How to School a Horse that Anticipates Cues: Part 1

Horses are not always completely honest when you drop your hand to show in the show pen, and that’s just normal. Jean Abernethy illustration. Horses are not always completely honest when you drop your hand to show in the show pen, and that’s just normal. Jean Abernethy illustration.

January 24, 2018

How to School a Horse that Anticipates Cues: Part 1

Horse-showing tip: Learn how to school against seasoned and green horses’ tendencies to anticipate.


By AQHA Professional Horseman and Team Wrangler member Ryan Cottingim
Horses are not always completely honest when you drop your hand to show in the show pen, and that’s just normal. For those of us who have shown a lot, it should never be a surprise. Your horse stops early, or he breaks gait, or he lopes off before you ask him to.

It happens to every rider, whether you are a novice in your first out or a seasoned professional, and it happens for a number of reasons. It is not unusual to have your best ride in the practice pen right before you go show.
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Transitions 

When horses get on the dirt in the space from one obstacle to another, they know something is going to happen and they start guessing: Are you going to lope off? Walk? Stop?

They are smart. If a pattern calls for a trot series, more times than not, they are thinking “lope off,” because 80 percent of the time, that’s what you do after a trot.
Are you a beginner in the show world? Check out Showtime: A Guide to Showing American Quarter Horses today and learn the ins and outs of the horse-show business.
Back-Throughs

A seasoned horse will tend to anticipate the stop in the chute for a back-through. To offset that in schooling, I might trot, lope or walk through a back-through multiple times without stopping.

For a stop to be very smooth and clean and crisp, yes, your horse must be responsive when you ask for it. At the same time, he shouldn’t slow his rhythm and adjust his stride before you say “Whoa.” If a horse sets up for a stop before the rider asks him to, he will not stop as well.

To read more about schooling anticipating horses go to AQHA Daily.