Sidepassing using the round pen fence is the next step to making it easy to further the teaching of sidepassing to your horse. This is the true or traditional sidepassing (with the aid of a fence). This is a main component of body control foundation or western performance horse development.
Once Yield Hindqtrs has been well understood, (see previous articles in this series) sidepassing is merely the horse being able to sidestep straight and perpendicular to the fence rather than just the hip as in yielding the hindqtrs. (The horse isn't asked to walk on either as in the previous article).
Sidepass Using Fence
The horse is asked to walk parallel along the fence, and then to sidepass (using the fence as a guide). In other words, the horse is asked to move their entire body (cueing the horse at the ribcage & hip, ribcage & hip, ribcage & hip) straight sideways while facing the fence.
When the horse has successfully sidepassed a step or 2, the horse is asked to stop perpendicular to the fence as a reward.
It's a great reward for them to be able to stand there facing the fence and rest. They will know that this means they have done the right thing. "It's the release of pressure that teaches them what you want. They will crave that reward and look for it time and time again."
Straightness is Key
Straightness is very much emphasized here in this exercise. It teaches a horse to be straight in all that they do. As Jack Brainard would say: "Straightness is everything".
So if you want to work on straightness, this is a good exercise to do.
Sidepass Without a Fence & Sidepassing in an Arena
Once the horse has progressed to sidepassing gradually farther and farther away from the fence, the horse can actually be weaned off the fence completely.
So after some time and several different incremental exercises later, the horse can effortlessly perform the sidepass without any fences. It's just a matter of time and practise.
Sidepassing everywhere, is a good habit to get into.
Sidepass on the Run....
Say.... some months have passed now and you and your horse are experts at sidepassing all over the place and you're looking for a challenge.
Now you can add more speed to your sidestepping.... Time for the advanced dance steps!
Now is the time to start sidepassing at the jog, trot & lope. I would recommend going back to the round pen or a small enclosed area and then gradually progress your way up to a big outdoor area.
Please be patient as the horse needs time to develop the strong muscles necessary to do this at speed.
For more information on sidepassing, see Horse&Rider, Mar.09, Clinton Anderson Do-It-Yourself Training article, "Simple Sidepass" pg. 37
And again, Bob Avila's video on Sidepassing.
Update: See Horse&Rider, July 2010 article titled Western Dressage by Al Dunning & Lynn Palm pg.64.
I will give an update on Trigger in my next article.
Questions and comments are welcome.
If you need help with any of this, please contact me.
Putting my spin on Sidepassing, Body Control and Western Performance Horse Development!
©Copyright KISS Reiners