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Laying Proper Groundwork: The Jog

There are plenty of times when your horse may be expected to follow a jog order. While a well trained horse will not have any problem responding properly, thus lending an enviable fluidity of motion to both trainer and horse, the ill-trained animal may be unsure of how to proceed, making the movements look jerky and perhaps even gaining a reputation for being improperly trained.

Jogging is a portion of the groundwork that is sometimes neglected in favor of the more important disciplines, yet in spite of this it is crucially important. At some competitions, especially those that judge for soundness, jogging is an important discipline in its own right. Judges actually prefer to evaluate a horse’s soundness by allowing the animal to jog, and if your animal falls into the hunter breeding class, you will be sorely disappointed if you do not lay this groundwork early on. As a matter of fact, if your horse has to be dragged instead of jogging on its own, the animal presents itself ill at ease and even unsound.

Another useful application of jogging occurs when you are asking your farrier to find out which is the most beneficial way of shoeing the horse. Veterinarians like to see the horse trot so as to ascertain if there is lameness and to what degree it is affecting the animal. If your animal has not been taught to jog, it will be as difficult for the horse to do it as it would be after a joint flexion. If your animal falls into this category, do not give up! Instead, return to teaching the animal the basics that will enable it to walk next to you with its moved a little forward of your shoulder. Staying in this mode with a loose shank will add grace and efficiency to its movements. You will not have to expend much time and energy on this, and as a matter of fact it should only take a few hours of practice with a halter, chain shank and a three feet long whip.

The chain will need to be put over the animal’s nose – for sensitive animals you will want to use the halter’s noseband as a cushioning device – and the whip is supposed to only be utilized for tapping encouragingly on the animal to urge it forward. In now should the shank or the whip be considered paraphernalia of aggression against the horse! While standing to your horse’s left side and slightly ahead of it, you will condition it to listen to your voice command and walk forward. It the horse fails to obey, you reach behind you with the whip to tap the horse encouragingly on its side. After a while the animal will understand that it is to walk beside you at voice command. Pulling the horse forward with the halter and shank are counterproductive, since they are to be guides only. The next step is to teach the animal to trot. A voice command accompanied by a cluck will help the horse to differentiate the voice command for walking. Repeat as often as needed to ensure that the animal will be trained to obey your voice command.

Read the next horse health tips article on Joint Pain.
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