How to Teach a Horse to Do a Sliding Stop

Four Parts:Approaching the StopGiving the CueComing to a StopFollowing Through

Horse reining started when cowboys had to teach their horses to obey the slightest commands to perform specific actions. Common reining movements include circles, flying changes, rundowns, backups, spins, sliding stops, rollbacks and pauses. The sliding stop is a special trick in which your horse lowers its hindquarters as it comes to halt. There are four components to a sliding stop: the approach, the cue, the stop, and the follow through.[1]

Part 1
Approaching the Stop

  1. 1
    Have your horse reach a good, balanced gallop.[2] Before a horse can execute a successful sliding stop, it must build momentum by galloping. The horse’s gallop must also be balanced so that it does not lean to one side or turn as it slides to a stop. If your horse’s gallop is off, work on correcting it before you begin training it for the sliding stop.
  2. 2
    Keep the horse balanced.[3] Your horse should reach a relaxed gallop, running forward with good alignment and no obstacles or problems.[4] It should be pushing forward with its hindquarters, since these will provide the momentum used for the sliding stop.
  3. 3
    Maintain your own balance.[5] Your job is help guide the horse as it approaches the sliding stop. Keep your body squarely positioned on the saddle, and your arms straight and forward so that the reins are kept loose for the horse. Your legs should be against the horse, helping to signal to it that it needs to keep straight and balanced.
    • Don’t pull your shoulders or body back as you begin the stop. This may make your horse “skip,” or lower its body, then raise it again before lowering it a final time.[6]
    • A galloping horse has considerable momentum; if you don’t maintain your balance, you may flip over the front of the horse as it begins to stop.

Part 2
Giving the Cue

  1. 1
    Train your horse to react to a cue. A horse should be trained to do a sliding stop upon your command. You can start by making sure that your horse understands the cue you give to ask it to stop.[7] Depending on your horse, this cue may involve a call (such as “Whoa!”), a slap, a kick, a repositioning of your body or the horse’s reigns, or a combination of these.
  2. 2
    Reposition your body as you give the cue. When you are ready for your horse to attempt a sliding stop, you should move your body in several ways.[8] These movements, along with your cue, signal the horse to lower its hindquarters and come to a stop.
    • Use your body to push down on the saddle.
    • Drop your heels.
    • Pull your legs slightly away from the horse’s sides.
  3. 3
    Condition your horse to respond quickly to your cue. A sliding stop essentially asks a horse to stop quickly, so work on getting your horse to respond rapidly to your command to stop. Keep practicing, and whenever your horse responds quickly, reward and encourage it.

Part 3
Coming to a Stop

  1. 1
    Have the horse stop. To complete a full sliding stop, the horse should round its back and lower its hindquarters toward the ground, while the front legs stay loose and in motion.[9]
  2. 2
    Don’t pull back on the horse’s reins.[10] To successfully complete a sliding stop, the horse should come to a stop on its own.[11] If you yank back on the reins, you will be forcing the horse to stop. This will make the movement seem jerky and/or stiff.
  3. 3
    Analyze the horse’s stop.[12] You should observe your horse’s stop from the vantage point of the saddle. It may also be helpful to have another person on the ground to observe the horse’s form, and your own. Look for the following:
    • The horse’s back should be rounded as it stops.
    • The front legs should continue to move in a “walking” motion as the horse stops.
    • Your own legs and hands should remain slightly off the horse.

Part 4
Following Through

  1. 1
    Work on the follow-through. The follow-through in this case is the end of the sliding stop, in which the horse and rider come to a complete stop. This should be done fluidly and with balance.[13] If you are the horse seem to jerk or lose balance at the end of the sliding stop, keep practicing it until it becomes smoother.
  2. 2
    Maintain your body position throughout the follow-through.[14] As the horse completes the sliding stop, keep your own body position unchanged. Your hands and legs should remain firm but not tense. You should keep a hold on the reins, but not pull back on them. All of this will encourage your horse to come to a smooth stop.
  3. 3
    Have the horse raise itself back up as it completes the sliding stop.[15] By keeping your body and the reigns loose, your horse should be able to gently and smoothly raise its hindquarters up again at the conclusion of the sliding stop. Afterwards, you and your horse can halt, or proceed to the next reining movement.


  • Most horses are capable of doing at least a two-foot slide; some can do around twenty feet.[16] The length of a slide depends on a number of factors, including the horse’s talent and physique (horses with long legs have an advantage), the ground quality (loose, fluffy dirt is best), the horseshoes the horse wears (nail heads should be countersunk), the horse’s speed, and how the rider cues the horse. You can keep training yourself and your horse to attempt longer stops.
  • If you want additional help in teaching your horse to do a sliding stop (or in learning how to teach your horse to do one), look for a horse training academy in your area.[17][18]

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Categories: Horse Training