So… how do you teach a horse to neck rein? Is it possible to do it without confusing him? Which way is the quickest? Which one is easiest on my horse? Which one is easiest on ME? Which of all the methods out there works best?
Whether you’re reading a book, talking with a trainer or surfing the Internet for ideas, these are some of the most often asked training questions. And there are as many different answers to them as there are books, web sites and trainers that talk about horses.
I have always thought the less you confuse the horse, the faster he’ll learn. For years I tried first one method and then another to teach the horses I was training to neck rein. Some worked faster than others… but I was constantly looking for something better. There always seemed to be a period of confusion while the horse tried to understand what it was I was trying to get him to do.
Then one day… about 30 years ago… I got a phone call from my brother. He said there was a guy down in Utah who did amazing things with horses. He said ‘He can take a horse that has never been worked with… and be riding him… neck reining too… in just a couple of hours’. That got my attention… he sounded like just the guy I wanted to see.
When I finally got to watch his training clinic, it was amazing. The trainer brought in a horse you could tell had never been touched by anyone. He was wild eyed and trying to escape from the round pen. As the trainer began to work with the horse he told the following story…
‘You’ve probably all heard the story about the little Indian boy who saw a beautiful wild stallion and made up his mind to catch and ride him.’ His story was rather long, but the abbreviated version has the Indian boy trapping the horse in a box canyon and after a couple of days riding his new horse into camp.
He continued, ‘After hearing that story, most people think that’s all it was… just a story. That it couldn’t really happen… that you can’t ‘break’ a wild horse that quickly… and most people would be wrong. I’ve been using the ‘Indian’ method to train horses all my life and I’ve made it happen over and over.’
‘Some horses train easier than others, some take a little more time, and none of them will be ‘finished’ in just a couple of days. But using this method of training, most horses can be safely ridden after just a day.’
…and then he proceeded to do just that. In less than two hours he was riding that horse all over the round pen.
But the part that excited me the most was… the horse was neck reining… and doing it very well. And it took less than 15 minutes for that horse to learn how to neck rein.
He had another session the next day where he repeated the training… but this time he was finished in about an hour… and the neck reining training only took about 5 minutes.
It was just what I’d been looking for.