The cowboy wipes the sweat from his brow with his forearm and then plops his cowboy hat on his head to shade his eyes from the brilliant setting sun. With a heavy sigh, he pats his loyal horse on the shoulder, getting a swish of a tail for an answer. He steps into the stirrup and swings up into the saddle and sit for a while, enjoying the sunset after another long day of branding, and  scans the field of grazing cattle. He smiles and picks up the reins.

Sooo, how’d he pick up the reins? With one hand.

If you still have the coffee mugs and extension cord out, we’re going to see how. With one hand, scoop up both cords into your palm and close your fingers over the cords. They should be coming out over the first finger/pointer and dangling down out of your hand from the little finger. That’s it. That’s how he is holding the reins.

Now, move the hand to the right, imagining the cord/rein touching the horse’s neck… now left. That’s neck reining.  The touch of the rein to the neck signals the horse to turn left or right. Now, bend your wrist in toward your belly button…that’s stop.  This should be very gentle and subtle because of  all the other aids we’ve learned. (legs and weight).

So, to turn left, our cowboy nudges one  calf/leg  into the side of the horse (not in the flank.That is too far back). He shifts his weight back and right in the saddle as if to let the horse go around him. and reins to the left with his hand   Wanna go faster…lean forward (Don’t move the hand forward; it will go  forward naturally), and gently kick with the heels.   Wth hours in the saddle, all this become as natural as breathing to both horse and rider.

Here is a video of bridleless cutting horses. Note the rope around the horses’ neck. The cowboy uses this to ‘neck rein’ the horse toward the cow he wants to separate from the pack. The cow, being a herd animal, will try to get back to the group. It is up to the horse to keep him away…enjoy watching cutting horses at work. It’s fun and hold on….

So, a bit about riding Western… but riding is riding all the same, head up, shoulders back, hips under ya, heels down and hands belly high.

“Let’s go, Scout. Chow’s awaitin’,” the cowboy says. The horse swishes its tail and moves forward as the cowboy tips his hat to you and rides off.