I recently went to a Ranch Horse Clinic in my area to watch and learn. I learned a lot about how to cut a calf, turn and hold on the flag and a few trail tips as well. It was enlightening and encouraging to watch folks learn how to tip the horses nose into the flag and even to stop in a T form with the calf and horse. I learned how to cut your circle in half, how to get in front and behind the calf as well as how to get out of your horse's way and let them do their job, provided they were "cowy".
I observed more than just the tasks at hand. I observed people, horses tack, interactions between them all including stallions. Yes! Believe it or not there were several stallions among the mix of mares and geldings and they all behaved like I've never seen. It was amazing. I was told by several folks including the stallion owners, "It's all in how you train them." In fact, one of the hosts putting the clinic on was talking with me about how you really have to pay attention to the subtle, little things. Things that we may not consider or catch until it becomes a vibrant problem in our faces. He had a stallion and the stud would take small steps into his space. He showed me as an example that this is unacceptable and he corrected the stud by making him move away from him. He said he wasn't invited and if I let that little thing go, it will lead to being pushy. Once they get pushy they continue on until they have the upper hand and become the Alpha. If I stay on top of it now, it will never become that bigger problem.
Another thing I observed with several of the participants were their back cinches. Many of them hung extremely low, dangerously low. Now I know everyone has their own.. how shall I say, training, upbringing, ideas about how tight or loose a cinch should be. However, (I'm sure some will disagree with me here) these were a safety hazard. My first thought was, why have a back cinch if you're not going to use it properly? I'm talking about having enough space between the cinch and the horse to fit a basketball in.
A back cinch should have enough space to fit your hand in laying flat against the cinch. Its purpose is to keep the rear of the saddle from flipping up and forward should you come off and over the shoulder of your horse. There should also be a cinch keeper (strap) attached to both the front and back cinches to prevent the back cinch from sliding backwards to the horses flank. This in turn prevents your trail horse from becoming a bucking bronco. This problem is easily avoided and yet so many people either don't care, don't take the time to cinch up properly or they were never taught.
A back cinch that is too loose is an accident waiting to happen. I have seen hind legs get caught up in the back cinch and a few didn't end well. A horse is claustrophobic. They don't like tight or small spaces where they can't easily get out of. So imagine if your horse gets a hind foot caught over that back cinch and can't get his foot out. It may be a rare occurrence, it may never happen to you, it might happen in a bizarre freak accident. Isn't it better to be safe than sorry?
If you're new to horses, please get with a trainer and learn how to properly cinch your horse. It takes just a few moments and can save a lifetime of heartache. They can show you how tight or loose both cinches should be as well as how much tension between the two with the cinch strap in the middle. They'll show you how to adjust all of it correctly.
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