The Pully-Rein Stop

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The Trail Rider ~ May 2016

Ride Right with Julie Goodnight

 

To watch Julie Goodnight demonstrate how to perform the pulley-rein stop, go to TrailRiderMag.com.

 

The Pulley-Rein Stop

Learn how to stop a bolting horse on a narrow trail using a pulley rein with top trainer/clinician Julie Goodnight’s four-step technique.

By Julie Goodnight with Heidi Melocco ~ Photos by Heidi Melocco

 

If you’ve had an accident, need a confidence boost, or ride on narrow trails, it’s important to know the pulley-rein stop. Read on to learn Julie Goodnight’s four-step technique.

Have you ever ridden a horse that spooked and bolted — and was ready to run fast and far? Bolting is a normal part of a horse’s flight response after he’s spooked. To safely control a spooked horse, you have a fraction of a second to choose your cues.

You might be familiar with the one-rein stop, in which you use one rein to turn and stop. (For how to perform the one-rein stop, go to TrailRider.com.) However, if you’re on a narrow trail with no room to turn, or the horse is truly running away with you it might be best to employ the pulley-rein stop.

You won’t use this extreme stopping cue as an everyday method to halt your horse, like you would the one-rein stop, but in an emergency, with nowhere to turn, it just may save your life.

“There’s a distinct difference in an emergency and a horse that just goes a little bit too fast,” says top trainer/clinician Julie Goodnight. “Don’t use the pulley-rein stop when your horse is just going faster than you’d like. The one-rein stop is for that.

“To me, an emergency is when the horse is out of control, or the rider has lost her balance, and someone is in danger of getting hurt. If you need a last-resort way to stop, knowing the pulley rein can help you stop any horse — no matter your size or the horse’s size.”

Goodnight says most riders are first taught to sit back and apply backward rein pressure to stop. This technique can be fine if your horse just needs to slow down. But if your horse is bucking and running off, simply pulling back isn’t going to stop him. A horse that’s running off may brace his neck, pull back against you, grab the bit, and continue to run off in response to your two-handed pull.

“You can’t win a tug of war with a 1,000-pound horse,” notes Goodnight. “The horse will ‘run through’ bit pressure alone if he’s panicked and bolting.”

And, as noted, the one-rein stop isn’t always the best option if it’ll cause your runaway horse to lose his balance and fall, or if you’re on a narrow trail.

“With practice, you can teach your horse to stop off one rein without turning,” says Goodnight. “But on the trail, you might not want to take the chance the horse won’t turn, especially when stopping promptly is critical.”

If you’ve had an accident, need a confidence boost, or ride on narrow trails, it’s important to know the pulley-rein stop. No stopping technique will work in every single emergency situation, but it’ll boost your confidence to know that you’ll likely be able to stop any horse, when you master this skill.

 

Before You Begin

Practicing the pulley-rein stop can be hard on your horse, because you’ll pull on the mouth to stop him. So you’ll practice this technique while you’re sitting still on your horse’s back. In this way, you’ll learn the motions without pulling hard or at all. You do need to practice on your horse, as your hands need to be in a specific position on his neck.

“After you know the hand movements, you can move out into an open space where any horse may feel strong — especially when pointed back toward the barn,” says Goodnight. “Make sure you’re not being excessively hard on your horse and are only practicing enough to memorize the hand movements.”

Before you begin, don an ASTM-approved, SEI-certified riding helmet. Tack up your horse in his usual bridle and saddle. Find an enclosed area with good footing. Mount up, and take a rein in each hand.

Step 1. Shorten the First Rein

Riding with two reins, put your hands out in front of you. You can choose which hand moves first, but for illustration purposes, we’ll start with the left hand (Photo 1A).   Shorten the left rein by sliding your hand down until the rein is quite short (Photo 1B). With your right hand, hold the rest of the reins (if you’re riding with loop reins) or the opposite rein (if you’re riding with split reins).

Caveat: Be sure to shorten the left rein enough to stop your horse from turning his nose right when you pull the right rein. Also be sure you position your hand directly over his neck. If you don’t, he’ll pull your hand to the side. You must be centered so that you have a place to push into his neck.

Step 2. Plant your Hand

With your shortened rein in your left hand, push your knuckles down into the center of your horse’s mane, at the notch just above his withers (Photo 2). Your left hand will stay braced against your horse and will continue to push into his neck. Imagine that this arm is the forward hand if you were holding a bow and arrow. It pushes forward and keeps your horse from turning his head.

Step 3. Shorten the Second Rein

Using your left thumb, grab the tail of the right rein, and slide your right hand down the rein. With your left hand, keep pushing forward into your horse’s mane .

Step 4. Pull Back and Sit Back

Pull back and up with your right rein while your left arm pushes into the neck. Your arms must work in opposition with each other. Pull back with your right hand like an archer pulls a bow just before she shoots it; at the same time, brace into the neck with your left arm to create opposition.

As you pick up and back with your right hand, sit back with your whole body weight. If you’re using this aid, you’re in an emergency situation, and you need to put your whole body weight into the stop.

When your horse stops, release the cue immediately. Otherwise, he may backup, rear or even go over backward.

Caveat: Don’t pull the left rein while also pulling the right rein. You must keep pushing in the left rein and pulling back on the right rein.

Practicing the pulley rein is hard on your horse, so only practice to learn the moves and don’t apply full force. Be gentle, and don’t practice often. When you get it right, you’ll immediately feel the power you have. You’ll boost your confidence when riding in open spaces or on unfamiliar horses as you have the means to stop a horse in an emergency.

For more information on equine behavior, including how to perform the one-rein stop, see Goodnight’s Guide to Great Trail Riding, with bonus DVD, available from www.equinenetworkstore.com.

 

SIDEBAR

The Emergency Dismount

When should you stay on and stop your horse with the pulley rein versus dismounting and getting out of harm’s way?

The risk of injury to the rider makes the emergency dismount a questionable skill for some to practice. Jumping from a horse can cause sprained ankles or falls. While children love to learn this skill while jumping from short ponies, those with joint pain may find practice difficult or dangerous.

Julie Goodnight says that on the trail, it’s often safer to stay on your horse than to dismount onto unknown footing. However, she feels the emergency dismount is a key skill to learn, as there may be an instance where dismounting is safer than staying with your horse.

“Only jump off your horse when it’s safer to jump off than stay on,” says Goodnight. “An example might be if your horse is running off with you and heading toward a barbed-wire fence or cliff.

“I put the pulley rein and the emergency dismount in the category of ‘good to know, good to practice, hope you never need to use it.’ ”

Here’s how to perform the emergency dismount. For safety, wear an ASTM-approved, SEI-certified riding helmet, and consider practicing on a vaulting dummy or a stack of hay bales. Practice the rhythm of the dismount, so you’ll know exactly what to do and in what order.

Step 1. Kick your feet out of the stirrups. That seems obvious, but it’s not your first instinct when you’re panicking.

Step 2. Place your hands on the saddle’s pommel or on your horse’s neck. If you’re riding in a Western saddle, place your right hand behind the horn to shield your stomach from the horn.

Step 3. Release the reins, and kick your right leg high up and over the saddle’s cantle as you push off with your hands. If your horse is out of control and you’re dismounting, you don’t need to hold on. Plus, holding onto the reins while dismounting could cause him to fall on you as you land. As you vault off, be careful not to kick him in the back.

Step 4. Swing your legs together, and land facing forward with your knees bent. The more you can move in a sweeping, athletic, flexed vault, the more likely you are to land on your feet without pain.

One Rein At Time

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Ask Julie Goodnight:
Why do horses relax and listen when I use one rein at a time?

Question: Dear Julie,
My riding instructor and I have a question regarding using one rein while riding. I’ve seen it mentioned in several different articles and books. John Lyons discusses using one rein when starting a young horse. My instructor learned the technique from Karen O’Connor. When we use it on any of our horses – lesson horses to upper level eventers, it seems to calm them and refocus their attention. Can you help explain the equine thought process here and why it seems to be so effective? Also, in what situations would you recommend using it and why?
Thanks,
Sarah

Answer: Any horse will work better when the reins are used one at a time as opposed to using both reins at the same time. There are several reasons for this. First, when you pull on both reins at the same time, it causes a horse to clench his jaw, stiffen his neck and lean into the pressure. He ends up with a stiff and bracey neck that feels like it has two pieces of rod iron in it.

Secondly, using both reins at once puts you and your horse in a tug-of-war that he will always win because he out weighs you by so much.

We want our horses to stay soft in the jaw and loose in the neck (and body) and that will only happen when you use one rein at a time. The mechanics of the bit are such that when you pull on both reins at the same time, it creates pressure all over his mouth, tongue, jaw and palate; it is too much pressure and the horse’s only concern will be to get away from the pressure however he can– he quits thinking, which is not conducive to learning. You also lose any ability to be articulate with the rein aids or use the reins to influence certain parts of his body, because the pressure is every where and he cannot adjust to subtle rein cues.

Even in a hackamore, rope halter, side-pull, etc., you’ll get the same response if you pull on both reins at the same time. Horses tend to move into static pressure; try leaning on your horse and notice he shifts his weight and starts leaning back. Pulling with two reins simply gives the horse something to brace against and lean on. He cannot do that with one rein.

You’ll have much more control over the horse when his neck is slightly bent than when it is straight. It is when the horse stiffens his neck straight in front of him that we lose control. Using one rein to stop or using both reins alternately, like you do for collection is the ideal. Even when using both reins, you always want to keep a rhythm in the reins so that you are not giving the horse something to lean on.

There is a well-documented behavior that I think helps explain why horses are more responsive to one rein than two. When a horse eats or drinks (from the ground) he is very vulnerable because his vision is so poor at that point that he can only see the ground immediately around him. Therefore, when a horse eats or drinks (in the wild) he will eat a few bites, slowly lift his head, swing it to one side, go back down for another few bites, lift his head, slowly swing it to the other side. This is believed to be an instinctive behavior of horses that helps keep them safe from predators when their head would other wise be down in that vulnerable position. Therefore, it follows that if we can move a horse’s nose gently from side to side and keep his neck loose and relaxed, he stays soft and calm.

When a person pulls relentlessly on both reins in an attempt to bring the horse into control or to get him to come on the bit (something I see in every clinic that I do) it tends to lead to the horse getting more and more out of control and agitated until he begins to “run through the bridle” in an attempt to escape the confusing, painful and relentless pressure on his mouth. The more you pull back, the faster the horse goes (moving into pressure). It is hard for people to understand that they need to release the pressure before they can get the horse to stop or to be responsive at all. Check (with weight and reins) then release, then check, then release.

Using the one-rein stop, you’ll never have this problem, even if your release is not as good as it should be. By and large, the biggest problem that people have riding is not releasing the horse from bit pressure enough.

Finally, using the one rein stop will lead to a disengagement of the hindquarters (occurs when the horse crosses his hind legs) which will always cause the horse to calm down, focus on you and become more submissive.

To execute the one-rein stop, lift up on one rein toward your belly button or opposite shoulder, it causes the horse to disengage as he stops. As soon as you feel the horse’s back bend as his hip comes under you (it is a very distinctive feel) you release the rein entirely. With practice, a slight lift of one rein will cause the horse to stop easily. Use the disengagement any time you lose a horse’s attention or anytime he becomes nervous or fractious. We use the one rein stop on young horses or any horses that are very forward and/or resistant to pressure from the reins. It is really a general practice that you can use on any horse at any time.

–Julie Goodnight Trainer and Clinician
_________________________________
If you liked this article, Julie suggests the following products to help you continue the work with your horse (http://shop.juliegoodnight.com or call 800-225-8827 for ordering help):
The Goodnight’s Principles of Riding 5-Part DVD Series

Two-Handed Reining

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I have a question regarding using one rein, versus two, while riding and stopping your horse. When I ride with two hands or use the one-rein stop on my horses, it seems to calm them and refocus their attention. Can you help explain why direct rein pressure seems to be so effective?
Thanks,
Two-handed

Dear Two-handed,
Any horse will work better when the reins are used one at a time or with alternating pressure as opposed to applying pressure to both reins at the same time. There are several reasons for this and all have to do with the horse’s comfort.
First, when you pull on both reins at the same time, it causes a horse to clench his jaw, stiffen his neck and lean into the pressure. It also puts constricting pressure on his tongue, making it impossible for him to swallow and gives him a choking sensation; this will cause him to lift his head and hollow in the neck and back.
Secondly, using both reins at once puts you and your horse in a tug-of-war with you that he will always win because he out weighs you by so much. In a sense, it gives the horse something to lean on or brace against.
We want our horses to stay soft in the jaw and relaxed in the neck with his topline slightly rounded. That will only happen when you use one rein at a time. The mechanics of the bit are such that when you pull on both reins at the same time, it creates pressure all over his mouth, jaw and palate; clamping his tongue down.
It is too much pressure and the horse’s only concern will be to get away from the pressure however he can. You also lose any ability to be articulate with the rein aids and use the reins to influence certain parts of his body, because the pressure is everywhere and is relentless.
Even in a hackamore, rope halter, side-pull, etc., you’ll get the same response if you pull on both reins at the same time and statically. It simply gives the horse something to brace against and lean on. He cannot lean one rein because it focalizes the pressure and keeps his neck bent instead of poking out straight.
You’ll always have more control over the horse when his neck is slightly bent than when it is straight. It is when the horse stiffens his neck straight in front of him with his jaw clenched that we lose control.
Using one rein to stop or using both reins alternately for collection is the ideal. Even when using both reins, you always want to keep a rhythm in the reins so that you are not pulling on both reins at the same time—this rhythm should match the movement of the horse’s hind legs.
There is a well-documented behavior that I think helps explain why horses are more responsive to one rein than two. When a horse eats or drinks (from the ground) he is very vulnerable because his vision is so poor at that point that he can only see the ground immediately around him. Therefore, when a horse eats or drinks (in the wild) he will eat a few bites, slowly lift his head, swing it to one side, go back down for another few bites, lift his head, slowly swing it to the other side. It is theorized that this is an instinctive behavior of horses that helps keep them safe from predators when their head would other wise be down in that vulnerable position. Therefore, if we can move a horse’s nose from side to side and keep his neck loose and relaxed, he stays soft and calm.
When a person pulls relentlessly on both reins in an attempt to bring the horse into control or to get him to come on the bit (something I see everywhere I go) it tends to lead to the horse getting more and more out of control and agitated until he begins to “run through the bridle” in an attempt to escape the confusing, painful and relentless pressure on his mouth. The more you pull back, the faster the horse goes.
It is hard for people to grasp that they need to release the pressure before they can get the horse to stop or be responsive at all. Using the one-rein stop, you’ll never have this problem, even if your release is not as good as it should be. By and large, the biggest problem that people have riding is not releasing the horse from bit pressure enough.
Finally, using the one rein stop will lead to a disengagement of the hindquarters (disengagement occurs when the horse crosses his hind legs) which will always cause the horse to calm down, focus on you and accept your authority. Again, this is a natural behavior of horses but one that is only seen in neo-natal foals (foals under one month of age). If the mother disciplines the foal, he will sometimes drop his head and cross his hind legs in contrition.
When a horse crosses his hind legs it takes away his flight response, leaving him in a more cooperative mood. When you lift up one rein toward your belly button or opposite shoulder, it causes the horse to disengage as he stops. As soon as you feel the horse’s back bend as his hip comes under you (it is a very distinctive feel) you release the rein entirely. With practice, a slight lift of one rein will cause the horse to stop.
We use disengagement any time we lose a horse’s attention or anytime he becomes nervous or fractious—from the ground or from the saddle. We use the one rein stop on young horses or any horses that are very forward and/or resistant to pressure from the reins. The finished horses stop off your seat, without any rein pressure at all. Disengagement and the one-rein stop are generally techniques that you can use on any horse at any time.

Emergency Stops

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Emergency Stops
Question Category: Riding Skills
Question: Dear Julie,

My husband and I went to your seminar on fear of horses at your horse Expo in Denver and I can’t thank you enough!! I thought we would be the only ones there. I was just amazed at how many people showed up! I have never been afraid of horses (or so I thought), until I bought my own. I always rode lesson horses or horses on ranches that had trail rides. Those horses don’t seem to have a mind of their own. I would get terrible butterflies in my stomach when I would get on my horse and couldn’t wait to get off. I hated the fact that I loved my horse but didn’t want to ride him. I didn’t realize I was doing this to myself, I am one of the “what if’-ers”. After seeing you in person and listening to your CD and reading your book Ride with Confidence, my fear has gone away! I am still riding him in the round pen, but hope to soon feel good enough to ride him in the arena and then beyond! I was wondering if you have a video or a little more of an explanation on the “pulley rein stop”. I do the one rein stop but have often wondered about them falling while being turned if they are running fast. I would like to know more about it. Thanks again! I don’t know if I would have ever gotten over my fear. Just knowing that it was ok to feel that way and how to deal with it made all the difference. Diana and Grizzly

Answer: Diana,

I am thrilled to hear of your success and I really appreciate you letting me know about it. Stay in the round pen as long as you want. Venture out only when you’re ready; it doesn’t matter how long that takes. The more you ride there, the better prepared you will be to venture out. The pulley rein is difficult to teach in an article because it’s really helpful to have visual input, but perhaps this will help.

The pulley rein is an emergency stopping rein, used when your horse is running away from you or taking off bucking. At this time, you do not want to turn your horse, because the turn may cause him to lose his footing and fall down. The pulley rein is executed by shortening one rein as tight as you can and bracing that hand over your horse’s neck, bending your horse’s nose slightly in that direction and pushing your knuckles into your horse’s neck, with your arm braced and centered over its neck. It’s important that this hand is pressed into the neck and not floating free, centered right over the top of your horse’s neck, not to the side. Then slide your other hand down the other rein as far forward as you can and pull that rein straight back and up with all your weight (you’re only pulling with one rein, the other rein is locked and braced against your horse’s neck).

Since the first rein is locked, it’s preventing your horse’s head from turning and he is pulling against his own neck, so the pull on the second rein creates a lot of leverage on his mouth, but keeps him going straight. If the pulley rein is executed correctly, you can stop a runaway horse abruptly, without turning him. This is far more preferable to pulling the out-of-control horse into a turn, since that may cause him to lose his footing and fall down.

Proper execution of the pulley rein requires some practice, which can be very hard on your horse; so many instructors do not like to teach this emergency stopping technique. However, when you’re out of control, it’s a great tool to have in your bag of tricks and it can be very useful for slowing down a strong horse, with a little pulley action every few strides then a release (use it with your half-halt).

One of the very worst things you can do, when trying to slow down or stop a horse, is pull back on both reins at the same time. This will almost always make your horse stiffen its neck and lock its jaw and may also pull you up and out of the saddle, or even right over your horse’s ears. Pulling on both reins continuously will often cause your horse to “run through the bridle,” and the harder you pull the faster he goes. Horses are way more responsive to an alternating use of the reins, which is far more likely to keep them soft in the neck and flexing in the poll. Ironically, most people have been taught to pull back on both reins at the same time to stop, when using one rein can be much more effective. Therefore, the other technique I would teach for better control is a one-rein stop or a disengagement of the hindquarters.

The one-rein stop is very useful for stopping or slowing your horse, if he is not running away from you or bucking. It’s not an emergency rein aid, but one you would use routinely. To execute the one-rein stop, simply lift ONE rein from the normal hand position, up and diagonal toward your opposite hip, as you shift your weight back into the saddle. This will cause your horse to yield his hip as he turns and to disengage his hindquarters (cross his hind legs).

Disengagement of the hindquarters simultaneously causes your horse to stop his forward motion (putting the engine in neutral, so to speak) and become submissive. The instant you feel a change in your horse (well before he actually comes to a stop) drop your hand dramatically to his neck in a clear and meaningful release. You can pick up the rein again if he does not come to a complete halt, but it’s critical to release your horse when he first makes an effort to do the right thing. Timing is everything in horse training and the sooner the release comes, the better.

At first, you may end up turning your horse as he disengages and stops but soon he will stop on the straightaway when you slightly lift one rein. Make no mistake about it, your horse wants to stop; if he isn’t stopping, he just doesn’t understand what is expected of him and his mouth hurts. When a horse doesn’t stop right away, the rider tends to pull steadily harder. A horse’s natural reaction to pain and discomfort is to run away from it. Therefore sometimes your horse inadvertently is taught to speed up when the rider is asking for the stop with two reins.

For more information on using your aids correctly and effectively on your horse, refer to my video series, Goodnight’s Principles of Riding. Good luck and congratulations on your progress. I love to hear success stories and it’s important for others to know it can be done!
Julie Goodnight, Trainer and Clinician
www.juliegoodnight.com

Riding Skills: Emergency Stopping Rein

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Question Category: Riding Skills

Question: Dear Julie,

My husband and myself went to your clinic on fear of horses at the Horse Expo in Denver and I cant thank you enough!! I thought we would be the only ones there. I was just amazed at how many people showed up! I have never been afraid of horses (or so I thought), until I bought my own. I always rode lesson horses or horses on ranches that had trail rides. Those horses don’t seem to have a mind of their own. I would get terrible butterflies in my stomach when I would get on my horse and couldn’t wait to get off. I hated the fact that I loved my horse but didn’t want to ride him. I didn’t realize I was doing this to myself, I am one of the “what if’-ers”. After seeing you in person and listening to your CD and reading your book Ride with Confidence!, have gone away! I am still riding him in the round pen, but hope to soon feel good enough to ride him in the arena and then beyond! I was wondering if you have a video or a little more of an explanation on the “pulley rein stop”. I do the one rein stop but have often wondered about them falling while being turned if they are running fast. I would like to know more about it. Thanks again! I don’t know if I would ever of gotten over my fear. Just knowing that it was ok to feel that way and how to deal with it made all the difference.

Diana and Grizzly

Answer: Diana,

Thank you for your kind email. I am thrilled to hear of your success and I really appreciate you letting me know. Stay in the round pen as long as you want. Venture out when you are ready; it doesn’t matter how long that takes. The more you ride there, the better prepared you will be to venture out. Unfortunately I do not have the pulley rein on video yet, but it will be in one of my next videos.
Below is an excerpt about the pulley rein from a Q&A about the one-rein stop and horses that run through the bridle. It is a very difficult thing to teach via email and it really needs a visual, but perhaps this will help. Good luck and congratulations on your progress!! I love to hear success stories and it is important for others to know it can be done!

Julie Goodnight, Clinician and Trainer

“The pulley rein is executed by shortening one rein as tight as you can and pushing your knuckles of that hand into the horse’s neck, with your hand braced and centered over its neck (it is important that this hand is pressed into the neck and not floating free). Then you slide your other hand down the other rein as far forward as you can and pull straight back and up with all your weight. Since the first rein is locked and braced, it is preventing your horse’s head from turning and he is pulling against his own neck, so the pull on the second rein creates a lot of pressure.
If the pulley rein is executed correctly, you can stop a runaway horse on its nose. This is far preferable to pulling the out-of-control horse into a circle, since that may cause him to lose his footing and fall down. This technique requires some practice and the practice can be very hard on your horse, so many instructors do not like to teach this emergency stopping technique. However, when you are out of control, it is a great tool to have in your bag of tricks and it can be very useful for slowing down a very strong horse, with a little pulley action every few strides then a release (use it with your half-halt).

One of the very worst things you can do, when trying to slow down or stop a horse, is pull back on both reins at the same time. This will almost always make the horse stiffen its neck and lock its jaw and may also pull you up and out of the saddle, or even right over the horse’s ears (arse over tea-kettle, so to speak).

Pulling on both reins continuously will often cause the horse to “run through the bridle,” and the harder you pull the faster it goes. Horses are way more responsive to using the reins alternately, which is far more likely to keep them soft in the neck and flexing in the poll. Ironically, most people have been taught to pull back on both reins at the same time to stop, when using one rein can be much more effective. Therefore, the other technique I would teach for better control is a one-rein stop or a disengagement of the hindquarters.”

Copyright ©Julie Goodnight 2000. All Rights Reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced without owner’s express consent.

Talk About Tack: Bit For Runaway Horse

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Question Category: Talk about Tack

Question: I stumbled onto your Dear Julie site while looking for info. Let me explain what I’m trying to do. I recently bought an 8-year-old Standardbred gelding that has been racing all of his trained life. He is what is known by the racing people as a “Puller”. He grabs the bit and is virtually uncontrollable. Their solution was to rig him with a Simpson controller bit and a lip cord. I am in the process of retraining him with the help of a trainer (natural horsemanship) to a saddle. Any suggestions as to what type of bit would be effective to keep him from repeating his track record?

Thanks,
Louise Johnson

Answer: When I was riding on the track, we used a bit for pullers that was very effective in keeping control. I do not know what it is called but it is a regular snaffle that has a big ring that goes in the horse’s mouth and back behind his jaw. When the horse is not running off, the bit acts like a normal snaffle. But if he runs off, the ring gives you a little extra control.

I recommend using a snaffle and working on better control through a one-rein stop. By picking up one rein toward your opposite shoulder, it will cause a disengagement of the hindquarters which will cause the horse to lose his power and stop. The key is to only use one rein. Practice the one-rein stop at slow speeds until the horse is very responsive. Then when you feel him getting strong, you can pick up one rein.

If that does not stop him, you need to know how to use the “pulley rein.” When a horse is running off at full speed, it is not a good time to circle him (which a one-rein stop will cause) because he may fall down. Instead use the pulley rein to apply leverage to the horse’s mouth. If you know how to use the pulley rein correctly, you can stop any horse on its nose. There is a Q&A on my website about the pulley rein and how to use it. Good luck!

Julie Goodnight, Clinician and Trainer

Copyright ©Julie Goodnight 2000. All Rights Reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced without owner’s express consent.