The Pessoa (pictured) is a popular tool that can encourage the horse to step up. This can be easily adjusted. Always start loose and be aware that some horses really hate the part around their rump. If they kick too much it can end up under their tails, which they also don’t like, so introduce it in a safe place and go slowly.
I particularly like the chambon. You can make one easily with a piece of sash cord, two snap clips and two pulleys. If buying one, make sure there is plenty of adjustment. As you know it is the release of pressure that trains the horse. The chambon has three fixed points: the girth between the front legs, the poll and the bit. When these three points come into a straight line the pressure is the least. So the horse is rewarded for stretching forwards and down into the contact. This is very different from the side reins and Pessoa, which can reward a horse who comes behind the vertical and drops “behind” the contact.
As with all pressure-release training, sometimes you have to apply enough pressure that the horse wants give to the pressure. There are times that you might want to explain to the horse that he needs to give forward and downwards, by shortening the chambon. This is especially true for horses that have learned just to lean on the contact, for example, in retraining racehorses.
I hope this introduction gives you some things to play with. There are lots of other aids, ways of setting up the reins, and exercises you can learn. It takes just as long to lunge a horse simply for exercise as it does to lunge a horse to help him learn about the contact, improve his balance and strength and teach him the specific voice commands, which make it easier to understand what you want — so why not do the latter!
Have fun. EQ
READ MORE BY DR KERRY MACK:
Dressage for Showjumpers – Equestrian Life, May 2021 issue
23 Shoulder-In Exercises to Improve Your Horse – Equestrian Life, April 2021 issue
Understanding Your Horse’s Inner Thoughts – Equestrian Life, March 2021 issue
Make the Most of Your Seniority – Equestrian Life, February 2021 issue
Building Better Relationships – Equestrian Life, January 2021 issue
Whipping Up Controversy – Equestrian Life, December 2020 issue
The Importance of a Trusting Relationship – Equestrian Life, November 2020 issue
Welcome to Kindergarten for Foals – Equestrian Life, October 2020 issue
The Carrot or the Liquorice? Positive Reinforcement – Equestrian Life, September 2020 issue
Submission or Stress? Something to Chew On – Equestrian Life, August 2020 issue
A Relaxed Horse is a Happy Horse – Equestrian Life, July 2020 issue
The Literate Horse Rider – Equestrian Life, June 2020 issue
Why Horses Love Ingrid Klimke – Equestrian Life, May 2020 issue