Communication in Horsemanship

Correct rein and stirrup lengths pave the road to success in horsemanship classes.

By Christine Hamilton
The American Quarter Horse Journal
October 28, 2013

Find the correct rein and stirrup length with help from AQHA Professional Horseman Jackie Krshka, Jean Abernethy illustration

Find your perfect stirrup and rein length with help from AQHA Professional Horseman Jackie Krshka in “Borrow a Trainer” in the November Journal. (Jean Abernethy illustration)

Correct stirrup and rein length enable you to feel and communicate with your horse and maneuver him through a pattern or whatever you need to do – that’s what horsemanship is all about. And a horsemanship pattern is a chance to show that off.

Performing a horsemanship pattern successfully is not about being the rider who makes no mistakes, can sit the most still and get through it. It’s about showing off your ability as a horseman to communicate with your horse.

“It’s essential to have this kind of communication to successfully perform a horsemanship pattern or to perform any advanced maneuver with a horse,” says AQHA Professional Horseman Jackie Krshka of Yukon, Oklahoma. “It’s impossible to achieve that level of communication if your stirrups and your reins are too short or, more commonly in our industry, too long.”

In the November edition of “Borrow a Trainer” in The American Quarter Horse Journal, Jackie explains her step-by-step procedure for finding the perfect stirrup length. Once a rider has the correct stirrup length, Jackie elaborates on the proper position for the foot in the stirrup, including the heel.

“Your stirrups allow you to step down in your heel and balance. You move with the rhythm of your horse, and you are not stiff: You rise and fall with the rhythm of the horse,” Jackie explains in the November Journal.

Next, Jackie moves on to proper rein length, which varies from horse to horse.

“Your rein length allows you to connect with your horse, riding with a feel in your hand,” Jackie says in the November Journal. She provides readers with advice for finding the correct rein length so you can “feel” your horse.

“Horsemanship is not simply about having a more perfect ride than anyone else in the class,” the legendary horsewoman adds. “It’s about being able to ride, balance your horse and communicate with him through hand and leg to get done what you need to do.”

Find your perfect stirrup and rein length with help from AQHA Professional Horseman Jackie Krshka in “Borrow a Trainer” in the November American Quarter Horse Journal

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