communicate. When you add this
with constantly trying to improve your timing and feel you will develop the
desired effect of greater communication between you and your horse.
Until Next time
Good luck and God Bless,
Monty Bruce
Visit Monty's website at
Communication -
Get IN then Get OUT
by Monty Bruce