Read these 21 Western, Tack, Clothing, Riding Tips/Info Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Horse tips and hundreds of other topics.
The greatest lesson that any Rider can ever learn is to Keep Your Heels Down. Practice--Practice--Practice. You really just have to keep your mind on your heels until it becomes your physical nature to have them so dropped that it is excessive.
It helps if you can have someone lunge you on a horse, so that you do not have to hold the reins, or steer. Practice riding without reins. At the walk, then trot, then canter, then trot over poles on ground, canter over poles on ground, and eventually trot--then canter over small jumps (try to not go over 2 feet 6 inch fences) on a lunge line or without using your reins. Even in Western Riding, you must have your lower body balance without use of your reins, and to pop over small fences will not hurt your ability but increase your seat for Western Riding. On the trail, you will have to sometimes pop over small logs on the trail, and to do so and not pop your horse in the mouth, or to loose your seat, these exercises will only help you to do that.
While you are riding, put your hands on your waist; then on your shoulders, then head, then strait up in the air over head, then strait out from the shoulder, then you can become very fancy, and touch opposite hip side or knee side, and eventually the toe of the opposite leg.
To maintain position doing these exercies, YOU MUST KEEP YOUR HEELS DOWN, or you will pop out of the saddle and always be fighting your position and balance.
Gymkhana Games can be included in Rodeo Events, and can also be offered by Clubs as their own entity for Children or Adults.
The Gymkhana Games consist of competitive Western events such as: Keyhole Racing, Figure 8 Racing, Cloverleaf Barrel Racing, Quadrangle Stake Races, Pole Bending Races, Hurry/Scurry Races, Rescue Races and Speed Barrels. I will cover the most popular events that are usually held for both Adults and Children in either "Gymkhana" or "Rodeo Training".
Cloverleaf or Speed Events
Is a timed event. Three barrels are set up in the arena, usually evenly distanced. The Rider/Horse must circle to the outside and around the barrel to the inside of the course. The Rider/Horse combination are immediately disqualified if the barrels are touched in such a manner to dislodge them or if they are knocked down. After completing the course, the Rider/Horse combination must race back through the start flags. If the Rider/Horse go off course in any way, they will be disqualified.
Bareback Riding: A horse is held in a chute, and has a cinch applied around the girth area of the horse's barrel. The rider mounts the horse from above while still in the chute. When the chute is opened, on the first jump out of the chute, the Rider must spur the horse overtop of the shoulder joint before the horse's front feet touch the ground or the Rider and the ride are disqualified. The Rider is expected to spur the horse on every consecutive jump. The Rider is to keep the free hand from touching either the horse or his person or the tack. The other hand holds onto a cinch strap that is tightened around the horse's girth area. The Ride is judged on the Rider's spur action, height and power of horse's buck or jump, and the difficulty of the horse to ride. The Rider must remain active and seated on the horse for a minimum of 8 seconds.
For pleasure riding in a Western Saddle, your stirrups should be longer than English (with the exception of several of Dressage Instructors that prefer a VERY LONG LEG).
Measure the same as you would with English. Place the "beefy" part of your palm on the outside of the stirrup bar area, and pull the stirrup skirt down or out towards your armpit--making sure to keep the skirt strait, smooth and stretched as much as is possible. The bottom of the stirrup should reach the bottom of your armpit area.
Once in the saddle, stand in the stirrups. You should be able to place your hand between your crotch and the saddle. The width here is a personal preference.
To sit deep, secure and comfortably with your heels down, and toes up and maintain contact with the horse at all times, you will want to have no more than a 3" space. The greater the security of the lower leg, the greater the rider will have in maintaining position at all gaits.
The lower leg and rider control is lost if the stirrups are too long, and the rider is thrown out of the saddle at rough, uneven gaits (such as at a gallop) if the stirrup is too short.
Include Barrel Racing. Racing a specified direction around/through 3 barrels. Pole Bending. Racing down an arena and around a pole, then racing back. Keyhole. Racing down an arena into an arrangement on the ground similar to a key, turning around inside the key (without touching the frame...usually a hose) and then racing back to the start. These are the 3 most popular. But Games are as limited as the imagination!
The Western Jog is short strided and smooth, performed with minimal animation...the key to a winning jog. The horse moves in 1/4 time, yet not so slow as to trip. Movement must indicate true cadence. From the profile, square shoulders/hips with the horse's foreface at the vertical, indicating a slight crest to the neckline, rounding through the topline.
Steer Wresting: Is a two horse/Rider combination, with one steer. One Rider is the Hazer and is on the steer's right side, while the other Rider is the Dogger and is in the chute on the steer's left side. As in all cattle and cowboy chute events, the Rider's cannot leave the chutes until the steer has cleared the start line. The Hazer is expected to keep the steer straight and between the horses so that the Dogger can jump from his galloping horse and form an arm hold on the steer's horns and twist the head while the steer is running in order to flip the steer over onto it's back, making sure that all four of the legs come completely off of the ground and into the air. The timer stops at the point that the steer is on its side with all four of the legs in the air. Most of the time this event is won in under 5 seconds.
Have you ever wanted contact numbers for equine professional organizations, businesses, services, manufacturers, clubs, associations, veterinarians, feed dealers, friends, all in ONE place?
Keep in this Diary a record of each horse's specifics...diet, medications, last wormer, last vaccine, and any specifics for each horse.
Check out the links section for agencies that have Diaries and then record those important numbers and place tabs on the outside of the pages to provide an index tab. Often their are diaries that have horse covers.
Many horse owners keep one copy near the phone at the barn, and one in the truck for easy accesss when on the road.
Pattern is in the shape of a big keyhole: starting with the timer clock with a lane 40 feet long and 4 feet wide, leading to a circle 20 feet in diameter. Contestants run the horse up lane then do a rollback inside the circle, then ride back out the lane to the finish/start line. Contestant is disqualified if his horse steps on or over the line at any time during the run. the Keyhole pattern is be marked off with a chalk line.
Team Roping: Consists of one steer, 2 mounted horses and Riders in a timed event. One Cowboy is the Header and one is the Heeler. Both Riders start from a chute. Again once the steer has passed the start line the Riders are free to leave their chutes. The Header must rope the steer's head on the horns or the head, while the Heeler is expected to rope the rear legs of the steer. The shortest time is the winner. Alternate, humane competitions, have the Heeler dismount once the Header has lassoed the steer and rope wrap the hind legs from the ground. The Heeler has only 7 seconds in which to do so.
Saddle Bronc Riding: Horses are again mounted within the chute area. The horse is saddled with a "skeleton" version of a western saddle. The horse wears a halter with a lead rope attached for the Rider to hold, and to maintain balance and control with. Just as in the Bareback Riding, the rider must spur over the horse's shoulder prior to the front feet landing on the ground during the first jump or buck from the chute in order for the ride to qualify. Spurring action during the ride must be long, smooth and rhythmic during the ride for a good score. The Ride is judged on the difficulty of the ride, control of the Rider over the horse, and the action of the Rider during the ride. The Rider must remain on the horse and active for a minimum of 8 seconds.
Wild Horse Races: 3 Cowboys or Cowgirls, work on each team. Wild horses are released into the arena in a herd. One person is expected to lasso the horse, one persons is expected to saddle the horse and the last person is expected to ride the horse from the "start" end of the arena to the "finish" end of the arena. The first team to finish wins.
Bull Riding: The most dangerous timed event at a Rodeo. The Rider mounts the bull while still in a chute. The Cowboy holds onto a cinch strap that is tightened around the bulls' barrel and girth area. The other hand must be held above the shoulder and can not come below the level line of the shoulder during the ride, nor touch the Cowboy or the bull or the ride is disqualified. The Cowboy must stay mounted on the bull for a full 8 seconds. The ride is judged on the Rider's ability to stay with the Bull's movements, ride the Bull's rhythm, remain in control of the ride, and anticipate the Bull's next move in adapting to the changes in direction; and the difficulty of the Bull to ride.
Calf Roping: One horse and Rider combination in a timed event. Rider must wait in a chute until the calf is released and has passed a start line before the Horse/Rider can leave the chute. The Rider lassos the calf, and as the Rider is dismounting the horse is bringing tension on the rope so the Rider can grab the calf and flip the calf onto it's side and then rope three of the legs together. The calf's legs must remain tied for the count of 6 seconds after the Rider has let go of the calf while still on the ground. The fastest time wins.