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Developing Patience For the Stop

It takes a while to develop the stop. Here, I will detail some elements I use when training horses and focusing on developing the stop.

The exercise in the video I do with almost all reining horses I have in training (and to some degree with any horse) - young and old. What changes from horse to horse is my expectation. I am always working towards the perfect stop, every time.

I walk out to check my horse's response to the word "whoa". I want to feel him be snappy responsive. I walk out, say "whoa", push on my stirrups. Then, I rock him back onto his hocks, so when he hears the word "whoa", he immediately thinks​"hocks".

When I back him, I'm not really thinking about backing; I'm thinking about rocking him onto his hocks and lifting his shoulders. In order to do that, he also has to be soft in his chin and poll.


When I turn him back, I'm thinking about all of that along with moving his front feet. I want my horse to try and give me his best stop from a walk, first - responsive and correct.

Then I ask for the stop like I would want in the show pen. It's easy to get frustrated if you have a young horse or are beginning to practice stopping with your horse, but be patient. It takes a while to develop the stop.


* If your horse isn't yet at the stage of fencing and running long lines to stops, you can still use this exercise to build those rider cues in your horse. The closest way to simulate a stop without doing one, is the back up. In an actual stop, with forward momentum, the horse will push underneath himself. This exercise will help build that same maneuver action.


You will do the same exercise as in the video starting at the walk and then working up to the trot. Walk/trot out to check your horse's response to the word "whoa". You want to feel him respond. Say "whoa", push on your stirrups, use your reins to signal reverse. Then, rock him back onto his hocks, so when he hears the word "whoa", he immediately thinks ​​"hocks".


When you back him, don't really thinking about backing; think about rocking him onto his hocks and lifting his shoulders. You want your horse to try and stop from a walk, first, then the trot. Build the response and correctness.


KEY TO REMEMBER - In the transition from the forward walk/trot to the backup, when signaling reverse, don’t pull harder to stop them; don’t pull harder to back them. Say "whoa", pull fairly on the reins, and wait. Wait for your horse to take backward steps. * Your feet signal the motion. Your hands signal the direction. Enjoy your time with your horse! I know this may be a lot to digest. If you have trouble while working on this exercise, send me an email or use the contact form on this website to let me know.

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