“He Doesn’t Draw Back All the Way.
Is It Me or Is It Him?”
There is almost nothing that feels as good as when a horse stops deeply with a cow … and then draws back and holds it. The stronger the horse, the deeper the stop, the more complete the draw … well it’s just heavenly.
So what happens if you have a run and your horse either doesn’t stop well or he doesn’t draw back over his haunches before he turns? How do you know if it’s because of something you’re doing or if there’s something going on with your horse?
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you sure your horse isn’t sore in his hocks or stifles?
Hock sore horses tend to bounce before they stop. Stifle sore horses tend to stop well but not draw and hold the stop well. Sometimes they even go forward after they stop. If your horse has not been checked by a vet for a while, get him checked.
2. Was he properly prepared before you showed him?
Fresh horses love to be more “on top of the ground” which means they are not quite tired enough before they show. They are out there having a good old time. Wheeee! They don’t stop as hard as they can and they don’t draw back as long. Make sure you know how to prepare the energy level of your horse properly. Make sure he maintains that appropriate energy until the moment you show. Don’t stand around waiting for your turn. Right before you go in to show, his respiration rate should be just above normal and he should have a light sweat on his neck and hips. This is super important.
3. Has your horse been tuned by a professional recently?
Most amateurs and nonpros do not have the background and the training to tune their own horses before they show. If this is you, and you do not have a trainer, consider figuring out a program whereby your horse is tuned by a professional in some kind of systematic way before you show.
4. Were you too fresh before you showed? LOL
Sometimes if you haven’t shown for a while, or if you’re nervous, you will squeeze your legs before or during the stops … or use your feet too soon before your horse turns around. Either one of these inadvertent leg cues causes a horse to not stop well and come out of his stops and turns too quickly. Learning correct balance and timing with your feet cues is a function of understanding what to do, how to do it and then time to practice. Be patient with yourself yet diligent to learn good balance and timing.
If you are having problems with your horse not stopping as deeply as you would like … and/or not holding it long enough, make sure you do your part (soundness exam, prepared and tuned properly and get grounded mentally before you show.)
Then ask your trainer or a knowledgeable friend or mentor to help you sort out what your horse needs and what you need.