“FEEL THE BURN!!” is only something you want to experience when you are working on your fitness ...not when you are leading your equine and the rope is getting ripped through your hands. A hand full of rope burn is frustrating, intimidating, and the recovery sucks. Over the years I have had plenty of equines show up that have given their owners a palm full of rope-rash. Here is an exercise that I like to teach and use on flighty equines that want to bolt and give your hands rope burn.
***This exercise works best: A. When you use it in a round pen to begin with, especially on an equine that has a history of pulling lead ropes through hands. B. When you pay close attention to your positioning. Equines have the most strength when their bodies and necks are straight. When using this exercise keep a little bend in their body and neck at the beginning and if you ever get in a pickle where they want to try and bolt, always try to catch them from the side, not from pulling straight back or forward. C. Work on the pieces first, then put it all together in a sequence. Always work both sides of your equine.
Shoulder control: First move your equines shoulder away from you, performing a full 360 degree turn on the hindquarter. They should be crossing over with their front feet and have their hindquarters somewhat planted in place. No tugging on the lead rope or halter. They should move out of your space without being pulled. They should also be moving in a steady rhythmic pace. If they jump away frantically just keep your steady pace, moving with them, continuing in your turn, until they settle down. Keep turning until they move calmly out of your space.
Bending towards pressure and relaxing: As soon as you complete the turn on the hind quarters, stop at their side and ask them to bend and flex toward you giving towards the pressure you just put on their shoulder and relaxing with a flex of their neck and head toward the side that you are standing on. They should stand with all four feet stopped, neck flexed, and no pressure on the halter to stay in the flex. Then I hold them there for a few seconds, rubbing all over their body. Drape the lead rope over their withers in preparation for the next step.
Staying put while you change sides: With the neck flexed, lead rope over the withers, walk to the other side of your equine moving around their body by walking towards and around the front of their body.
Yielding the hindquarters and giving to pressure: Once you are standing at the shoulder of the opposite side that your equine is bent to, take the lead rope and drape it down and around the hindquarters. Then hold the lead rope against your hip incase their is a little confusion that they have to work out on the first go. Cluck signaling to your equine to move their feet. They should feel the pressure of the rope on their hindquarters and their face. They should give to the halter, following the lead rope, and give their hindquarters, moving them away from the side that the lead rope is wrapped around.
Catch their momentum into a lead: Finally, as your equine is rounding out of the pressure of the lead rope, follow their hindquarters. You should be moving with your equine after they take the first steps. Then keep walking into a larger circle while your equine unwinds. They will end up following the pressure then eventually be following you once the pressure is naturally released from the movement.
I love this exercise and it has done wonders for all of the flighty equines that have worked with. However, I cannot stress how important it is to work on the INDIVIDUAL PIECES FIRST. Otherwise you will likely confuse your equine and inflame the problem. Make sure they know how to move from pressure, give to pressure, and have had some desensitization with ropes around their hindquarters. I Hope you find this exercise as helpful as I have!! Check out my instagram page, @mjonesequine, for a video of what the exercise should look like. Follow me to see progress and updates on all the Jones Equine, equines!