One of the things we teach our horses is to stop if the rider falls or shifts weight too much.

Now I now of some trainers who will actually fall of the horse when teaching it to stop.  But at my age, I don’t want to chance a broken bone, plus, I’m not that fond of falling.  So, I devised the next best thing,  balancing a pool noodle on the horse’s back. 

This is Poppie.  She is new to our program, so on the few somewhat balmy days that we had over the winter, I worked with her in our “Horse Boot Camp”.  Here I am making sure that she will stop if the rider comes off.

Pool noodle on Poppie’s backThe first thing I do is put the pool noodle on the horse’s back in the saddle area. 

Walking with a pool noodleOnce the pool noodle is balanced, I lead the horse around the arena.  Usually we start with a nice slow walk.  I lead in the normal position, but try to watch the pool noodle as it wiggles on the horse’s back.  How the horse walks and its back movement will determine how long the pool noodle will stay on the horse’s back.

Pool noodle fallsSooner or later, the pool noodle will fall off.  When I see it slide, I immediately stop walking and ask the horse to stop.

Surprisingly, it only takes two or three falls of the pool noodle before I see the horse “trying” to keep the pool noodle on its back and stopping on its own when the pool noodle falls.

Does it work?  Last summer I had a child pass out on the horse.  The horse was standing still at the time and I was giving instructions on the next exercise when I saw the young boy fall forward.  He did not fall off, and looked like he was hugging the horse.  The horse did not move, did not get startled from the sudden forward movement.  She just stood there.  She didn’t even move when three of us adults were taking him off. 

I feel fairly confident that if a rider came off, our horses would stop in their tracks.

NOTE:  I just saw an ad for a video teaching this technique with a deflated inner tube.  The inner tube sits on the horse’s croup and hangs down the tail.  In my opinion, this is not quite as effective as the pool noodle technique because the inner tube is not in the area where the rider would sit.  BTW, the cost of the video (with other tips, I’m sure) was only $59.95.

If you liked this training tip, and would like to see more of my methods of kid-proofing horses, drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to add them.