Using the rail!
I use the arena a lot in the early stages of a horse’s training, as a tool to teach the horse skills. For example: I want to teach a horse to learn to follow his nose. What do I mean by that? Good question. You have probably noticed that a young horse or a poorly trained horse, will wander from side to side, in the arena or on the trail. This is because of two reasons. One, the rider does not really know where he or she wants to go, or, two. The horse does not know how to walk in a straight line.
The way I use the arena to help with this skill is, to put the horse on the rail and focus my attention on the far corner. That’s where I want to go. If the horse comes off the rail I will put him back on the rail by correcting him with my reins. As the horse gets better at this skill I will start to use my outside leg to encourage him to move back to the rail. If that does not work, I will again use my reins to put him back on the rail. It takes a little while, the magic pill, but it won’t be long before the horse understands what I want. If I notice him coming off the rail a lot, I have to ask myself the question: What am I doing wrong? Not: What is the horse doing wrong? Most of the time I have noticed that if my focus is not on the far corner, or where I want to go, my horse will lose his focus and start to wander off the rail.
You will want to do this both directions. As you work on this skill take your time, but expect more and more as you go along. Don’t settle for “ok” forever. You have to have a place to start, but once your horse starts to get the hang of it, expect him to do it better and better each time.
Use the arena as a place to learn, not a torture chamber. If you will, your horse will make real progress.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.