Critique Please? English and Western...

Just started riding again, in Thailand of all places! This was my first time back in almost two years, and my first time riding Western in a looooong time. The paint is a polo horse from Argentina, the grey is a Spanish Andulusian. Yes, I am riding in combat boots and $1.50 jeans. I don’t have anyone on the ground (that speaks English) so relying on COTH to keep me in line. Mainly because I’m at a loss with the Western!

I’m sure I’ll be adding more soon, there’s too many to ride! In heaven :slight_smile:

EDIT: The third picture is a turn on the haunches. The paint had his ears back the whole ride in the arena, but when we hacked out in the park he was much, much happier. Thinking I should start and finish with the hack (warm up and cool down)?

My first response would be to get off that horse’s face! What type of bit are you using on the paint? Leverage bits, because of the shanks, can be much harsher on the horse’s mouth. He’s probably really confused why you telling him to “go” and “stop” at the same time. And it may be why he was happier when you hacked him out. Let the reins loop and use your seat to cue him. IF he’s an appropriately trained Western horse.

No time, got to go, but it is great that you are brave enough to post pictures, because you never know what all anyone may say.

I would try one hole longer in the western saddle, so you can let your leg down a bit and sit more in the middle of the horse.
That bit on the paint is not really good for training, two or one handed.
Put it on your hand, hanging from the bridle held by the other hand and have someone from behind you handling the reins try to guide you and you will see how those bits just don’t work well at all, turn and twist any one way, not twice the same.

In the turn, the horse is not set right for the turn, he is straining, not turning back over his hind end.
Some horses are grumpy by nature, is the way they concentrate, some are mildly objecting to confusing signals, some to pain somewhere, you can find why he is showing light subtle resistances.
That would help make any horse more happy, although some, like people, just are too serious to lighten up.

I would check the figure eight/flash, seems a bit tight and I don’t like those with loose ring snaffles, conflicting the way those snaffles, a “noisy” type bit, that should be loose in there to work properly, should work.
Tight cavessons require a more steady bit, like a D ring snaffle.

I like your soft hands, the horse in that one stride seems not to be coming from behind right, so you are giving a bit to help him come thru.

Mostly, I love people working like you are there, with a good forward attitude.

I know anything we say from one picture may be the complete opposite in the next frame, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Pictures are a moment in time and known to lie about what really happened before and will happen after.:wink:

I agree that you have way too much contact on the paints mouth. If he’s an appropriately trained western horse, then you need to let the reins out quite a bit, hold them correctly, just one finger between the reins, and lower your hand about 4 inches. General rule of thumb is to keep your hand between the horn and the crest. If the horse isn’t a real finished western horse, then just put him in a snaffle bit and two hand. You also need to put your stirrus down about 4 holes. You should not have so much bend in your knee.

Very good points thanks! The horses were already tacked up so I didn’t get to inspect the bits, and I think the English (short stirrups, bit contact) is sneaking into the Western.

Question about Western, since the paint neck reins and is finished (and it’s going to take some drilling on my part to forget about contact). Are horses expected to bend in Western? I rode him again today and worked a lot on circles and leg-in/outs to the wall and back, but I’m used to asking a horse for a nose to tail bend around the corners. Do I use only my leg and expect him to bend around it with no rein contact? It feels unnatural to me, like he is stiff for lack of better term.

So, is he a reining horse or cutting horse or … ?
Cutting horses are supposed to be extremely flexible, reiners not so much and some tend to be somewhat stiffer thru the body.
Then, reiners are trained to more specific technical points than cutters, that at times seem “green” even when finished cutters.

Plenty of cutting trainers don’t go there with the technical aspects in their horses.
You will see them doing warm up circles mostly on one lead, both ways and such.
Plenty of reiners don’t want the horse as flexible as a cutter would be, that can overwork and anticipate the movements required of reining.
You may see those with stiffer horses, especially in the older classes.
Some trainers can find a good balance of both, some horses that is just the way they are naturally, very limber or stiff.

I may guess that paint horse may be some of the naturally stiffer ones and if you want more, you have to train and condition for as much as he can give.

Coming from starting many colts and/or an English jumping seat to western, we need to re-learn to balance more upright, less on a light way conductive to two point.
Much English riding uses so much hand, no matter how light, it makes for a different balance than western, where arms and hands are eventually kept quiet.
It is hard to believe how large that difference is.

Many new to reining are taught in a round pen with a dead broke well trained reiner and hands folded in front of them, so they acquire that type of balance that doesn’t depend so much on the upper body most humans naturally use.
You may want to try that and see if your paint responds better.

The andalusian didn’t seem very balanced in that picture, I wonder if it needs some more conditioning before asking much of it?
I would do more long and low warming up, then some measured light riding for balance, not letting it rush and start introducing large serpentines, where you can ask a bit more balance from it in the turns and see what happens.

Remember, we are going about this from a few pictures, that by far is a big guessing game, way not enough information.:wink:

Super information Bluey, like I said, I grew up in Texas but this is my first real Western experience. I believe the paint is a reiner, so the stiffness makes sense. I have a round pen so I will practice with no reins tomorrow and see how it goes. I switched from the paint to the grey then back to the paint, it will definitely be a challenge to keep the styles separate but I think my seat and legs will benefit a lot from the Western experience! Thanks so much, I’ll try to research more videos online about reining, and maybe I can post a video at some point in the future.