Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tommy Garland on Neck Reining

Tommy Garland taught a clinic called "Teaching Your Horse to Neck Rein" at the 2009 Western States Horse Expo. He is known for being an Arabian show horse trainer, and has his own television show on RFD-TV. He also helped judge the Mustang Makeover.

Neck reining is something I started my horses on last year. It's one of those things that if you don't do it frequently and consistently, your horse won't remember it and you will have to start all over. My personal conflict is that I have an equitation instructor who is working with me and my horses on holding a tight rein in two hands in order to keep the head set, and then I am teaching loose, neck reining on the side, because I need to have one hand free for ponying and trail riding. So, my horses have to learn both methods at the same time.

First Tommy worked from the ground with a student in saddle.

He then sent her off to practice, while he demonstrated exaggerated neck reining moves from the saddle for the audience.

Notice the hip is cocked down in the direction of the turn.

He then talked about flexation exercises that teach the horse to give to the bit. Here he is pulling the horse's head to the side without leg pressure to keep the horse standing still. As soon as the horse pulls its own head closer to its shoulder, he releases the rein as a reward.

Here he borrowed another student's horse and showed how to tie one rein to the saddle. You can do this with your horse before ever getting into the saddle yourself. A horse new to this will respond by turning in circles until it realizes that it is all in vain. It then releases the pressure itself by standing still and pulling its head in closer to its shoulder. Of course, you don't want to tie the rein too tight, because otherwise there will be no room for the horse to release the pressure itself. It is also important to tie the rein at the back of the saddle, because you want the horse to bend at the ribcage.

I took a million pictures of this horse, because it is just stunning.

Once the horse gets the idea on its own, you can stand beside it and pull the rein tighter, then reward the horse by letting go when it loosens the pressure.

Once Tommy felt that this horse understood the process, he worked on the same technique from the saddle.

He also showed how you can pull the horse's head toward you when mounting, so that if the horse does move, it will swing away instead of into you.

This picture cracked me up. He was telling a story about a well-endowed client who got her bra caught on the saddle horn while mounting. She was stuck in this position while Tommy tried to untangle her.

All in all, it was an enjoyable clinic.


Reddunappy said...

Neck reining has been a little harder with Emma than with our other two, she is doing pretty good now with it and neck reined good when I rode the other day. I say good, not excelent, as she still has a bit of resistance.
I remember my big break with Mickey on neck reining came when I took a reining clinic with her. Easy she is just so responsive it took hardly anything, just some repetition to get her to neck rein.
They all are so different.

Katharine Swan said...

NM, those are fantastic pictures! They illustrate your explanations of what you learned at the clinic perfectly. Thank you!

I'm not personally a big fan of neck raining -- I much prefer having both hands on the reins. But I can see how other people would really like it.

KD said...

I have watched his TV show and admire his soft touch with the animals. Great shots, as usual!

Paint Girl said...

I also like Tommy Garland. Since I have a lot of close contacts in the Arab show world, I try to follow Arab trainers.
Thanks for the very informative post! I have also been slowly working on neck reining with my horses. But like you said, you need to be consistent, which I haven't been. I am also usually working on head set/collection. But it would be nice to ride on the trail someday with my horses, that know how to neck rein! I do ride one handed most of the time, but if I am in the lead I usually have to ride 2 handed.
I also work on stretching and bending exercises if I am riding in the arena.
You took amazing pictures, and those horses are all so beautiful!!

monstersmama said...

Nice to see the bending exerise as that is the exact same thing i am working on with my mare she is REALLy stiff on the right...she cant even do a circle!! All in time, but that was a gorgeous horse!!

manker said...

i like that i can neck rein two of my horses, but i like his "safety" about mounting with horses head turned in

where is he located?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

manker - Tommy's home state is Virginia.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Great photos, NM! That palomino colored horse is stunning. It's amazing that it can see well with all that forelock. hehe!
I was working with Baby Doll to do neck reining before I fell and she was slowly getting it. She is ust so stiff and needs more flexing working. Val worked her a bit on neck reining a couple weeks ago and had her doing really good.
I think it's such an important skill for any horse, espcially horses that will be riding on a trail. You never know if you will have to ride with only one hand (because of injury or having to pony someone or another horse, etc).