Jason Webb of Australian Horse Training is a renowned UK based horse trainer with a passion for starting young horses, solving equine problems and teaching riders of all abilities and ambitions how to develop and strengthen the partnership they have with their horses. He helps a reader with her flighty pony.
Question: Any advice on the best approach when you’re out hacking and you come across something for the first time that you’re unsure how your horse will react to? My pony can be very flighty and pull off 180 degree spins in a heartbeat. We know the one-rein stop and do loads of basic groundwork already. We had a bad accident out hacking last year though. Any advice on helping my pony make the right decisions?
Helen Chatfield Rigby
Jason Answers: The one rein stop is the right movement, but you don't need to turn them until they stop. Think of this as a one rein turn. When your horse goes to spin, catch the opposite rein to which they are trying to turn and bring their head back to the direction you want to go. Be careful not to pull past the direction you want to travel as you don't want to be doing circles. Once your horse is pointing the right way again, give him his head, wait a second and ask for forward again. When asking for forward, start gently and build that ask until you get a forward step. In the beginning one will do. With your reins you should direct with either the left or right, not both at the same time and give your horse enough rein when they are facing in the right direction to be able to put their neck out.
One last thing, imagine you’re driving a car... This is the position you should be in. Hands forward and siting back. If you get tipped forward, you lose connection and your horse is more likely to take over. Check out my free training DVD with the last issue of Your Horse magazine, issue 439, where you’ll see how this is done in the section on ‘building confidence in traffic’.
For those readers that aren’t familiar with it, the one rein stop is an essential part of regaining control of your horse and allowing him to come back from a flight situation. You can see a video showing you how to do it at https://yourhorsemanship.com/working-one-rein-stops/.
Want to learn more from Jason Webb? Then grab yourself a copy of the June issue of the magazine, which has a free and very fantastic DVD containing 100 minutes of advice from the man himself. You can buy a copy here.