One of the things that has a huge impact on courage is "Cruise Control" or speed control at all gaits. Think about it, if you ask your horse to walk, they should walk until you ask them to change speed. You have to do your part, keeping your body in the rhythm you want, but they also have to do their part.

Think about riding like you are walking through the mall with your friend. You walk together, you are not constantly pulling on their shirt to keep up with you, or holding onto their shirt tail to slow them down, you walk together. If one stops to look in a window, you both stop to look in the window. It is the shopping mall dance of sorts. Riding should not be any different.

But "HOW" do we get this.

1. If the horse speeds up when you are not asking them to speed up (thoughts and body, sometimes I think trot and my horse trots before I ask, this is a win and is ok). But if you didn't ask for it and didn't think it, change direction. I love doing the change direction because the horse has to think to change.
2. If the horse speeds up, bend them onto a circle until they are at the speed you want and then release and go straight again. This is also great for working on the bend.
3. If the horse slows down, let them break gait and then do enough to get them back to where you had them. This is different for all horses so if your horse is super lazy, you might have to kick and spank with a crop.  If you horse is more sensitive, it might just be a tap of the crop.  The key is as soon as they break gate, Tell them to get back to the gait they were at.  This isn't the same as asking them to do it the first time, this is a correction.
4. If the horse slows down, as soon as they break gait, Stop and back them.  They will figure out that slowing down is work.  It will also help them stay in tune with you and improve their backing.  I am not as huge a fan of this method as the kick or spank but I still like to have this option.

The more you practice these, the better you will get, the better your communication, the better your timing and the better your horse will be in a lot of areas.  Timing on these is critical.  You don't want to just keep kicking on your horse, it should be crystal clear to stay at the speed you want, don't beg for it.  That will just make them dull.

If you want to get some other tips for courage, check out my Courage Snippets!  


Leave a Comment