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Getting Your Horse Between Your Hands and Legs

WIMAG0019hat does it mean to keep your horse between your hands and legs? How much do you have to correct your horse? Try loping your horse in a circle in a large arena and see if you can put your hand down and get your horse to stay on the circle.
This is something I have to continually work on. Sometimes I get in such a training mode working on turn arounds, stops, or lead changes I forget about keeping my horse on a circle. When I get to a show I have to keep correcting my horse on my circles. A lot of people don’t like to lope a lot of circles, or say they get bored with that, but if you think about it you spend most of your time in a reining pattern loping circles. When a judge scores your lead changes, part of what he considers is how good your circles are.
A good exercise for this I learned from my friend Brady Weaver. It’s called the flower pattern. Establish a center point, then start loping a circle around it. Put your hand down and see if your horse stays on the circle. There will usually be a magnet somewhere your horse is drawn to. It could be the gate, the barn, or other horses. Let your horse make the mistake before you correct it.
When your horse starts to drift, over correct your horse, and take him right across the center of your circle. Then pick the circle up on the other side, and continue loping the circle. When he drifts again, just steer him across the center again, and get back on the circle on the other side.
You need to keep doing this until he’ll stay on the circle on a loose rein.Be patient if your horse hasn’t done this before, it might take him a while to figure out what your asking for. You just need to make it more work for him when he doesn’t stay on the circle. Make the wrong thing difficult, and the right thing easy.
When I’ve overlooked this part of my training program for a while, I might spend a couple days just loping circles, without working on anything else.
When you get this working for you it eliminates a lot of other problems, because it teaches your horse to stay with you. That feels real good.