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Our Newsletter

January 2005


Tricks Of The Trade




Horsemanship is full of illusive terminology and sometimes it becomes a game to use terminology to make yourself sound knowledgeable. Recently I was in a clinic and the clinician used an unusual term and then looked at us and said, “Everyone knows what that means, right?” Well, I started to say, “No, I have no idea what that means,” but since no one else in the group spoke up, I felt too foolish to admit my ignorance. The more I thought about this incredibly poor teaching technique, the more curious I become so I quietly started a little poll of the other students by privately asking them, “I have no idea what that means, do you?” Sure enough, no one in the group knew the term, yet we had all been put in the position of feeling uncomfortable about asking an honest and appropriate question. Finally, one person went up to the clinician and asked what it meant and he answered her privately and never addressed it to the whole group. Never ask a student, “Do you know what that means?” Instead, when you find yourself using specialized terminology, go ahead and define it. Sometimes even people that think they know the meaning will learn something from your definition. And NEVER put a student on the spot or in a position to feel poorly. Students must feel confident and comfortable in order to learn.


I have found, especially with my younger western riders, that they have trouble keeping a correct position on the reins. I tried the colored reins and I tried using tape to identify the correct place for the child to hold. Recently I have started to place a knot in the rein just behind the correct place for their little fists. This not only identifies the correct place to hold the rein, but also helps to keep the rein from accidentally slipping though the hand so the dangerous situation of too long ineffective reins never develops throughout the lesson. NEVER tie the rein in a loop that the hand could become entangled in, but a single hitch knot is very effective in helping the rider with learning hand position.

Betty Broadfield , 
Breezy Bluff Riding Academy McLean, IL








Horses under a heavy workload in the winter will often work up a sweat in their heavy winter coat, when washing and drying the horse can become problematic. A “Trace Clip” is a way to trim the areas of the horse that become sweaty while maintaining enough winter hair coat to keep the horse warm. Trace clipping involves clipping the horse under the neck, along the belly and above the thigh; essentially the area the traces of a cart would be. The back, neck, legs and rump are not clipped.




The half halt is a movement that changes the horse’s balance by a shift of weight of the horse from the forehand to the hindquarters. The half halt might also be a slight check in pace to collect a horse together before applying the necessary aids for a change in pace or movement. In the half halt, the seat, legs and hands are all used in a sequence to create more impulsion in the horse and contain the impulsion in order to shift the horse’s balance. Note: This definition comes from the book Dictionary of Equine Terms, now available from the CHA bookstore online at www.CHA-ahse.org or by calling 800-399-0138.