The 1 Percent Rule with Jacob Anderson

by | Jan 22, 2023 | Horsemanship & Training, Working Cow Horse/Cutting

WHOA [Photo: Scooter N Shootem Photography]

It happens. We attempt to work at something whether it be horse training, learning how to rope, or playing sports. Ultimately, when one tries to master a skill (unless you’re above the 99th percentile in prodigy status), we may take some steps backwards.

Sometimes having an appetite for achieving greatness, can become a curse when it comes to horse training. So, what’s the mystery to the delicate line, trying too hard and not enough when it comes to horse training?

Jacob Anderson says he trains by the 1 percent rule. “If you can get 1 percent progress from any horse you get on, any ride, then you’re not going backwards. Horses’ progression and skills are just that, a progression. Rome wasn’t built in a week, and neither is a solid, confident, and broke foundation on a horse.”

To relate this to real life, let’s take a ride on ‘Clyde’ — one of Jacob’s reining cow horses. He is young, broke, and collected. Has a record in the show pen, yet ready to conquer any event that is thrown at the gelding from the roping, barrel, or mounted shooting pen.

Anderson beginning the ask of a spin [Photo: Tisa Peek]

DHM Question: When it comes to asking him to move forward with collection, how do we ask?

“I ask simply by making myself conscious about it, as I add more leg pressure and ask the horse to crawl forward. More leg pressure means go faster. When I take my legs off them, they better be thinking go backwards,” explained Anderson.

Essentially when the horse is thinking backwards, their stops become fluid and not ‘front-endy’. They use their body correctly when their mind and body are in the right place for a stop.

DHM Question: So how do we start to get that response with softness and confidence?

“Keeping a horse collected and belly up has nothing to do with your hand at all. Think — ‘skinny’. Keeping that belly picked up and driving his hind end up through. My hand is kind of just showing them direction, but its my body that rounds them up and it’s my own body that has to bring the horse up.”

Anderson demonstrating think skinny by rolling back up [Photo: Tisa Peek]

When a horse is collected, by most superb horseman’s definition, their body is round in the back, their hind ends are driving them forward almost as if you can imagine the feel of a motorboat pushing that water out of the way. All blending the smoothness and balance that comes to be the ultimate result.

Working slow and asking for a conscious 1 percent improvement each ride actually puts your horse training on the fast track, rather than fixing problems and setting yourself back months by getting into a ‘match’ or disagreement with the horse.

Words that the Anderson uttered through the ride were, “Get something done that day and be done. Did my horse engage that back in the trot for the first time? Did he take the spin initially with the first ask on a light rein? Did your horse respond to your feet out of him and drag to a stop softly?”

Soft and Supple [Photo: Scooter N Shootem Photography]

These are just a few instances that can occur and then be done for that ride. “Build on this little by little, add the speed only when the softness is managed at the slower gates. You’ll be surprised how much your training progresses when you have a conscious mind set to reach 1 percent,” confirmed Anderson.

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