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Article Index

Anticipation
Approach & Retreat
Bending
Bits
Buying a Horse

Common Sense on the Trail
Curb Strap Tying Info.
Exaggeration
Expectations
Feel
Feet

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

Lateral Movement
Leading
Longeing
Mecate Reins
One Rein Stop

Posture
Pressure
The Process
Progress Strings
Punishment & Correction

Reins

Respect
Reward

Round/Square Pen

Rope Skills
Senses
Slobber Straps
Softness
Support
Tools
Training Home
Training Stick
Trust
Trailer Loading
Trailer Unloading
Tying from Above
Tying a rope halter
Visualization
Yielding

Products

 


Training ~ Training Sticks ("Printer Friendly" version of this page)


The training stick is one of the most useful tools that we own, but it must be used correctly.  It's an extension of your hand.  We use it to stay out of trouble when initiating contact with a new horse.  The extra few feet can keep you out of trouble when you first touch a horse that may have some fear of touch to certain parts of the body.  When used with a 2 foot piece of 1/4" rope, the stick is extremely useful for touching the legs and feet of a young colt.
The training stick is a four foot long fiberglass rod that has a golf club grip on one end and a rope loop on the other end. We like this type of training stick because it does not flex like a longe whip and is much longer.

Purchse stick from our accesories page.

We tie a plastic grocery bag or a rope to the leather tab on the end of the training stick to help with some of our training. We use the training stick primarily for these purposes:

  • We use it to initiate contact with a new horse. You can stay out of harms way and use the stick as an extension of your body to touch the horse all over. Short leather straps on the end are great as a tool to feel the horse all over or just using the rope loop on the tip is also great for this purpose.
  • When round penning, as an extension of our body to accentuate power and to keep the horse moving.To yield our horses from the ground.
  • While riding, to yield other horses from on top.

Introduce the stick to the horse

training stick above head pictureUse the approach/retreat method of introducing the stick to the horse. You want to be able to touch the horse all over with the stick. Attach the rope halter and lead rope to the horse. We start without the plastic grocery bag attached.  Offer the stick to the horse, let them see and smell it.  You may even lay the stick on the ground and let the horse look at it. While standing about five feet off the left shoulder, we move the stick in an up/down motion. Make sure that you don’t direct the motion of the stick at the horse. The horse may move away from the energy of the stick. That’s OK, let the horse drift but keep the motion of the stick going. Don’t allow the horse to back or go forward. If they are going to get out of work we ALWAYS make them move laterally. Lateral movement is harder for the horse and they will quickly search for a way out, or a solution that will get you to stop. Use this to your advantage. When the horse stops moving, reward this. This is the horse’s way of telling you that they are comfortable with the movement. Practice doing this on both sides of the horse.

Some horses will react dramatically with the introduction of the stick.  The "outta here" response can get pretty big.  I have seen horses jump straight up in the air, kick out at the stick with all four feet, and some dangerous striking out behavior.  Be extremely cautious when you introduce this to the horse.

Now you can touch the horse with the stick. Stand about five feet off thtraining stick at feet picturee left shoulder, you want to be out of the danger zone in case the horse strikes or kicks out at the stick. Move the stick slowly over to touch just below the shoulder of the horse. It’s very important not to move too fast with the stick. The horse will probably move or drift away from the stick. Again, this is OK. Keep with the horse, don’t allow him to back or go forward. Remember, if they are going to get out of work we ALWAYS make them move laterally. When the horse stops moving, reward this. Work towards being able to touch the horse with the stick and hold the end against the body part you are after until they are desensitized enough to stand quietly. Then move on to another part of the horse.

Ideally, you want to be able to touch your horse anywhere on their body with the training stick.  But, there are some extra sensitive places on the horse that require some caution and extra time before you should go after them.  The safest places to start are the shoulder and sides of the horse.  The following potential trouble spots are places on the horse to be aware of that may cause a bigger than expected reaction from the training stick.

Potential Trouble Spots:

Don't cross the withers; NEVER and I do mean never introduce the flag and stick to the "off" side of the horse by moving it over the neck or withers.   As you know, horses see things differently than we do.  Just because you introduced an object or excercise to the horse on the left side, doesn't mean that it carries over to the right side of the horse.  This is especially true of the flag.   If the horse sees the flag coming over the wither out of the corner of their eye and they are startled -- chances are the horse is going to move away from the pressure.   Away from the pressure is right where you are standing.

Don't go above the withers towards the head.  This is a tough spot too.

The flank or stifle area.  Your heading into a sensitive area that the horse will try to protect.  Don't go here until the horse let's you know he's ready.

Many horses don't like to be touched on the coronet band.  This is a very sensitive spot on the foot.

Near the genital areas.  Enough said!

We eventually tackle these areas, we just don't start there. Just because the horse finds something uncomfortable doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it.  On the contrary, this shows you where you need to concentrate your efforts.  The important thing to remember is that there's a natural progression in how you introduce things to the horse.  If you're the type of person who skips to the end of a book because you find the middle boring, you're probably not going to have the patience to work out all of the bugs before you tackle some of these problem spots. 

If you’ve read any of our training material, you realize that there is no time limit on how long this takes. We have gone from being able to touch a horse anywhere in 10 minutes to a horse that took two weeks to touch with the bag anywhere on their body -- that's our goal.

EXTRA CREDIT: Touch the feet, be careful – you are definitely going into the horse’s comfort zone when you start touching their feet with a foreign object. Your objective should be to touch the horse anywhere on their body (belly, ears, rear, chest, etc.) with the stick while the horse stands quietly. You should be able to do this from both sides of the horse.

Add a rope to the stick

A piece of rope adds another useful extension to the training stick.  We add an 18-24 inch piece of 1/4" rope to the end of our stick.  We recommend that people use the lead rope to desesensitize the horse to the feel of rope on their body.  The training stick works very well for this too.  It may even be easier for some people because you don't have to have good rope handling skills and you can operate further away from the horse.

Be careful not to slap or snap the rope at the horse -- it's not a whip!  You want to lay the rope on the horses back, around the legs, and feet.  Use this the same way that you would want someone to touch you with a rope.

Add the bag to the stick

The first thing we do is tear the bottom out of the plastic bag.  This keeps it from blowing up like a balloon when you move it.  When the horse can stand quietly, we add the bag to the end of the stick. Again, we work towards being able to touch the horse all over with the plastic bag attached. This is a completely new thing to the horse, even though they may have been great with the stick without the bag.  Do the exercises above with the plastic bag on the stick.

Ordering Information

Fiberglass training stick;  four feet long, black or white color with rubber golf grip and decorative braided leather knot on top, rope tip for use with touch excercises with the horse and attaching plastic bag and rope. 

Purchase stick from out accessories page.

 

 

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