“There’s plenty of connection, but no results.” Martin Black

By , December 24, 2013 12:36 pm

This was a 4 day clinic, with 12 horses in the morning, and 12 more horses (a little more advanced in the afternoons). I loved Martins content & style of teaching and got some really useful stuff out of this to practise as home. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.



Bay Pony: “You do not want the role of the horses ‘mum’. It’s too dangerous for horse to come to you / push into you every time they’re unconfident.”

• If you build up pressure (during a cue) slowly, to ask horse to do something, you’re actually de-sensitizing the horse, not teaching it what you wanted the cue to achieve.

EXERCISE: Walk in circle. Tap with stick on ribs when he looks away.)

“Are you afraid of her?”
“You should be. She has no respect for what you’re doing.”

Horse ignoring person, looking out arena and walks into person! It’s dangerous for you.

Horse at halt, then steps into human. “I would take that as a threat.”

Big change. Horse now listening, different body shape.

Horse walked into person. Person MUST back her up. “This is not punishment, this is saving your life.”

“Horse does not come into your space unless you ask her to.”

• Piebald

Circle – HQ yield – 1 step back – to yield now going to other direction.

• Big Chestnut

Coming into the person when not asked a bit. On circle, horse bending neck to inside but not giving their attention. Do not step back. Do not yield to your horse.

Trends in a lot of the horses this morning:

1. On circles horses looking out, not paying attention to human.
2. Horses taking step or two, unasked, into human.
3. People taking a step backwards out of horse’s space.

• Piebald

Circle: HQ – backup – FQ – circle.
Backup step is REALLY important. It means the horse isn’t pushing in on you.

Horse not always listening, human to be more effective. GET the backup step

• Skewbald

Trot on circle.

Issues: Person doing all the work and the horse coming towards human without permission. “Your space has no value to her!!!”

Horse needs to go back upon suggestion. If not, tap with rope/stick to make it happen.

• Piebald Mostly Black

Again: Horse’s attention outside of arena. Horse pushing/stepping into human, not keen to step back.

“There’s plenty of connection, but no results.”

People are nagging the horses and desentising them instead of being effective and sensitive.

• Piebald Small

Very slow and relaxed. Horse again stepping forward then turning, MUST use backwards step. Woke up FAST when Martin took over. Martin only picked up up the rope and horse changed completely.

• Black Horse

Same things happening. Backup is missing + horse is pushing on the person.

• Chestnut Pony

Horse walks in a circle when mounting, its’ a problem. Martin takes the lead rope and stands beside the horse and does the following:


1) The horse is listening to him
2) Martin rocks the horses back/body towards him while horse is standing still, horse braces and plants in the spot. Zero movement now, no more walking.
3) Martin does not bend neck. Bending neck can throw horse off balance and get their hindquarters moving.
4) Martin gets up. Horse stands like a rock.


=== Get lateral flexion both sides, from light rein cue, at halt.
=== Small circle with HQ yields as you slowly walk.

These 2 things will keep you safe.

THURSDAY P.M. – New horses – advanced afternoon group.

Student Q: “I want horse to have more impulsive(?) and get off forehand.”

Martin A: “What are you doing to cause that?”

“There’s a difference between getting a horse relaxed, and getting a horse confident.”

“If you want horse’s head to go left, put your weight on the right.”


• All riding small circles
• Put weight in outside stirrup. Outside shoulder is now lower.
• Encourages horse to look in to counter-balance rider’s weight.
• [Do not drop inside shoulder]

“A horse has nothing to brace against, unless you’re braced.”


– Do circle and put your weight to the outside.
– Now change weight to inside of the circle. To stay balanced the horse will now turn his head to the outside, and change direction.


Right fore to stay still. Do HQ yield.


Right fore stays still.
HQ to the right.
NO forward steps.


Left fore stays still.
HQ to left.
NO forward steps.


Step right front.
Do HQ yield around it.
One step at a time.

HQ yield: “they’ll move their hind end a lot easier if you get (your weight) off of it.”

Do quarter turns.

• If you want horse’s head to go right, you’re weight must be on left.
• If you want HQ to go left, and head to right, your weight on left,off fore stays still.

3 Areas to Look At:

1) Does horse know his job – know how to do what’s being asked.
2) Horse has to be motivated.
(listening, willingness)
3) We need to stay out of their way.
(e.g. don’t whack horse on rump when he’s about to go into horsebox)

Weight always on opposite side to the way the nose is tipped.


“When we annoy and aggravate them enough that the look at the arena door, then we really have nothing.”

“If you want to know where your horse isn’t broke, speed him up.”

“Always ride with purpose.”

“I don’t know any fear a horse has that doesn’t refer to containment.”

“If they can’t take fright, then they fight.”

Scary stuff:

If 2 ears are up, they’re investigating. Leave them alone. When 1 ear comes back, you can move a bit closer.

“Don’t sit there with 2 ears back. Then they’re bored.”

“I wouldn’t pet like that. I think that’s offensive to a horse. Horses can learn to tolerate it.”

“I don’t worry about a horse moving. That’s a good opportunity to direct them.”

“What I see in the English world, they teach equestrian, not horsemanship.”

Food – If you feed it into them, you got to ride it out of them.

“Young horses need space – to gallop a distance and burn off energy. To run till they’re out of air.”

“I practice so my horses are just as free going backwards as forwards.”

“That horse is bothered. That’s why you have a hold of him. That makes him more bothered.”

Instead, relax him. If horse goes faster do HQ yield.

Horse now gone from fast walk to relaxed walk.

“Accuracy is more important than speed.”

“A horse uses his head and neck to balance.”
(Your weight is left = horse’s head right.)

“This isn’t English riding, this is horsemanship. They are 2 different things as far as I understand.”

Poor timing is what brings a horse’s head up. Not high hands. Horses have good headset until we get on them and start affecting their balance.

Halt. Count to 6. Trot at ‘6’.


“I haven’t seen an English rider who can stop their horse. With cows, you need to be able to stop.”

Martin: “I never had a riding instructor.”

“Any discipline can be lacking in horsemanship because they’re too focused on what’s proper.”

“A lot of people feed their horses to the point where they’re not safe.”


To slow, relax the reins, sit back, knees up a little.

Horse yawning: releasing endorphins. “That’s a good sign.”

Ben’s horse was hard to bridle. Issue was it was a bit clunky taking bridle off. This horse didn’t want it on again.

1) Take it off very gently. Do not let horse escape doing this.
2) Put it on without horse escaping. Stand at near side.
Put it on mainly off the side. This will entice horse’s head to you if they want to escape.

Goal: Horse not to try to escape.

• Horses should pick up bit themselves.
• If not, rub bit over teeth (I THINK), horse will open teeth and mouth, then take up the bit.

To Stop Square:

1) Walk
2) Slow walk
3) Stop on required leg
4) Horses tend to stop square


When front shoulder starts to come up, hind foot on same side is just landing.

Stop on left hind foot. So when stopped, left hind is further ahead than right hind.

Forequarters yield on right hind, going backwards (tricky).


¼ or ½ turn.
Then rest / walk out and think about it.

EXERCISE FOR WORKING A COW: (360 degree turn)

¼ turn forwards on right fore.
¼ turn backwards on left fore.
¼ turn backwards on left hind.
¼ turn forwards on right hind.


• Horse chomping on bit – not good
• Some horses don’t like copper in bit

Martin likes loose ring snaffles. D Ring can hit teeth. So prefers ring snaffle.

It’s your hands that’s gonna make the difference.

A horse will resist pressure if it doesn’t understand how to get a release.”


“If a horse isn’t 4 years old till he sees work, that’s fine with me. They come out much better in the end.”

Noseband should be halfway between eye and nose. DO NOT have it too low, over the cartilage.

Bosal: 5/8 raw hide (3 wraps ideally), good middle of road. When you move back of bosal on nose, front of bosal shouldn’t move on skin in front of nose.

Saddle: 13” seat = kids
16” / 16 ½ “ = the biggest adult


Collection has nothing to do with head position. It’s when the horse rolls his pelvis under hind feet wide, weight on hind feet.

What’s the purpose of collection?

If you get a horse collected and then just ride round the arena, what’s the point? It’s like being in a race. 3, 2… you get ready to run… get collected… but ‘1’ never comes. You never actually get to go racing.


If I let the horse jump the jump himself, he jumped it better. He can judge it better than me. [Don’t get in your horse’s way.]

“The horse is the final judge and jury. If it doesn’t work for the horse, it’s not right.”

“Why 2 wrinkles? Just keeps pressure on horse’s mouth. It just desensitizes horse.”

Tongue over:

• Low bit, horse can sort it out
• High bit, horse can’t get tongue over
• Middle bit is neither high nor low – that’s a problem: can’t fix it

(You’re pulling too much) If bit pinches, horse can put tongue over bit to ease discomfort – stop pulling on him, find another way to ride.

Horses get 32 new teeth between ages 2 and 4 ½
Horse can get most of his training then
Allowed to have a day off
Definitely need 4-6 months dentist check
A lot going on in horses’ teeth that affects how he’ll train

Contact is when the horse acknowledges your feel (he’s listening, he’s ready to do something).

A steady pressure builds resistance. Soon they’re pulling on you.

“What annoys a horse is when you don’t have a purpose.”


• Walk
• Count 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…
• Stop with the off fore is forwards on 1 (last fore leg to hit the ground)

(Last step is a half-step with right front. Then square halt.)


Count to 3.

Want responsive horse. Need feel.


2 steps walk (left, right)


5 steps trot.
2 steps walk.

= Better to stop short and add extra steps, than to go further and get hauled backwards. “Get more communication so you have more control.”


Pick target ahead of you.
Stop with right foot on target.


5 steps trot.
5 steps walk.
Pivot on right front foot.

“If what you’re doing isn’t working do something different.”

“Take lots of time, so your horse knows exactly what you want.”
(When pivoting on feet)

“You’re horse is doing exactly what he thinks you’re telling him.”

“If you’re getting too much it’s because you’re doing too much.”


Step on right front – Do not stop. Keep hindquarters moving.
180 degree yield.


5 steps trot.
5 steps walk.
Step on right front.
Pivot backwards around right front.
(Keep hindquarters moving, all 1 fluid motion.)

When moving front leg sideways: it must go forwards then sideways, OR backwards then sideways. A horses front leg can’t go straight sideways. If hindquarter is stepping out, you’re blocking front shoulders too much.

If you pull too much the hindquarter will move while doing the forequarter yield.

“Quit looking at horse’s head. Focus your concentration on what you feel.”

“If you can get your horse to pivot on every foot in any direction, it’ll help you in everything you do.”


Stop near hind foot.
The forequarter yield around it (back with other hind foot)
(Keep forequarter moving)


Pivot on front left backwards ¼ turn
Pivot on front right backwards ¼ turn


Do ¼ hindquarter yields (sit forward on saddle) both ways, then ask for backwards.

• Weight out of seat bones (off the hindquarter)
• Ask them backwards

“Speed doesn’t do any good without precision. It just gets you to the wrong place faster.”


“What happens is people don’t do enough. It’s just as wrong to not do enough, than to do too much.”



• There’s no good excuse to get on a horse when they are leaving. (Or tack up, or pick up feet)


• Do hindquarter yields to the right and left until you feel front feet move back a little
• Then ask for backwards

EXERCISE: Take 5 steps with hind feet, starting with right hind. Then canter as right hind foot is forward.

(Going right)

Horse not to lean to right or left
Don’t lean forward. Give horse pre-signal.
Sit on outside hind.

“You need a little anticipation.”

Think of pushing a ball in a swimming pool. You need to get behind it.

• Have some anticipation
• Suppress it
• Then release it

• Don’t lean forward when you’re slowing down (e.g. canter – walk)
• Think about bringing your chin down to your pelvis. Roll your pelvis, round your back.
• (Don’t lean back a lot)

To canter: Sit on outside hind.
Use leg to prepare for canter: Then release reins to canter.

As inside foot leaves the ground, let him go into canter initiation.
The outside hind leg landing is the follow-through.

Lean to the outside of the turn.



Walk and count down 5 steps..

5 – right foot
4 – left foot
3 – right foot
2 – left foot
1 – right foot

Pivot on stopped right front foot, going forwards 180 degrees


• Walk
• Back 180o around right front foot
• Walk


• Walk
• Park right hind
• Go forwards in forequarter yield around it
• Walk

Hindquarter yield: Ride the hind end to the front. Get hindquarter to come under them more.


• 3 steps trot
• 3 steps canter
• 3 steps trot

If horse wants to go the other way:

• Stare at spot in distance
• Ride straight to it
• Be specific

• Before you pull/bump, take slack out of rein.
• Precision first (slow, 1 or 2 steps) than speed.

• Pivot on hind foot going forward: exercise
• If other hind foot is going out to the side (unwanted) use less bend in the neck to stop this movement.

• On circle, weight on outside, outside shoulder down

• If no lick + chew = not enough difference between pressure and release. It’s just nagging.

• Walk up to a pretend cliff and stop dead.

• “I’d rather go for more than was needed, rather than less.” (to fix an issue)


• Pick 2 points, 1 further away than the other, Like looking down gun barrel
• They’ll keep you straight and accurate

Transition to:

CENTER: Ask just before outside hind hits ground, so horse knows for when hind foot hits the ground.


• Have pre-signal / ask nicely (no slack in the rein)
• Get it done. Do not nag.

Backing around a hind foot is the trickiest.

• Do my “walk, 180o turn on fore, with no reins”

• Martin: “You guys are amazing”

• Slow down
• Get it right
• You’ll get to where you want a lot faster


• Walk 5 steps
• Trot 5 steps
• Walk


• Walk 5 steps
• Trot 5 steps
• Walk 5 steps
• Pivot forwards on left hind foot
• Walk

Martin: “That wasn’t straight.”
Ben: “The line I would have been on was straight.”

(On riding a wobbley line) lol.


• Pick a line (2 points)
• Reins up, slack and about 2 feet apart
• Look where you’re going
• If horse goes outside 2 feet, push them back with outside leg
• Don’t over-correct
• If horse rushes, use rein to slow
• Horse should follow direction of eyes or horse gets moved by outside and too fast? Slow with reins. Or when off course, pickup hands higher which is uncomfortable.

To Stop:

• Trot
• Ask for stop nicely
• Count down from 5 (1 is last step)
• At 2, pull hard on one rein
• Horse stops, let him relax, long rein
• Change direction
• Or keep doing rollbacks

1st signal to stop: Tighten your abdominal muscles and roll your pelvis

• When doing backup, hind feet should move first. How? Do little hindquarter yields.
• Don’t lean back!

Any mistakes / things that don’t make sense are 100% me! if you like this post, please share it with your friends and lets get the word out about this great horsemanship. Thanks!

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