KBR Horse Training Information

Exercising Body AND Mind

Dancing with Horses


We often hear from folks who either indicate that their horses are rushing or dogging on them. One technique we like to use is working the horses to music. Songs which have definite cadence serve two purposes. The beat provides a reference to the rider who can compare the cadence of the horse to the beat of the music. Therefore even the slightest rushing or lagging can be more easily detected by the rider when the music is present as a baseline reference. Fix the horse's cadence when he just begins to rush or lag behind, and you start to develop a steady goer.

A second benefit is that many horses tend to relate their movement with the rhythm. As the tempo picks up through the song selections, the horse's cadence pics up. Thus one can develop a whole workout regimen starting with slow warm-up pieces, a trot song or two, canter tempo songs, perhaps followed by a collected jog, then slow cooling out songs. Once the horses grasp staying in rhythm to the music, the riders can relax and concentrate on balance and following the movement of the horse with one's seat.

The routine can include drill team patterns. In this sequence of photographs Willis on Havilynn the Clyde and Sheryl Feit on Tess the Morgan are working to the music. The Clyde and Morgan have different strides but they stay fairly closely matched when ridden to the music.

The riders can concentrate on riding with their seats; moving with the horses' backs. To start out, the horses "lead" and the riders move in synch. Then as the riders post in tempo to the music, the horses will follow.

We don't post "up and down," but rather rock our hips forward and back with the movement of the horse's back. I suggest people imagine that they are a steam locomotive. Remember the arms which connect the driving wheels together? Connect an imaginary arm between your hip and the horse's outside front shoulder. As you start out, the horse will set the speed of the movement of your hip; forward and back, forward and back. Once you have established the connection, you can speed up or slow down your hip movement slightly and if you are truly connected, the "invisible arm" that connects you will speed up or slow down the horse.

In the case of horses who tend to buck or bolt into a canter, you can simply slip the horse into the canter by gradually increasing the "drive" or energy from your seat (through the imaginary arm) and the horse will extend into the canter as smooth as glass!

(Setting the horse's gait with your seat: Notice the similarity between the two horses's footfalls when the riders are posting in synch.)


I received the following message on June 26, 1998 from Darbie Yates.

Hi Willis, Darbie here. I thought I send you a short note and tell you how our 4-H Camp went. There were 14 kids and horses and one other leader. The week started with halter class work and some instructional riding. Wednesday I introduced the music to the kids and horses and they immediately took to it! Some of the horse moved to the beat just like they were doing all their lives and those kids followed. Some kids took to the music and the horses followed. After 3 days of music all kids and horses were working well to the music. All 14 horses were moving together at the same stride! It was a wonderful sight to see, it almost brings tears to your eyes to watch that many horses working together. And the kids feedback was that it was easier to ride their horses and it felt better to them. Each said that they are going to use the music at home and continue working with the idea. Thanks again! It made my job a lot easier!

Thanks for the interesting note, Darbie!

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