Big Wyoming Horse Expo big draw for performance horse owners | TSLN.com

Big Wyoming Horse Expo big draw for performance horse owners

Photo by Gayle SmithN.J. Pawley shows the audience his "wild rag" he uses to get horses used to movement around them.

The crowd of horsemen were drawn to the small arena where the clinician worked with a group of three girls, each mounted on horses at different levels of training. One girl thought her horse was lazy, another rode a started colt, and the third was curious about the piece of plastic tied to a stick the clinician carried to rub over his horse. Rubbing the plastic over the horse helped make it more confident and less likely to spook.

The first-ever Big Wyoming Horse Expo in Douglas was a big draw for horsemen all over the area. Horse owners who brought horses that needed training assistance were treated to one-on-one help and advice from clinicians who specialized in many areas of expertise. One of those clinicians was N.J. Pawley, who worked with the three students mentioned above on “Horsemanship and the Trail or Performance Horse.”

At the beginning of his presentation, Pawley stressed to the crowd the importance of groundwork, no matter what level the horse or rider.

“Groundwork is like doing yoga with the horse before you get on it,” he explained. “Groundwork allows the horse to stretch and works the kinks out so it won’t buck when you get on. I still do groundwork with my mare, and she has been ridden a thousand miles.”

Pawley said groundwork is critical to developing a relationship with the horse.

“If your horse doesn’t have a relationship with you on the ground and listen to you, how can you expect her to listen to you when you ride?,” he asked. “Everyone should take 15 minutes and do some groundwork every time they ride. Groundwork is something you can even do during the winter whether you ride or not. It is a way to get your horse to be with you.”

Recommended Stories For You

By working a horse on the ground, Pawley said a horse can be taught many things easier than when they are ridden.

“Groundwork is good for you, too,” he stressed. “You want your horse to be with you, not anyone else. Especially with performance horses, you don’t want it to pay attention to the other 400 people in the crowd.”

He urged the group to pay close attention to what type of bit they use when training a horse.

“When training, I encourage people to work toward using less bit. I think it is good to have something with a broken mouthpiece,” he explained.

Pawley demonstrated to the crowd that a horse with a solid bit could become more confused.

“When I pull on the left rein, the whole bit moves. For some horses, this could be really confusing,” he said. “It is harder to get a horse to do something like sidepass with a bit like this unless they already know how to do it.

“For some reason, a horse’s mind is wired that lateral and vertical flexion are the same,” Pawley continued, encouraging horse owners to do some bending and flexing of the neck muscles of the horse to make it more responsive during groundwork exercises. “You want the horse to be soft and light. You don’t want the horse hanging on the rein. You need to work with the horse to get it to where it will turn its head easily from side to side. As the horse gets softer and listens, it should be easier for it to flex its neck.

“A horse really only turns a combination of two ways,” he continued. “They either use both ends or one end. In trail class, it is a good test of how good a horse uses those turns.”

Pawley said horsemen should install a series of tests to see how their horse is progressing.

“You want movements of the horse and rider to be subtle. What changed my whole horse show career was the invention of the video camera,” he said, laughing. “I was able to see myself doing things wrong that I was totally unaware of.”

While training a horse, Pawley cautioned the group about overdoing it.

“In our society, we have a bad habit of pushing the button until it breaks. If you like the way your horse is backing, and you get three steps that are totally correct, stop, reward the horse by rubbing it, and go do something else,” he said. “Horses will get bored, and when they do they will start messing with you.”

To get horses used to movement around them, Pawley showed the audience what he calls his wild rag, which is simply a sorting stick with a piece of plastic from a tarp or feedbag secured to the end of it.

“I use it to get horses used to movement around them,” he said. “During trail class, there are a series of obstacles a horse must work with. The wild rag can help a horse get used to moving objects.”

Pawley said many people who start a horse will just throw the rag in the middle of the corral. It will flutter in the wind all day, and the horse will get used to it. Pawley also shakes the wild rag at the horse from various positions to get it used to movement all around it, which makes the horse more stable and less spooked.

As Pawley observed one of the riders in his class, he noticed her horse only poked around the ring. Trading horses with the girl, he demonstrated how to teach a horse to pick up the pace without the use of spurs. First of all, it is important for the stirrups to be adjusted to the proper length for the rider, Pawley said. Secondly, he told the crowd, riders need to get the feel of the horse’s ribcage underneath them when they are riding.

“It is like riding a barrel,” he said. “Don’t let the horse get lazy.”

As he demonstrated, he moved from side to side moving his legs in and out as the horse circled the arena and sped up.

“Horses are followers,” he said. “They want good leaders. If you let the horse make the decisions, nine out of 10 times, the horse will make a bad decision. Too many riders are too passive. The rider needs to be the leader.”

The crowd of horsemen were drawn to the small arena where the clinician worked with a group of three girls, each mounted on horses at different levels of training. One girl thought her horse was lazy, another rode a started colt, and the third was curious about the piece of plastic tied to a stick the clinician carried to rub over his horse. Rubbing the plastic over the horse helped make it more confident and less likely to spook.

The first-ever Big Wyoming Horse Expo in Douglas was a big draw for horsemen all over the area. Horse owners who brought horses that needed training assistance were treated to one-on-one help and advice from clinicians who specialized in many areas of expertise. One of those clinicians was N.J. Pawley, who worked with the three students mentioned above on “Horsemanship and the Trail or Performance Horse.”

At the beginning of his presentation, Pawley stressed to the crowd the importance of groundwork, no matter what level the horse or rider.

“Groundwork is like doing yoga with the horse before you get on it,” he explained. “Groundwork allows the horse to stretch and works the kinks out so it won’t buck when you get on. I still do groundwork with my mare, and she has been ridden a thousand miles.”

Pawley said groundwork is critical to developing a relationship with the horse.

“If your horse doesn’t have a relationship with you on the ground and listen to you, how can you expect her to listen to you when you ride?,” he asked. “Everyone should take 15 minutes and do some groundwork every time they ride. Groundwork is something you can even do during the winter whether you ride or not. It is a way to get your horse to be with you.”

By working a horse on the ground, Pawley said a horse can be taught many things easier than when they are ridden.

“Groundwork is good for you, too,” he stressed. “You want your horse to be with you, not anyone else. Especially with performance horses, you don’t want it to pay attention to the other 400 people in the crowd.”

He urged the group to pay close attention to what type of bit they use when training a horse.

“When training, I encourage people to work toward using less bit. I think it is good to have something with a broken mouthpiece,” he explained.

Pawley demonstrated to the crowd that a horse with a solid bit could become more confused.

“When I pull on the left rein, the whole bit moves. For some horses, this could be really confusing,” he said. “It is harder to get a horse to do something like sidepass with a bit like this unless they already know how to do it.

“For some reason, a horse’s mind is wired that lateral and vertical flexion are the same,” Pawley continued, encouraging horse owners to do some bending and flexing of the neck muscles of the horse to make it more responsive during groundwork exercises. “You want the horse to be soft and light. You don’t want the horse hanging on the rein. You need to work with the horse to get it to where it will turn its head easily from side to side. As the horse gets softer and listens, it should be easier for it to flex its neck.

“A horse really only turns a combination of two ways,” he continued. “They either use both ends or one end. In trail class, it is a good test of how good a horse uses those turns.”

Pawley said horsemen should install a series of tests to see how their horse is progressing.

“You want movements of the horse and rider to be subtle. What changed my whole horse show career was the invention of the video camera,” he said, laughing. “I was able to see myself doing things wrong that I was totally unaware of.”

While training a horse, Pawley cautioned the group about overdoing it.

“In our society, we have a bad habit of pushing the button until it breaks. If you like the way your horse is backing, and you get three steps that are totally correct, stop, reward the horse by rubbing it, and go do something else,” he said. “Horses will get bored, and when they do they will start messing with you.”

To get horses used to movement around them, Pawley showed the audience what he calls his wild rag, which is simply a sorting stick with a piece of plastic from a tarp or feedbag secured to the end of it.

“I use it to get horses used to movement around them,” he said. “During trail class, there are a series of obstacles a horse must work with. The wild rag can help a horse get used to moving objects.”

Pawley said many people who start a horse will just throw the rag in the middle of the corral. It will flutter in the wind all day, and the horse will get used to it. Pawley also shakes the wild rag at the horse from various positions to get it used to movement all around it, which makes the horse more stable and less spooked.

As Pawley observed one of the riders in his class, he noticed her horse only poked around the ring. Trading horses with the girl, he demonstrated how to teach a horse to pick up the pace without the use of spurs. First of all, it is important for the stirrups to be adjusted to the proper length for the rider, Pawley said. Secondly, he told the crowd, riders need to get the feel of the horse’s ribcage underneath them when they are riding.

“It is like riding a barrel,” he said. “Don’t let the horse get lazy.”

As he demonstrated, he moved from side to side moving his legs in and out as the horse circled the arena and sped up.

“Horses are followers,” he said. “They want good leaders. If you let the horse make the decisions, nine out of 10 times, the horse will make a bad decision. Too many riders are too passive. The rider needs to be the leader.”

The crowd of horsemen were drawn to the small arena where the clinician worked with a group of three girls, each mounted on horses at different levels of training. One girl thought her horse was lazy, another rode a started colt, and the third was curious about the piece of plastic tied to a stick the clinician carried to rub over his horse. Rubbing the plastic over the horse helped make it more confident and less likely to spook.

The first-ever Big Wyoming Horse Expo in Douglas was a big draw for horsemen all over the area. Horse owners who brought horses that needed training assistance were treated to one-on-one help and advice from clinicians who specialized in many areas of expertise. One of those clinicians was N.J. Pawley, who worked with the three students mentioned above on “Horsemanship and the Trail or Performance Horse.”

At the beginning of his presentation, Pawley stressed to the crowd the importance of groundwork, no matter what level the horse or rider.

“Groundwork is like doing yoga with the horse before you get on it,” he explained. “Groundwork allows the horse to stretch and works the kinks out so it won’t buck when you get on. I still do groundwork with my mare, and she has been ridden a thousand miles.”

Pawley said groundwork is critical to developing a relationship with the horse.

“If your horse doesn’t have a relationship with you on the ground and listen to you, how can you expect her to listen to you when you ride?,” he asked. “Everyone should take 15 minutes and do some groundwork every time they ride. Groundwork is something you can even do during the winter whether you ride or not. It is a way to get your horse to be with you.”

By working a horse on the ground, Pawley said a horse can be taught many things easier than when they are ridden.

“Groundwork is good for you, too,” he stressed. “You want your horse to be with you, not anyone else. Especially with performance horses, you don’t want it to pay attention to the other 400 people in the crowd.”

He urged the group to pay close attention to what type of bit they use when training a horse.

“When training, I encourage people to work toward using less bit. I think it is good to have something with a broken mouthpiece,” he explained.

Pawley demonstrated to the crowd that a horse with a solid bit could become more confused.

“When I pull on the left rein, the whole bit moves. For some horses, this could be really confusing,” he said. “It is harder to get a horse to do something like sidepass with a bit like this unless they already know how to do it.

“For some reason, a horse’s mind is wired that lateral and vertical flexion are the same,” Pawley continued, encouraging horse owners to do some bending and flexing of the neck muscles of the horse to make it more responsive during groundwork exercises. “You want the horse to be soft and light. You don’t want the horse hanging on the rein. You need to work with the horse to get it to where it will turn its head easily from side to side. As the horse gets softer and listens, it should be easier for it to flex its neck.

“A horse really only turns a combination of two ways,” he continued. “They either use both ends or one end. In trail class, it is a good test of how good a horse uses those turns.”

Pawley said horsemen should install a series of tests to see how their horse is progressing.

“You want movements of the horse and rider to be subtle. What changed my whole horse show career was the invention of the video camera,” he said, laughing. “I was able to see myself doing things wrong that I was totally unaware of.”

While training a horse, Pawley cautioned the group about overdoing it.

“In our society, we have a bad habit of pushing the button until it breaks. If you like the way your horse is backing, and you get three steps that are totally correct, stop, reward the horse by rubbing it, and go do something else,” he said. “Horses will get bored, and when they do they will start messing with you.”

To get horses used to movement around them, Pawley showed the audience what he calls his wild rag, which is simply a sorting stick with a piece of plastic from a tarp or feedbag secured to the end of it.

“I use it to get horses used to movement around them,” he said. “During trail class, there are a series of obstacles a horse must work with. The wild rag can help a horse get used to moving objects.”

Pawley said many people who start a horse will just throw the rag in the middle of the corral. It will flutter in the wind all day, and the horse will get used to it. Pawley also shakes the wild rag at the horse from various positions to get it used to movement all around it, which makes the horse more stable and less spooked.

As Pawley observed one of the riders in his class, he noticed her horse only poked around the ring. Trading horses with the girl, he demonstrated how to teach a horse to pick up the pace without the use of spurs. First of all, it is important for the stirrups to be adjusted to the proper length for the rider, Pawley said. Secondly, he told the crowd, riders need to get the feel of the horse’s ribcage underneath them when they are riding.

“It is like riding a barrel,” he said. “Don’t let the horse get lazy.”

As he demonstrated, he moved from side to side moving his legs in and out as the horse circled the arena and sped up.

“Horses are followers,” he said. “They want good leaders. If you let the horse make the decisions, nine out of 10 times, the horse will make a bad decision. Too many riders are too passive. The rider needs to be the leader.”

Go back to article