3 Easy Ways To Master The Art Of Bowing
recently had a client that, due to medical reasons, could not mount her
horse without a mounting block. Her fear was that if she
needed to get down off her horse somewhere that did not have a object
to use as a block, she would have to walk home or until she found
something on trail to use. She asked about teaching her horse
to bow for her to mount. Now I know many people that want to
teach their horse to bow as a way of exiting a performance, but this
was the first time someone had asked me about actually getting up that
way. I told her we could give it a try and I did not see why
it could not be done. So off we went.
Now there are two ways a horse can bow, with both legs forward or one
bent with the knee on the ground. I could see a lot of stress
horse trying to get up with added weight from the bow with both legs
forward so I set about teaching her horse to bow with a bend knee.
This is the
same procedure I will use on teaching any horse to bow, mounted or
not. The main difference comes with where the cue is
located. Obviously, if you are going to bow the horse from
the saddle, you need a cue spot you can reach, but that is not where it
I do not use treats and do not force the horse
down. I use a full check snaffle with continuous round rope
reins. I also use a soft lay rope (I like to use the leads
made for rope halters with no clasps or hardware) to help hold up the
leg on the side I am standing. Due to the repeated contact with the
ground, find a place where the ground is soft and protect the legs as
much as possible with wraps or boots. Please keep in mind it
is not something you teach all horses in one day.
I will only
teach this to a horse that understands how to pick up its feet and that
also knows how to release to pressure on the bit. I begin by placing
leg protection on the horse and placing the rope on the pastern of the
leg next to me. I then ask the horse to give his
foot. The cue I teach at this point is a tapping on the
pastern with a crop while asking the horse to step back. When
the horse lifts the foot, I stop tapping and keep the foot up with the
rope. I continue until the horse lifts the foot on
his own to the tap of the crop.
I then hold
the foot up with the rope and ask the horse to lean back. As
soon as he leans back even a little, I release, praise and let him put
his foot down.
repeat the cues and ask the horse to rock back farther and farther
until the knee touches the ground. Always stop the cue when
the horse rocks back and allow the horse to come right back up.
When they are comfortable with that I start asking them to keep the
knee on the ground a little longer before asking them to get up.
It is here
you start teaching the cue to get up so the horse will stay down until
you give the cue to get up. A verbal ok or walking forward,
whatever you'd like.
horse is consistent with touching the knee to the ground and leaving it
until you ask the horse to get up, you will start teaching the horse a
series of cues to bow. The horse understands to lift his foot
to the tap, so we are going to expand that to the horse keeping his
foot up on his own and bowing. You ask the horse to pick up
his foot with the tap.
tries to put it down, you will tap again. Continue this part until the
to leave his foot up. You will then ask him to lift the foot
and then ask him to lean back. Repeat the request for him to
keep the foot up while leaning back if he puts it down.
Continue until the horse will keep his foot up while leaning
back. Release the horse on improvements and continue to make
him wait to get up from the bow until you ask him. If he gets
up before, simply put him back on the bow.
the horse is solid with keeping his foot up and bowing to the tap on
the foot, move the cue to where you want it. For the saddle
and ground a tap on the shoulder is a good place. So, you
will tap the shoulder then the foot (together) and release the tap as
soon as the horse starts to bow. If he gets up at anytime
repeat the tap on the shoulder and then the foot so he goes all the way
down. Continue until the horse will bow off the tap of the
shoulder. Back up the shoulder cue with the tap on the foot
at any time until the horse is solid.
When the horse is solid on the cue on his shoulder you can start to add
mounting. Start by moving toward the
and keeping the horse in the bow, move away and cue him to get
up. Then place a foot in the stirrup, take it out, move away
and cue to get up. Put weight in the stirrup, get down, move
away and cue to get up. Finally, mount, dismount, move away
and cue to get up. And finally, mount and cue to get up.
Remember, take your time, don't be afraid to break the lesson into
days, praise every improvement, release cues as soon as the horse
complies, and most of all have fun.
Copyright 2005-2010 Jodi Wilson