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Introduction of the Lariat, by Richard Winters

RUBBING HORSE WITH LARIAT v3-i9Introducing your saddle horse to a lariat rope  and getting him comfortable with its use could go  a long way in training your horse to become a  safe and solid equine citizen.   Even if you don’t plan on roping off of your  horse, being desensitized and comfortable with  the rope around his body could keep you out of  trouble.   It can also be helpful when attempting  to pony another horse or even if your lead rope  or mecate falls down around your horses’ legs  while riding.

Here are some things that you can do to start  the process of getting your horse broke to the  lariat rope:   Be handy yourself ““ How well do you handle  a rope?   Are you comfortable with a rope in  your hands?   Are you able to build a loop?   Can  you coil up a rope, naturally and smoothly, without  having kinks in the rope?   I’m not insisting  that you have to be a great roper, however,  you should get handy and comfortable with  the rope in your hands.

Start with groundwork ““ You’ll want to  begin by desensitizing your horse to the feel  and sound of the rope on his body.   Begin to  use the rope on your horses’ body just like you  would a brush.   It would be as if you are grooming  your horse with the rope.   Be smooth and use  rhythm with your movements.   Start at a part of  his body where he is comfortable and work  toward those areas where he might be more  ticklish.   If he is touchy about the rope around his  legs, rub him on the shoulder with the rope and  move down his leg and back up again ““ before  he gets bothered.   This method of approach and  retreat in these areas helps a horse get braver  and more confident.   Take your time, these are  things that you want to check out and make  sure your horse can handle.

You can also build  a big loop and drape it over your horses’  hindquarters and lunge him in a circle.  You want  to make sure that your horse is not worried and  is comfortable with a rope dangling  around his hind legs.   This is where it  becomes very important to be organized:  You need to be able to handle  your lead rope and lariat rope efficiently  to keep your horse out of trouble.   If he  gets scared with this exercise, jerks  away from you and runs off with a lariat  rope around his legs, you’ll shatter what  little confidence you had established  with your horse.

Be sure and do all of  this ground work equally on both sides.   You want  your horse to be comfortable dealing with the  rope out of his right eye as well as his left.

Handling the rope while mounted ““ For the  novice rider, just managing the reins and controlling  the horse is a full-time job.   You need to be  able to control your horse and handle the lariat  rope simultaneously.   If your horse is apprehensive,  you might find it beneficial to be in a smaller  area, such as a round pen, during the initial  stages.   If your horse feels like he needs to move  his feet, rather than pull back on the reins you  should direct your horse in small circles while  moving the rope across his body smoothly and  with rhythm.   Allowing them to move their feet  will help them feel less trapped and help them  get comfortable.

Building a loop ““ When your horse is  comfortable with a coiled rope, while mounted,  you can build a small loop in your rope to show  him that your rope can potentially grow.   Hold  the coils in your left hand, along with your reins,  and build a small loop in your right hand.   Passing the loop from the right to the left and  back again is important.   Begin to extend your  arm out to the side and back again so that your  horse can get comfortable with the varied movements  of your body and the rope.   Now, begin to  swing the rope just a time or two.   Not over your  head, but off to the side and back behind your  body.   He’ll be less bothered if the loop is not  swinging up by his eye.   You can also lay the loop right over his rump and allow him to walk in  a few circles.   Again, it’s important  to stay organized.   You need to make  sure that you can remove the rope  at any point and you also want to  be sure that you don’t get the rope  up under his tail.   Throw a few feet  of your rope on the ground while  holding the remainder in your hand.   Begin to walk a circle around the  rope, allowing your horse to look at  it with his inside eye and get comfortable  with its movement.   Now,  you want to be able to coil your rope  back up while mounted and build  another small loop.   Swing the rope  once or twice and toss it out on  the ground again.   You need to do  these things repetitiously until your  horse becomes acclimated and  comfortable with all kinds of movement  with the rope.   Getting your horse comfortable  with a rope is similar to everything  else we would want to desensitize  him to.   Be consistent, stay organized,  be smooth and use rhythm in  your movements.   Taking the time  to work on these skills will add  value to you and your horses’ experience.

For more information about Richard  Winters Horsemanship please go to  www.wintersranch.com.

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