Mistakes people make neck reining on the trail: Episode 14-The Trail to the World Show

In this video I discuss how I change my expectations between riding in the arena and on the trail. I share why Willow’s ears change as a result of me changing my focus.

When I’m in the arena, I often ask Willow to be more ‘dialed in’ or focused. I can tell when she is focused because here ears and body are more focused. Her ears rotate to listen to me.

When I ride her out on the trail, I don’t expect her to be as ‘dialed in’ so you can see her ears are more relaxed. Teaching my horse to make these transitions between focused and relaxed riding is very helpful because they learn they can be expected to focus and also allowed to relax.
When I trail ride I neck rein quite a bit. Direct reining (riding with two hands) shapes the horse. Neck reining is asking ‘please’ turn right or left. If the horse doesn’t respond to the neck rein, I switch back to direct reining.
Make sure that you are intentional when you move your hands when trail riding. It is possible to confuse your horse if you let your hands move around a lot as you trail ride. If I’m not intending to steer my horse on the trail I will place my hand on the saddle horn to ensure that my hand doesn’t wander. If my hand wanders around without meaning anything my horse will learn that my hand cues don’t really mean anything.
Neck reining makes is so much easier to use your free hand for ponying another horse, eating, drinking or holding a video camera. The more you improve your direct reining the better chance your horse will have of understanding your neck rein.
It is a myth that horses will become confused if you switch back and forth between direct reining (two hands) and neck reining (one hand). Direct rein, sometimes called plow reining, is the foundation of neck reining and you should be able to switch back and forth easily.

In 2019 I plan on showing two of my horses in Western Dressage with the goal of showing at the Western Dressage World show in October.
Along the way, I am also training and showing in traditional dressage , reining and ranch riding with my quarter horses.
I’m going to be sharing my journey so anyone who is interested can learn along with me.

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Weaver Leather Stacy Westfall ProTack Oiled Split Rein, 5/8-Inch x 8-Feet, Brown: https://amzn.to/2JbdIyn

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Weaver Leather Stacy Westfall Activity Ball, Medium, Blue: [https://amzn.to/2JbslBI]


  1. Alison Hamm on July 19, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Thank you Stacy!! Very good video. I liked your comparison between your arena work and the trail riding. Can I ask, how long , typically, is your arena session with Willow??

    • Stacy Westfall on July 19, 2019 at 7:03 pm

      My average would be an hour. Some days might be 20 minutes and other days might be 2 hours. They vary due to heat, cold and which phase of the training cycle I am in (easy week, medium week, hard week).

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