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Where to sit, how to stop

As with everything equestrian, there are conflicting views on where to sit and how to stop. For example, Heather Moffett says to sit lightly and raise the seat to stop to enable the horse to (very simply summarised) 'come up underneath you and round its back'. Linda and Colleen Kelly say to weight the seat bones more heavily and have the weight back to stop (again, simple summary) 'so the horse can lift its front end'. Heather says this depresses the reflex point of the back and casues hollowing. What are others thoughts about this....?

I'm a bit unsure about this one too. I suspect, though, my horse's answer would be HM's version.
If I weight my seat and lean back he tends to take a while before responding, and I end up using the reins as backup, which can result in him poking his nose and hollowing.
If I narrow my seatbones, squeezing with my thighs as though trying to pick him up (if that makes sense) while slightly  bringing my shoulders back I tend to get a more collected halt.

Shelby no matter how you sit the horse will hollow itís back if it isnít already well accomplished at bringing itís hind legs well in under itself first. That means if it is stopping using itís front legs it will always hollow.

What it all boils down to is if itís front end heavy it canít lift that end to bring the hinds under & utilize them for stopping.

Some horses are naturally heavy on the front end, while others get that way from training methods. Sometimes they get the message & learn to lighten their front ends while others are trained using whatever it takes to get that front end in the air. Some never get it. Some horses are never heavy no matter what training method is used. Those are the ones you need to look out for & buy or hold on to!

In general, NH methods are inclined to create front end heavy horses unless the trainer is extremely knowledgable in how to stop it happening right from the outset. It requires a great deal of finesse by the person to keep their own biomechanics at the highest standard all the time. Mostly it comes down to you donít know what you donít know until you realize something is wrong. I personally believe it is very difficult to retrain a horse that has learned to be front end heavy because for most it is easier to get around that way.

There are several long threads in this section & possibly in the General Horse chat section dealing with this very issue. It has been well canvassed.

Here are just 2 that might spark your interest:-

And just to totally confuse you! The horse in the left (colour)photo despite all else it is doing, the one big thing is that it is stopping on it's front end. The (B&W) photo on the right shows a horse using it's HQ effectively to stop although it too is not being well ridden. Shelby I would be interested to read what you see that might be causing those things to happen.


I think unweighting your seat could put you in danger if your horse stops suddenly.  I 'ride to a stop' which is closer to Linda and Colleen's description...match back foot strides with your seat bones and then use them to step the horse to a stop.  I also hold them at a stand still with my seat bones.  I forget exactly how Pat said it, but if you do what your horse does long enough, pretty soon your horse will do what you do.  

If you want a nice stop with the rear end UNDER the horse, ride to a stop and then immediately back up 3-5 steps.  After you do this a dozen or so times, your horse will stop prepared to use their back end.  Don't do this all the time, because then they won't stand when you stop.

I like to train a horse to stop with its back feet first, always. Even though I've been doing this since the early 70s, I guess the best description is in Centered Riding, its simple physics.

The less you move in the saddle, the faster the horse is able to doesn't have to "teeter-totter" to accommodate your weight moving around up there on him/her.
Use your seat, more than anything...and good old leverage.Just keep your hands/arms quiet, practically dead-weight, and just use your shoulder to bring your arms back, Just a little bit- so that the muscles of your arms are elongating, rather than contracting.(truly, quiet hands! let your shoulders/back/seat do the work)

You will feel the muscles of your back ripple into your seat. If you want, you can exhale and allow your diaphragm to push down on your seat.
What happens is, it creates just enough pressure-to have the horse place his back legs under himself, round its back and stop those back legs first, and only then the forehand. This is a much sounder way for the horse to stop, and also, a much safer way...the rider will simply go deeper into the saddle, whereas, if a horse stops front feet first, the inertia will tend to throw you over their heads, particularly the faster you go. Train your horse to ALWAYS slow down(transition) and stop like this, make it a habit!

That's why, for both in the partnership, this is the soundest, safest way to stop. It also requires VERY MINIMAL pressure to the reins. Start at the walk, and you will find, if you can train your body to relax and do this right(so your arms are levers m/l, dead weight)-keep your entire body relaxed in the saddle, including legs- the horse will stop from very very minimal movement, barely seen, and almost instantaneously. Going faster, just a hair more pressure...but barely perceptible. Your horse will be happier with you out of their mouth, using your seat to stop.

If you are having a problem getting it done right(it just won't happen like this--and if done right, EVERY horse will respond quickly and with minimal pressure, mostly arm weight transferring down your back down thru seat)...then drop your stirrups. Somewhere in your body, you are tense and going against the flow of gravity.

Try it! It'll open up a whole new world for you, if you've never done this before.

Train your horse to ALWAYS slow down(transition) and stop like this, make it a habit!

Excellent Stella...I pulled this out for special emphasis. †

Many years ago when I was studying Reining from Noel Skinner, I learned to use a 'slow down' cue. † The cue taught was to push your feet forward and your fanny deeper in the saddle. † Do all this 3 strides before you want to stop, which gives your horse a chance to take some slow-down strides before you want to stop. †While not so critical at a walk, it is at the faster speeds. †

I was an equitation rider and didn't want to change my legs for a stop, so I taught a different cue, a hard tap with my rein hand on the top of the neck. †

It doesn't really matter what cue you use, as long as you are consistent using it. † With either, you set your horse up for those slowdown strides, followed by a stop. †With backing the horse soon learns to bring their hind legs under them and shift their weight back on cue. †What you end up with is a cue, the horse coils it's rear end under it and a †nice rear-end stop (or slow down if you are next doing a roll-back), all from the cue. †

If you are riding collected in the first place, part of this is already in place. †But if you are a western rider, and especially at the canter or lope, these slow down strides are critical. †Watch a barrel racer or pole bender and you'll see the horse go from a dead run, pull it's rear end under it for 3-4 strides before the barrel/end pole, and then turn. † You see the same thing in Reining, not just at the sliding stop, but also at the roll-backs.

Remember in Reining you train so you don't use your reins (makes you wonder why it should be called Reining when they have to become superfluous to what you are doing) visibly to direct your horse. †

Even if you aren't reining and wanting that loose no-rein stop, it is still a good cue because it is FAIR to the horse to let it slow down before you suddenly stop.

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