This is a widely misunderstood exercise, and while it appears in some form in most natural horsemanship programmes, it is rarely fully explained and important points are sometimes missed. The one-rein stop, done correctly, is a powerful and effective way to control the horse safely, and to help it to relax and focus on the rider.
Firstly, when the horse's head is held around to the side, its neck is bent and can no longer act as a balancing pole. This means the horse cannot buck or rear. If it tries to run forwards, the hindquarters will simply run in a small circle around the forehand, so it cannot bolt. This is like putting your car in neutral - the engine has been disengaged from the wheels. The horse realizes that it cannot flee - and therefore it is extremely important at this moment to reassure it. This is a position that will represent safety to both horse and rider, and could save both your lives in a crisis! It's the emergency brake, if you like!
Second, it focuses the horse's attention on the rider. This is one of the reasons why it is important to get the eye turing to you, not just the head or nose. If you just get the tip of the nose, you'll still be able to stop the horse in an emergency - but you are not really getting the mind. It's then a mechanical process, not a psychological one. It's important to teach this exercise as yielding to your request so that you are engaging with the horse's mind, and not lure the head around with food treats, for example, as in the "carrot stretch".
Thirdly, a curious phenomenon about the one-rein-stop is that the more you practise it when you don't need it, the less the situations arise when you DO need it. This is an exercise that cannot really be practised too often.
Prepare the exercise on the ground, then transfer the exercise to the saddle.
All information and excercises provided on the DVD and booklet, as well as on this website, have been compiled with the utmost care by long-time professionals. Nevertheless, errors can never be totally excluded. The authors and producers reserve the right not to be held responsible for the topicality, correctness, completeness or quality of the information or content provided. Liability claims regarding damage or injury causes by the use or non-use of the information provided, including any information that may be incomplete or incorrect, will be rejected.
The exercises should only by practised when both rider and horse are in good physical and mental condition. Never try to practise when you are sick, emotionally unbalances, stressed or under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances. Children, unskilled, and physically or mentally disabled persons need supervision and support by an experienced, responsible person or horse trainer. Correctly fitting and appropriate safety clothing and equipment should be used at all times.