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Article Index

Approach & Retreat
Buying a Horse

Common Sense on the Trail
Curb Strap Tying Info.

Focus & Time
Ground Driving
Ground Manners
Ground Tying
In the Saddle
Introducing a New Horse

Lateral Movement
Mecate Reins
One Rein Stop

The Process
Progress Strings
Punishment & Correction



Round/Square Pen

Rope Skills
Slobber Straps
Training Home
Training Stick
Trailer Loading
Trailer Unloading
Tying from Above
Tying a rope halter



Imagine getting into a car that didn't have any brakes and then heading for the freeway.  What do you think is going to happen if the gas pedal gets stuck?   James Bond may be able to jump out of his car at 90 miles an hour and survive, but I'm betting that you don't want to jump off your horse at a full gallop. Well, that's exactly the same thing.  In an emergency situation, most people will pull back on both reins like they saw in all those old cowboy movies.  Unfortunately, this is the wrong manuever.   You start the one rein or single rein stop on the ground at a stand still.  Your horse needs to understand how to do this at a stop in order to do it while moving.  The concept behind the one rein stop is disengagement of the hindquarters.

one rein stop pictureThis is the "emergency brake" on your horse. Every horse has one. You just need to make sure they know it’s there. If you have ever seen a horse run away with someone and they didn’t know what to do, this would have saved the situation. I never get on a horse without testing to see if the horse can do a one rein stop.

This is so simple, that it’s amazing more people don’t teach it.   Use your rope halter and lead rope.  You can do this with the lead rope alone or with the lead rope as a set of reins

one rein stop pictureFrom a stand still, bend the horse to the left and plant your hand on your thigh. Look down at the ground. Your horse will probably move it’s hind end. Keep your hand planted on your thigh until the horse quits moving. When the horse stops, immediately reward the horse. Now do this to the right.  It's important to remember not to bring your hand behind your thigh.  If you do this, your balance and center of gravity are behind your body. If your horse did something foolish, you may be on the ground.  Also, make sure you don’t have any leg on the horse. You don’t want to confuse this with a balanced turn or leg yield.

As an exercise, you should try the one rein stop 60 times (30 on each side of the horse) alternating sides from a stand still. No this is not a misprint! Your goal is to get the horse to reliably stop moving when you ask for the one rein stop. Oh, did I forget to tell you, if the horse fails, you have to start over?

Once the horse has the ability to stand still and complete this excercise, move on to the walk.  Do this excercise exactly as above. As a rule, the faster the horse is moving the less bend you should take to disengage the hindquarters.   What you are after is a very slight bend to take away the hindquarters and your horse will soon understand what you are asking.  After you master the walk, move on to the trot. You have to practice this at the walk, trot, canter, and gallop.  Be careful when you start with the trot and canter, too much bend and the horse may actually fall down.

The one rein stop is something that you must practice in order to have in your "bag of tricks".  If you get into trouble and attempt to use this without ever trying it on your horse, you will have a horse wreck!


There is some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Horses can cause serious injury. Be sensible and don’t attempt anything that is outside your comfort level. This information is intended to illustrate how we apply our training techniques, you are responsible for using this information wisely. If you don’t feel comfortable with your abilities or an exercise, don’t do it! Seek advice or assistance from a professional horse trainer. Stay on the "high side of trouble".

Natural Horse Supply Training Information, (c) 1999 Natural Horse Supply. All rights reserved. Duplication of any material  prohibited without express written permission. This prohibition is not intended to extend to personal non-commercial use, including sharing with others for safety and learning purposes, provided this copyright notice is attached and you have written permission. E-mail to submit comments or request reproduction permission.


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Updated Sept. 2012