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Improve Your Green Horse’s Turning With These Rein Aids

Submitted by member: Diana

I just bought a 6-year old mare. Her balance is “uphill,” which I like. She is, however, a bit “rubber necky” on turns (in that she is a bit hard to turn/steer). The neck turns, but the body doesn’t really follow. What can I do to improve that? What are the things I shouldn’t do with a rubber necky horse? Thank you very much.

Answer by Geoff Teall

My experience has been to always keep things as simple as possible with horses, and I do not think this is an exception. I feel that the basis for any good turn with a horse hinges on them following, or responding, to a turning rein. I try to begin at the beginning, which to me would be to teach the horse to follow an opening, or leading rein in the walk. I would begin by putting the horse into a walk on the straight line. From there I would open my left rein (the left hand moving away from the neck to the side) and simply wait for the horse to actually turn to the left and accept the pressure on the left rein.

Once the horse has done this, I would immediately reward this reaction by relaxing on the left rein and allowing the horse to resume going forward and straight. From there I would do the same with my right opening rein. I would ask the horse to turn right, wait for the horse to respond and accept my right rein, and once the horse starts to the right and relaxes his mouth and neck, reward him by relaxing my right rein and allowing him to travel again forward and straight. I would continue with this exercise in the walk until the horse reacts better, quicker, and to less of an opening rein.

From here I would basically then continue with the same idea in the trot, canter, and over rails and low jumps. I believe that to help, you might need a slight amount of outside hand, and perhaps even a very slight amount of outside bearing rein, but I can’t emphasize enough the concept of “slight”. The key is to teach the horse to follow and accept the opening rein, not to make him dependent on you using other aids. Done properly your horse will become lighter and happier in his work.

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Geoff Teall

Geoff Teall is one of the leading Hunter and Hunt Seat Equitation trainers in the country. Horses and riders who have trained with Geoff have gone on to win championships, medals and ribbons at major events including Devon, the AHSA Medal Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Capital Challenge, the Pennsylvania National, the Washington International, the USET Talent Search, and the National Horse Show. In addition to training, Geoff is an "R" judge for both Hunters and Hunt Seat Equitation. Visit his website:

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