Trail Tip of the Week: Hitting The Spot

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 3.21.34 is very excited to bring you new training tips from various professionals in various events.  Much like the Dana’s Training Tip of the Day by Dana Hokana, these will be quick tips sharing how you can improve your performance in Trail, Horsemanship, Hunt Seat Equitation, Showmanship, and Western Riding.

Trail can be one of the most fun events, but also provides a fair-share of tricky situations and is not for the faint of heart.  The popularity of trail has exploded in the past decade, and trail patterns are becoming more complex, and the quality of competition strengthens year after year. 

Working with APHA trainer, Blake Carney of Carney Performance Horses, first brought you his expertise in the 2015 March issue of Show Horse Today, “Hitting The Trail,” where he gave invaluable advice on making the most of the trail warm-up pen.  Now, he provides with great tips to take with you as you navigate your next course.

August 21, 2015- Hitting the Spot

The key for me is to pay more attention to where I want my horse’s feet to be, not the actual pole. Your goal is to place your horse’s feet BEFORE the pole, not on top of it. Finding the spot before the pole where you want to depart from will serve you much better than looking at the pole!


July 7, 2015- Teach Your Horse That There’s No Rush

Knowing your path and stride helps prevent rushing through obstacles. If you miss your rhythm, your horse might have to rush through just to save you! Rather than making sure you can do a ton of obstacles, set some obstacles out and do them one at a time. Treat the poles like they aren’t even there.  In other words, set your horse’s rhythm so they basically can’t miss the poles, like they aren’t even there! I also stop and stand a lot after an obstacle or during the obstacle when it comes to gates, backthroughs, and sidepasses. Teach them that “they don’t have anywhere to be!”


Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 3.19.27 PMAbout Blake-

Blake Carney specializes in APHA all-around events and is the owner and operator of Carney Performance Horses in Rome, Georgia.  He has trained numerous Youth and Amateur winners in PtHA and APHA events at a state, regional, and national level.





2 thoughts on “Trail Tip of the Week: Hitting The Spot

  • 11 July 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I just had a show this Friday and my horse snickers really likes to turn when I back her up and doesn’t respond very well. She does on some of her turn but backing straight up, she just doesn’t do it. When it comes to the gate, she knows how to side pass but decides to throw her head and not want to do anything. Also she always wants to rush out of the arena and gets all abnoixous. We gave her calming aid but it didn’t seem to help. What do you think?

  • 21 July 2015 at 9:08 am

    Hi Lizzy! We reached out to Blake and here’s some advice to try with Snickers:

    Although I haven’t seen you and your horse work, my first suggestion will always be to slow it down to a snails pace for a while. I am going to use the gate as as example for you to answer both questions about backing straight, and the gate itself.

    You mentioned problems with the side pass at the gate, and first I would like to suggest that you take side passing out of your gate plan. Walk right up to the gate and stand still with your hand in line with the gate. If you have a horse that starts fidgeting reaching for the rope, reach for it, don’t grab it, and just sit back square in the saddle (side note- these exercises can be done with no rope at all!) Next, back one straight step and stand for a while. Pay attention to your horse’s body language: chomping? Looking around? Take the time to make sure he or she is relaxed and patient or don’t move on. You will back until your horses shoulder is in line with the second standard (gate post). If you feel that your horse is backing crooked, usually away from the gate, keep your outside leg on with more pressure than your inside for each step. Once you are at the second standard, instead of moving body parts through, let’s simplify! Walk a U and keep forward motion all the way through until you are completely reversed, and straight, on the other side. Again, now we stand. After your horse is patiently waiting back straight (remember outside leg stronger as a “block”!!!) one step at a time, and once you know you can comfortably reach over and shut the gate, stop. Again, don’t hurry to hang the rope back. After you shut the gate, stand a little longer before you depart for your next obstacle. Good luck!

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