Hey, I'm currently leasing this QH mare who used to compete in reining competitions. She's had an...interesting history. Her previous owner was the kind of guy who could hop on an unbroke horse and make it do what he wanted. He did this with her, giving her minimal foundation training and even less reining training but somehow managed to win money on her. From what i heard, he had a strong leg and a good seat and that was all he needed.


I'm riding her now, and trying to ride her as a reining mare. She's well built and has a big gut that wont go away, I don't think that's too much of a problem though. It's working out to a certain extent, but I need some help with multiple things


1 - she's ring sour, which isn't a problem seeing as I don't show, but even in clinics and lessons she makes the association and gives me a hard time. I just make her go but I'd prefer to try to get her to get over her fear, rather than making her work through it.


2 - She spooks at the same hay pile every single time I ride her, which is frequently, so it's starting to get old. I've showed her it from all different angles and even let her have a bite once, but it didn't help.


3 - She wont spin anymore. The first time I ever rode her, she did this amazing spin for me, and it went downhill from there. My instructor even got on her a few times and it ended up as somewhat of a nightmare. I've been working hard at her spin and it's getting a lot better, I got 2 fast, nearly proper spins out of her the other day and that was a HUGE milestone. Right now, i want her to slow it down and plant her foot. How do I work backwards from a fast, semi-proper spin to a medium speed, proper spin.


4 - she was never asked to be collected or round. for the first few months she always had her nose stuck up in the air. I ask her for her face, and she gives it, but she doesn't keep it there when I release. I don't want to hold her for too long because thats just not how you do it in western. Any tips on making her stay round or at least flex at the poll? Preferably not the dressage way.


5 - she has a habit of swinging her hip out when trotting small circles, and even sometimes in the lope. Suggestion for fixing that?


6 - she likes to pop her back end in the canter. Sometimes just a bit, sometimes about a good foot and a half off the ground. Why does she do that? Can I stop her from doing that?


7 - This ones for me...my seat isn't that great, and when she spooks and pops her back end and even at her basic lope, there's a lot of daylight between me and the saddle. Suggestions on how to sit?


She stops hard, has an amazing back up, and is generally a good girl. She really does want to do what I'm asking but I think she gets confused sometimes because it was never instilled in her what exactly she is supposed to be doing. Her flexion and her spin are my biggest concern atm.


Thanks for taking the time to read all this, and for your help.

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first thing first, get her checked out by a vet, and chiropracter, get those teeth done and make sure nothing is out to make her avoid your aids. You do not want to punish a horse for doing something when they are trying to show you they hurt.

Okay, now to some of your questions, I would go and give her that foundation training, its very vital. Foundation for me is to be able to break the horse into quadrants (atleast) and be able to move hip on each side, shoulder on each side and side step in each direction, this is KEY for everything on your question list. Before she is ridden again, this mare needs trust, and what I reccomend is YouTube some trianers methods and see what you can do, I like Chris Irwin and Chris Irwins training needs very little equipment to do so. Get this mare to start trusting you, she is saddle broke, it won't go away, so give her a few months of ground work, try driving her, try lunging her with Chris Irwin work (looking for all the signs of submission and the "bonding" moment).

Next, arena sour, for this it will get easier when you do this Chris Irwin work, she will start a relationship with you, and being with you is what she wants to do. Do these bonding sessions and once your done the "bond" brush her and start trick training her with treats in the arena. Teaching to bow, and give hugs are two easy tricks to play around with that will help her trust you, and she relates food to arena, and I think the arena sourness will go away.

Collection, and flexion, you are actually asking for a headset not collection in your question, but here is my response, when breaking the horse into quadrants and asking for the shoulder and hip moving her head will slowly be worked down, and that is how the WP, HUS and reining headset and colection is started. If you are asking for the shoulder to move to the left (all your looking for cross over in the front feet), I jiggle my right rein, and push the shoulder off in a bumping type sensation, you really want to jiggle the rein quickly but not harsh and as soon as you get the response (even if its 1 cross over) stop everything and give a pat. Moving the hips is mainly the same deal, and the more you move the hips the more she is going to work in the behind/hocks (not on the forehand) and she will start to round and if the back and butt is working (and up) the head will go down. Right now she is riding hollow which is a big issue both for the stops, her lope, and collection.

Now, the spin if you are looking for a reiner spin, try riding her in smaller and smaller circles until she starts just moving her shoulder off and around, if you want a WP spin, just keep moving the shoulder away.

Bucking, well I personally think you have a VERY sore horse on your hands, I am not going to offer any more advice on that subject because I think you will be shocked what the chiro has to say about your mare (I know I was with my ex cow boyed reining horse). I had a horse that did all the problems you are saying and I did EVERYTHING I am listing and they worked.

For yourself, I think once you have done all the above, I would start riding her bareback, then stirrup less, and then after a few months of that I do not think you will have the space between you and the saddle anymore.
That's so much for your advice, Come to think of it, it's a definate possibility that her stifles are sore. She stops really hard and I don't ask her to slide or anything because she doesn't have plates on at the moment, but even when i say whoa there are sometimes skid marks with all four feet.

And sorry about the collection mix up, I must have mixed up my terminology a bit there :P

Anyway, thanks again
Hi Zoi,
I have some suggestions.
"1 - she's ring sour...but I'd prefer to try to get her to get over her fear". I would give her a different job in the ring. Any horse really sour on showing one event (ie. reining) will not be so sour doing another event (cow work?).
If it's reining you want to do, make it short. She's sour on reining. Mixed it up with other things to keep her interest and then add a reining maneuver in between. She needs a break from intense or constant reining. That's why we work cows on reiners; too keep them fresh.

"2 - She spooks at the same hay pile every single time I ride her...". She does it because she can. She's testing you. I use Clinton Anderson's methods for this. When you want to reward her, go to that pile. Make it a wonderful place to be for her. Soon she will love to be there.

"3 - She wont spin anymore...." Spinning is hard on a horse. I usually work on spins when the horse is fresh. You need the practice but she doesn't. I would limit it and (like pt. 1 above), I would mix it up with other fun stuff for her.

"4 - she was never asked to be collected or round..." Like 'A Sassy Temptation' said... she needs foundation work. You or someone will have to teach her this. It's part of foundation work. I always teach it right away after the initial starting under saddle.

"5 - she has a habit of swinging her hip out when trotting small circles..." Do a 'hip in' exercise while working in a circle. Start at the walk and then work your way up to a lope.

"6 - she likes to pop her back end in the canter...." Maybe she is sore. Or loping too slow.

"7 - This ones for me...my seat isn't that great... Suggestions on how to sit?" practice, practice, practice.

Good luck.
Thanks so much, I think you're right on a lot of points. I'm going to be looking into whether she's sore and it's a definate possibility. It could be that she lopes fairly slow, but nowhere near WP slow. It's a "I-sometimes-ride-a-rocket-horse-so-she-seems-slow" kind of thing.

Just in need of clarification about one thing. What exactly is a hip-in excersize? I assume you w/t/c in a circle while pushing her hip in towards the center of the circle? sounds like a good idea, if that's what you mean.

Anyway, thanks again for your advice!
a hip in exercise would be as easy as getting her to move her hip out and around her shoulder at a stand still, getting her to cross over her back legs, another after that can be half passing, then moving from a stand still to a walk, then trot, and then you can ask for the "cant" at the canter so she will pick up the correct lead and will begin with her but inside.
Hi Zoi,
"What exactly is a hip-in excersize? I assume you w/t/c in a circle while pushing her hip in towards the center of the circle? sounds like a good idea, if that's what you mean."
f.y.i. I'm a reiner/western rider so I don't w/t/c. I walk/jog/lope. :) or w/j/l. I actually do walk, jog, trot, lope.
You understood the hip-in exercise correctly. I start at the walk and then progress to the faster gaits as they are ready.

Reining horses usually need a hock maintence program like Adequin or Glucosamine etc...

Good luck
to me a walk jog and lope is a slower, lower way of trotting and cantering, if your bouncing while sitting you should be posting which is a trot, same aspect for cantering, I would consider a slower way of going a lope, then an extension would be a canter (to me, in my opinion) reiniers to me start off some of their circles at a lope, progress to a canter, and many times a fast canter or gallop.

I really like cortizone or HA injections in the hocks, I do it every 6 months or so, but I personally wouldn't look into it, unless the vet advises it as I think this horse has lost fundamental training, and needs more work before looking at minor surgeries and such. To me this horse needs a vet for teeth, chiro for muscle and bone adjustments, and then alot of patience. You can work on the hip control on the lunge line as well, I like to make sure my horse knows what I am asking on the ground so when I get on, its much easier. This is going to be long..

lunge her until she understands walk, trot, and canter or walk jog or lope (which ever term you want). Give her cues, cluck for walk, cluck cluck for trot, kiss for lope (this is fundamentals) once she seems familiar with lunging try tying the reins around the girth connections of the saddle and then tie them together at the top, make sure she has enough room so that when she has her head even with her wither there is no pressure, but above or below that line there is rein pressure (this teaches herself to give to the bit), you can also do this with a surcingle but a good one costs some good money and in my personal experience the way I do the saddle gives me the same results. Once she has learned to give to the bit at walk, trot and canter (I would say do this for about a month, start out lungin and just add a bit in the last 5 minutes of the lesson, and increase the time and gaits once she feels comfortable), you can start to drive her (now I reccomend driving lines which cost about $40.00) loop the reins around the d-rings in the saddle (where you'd attach a breast collar) and lay the outside rein accross the saddle, stand where you were lunging and ask for the same as lunging until she gets used to that, then ask for softening in the bridle by GENTLY sponging the driving lines while still asking for forward motion, once she gives you some reward her by stopping the sponging. Once you have this at a walk, trot, and canter in both directions, then take the outside driving line and put it behind the horses rear, right above the hocks. At this time I would only drive her at a walk and trot with the outside rein above the hocks, you are now going to leave the center of the arena, and are going to "steer" her you are going to start at a walk, and go slightly out from the right or left from behind your horse (always staying on the inside of the large bends), and start working on whoa, back up, and left and right turns by sponging the correct rein (called direct reining, like english). Once you and your mare can handle all of that, I would then go close to her, and push with your stirrup about 12 inches away from the girth while also direct reining the horse to the inside. So if you want your horses hip to move to the right, stand at the horses left side, push on your horses left side with the stirrup, and gently sponge on the left rein, your horse SHOULD move her hip to the right, and vice versa for the other side. Once she does that, you now have the fundamentals to get back on the horse, and try the hip control the same way. I reccomend until she is not ring sour, and she is doing everything right witht he hip control under saddle, to always do 15 minute warm up by driving her and asking for the hip, then get on, spend another 15 minutes at the walk and asking for hip and shoulder, then work on steering around pilons at the trot by keeping your outside leg on her (at the same area as the hip control) so she makes a "C" around the pilons. Once YOU CAN do all of that with ease, try working on half passes where the horse crosses over the whole arena, this will help keeping the horses hip to the inside, which will benefit her canter or lope. I have so much to say, but I think you get the idea.

thanks for reading if you have read through the whole thing.


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