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Creating True Softness and Collection in Your Horse
By Ron Bechtel
After 40 plus years of training and showing horses I have observed that many people don’t understand the difference between an artificial head set and a true soft collection in their horses.
When you just have a head set in your horse it is usually created by means of draw reins, biting, or German martingales for force. When you just have a headset your horse is usually not soft. The horse’s shoulders are jammed into the ground, stiff and moving poorly. The other problem comes from the hind quarters – the hocks are not engaged and do not create a true collection.
We have all seen these horses go around the arena at the shows and they are stiff, have a walk that looks more like they are going to stop, and have gaits that are hard even for a professional to identify.
The other thing we observe is a lot of force, stronger bits, and a lot of jerking on the horse’s mouth, which is not a pretty picture. A lot of the animals don’t use their ears and can become really swishy in their tail. Why, because they are in a lot of discomfort.
I would like to offer some alternatives that I believe you will enjoy and your horse will enjoy as well. With true softness and collection your results will be a happier horse and rider. His ears will be forward, no swishy tail and a more comfortable ride for everyone.
The first exercise I would like to teach is something I call, “Teaching the horse to move out of the circle.” We begin by doing this exercise in a snaffle bit and a martingale, but be sure your martingale is loose enough to go up the withers of your horse. The reason for the loose martingale is because we are going to teach the hose to collect without force and we want to be sure we are not pulling his head into position, but allowing it to fall into position with your leg and impulsion for behind.
Start this exercise at the walk and then move into the jog when you and your horse understand the exercise. It is important to remember if a horse can’t do the movements slowly they will never be able to do it with speed.
Start by walking your horse in about a 50 foot circle. As you are walking be sure to make your circle precise and not an egg shape, but an even circle all the way around. Keep your hands low at about the same level as the swells of your saddle (next to the saddle horn.) Make sure your horse is following its head with it’s spine following the circle. Once you have your horse following the circle apply your inside leg to the horse just behind the cinch while keeping contact with its mouth and push his rib cage out of the circle. By doing this you are pushing your horse up to his head and engaging his hind quarters. In time this will result in softness, collection and a true head set.
At first when the horse moves his rib cage out of the circle, ask for him to go about 8-10 feet and then allow him to return to the original circle with his head and spine following the circle. If your horse doesn’t move off your leg, then take a bat and tap him behind your leg to reinforce the leg aid. Don’t hit the horse hard, but just enough to enforce your leg.
In time you won’t need the bat. In time your horse will understand this exercise so you can make a 50 foot circle into a 60 foot circle moving laterally as you go forward. When your horse moves off your inside leg with a little pressure then work this exercise at a jog or slow trot.
Remember if the horse does this exercise properly it will transfer over from the walk to the trot. Remember to keep your hands quiet, down low, and with a soft connection to your horse’s mouth. Continue to use your leg and a bat to push your horse’s rear end up to his head making sure not to pull his head to his body. In time with practice and consistency your horse will fall softly into your hands in a comfortable and relaxed softness.
Ron Bechtel Training
Training ~ Marketing ~ Breeding
P.O. Box 37
Lindsay, CA 93247
CHSRA District 7 Announces 2014 Qualifiers for Challenge of Champions Rodeo
California High School Rodeo Association District 7 The Magnificent 7 CHSRA District 7 Announces 2014 Qualifiers for Challenge of Champions Rodeo Los Olivos, California – March 10, 2014 – California High School Rodeo Association (CHSRA) District 7 today announced district qualifiers for the 2014 Challenge of Champions rodeo, which will be held March 21-23 in […]
How to Brand & Market Your Ag Business
Being in the horse business, or any type of agricultural or related business, is tough. You’re at the mercy of the weather, the economy, trends and a myriad of other things that are most often simply out of your control.
And yet we persevere, because it’s in our blood. It’s not just a job for most of us, it’s a way of life, and in some cases it is a way of life that’s threatened.
Like many business owners, we’re good at what we do, but we haven’t always taken the steps necessary to treat our business like a business. We can become so busy living it that the business end of things slips through the cracks. For most of us, the business end of things means the back end of a horse or a cow, so we steer clear of that!
Unfortunately, if we fail to treat our business like a business and give it the TLC it deserves, the business itself can suffer and slip away. There’s so much to learn, so much to do, kids to take care of, cattle to work, horses to ride, and not near enough money to go around, right?
A large part of the focus of any business is branding and marketing. We need to brand our business, or in some cases ourselves, to establish our unique identity, define our brand story, and ultimately live up to our brand integrity to make sure we keep the customers we have. Then we need to effectively market our business to attract new customers, grow the business, make more money, spend more time with our families, and have a better life.
Without the proper branding and marketing, growing a business can be challenging, but where do you go to even begin to learn about this and put a plan into action, especially when funds for this can be scarce and time is equally as elusive?
For most of us, hiring a professional marketing consultant just isn’t in the financial plan, and that’s why I’ve created The Branding Pen Marketing Network. This is a unique place for ag & western-lifestyle professionals to learn about branding and marketing their business from the ground up. The information is created specifically for people who make their living in ag or ag-related professions, so you can finally get the help you need to effectively market your business and grow.
Why trust me to teach you this stuff?
Because I’ve been there. I’ve bred & trained horses, I’ve run barns, and I’ve shown some. I’ve day worked on cattle ranches, been around farming, and on top of that, I’ve been a freelance web designer for over 10 years, and a big part of what I do is help my clients with their marketing. I know the challenges you face and I know how to overcome them and be successful, and I’ve helped dozens of equestrians, ranchers and others in agricultural and supporting businesses build their businesses online and grow.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have to work hard, but you’re used to that, right?
The Branding Pen is a labor of love for me. I’m passionate about agriculture in this country, and more specifically, preserving it for future generations. The Branding Pen Marketing Network is my small contribution to the ag community where I can coach people through the steps of branding and marketing their business, so that they can enjoy the same success that I’ve experienced.
If you’ve been struggling with figuring out exactly how to brand yourself and market your business, The Branding Pen is the place for you. Maybe you didn’t even realize that you needed to brand yourself, and the thought of how to begin marketing your business sends you into a tail spin!
The good news here: It’s not rocket science, and with a little guidance you can get it all figured out.
I invite you to give The Branding Pen a little test ride with our 30 day free trial, to see for yourself how a better understanding of branding and marketing can help you grow your business, become more successful and create your perfect life.
The Branding Pen Marketing Network
2117 N. Pederson Ave.
Sanger, CA 93657
Theresa Sheridan is a freelance web designer/developer who specializes in helping professionals in all forms of agriculture and supporting businesses brand, market & promote themselves both on- and offline. Learn more about her and view her portfolio at www.theresasheridan.com.