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 The Basics…

Going Forward

  You will recall that in the Summer 2001 Newsletter I talked about discussing the importance of the “basics”. 

“It’s all about the Basics.

The better the horse goes forward, backs-up, moves sideways, and particularly disengages, the better he will do everything else.”

For the Fall issue let’s examine

Going Forward


As one of my mentors, Dennis Reis is fond of saying…”Without forward you don’t have anything.”  And for any of you who have tired to ride a horse who didn’t want to move forward, you know exactly what Dennis is talking about.

It is somewhat of the rolling ball theory…Things in motion tend to stay in motion;  Things that are stationary require a tremendous amount of energy to get moving.

Why is going Forward such an important basic?

At first glance, getting your horse to move forward either on the ground or from the saddle sounds like an easy proposition.  But going forward brilliantly, with straightness, rhythm, timing, balance, and enthusiasm  complicates the maneuver.  As with most of the basic principles of good horsemanship, I would suggest we establish this “brilliance” first by practicing from the ground, and then transfer the feeling to the saddle.

To begin, THINK about what you would like the horse to do.  ( i.e. Move forward, with straightness with his four feet tracking-up on the railroad track.)

I visualize this happening with the slightest suggestion of the human’s body.)

 Second, THINK of the rhythm  of the gate with which  you wish for the horse to depart. (A four-beat march for the walk; A two-beat Irish jig for the trot;

A three-beat waltz for the canter.)

Third, PREPARE your body for this transition, and apply the body language energy to get that ball a-mov’in!  Body language aids include:

  • Preparing your posture, coming to attention, and breathing

  • Focus your eyes on the desired direction of travel;  For ground work, focus use your belly button eye to push the drive-line or where your leg would rest if you were riding

  •  If you are in the saddle, PREPARE your seat  aids (which is mostly accomplished by preparing your posture), your leg aids by encompassing the barrel of the horse, and finally SUGGEST the horse move forward.  Lift the belly up with your calves and squeeze the energy from the butt to the bit.

Fourth, ASSIST the horse in refining the movement forward so that it is rhythmic, balanced, shaped with good lateral & vertical posture, and maintains the requested gate.  Fix, refine, and adjust with your hands and leg aids, ultimately effecting the eyes of your horse, so that both eyes are seeking the direction of travel.

You have accomplished all of the above, but the horse still isn’t moving!!!  Here’s the fifth step…ALLOW it to happen!  We get into a BIG hurry and our humanity takes over. We forget to just set it up, suggest, suggest a little more firmly, and as a final step – make it happen or get a reaction.  It is easy to go directly to…make it happen, and forget the all-important progression of getting there.  Here’s where your consistency is so important. 

The final step is, as always, REWARD.  You can let the horse know he has done a good job in a number of ways:

·         Let “going-forward” be the reward, by making other options more difficult

·         Give her a verbal..”At-A-Girl”

·         Soften your body and mind

·         Last, give her a rub on the neck (BUT, be cautious you don’t change your seat and leg aids, and send mix signals to the horse)

WOW!  Who would have thought that a simple request to “go-forward” could be so complicated!  But then again, as aspiring horsemen we all know..

The further we go…

       The deeper it gets!

In this case, going forward brilliantly, with enthusiasm, is certainly the human’s reward.  It doesn’t get much better than riding a horse who listens to your slightest request of

Go Forward!

Yippee – Yahoo!

What’s Coming UP!

4-Week Horse Course in La Grande

Here’s a great way to end the summer.  Thursday evenings in La Grande we will meet to work on the basics…Go forward brilliantly

                        Soft Halt to a back-up

                                    Supple leg-yields

Cost: $150 (includes arena fee)

Deposit Due September 20th

Location:  To Be Determined in the La Grande area

October 4th through October 25th

7-Day Colt Starting October 1st – 7th

Alice’s colt starting classes have proven to be a great way of getting your young horse started right, while developing the confidence & skills of the human.  This year we are extending the length of the class by two-days, to give riders & horses a little more time to cement in the basic concepts.  The class will develop your horse in the round pen, with lariat work being conducted by Alice.  Horses will be exposed to working as a herd, halter leading/pony work, saddling, flag work, basic ground skills, and applied riding skills.  It will be the best $350 you have ever spent!  Prerequisite:  Understanding of horse handling & human’s ability of walk, trot, canter while on board a horse.

Cost: $350

Deposit Due September 17th

Location: T&T Horsemanship – Haines, Oregon 

Sign Up TODAY! 

6-Week Horse Course in Haines

A number of folks have been relaying their difficulty in scheduling horse course’s mid-week.  So here’s your chance…Beginning September 29th and concluding November 3rd, we will whistle and ride on Saturday’s in Haines.  Come join the fun!

 Cost: $150

Deposit Due September 15th

Location: T&T Horsemanship – Haines, Oregon

September 29th through November 3rd

 October Saturday Workshops

 This will be the third fall that Alice and Susan have offered their Saturday Workshops.  It is a great opportunity to leave your horse at home and just come watch, concentrate on the movements, and see the girls demonstrate the principles after which we are all aspiring.

 Cost: $10 per workshop (3hr. Demonstration)

Location: T&T Horsemanship – Haines, Oregon 

Driving Weekend in November

Often times the best “riding” we do, is accomplished by “driving” our horses from the ground with long-lines.  For two-days, November 3rd & 4th, we will practice getting a feeling of driving.  You won’t believe the difference it will make in you and your horse!

Cost: Introduction Price - $100

Location: T&T Horsemanship – Haines, Oregon

Deposit Due October 20th

Going Forward... Disengagement Holidays 2001 Tom Dorrance Lessons for 2000 Sideways Self-Carriage NWHS 101


T&T Horsemanship
15477 Sky Ranch Lane 
Haines, Oregon 97833
(541) 856-3356

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