How to Train a Horse to Stop & Back Up – Basics of sliding stop for reining or cutting
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How to Train a Horse to Stop & Back Up – Basics of sliding stop for reining or cutting

August 23, 2019

Hi, I’m Larry Trocha:  We’re going to go
through some techniques here for stopping your horse that work really well for me. It’s
not the only way to do it but it’s a good way, and it works well for me. When we ask
our horse to stop, I want you to visualize a brick wall, 10 foot tall, two foot wide.
It’s a solid brick wall. If we were riding that horse straight to the brick wall at a
walk, when his nose touched that brick wall straight on, he would instantly stop. Because
as he touched it, he can feel that it was a solid immovable object, he knows that instantly.
If we continued to urge him to go forward, while pointing him at the brick wall, he can
drop his nose and take another step forward, and have his forehead flat against that brick
wall. If we continued to urge him forward with our
feet, he really can’t go forward. The brick wall is there. About the only thing he can
really do is back up. I really want you to have this concept etched in your mind because
it’s critical. We want to use our bit in most cases, when we’re stopping. The same way we
would use that brick wall. The bit needs to feel immovable to the horse.
It has to feel solid. To get that to happen the way we use our hands and our body, is
critical. If I want to stop and I’m sitting in this position here, my pelvis underneath
me, my shoulders directly over my hips. Notice how my forearms are pretty much in line with
the horse’s mouth. My hands are in front of the saddle.
When it’s time to stop the horse, the reins are anchored between my thumb and forefinger,
so I can take the slack out of the reins with my little finger, as my elbow comes back,
to make contact with the horse’s mouth. Once I make contact, I close my fingers and set
the bit solid. I’m not pulling the horse, the bit’s just
set solid. He’s backing off of it, because he can feel that it’s solid. If I need to
take up more slack, say I take hold of the horse, set the bit solid, and he drops his
nose, and keeps going forward, if I need to apply more pressure, I’ll move my elbows back
to apply that pressure, and then set the bit solid.
I may initially apply maybe two pounds of pressure and set the bit solid. If he stops,
I give him slack. If he doesn’t stop with two pounds of pressure, my elbows come back
as my forearms stay in line with his mouth, and I might apply four pounds of pressure.
Whatever it takes to get the job done. I’m setting the bit solid. I want to make it clear,
I’m not pulling on his mouth. I’m taking several pounds of pressure and holding it there, holding
it solid. If he pulls on me…A lot of you are going
to have horses that aren’t very well trained, and they’re going to pull on you, try to pull
you out of the saddle. Try to pull your arms loose so they can get slack.
It’s important that you have your butt tucked underneath you, and your shoulders over your
hips, and your hands and arms in this position. In this position, if that horse pulls on you,
all’s he’s going to do is pull you deeper into the saddle, and you’ll be able to maintain
your brick wall. If your back is arched and your butt out behind
you, if he pulls on you, he’s just going to pull you forward out of the saddle. By the
same token, if you’re trying to set the brick wall with your hands down here with a straight
arm, it’s very easy for him to just pull your hands forward.
You’ve got no leverage here. Same thing if you’re holding the reins up here by your throat
or using your forearms to stop your horse. It’s real easy for the horse to pull you off
balance right there, and then he’s not going to learn how to stop.
This body position of sitting down, setting the brick wall, is critical. When we’re riding
our horse, depending on the speed that we’re going, we may stop the horse by setting the
brick wall, giving him slack, setting the brick wall, giving him slack, in a set, set,
set, type of motion. Just like when we were turning our horse around,
we were doing the rein release, rein release. We’ll untie and stop the horse the same way
by using a series of set release, set release, set release.
When I say set, I’m talking about set the bit solid, set the bit solid, set the brick
wall, set the brick wall, set the brick wall. OK?
This horse is resisting me a little bit. You see his mouth open up? Whenever your horse
opens his mouth, he’s not relaxing his jaw. He’s not as supple as he needs to be. He needs
to be suppled up a little bit more. Cavison isn’t necessary to tie his mouth shut.
As soon as your horse is supple and giving, he’ll no longer open his mouth. If we’re walking
along, if I want my horse to bridle up or flex at the pole, I can use my hands passively.
With a little seesaw, I’m setting the bit left right, left right with a little seesaw,
and I’m keeping him going with my feet. When it’s time to stop, I quit using my feet,
set the bit solid, give him slack. If I want to back up, I set the bit solid again. I ask
for motion with my feet. The bit, the brick wall set solid in front of him, the only place
he can go is backwards. I’m not pulling him back. I’m simply setting
the brick wall in front of him, by setting the bit and then asking for motion with my
feet. If that brick wall is set, he’s forced to go back.
Let’s trot our horse. Ask him forward with our feet. Whoa, good. I just said, “Whoa,”
let my legs relax, set my brick wall. He hit the bricks. I give him slack. If he didn’t
stop, I would take hold of him again and back him up, bump him with my feet.
Let him know that he should have stopped a little quicker. Drive forward. Whoa! Good.
Again, I set the brick wall. As soon as he hit the brakes, I move my hands forward to
give him slack. That’s his reward for stopping. That’s what gives him the incentive to get
light and continue to stop well. If he didn’t stop, again, I would shake his head down,
left right, left right, set the brick wall solid, bump him with my feet to back him up
quick. I might even give him a little pull right there just to say, “Hey, you should
have responded to that bit a little bit better.” Ride him forward. Whoa! Good. That’s basically
how we get our horse to stop. If we were going at a faster speed, which we’re going to do
a little later, I would go set release, set release.
I used three sets and releases right there. [silence]
Larry:  Boom, boom, boom. Right there I used three sets and releases to stop him. I turn
with rein release, rein release, ask for the lope. Whoa! Good. Again, I used several sets
and releases. I went, “Whoa! Set release, set release, set
release.” The multiple sets and releases is what keeps their head position good. If I
use just one big set and release or pulled, it would cause their head to go up.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Hi Larry,

    It's especially helpful that you explained the positioning of the hands and arms. A lot of videos will quickly show the "correct" way but with no clear instructions on how to achieve it.

    Very easy to understand. Thanks for sharing this very helpful information.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to post this. You explain what you are doing and put it so we can "understand" the concept of the stop. LOVE the analagy with the brick wall. Wish you were in Colorado lol … keep up the good work and thank you for helping us with our horses 🙂

  3. Larry, I believe you are the most thorough and easy to understand trainers out there.You give information in a most unpretentious manner, straight to the point and in layman terms.
    Littlesaiedog-I am not here to defend Larry but let me say that @3:40 and @9:20 when he states "I am not pulling" what most people understand Larry to say is that he is not pulling on the reigns and holding on to the horses face. That is what many
    inexperienced rider will do. Also @8:10 that is a bump for corection

  4. Very nice and clear instruction.Thank you! I have a four yr. old gelding by Cats Red Feather that I may make the drive north in the future for some lessons and training!

  5. This hleps me a lot! The question I have is, what is the best bit to use in training my horse to stop and teaching him to rein like you are doing in this video?

  6. Hi Danielle,
    Go to my website. There is an entire outline of the bitting process. What bits to use and when to use them.

    Larry T

  7. I might get a horse, so I'm trying to watch as many videos as possible. But this is the first video that I've seen where I can clearly understand what you're saying and I find this very helpful. Thank you.

  8. I am going to get a horse so I am watching a bunch of videos and right now this is the 16th
    video I have watched.

  9. I just wanted to clarify that I meant Brannaman and just found out my puters auto correct is changing it. I must have written something either that or I just squewed up (my version of saying overtired!). You keep up the good work and I mean it. You personally have a million dollar talent for making training videos. Not something everyone can do no matter how good a horseman you are. Hat's off to you 🙂

  10. thank you I will try this! my horse knows how to stop but not very well. I'm on a equestrian Drill team and some times we need brakes. 😊🐴

  11. Thank you for your excellent advice Larry as this has been a problem for me and my mare. i will certainly try your techniques and let you know how it goes.

  12. If this horse training technique is too advanced for your horse, There are
    alternative training methods available at my horse training website.
    Larry Trocha.

  13. I like the instruction on the three times "set-release", but do you apply this method whenever your in a gait faster than walk, or is it only ment as a method for training the horse to stop solid?

  14. You are so good at explaining things! I have a young green arab, who gets a bit resistant with backing up, but I will try your method!

  15. I am beginning my journey to training reining and working cow horses. I'm working on improving the stops on my one gelding, and I was having an issue with tossing his head when I asked for the stop. Now that you brought up the fact that, instead on using one big set and release, use multiple smaller sets and releases, I think I'll be able to fix his problem! If I have any questions I will definitely come back to ask 🙂

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