John Richard Young: Shoulder-in technique requires time, attention

(© John Richard Young. First published in Arabian Horse Express September 1990. Thanks to Yvonne Welz and her archives at Image of François Robichon de La Guérinière and student, “L’Epaule en Dedans” (Shoulder-in) by Charles Parrocel.)

Last month I expressed my negative opinion of the shoulder-in as an efficient schooling exercise, particularly when attempted by the average, semi-skilled rider. I gave reasons for my opinion and quoted other horsemen who agree with me.

However, I do not expect everybody else to agree with me, nor would I presume to force my views on those who prefer to think differently. I would rather help them, if I can, in pursuing the way they wish to go with their horses. Therefore, the following remarks about the shoulder-in are addressed to fledgling trainers who, for whatever reasons, elect to follow in the footsteps of tradition regardless of what I think.

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John Richard Young: Too much circling in basic training is a common error

(© John Richard Young. First published in Arabian Horse Express, April 1990. Thanks to Yvonne Welz and her archives at Illustrations by Johann Elias Ridinger, “Trot on the line to the left” and “The School Trot on the line in the circle to the right”.)

A common error in basic training is riding a young, green horse too much in circles. Some western trainers in particular believe that “circling never hurt a horse.” But it can, if it is not interspersed with a lot of work on long, straight lines.

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John Richard Young: The Key to the Horse’s Mouth is Hidden in the Rider’s Hands

(© John Richard Young. Article first published June 10, 1991, Arabian Horse Express. Thank you to Yvonne Welz at for this article via her John Richard Young archives. Painting, detail, Anbetung der Heiligen Drei Könige, Gentile da Fabriano (1370-1427 ).

One of the most skilled horsemen I have ever known schooled every horse that passed through his hands in a double bridle from the very first lesson under saddle. It made no difference whether he was starting a green colt or reforming a spoiled horse, or what the horse’s ultimate specialty was to be. He started and finished the training in a Weymouth bridle.

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Roy Allen Yates: Step Aside…Teaching Your Horse Lateral Movement [NOTES FROM KM: Western master of lightness Roy Allen Yates (1930-2010) rode into my awareness on his QH stallion Tidys Chirp in San Juan Capistrano almost 20 years ago. He was giving a weekend clinic and it was an eye opener for certain. Trained by Roy, Tidys Chirp happened to be an AQHA Performance Champion with Superior Awards in Reining, Western Riding and Western Pleasure as well as a Register of Merit in Trail. At that time, Tidys Chirp held (and still may hold) the world record for the longest sliding stop of 66 feet. In a western saddle and western curb bridle, first Roy did a demonstration of reining and then he put Tidys Chirp to the sliding stop. They kept sliding and sliding until I thought they might go out the arena on the other end. Roy then excused himself for a 10-minute break, and to our amazement re-entered the arena on a proudly prancing Tidy’s Chirp tacked up in a dressage saddle, double bridle and dressage whip, and together they treated us to a demonstration of classical dressage, although I didn’t know what that was at the time. The horse was in perfect self-carriage, which I also didn’t know anything about at the time.]

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Charles Owen Williamson on Collection: From Range-bred Broncs to High School Dressage [CONTEXTUAL NOTES FROM KM: Charles Owen Williamson’s name (1894-1977) was on everyone’s lips through the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s as the “go-to” Western trainer and instructor for riding across the disciplines. “Dr. Williamson is that rarity of rarities-a Western horseman who has had a wealth of experience in handling ‘wild’ horses, range-bred broncs, and yet understands the benefits of elementary, secondary and superior dressage, and can put them effectively to work. No theorist, he has spent a lifetime practicing what he teaches,” explains some of the flap text on his famous book “Breaking and Training the Stock Horse (and teaching basic principles of dressage)”. (First published in 1950. My copy is sixth edition published 1976, Charles O. Williamson, Hamilton, Montana. Illustrations by Carl Hoobing and Sherman Hayes.)

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