Friday, March 20, 2015

Side Rein Assist

Now that Roscoe has been working under saddle for a while, he tries to resist the bit at times. Using the figure 8 has helped keep the bit in place, but he will flip his head when I take up contact. I decided it was time to bring in assistance: Side Reins.
Testing the limits

The rain had stopped when I got to the barn and the Red boys were naked, which made them irresistible. I put the surcingle and bridle on Roscoe with the side reins ready to use. I warmed him up by lunging him. He burned some energy while getting into work mode. Once he showed he was done being a tourist, I hooked the side reins on a loosely with just enough resistance if he raised his head high. This allowed him to begin to figure out the exercise.
When did he not show any negative reactions, I tightened the side reins a hole. This was enough contact to get him thinking. His trot slowed down as he tested the limits. Up, down, left, right, Roscoe was very thorough. When he reached down and forward, I clicked to reinforce the movement I supported. As I saw him working with it, I decided to increase the contact.

Working, Thinking, Trying
Of course this required me to wrap the side rein a couple times. I really need pony side reins. Anyway, Peggy came about this time with my phone. I tried to get some pictures, but Roscoe was not too cooperative. Once the camera was put away and he figured out Peggy was not saving him, he actually settled down even more. The increased contact seemed to be what he needed to put the puzzle together. He began to consistently reach down and forward. His trot opened up again as he got more comfortable. I knew that is was time to end the lesson.

I know fuzzy, but he is opening up his trot again

I unhooked the side reins and asked him to trot on. I wanted to let him stretch out, relax. What I got was confirmation the previous work was on the right track ( a constant worry for me with him). Roscoe trotted around long and low. That was absolutely the best looking stretchy circle I had ever seen. I wish I had the camera out so I could have a picture.
This side rein assist worked better than I expected. At some points in training, a horse has to figure things out for themselves. Side reins provide an unchanging, consistent contact, that Roscoe had to work through all by himself. All I had to do was keep him moving and watch the show. I can't wait to see how this will translate to his under saddle work.


  1. Can't see the pictures in this post either. I'm so sad. It sounds like he was really figuring it out though! :D

  2. So glad you told me they were not working. I reloaded them and they should work now.
    I love seeing him work through new challenges :)

    1. Yay photos!! Thank you for fixing them. I'm going to go back and look at all your posts again. :D

  3. seems like the side reins really helped make things clear for him - i love a thinking horse (even if sometimes it's a little frustrating haha)!!!

  4. Sounds like a really good session!