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Old 04-17-2014, 10:23 PM   #1
Baquero
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Default Neck Reining

Do true bridle horses neck rein? One of the neat things about bridle horses is each horse and rider is different. When you put the two together they can make a variety of combinations. A recent discussion over on Facebook that started with the question about the difference between a post rein and a working rein when riding in the hackamore sparked another topic that I think deserves some discussion. I have heard both sides to the discussion and I have ridden horses that have been trained to neck rein and others who don't. I have my preference and what I think a true bridle horse works best with but I will present both sides as I have heard them and hope for a good discussion.

Argument 1:
Yes, bridle horses are the king of neck reining. The bridle reins are built with buttons, these buttons work against the horses neck as a signal. Similarly when training a horse in the hackamore the rider uses a horse hair mecate. The horse hair is prickly and helps the horse recognize this as a signal and works as a neck rein. The horse is trained for the slightest cues, meaning the neck rein is two inches to either side of the center of the horse. The spade bit was built as a neck reining signal device, the straight bar and large cheeks work together to aid in the signaling of the neck rein.

Argument 2:
No, bridle horses are masters of the direct rein. The buttons on the bridle reins are built to provide weight to the rein this weight is part of the direct signal for direct reining. The rein chains are also there to aid in direct reining signals. Ideally the horse is taught to work between the reins, but not with the reins against his neck. The spade bit was not built to function with a neck rein, it was meant as a signal bit that works as the reins are lifted the spoon lifts off the tongue as a signal. The old vaqueros used to use a test, by tying the reins on with a single strand of tail hair. If the hair broke when working a horse the horse was not complete and needed further training. The test was a test to see how hard they had to pull, pulling is not involved in neck reining.

Who do you think is right and which do you think works better?
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Old 04-18-2014, 09:52 AM   #2
Gunsel
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OK, I agree that a true Bridle Horse ought to stay between the reins. I want my horses too move away from the neck rein much the same way they move off of my legs. I want them to be responsive to my seat and legs so that I can move them anywhere at any speed I want. So when I use my seat, legs and bridle I have straight up Bridle Horse. Does that make sense?
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Old 04-18-2014, 10:58 AM   #3
AEK
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Your first signal to turn your horse should be with your seat followed by your leg. Early in training, while your horse is in the hackamore, you use the hackamore to back up your leg cues if neccessary. By the time you are
are straight up in the bridle you should not be cueing your horse to turn with the bit or reins, it should all be in your seat. This is to allow for free hands during roping. I was under the impression that the bit is to encourage proper head and neck posture as well as collection. If your horse is truely straight up you should be able to manuever him completely in all directions with your seat. IMHO
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:02 PM   #4
Jimmy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AEK View Post
Your first signal to turn your horse should be with your seat followed by your leg. Early in training, while your horse is in the hackamore, you use the hackamore to back up your leg cues if neccessary. By the time you are
are straight up in the bridle you should not be cueing your horse to turn with the bit or reins, it should all be in your seat. This is to allow for free hands during roping. I was under the impression that the bit is to encourage proper head and neck posture as well as collection. If your horse is truely straight up you should be able to manuever him completely in all directions with your seat. IMHO
Actually this is not true. It is the other way around. Your legs support the action of the reins. For the bridle horse, the actions of the reins and the action of the bit are the signals the horse learns to listen too. The bridle reins are the whole deal. It is a reined horse. Yes, the horse must know the seat, and the legs, and the spur. But the initial signal comes from the reins, the hackamore and the spade. Otherwise, we are not making a reined bridle horse.
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Old 04-19-2014, 02:27 PM   #5
Jan
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I don't see why one way or the other has to be "right." I think it's a matter of preference: what do you want from your horse? I want my horse to follow my body, and I support with rein. If you don't want to consider that a "true" bridle horse, it doesn't bother me at all. And the difference is slight because both are happening so simultaneously. Just like I prefer (for the most part) to ask the horse not to move "off" my leg, but to move "toward" where I direct his attention, opening a door with one leg and closing a door with the other and supporting more there if needed. It's almost the same thing but different. I think it creates a softer, more willing attitude.
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Old 04-19-2014, 08:40 PM   #6
Mares Tales
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There is a lot to having a horse straight up in the bridle, more than bridle or reins. "A bridle horse"....... the.definition to me is a horse that has allowed the action of "carrying" the bridle go all the way through the horse down to the hind feet without any blockages caused by any hint of a brace, in otherwords, the horse is completely "letting go". When you ride a horse that is truly straight up in the bridle there is a distinct softness that you will feel in the horses loins, the horse being in true self carriage, it is unmistakable and you will not forget that feeling and want to work towards having that in all your horses! " Feels like you could go up a telephone pole, or down a badger hole." The horses is "right there" with you.

Neck reining?.....I would prefer that by the time the horse is in the spade that they be following a feel enough that the bit pretty much just hangs there, afterall, we have gone through stages to get the horse to where he can "carry" that bit.

To answer your question OP, my opinion is that by the time the horse is being ridden in the spade alone, he is following your feel. If I couldn`t ride him so that he was following my feel, instead of relying on the tack, time to back up a step or two or (more)........to see if I missed some things and clear those up.

A wise horseman I knew said, "You never leave square one, you take it with
you."

And may I add that you can always revisit square one when you need to, IF it`s there from the beginning.
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:01 PM   #7
Jimmy
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Yes a horse can follow your body. Yes he can follow a feel.
But I am going to say that when we are truly riding a horse, and he is in motion and active, he is not following us, we are not leading. We are directing, and we ride the motion of what we directed to happen. We are following his movements, as in riding with his movements. When a horse spooks or jumps, we are riding the movement, or we fall off, or we get left behind at least. If we are leading, we get ahead of him. The difference is that we are initiating movement, and then maintaining the movement. The horse listens to the question, or the signal, and we ride that which he gave us. The horse may follow our lead, but we are not leading him into movement.
Saying that a horse follows a feel is a way of describing something that is difficult to describe. It is an "as if". A feel following a feel describe the feeling when it is right, but not much of how or what.
The combined affect of rein and seat and leg is difficult to describe. But too much of all those things at once can be too much input to the horse. The spade bit is designed as a signal bit, as is the action of the hackamore. This is the core to the process, or system,of making a bridle horse, or a reined horse, which is what he is, and there is a reason he is called that.. That is why I adhere to the principle that the movement of the reins must come slightly first, in order for the horse to associate them with movement or direction. But then these are fine lines, and often interchanged, and never dogmatic. While training, it all depends.
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:05 PM   #8
Jimmy
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To clarify, when the reins are activated out of nuetral, the signal to the horse is just that, a signal to do something more, or something less, or something different. At that point of movement of the bit or hackamore, we can then bring in other aids to support and direct what we started with the reins. But it is started with the reins for the system to work.
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:59 PM   #9
Mares Tales
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Jimmy of course you aren`t wrong because the movement of the slobber straps, the movement the horse feels on the hackamore leads to the sensitivity of the horse to feel the movement of the bridle chains, it is a gradual process and they all call the horses attention when you pick up the rein but then so does "the life in your body." My horse gets to the place in the relationship where she can feel my energy rise in the slightest and that is their call to attention.

Quote:
But it is started with the reins for the system to work.
We could be knit picking this to death but, the OP did ask the question. I would say, yes the buttons on the rein can be a signal, like a fly landing on one side of the neck or the other, button brushing against the hair. The tact and skill here is,....... being able to lay the rein up to the horse`s neck in such a way that the bit is not disturbed or not come into play, because in carrying the spade the horse is already making a change in their longitudinal balance and that should be enough.(MO) If the horse is first responding to the rein on the neck for direction, they are moving "away" from something,......... but.... using our energy and focus is giving the horse a place to go "towards" something. (Opening the door with our focus and life in our bodies gives the horse a place to go, allows our idea to become the horse`s idea) When applying an aid, in this case laying the rein against the neck and then waiting for the horse to respond, it will most likely take longer than the horse following your feel/focus/energy.

And yes, in the heat of the moment when you have some fast work to do, a person might do more to get the job done, that is reality, but.........that is not the goal. The goal is to do less. In a perfect world, we would be relying less and less on the tack and more and more on feeling for each other. We can aim for perfection even if we never get there but, at least with effort we might get close.

I see so many people rushing out to buy themselves a pretty spade bit to advertise that they have now arrived, when in fact they just aren`t ready to hang one on their horse yet. (Not speaking of anyone in particular here)

I ask what is wrong with being the best horseman with a snaffle, or best hackamore reinsman that a person can be and leave the spade hanging on the wall as a reminder that with time, experience and the desire to improve, they might one day be skilled enough to hang it on their horse. I think their horse would be ok with that.
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Old 04-21-2014, 08:28 AM   #10
Jimmy
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"If the horse is first responding to the rein on the neck for direction, they are moving "away" from something,......... but.... using our energy and focus is giving the horse a place to go "towards" something. (Opening the door with our focus and life in our bodies gives the horse a place to go, allows our idea to become the horse`s idea) When applying an aid, in this case laying the rein against the neck and then waiting for the horse to respond, it will most likely take longer than the horse following your feel/focus/energy."

It is not about one or the other. If someone is new to riding, then the idea of focus and intent and life in our body is novel and a revelation. But it is simply part of riding. Anyone competent at jumping or cow working can tell you this. The issue becomes, after discovering the benefits, the conclusion is drawn that the reins are not necessary, or the bit. But many people have not learned the skill of using the reins in such a way as to not oppose the activity they have created. They do not know how to use the reins as an integral part of the process. And it is not taught, in general. So there is a misunderstanding that the seat is more important than the reins, and that we must train the horse by the seat alone, as if the reins are a necessary evil.
There is also a focus on teaching through pressure/release, ignoring the fact that a horse learns by association, as in what always happens before they do something. There is no way to teach a signal, without being aware of sequence.Which is why timing is so important. This is why rider position and rein position and hand position, is so important to go along with leg position. And these things must be consistent in order to be affective.
It is called reinsmanship for a reason. Not seatmanship.
So to say that the horse responding to the rein against his neck is the horse moving away from pressure is not true. It is not about pressure at all, but about the understanding in the horse, whenever I feel that, I do this, and they can arrange themselves accordingly, unless or until we interrupt it, or redirect it. Signal is not pressure. It is not a choice of whether they move away or to something. There is simply action and movement that the horse initiates and we ride accordingly. I say the horse initiates it, even though we may have put the thought in his head. By the time the horse is at that point, it is habit.
All these things are part of a process, and one cannot be isolated, or left out.
I am not against snaffles at all. A whole lot can be done in a snaffle. But the fact is that in order to get a horse into a spade, the two rein cannot be left out. In order to two rein, the horse must know the use of the bosalito, and in order to know that, they have to spend time in the hackamore. So snaffle or no snaffle, you cannot move from a snaffle to a spade. The horse has to know the hackamore for the whole system to work. So sooner or later, you have to do the hackamore. So you might as well start with it when you can. The whole purpose of hackamore training is so you can use a spade down the line.
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