There is always a maneuver that causes each and every horse person to struggle. Sometimes we struggle with the concept, sometimes the application and the hardest, the execution. There are so many technical terms when it comes to teaching horses how to do the things we want them to do that sometimes the simplicity of it all gets lost. People who try to make training horses sound like some giant and mysterious process are either filled with their own ego or lack the ability to explain it in layman's terms.
Irregardless of the event, training a horse to do ANY maneuver breaks down to getting all of his body parts moving in the correct way. It is only the nuances of those maneuvers that make any difference. Those a person has to learn either from an expert or from watching a lot of horses perform at various levels and then look for the consistent factors.
My personal mindblock came down to figuring out how to move a horse's shoulders. Ohhh, I knew the concept. I knew the application. As long as everything was going fine!! When push came to shove though...I threw out the method and resorted to old style self preservation. And got myself into several wrecks. Luckily, I was never hurt and the horse was never hurt. It was just humiliating though, to have people watching while I lost control of the direction my horse was heading.
I started breaking colts when I was 12. To me, it was perfectly natural. My dad broke horses for people so almost everything around his place was pretty green. In those days, things were pretty basic-you sacked out a horse, saddled him, let him buck, chased him around the round pen til he was tired and then got on and rode. The first few rides you just rather sat there and maybe plow-reined him a bit if you could. Sure, some of them still bucked a bit the first few rides, but you learned to just pull that head around til they stopped and then you would just line them out again.
Boy, I think I just heard the collective gasp of the natural horsemanship crowd. All, I can tell you is that I broke a hellava lotta colts that way and never ruined a one. Back then, if you wanted to get a horse broke, you rode him. The loving, the petting, the gentling stayed in the barn. When you stepped on, it was time to go to work. It made for pretty good saddle horses.
Sorry, got kinda OT-Really the point I was getting at was the plow-reining. Back in those days, everything was plow-reined until they were pretty broke and then you worked on neck-reining. That is just how things were done. That is how people knew you were riding a colt. Plow-reining is simply pulling on one rein to tip the horse's head in that direction and then you kicked with the opposite foot until the colt moved in that direction. Colts picked it up pretty good in the round pen, but once you moved to the pasture, they might go a long way before they decided to turn. All I ever knew was just to pull harder and kick harder until they either turned or their nose was cranked around and they had to stop, move their hindquarters around and head off facing in the new direction.
Hmmm....see the error of my ways? I do too...NOW.
So, when I went to college to learn how to actually train horses, I learned some new techniques. Round penning made more sense. The first few rides made more sense. And the colt I got progressed a lot faster than anything I had ever trained before. He was a nice colt. A 3y/o Leopard Appy gelding. He was easy to break out and picked things up pretty quick. But, he learned to do one particular maneuver that I just couldn't figure out how to stop, much less fix.
He would be loping a nice circle. We would do inside bend work and outside bend work...and then ole' appy would just blow that shoulder to the outside and take off. My first instinct was always to pull his nose into the circle to stop him. That horse could kiss my boot while hauling ass in the other direction. Of course, he couldn't see where he was going and I don't think he much cared. He was just gonna leave. We bounced off a few walls and it actually got to where I was hoping he would, because that was the only thing that stopped him. I tried releasing his head a few times, but he just took that as his cue to bolt even harder. I sure didn't want to lope this horse much after the first few times he did this little maneuver. Smart horse huh? He knew what he was doing.
The riding instructor tried and tried to explain to me what I needed to do to stop this. I listened, I understood and when it would happen again...I resorted to pulling his head around. The instructor resorted to riding Appy himself. He bolted once! In about 2 strides, the instructor had Appy lined out and loping in his circle again. I was getting really POed at this point, because I knew how easy this should be to control, but I just couldn't get the job done.