For this discussion we will assume that the horse is doing a descent stop at a slow lope. When you say “Whoa” your horse will consistently stop in one stride and slide a couple feet. Now it’s time to start building on that. (If your horse isn’t doing a simple stop like this, he’s not ready to be stepped up. Get a solid foundation on him first). There are several different factors that influence the length of a horse’s slide. They are:

o The horse’s natural ability and aptitude for stopping.
o The ground the horse is stopping on.
o The way the horse is shod.
o The horse’s rate of speed when going into the stop.
o The way the rider cues the horse for the stop (how the reins are worked, rider’s posture, etc.).
First, let it be clear that just about any horse can do a nice little two foot slide on good ground. It’s another thing altogether for a horse to slide 15 or 20 feet. If you want big time stops you need a horse that has the ability and desire to stop.

You’re not going to get the job done on just a so-so kind of horse. And if you try to force a non-stopper into becoming a big-time stopper you’ll find your training sessions becoming too harsh. You’ll end up with a scared horse that still won’t stop well consistently.

How do you know if your horse has the aptitude to be a good stopper? If it was relatively easy to get him to stop well at the trot or slow lope, chances are you won’t have much of a problem advancing the stop. (Providing you do it gradually and the horse has the necessary strength to hold a hard stop).

On the other hand, if you had hell getting him to stop at the trot or slow lope, you’re going to have more hell trying to get him to stop from a faster pace. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it to put yourself or the horse through that kind of ordeal.

Let’s talk about how the ground affects a horse’s slide. It never ceases to amaze me how normally intelligent people can’t figure out that a long slide ain’t gonna happen on bad ground. So, for the sake of clarity let me describe what good sliding ground is. Good sliding ground consists of a hard, packed base that is smooth with two or three inches of loose, fluffy dirt on top.

The advantages of this kind of ground are obvious. The hard packed base gives the horse something solid to slide on. Without it the horse’s feet would dig in the ground too deep thus shortening the slide. The base must also be smooth. If there are any ruts in it a horse’s feet will catch in the rut.

Again this will shorten the slide or worse, injure the horse. It’s important the ground on top of the base be fluffy and loose. Here’s why. This top ground needs to soften the concussion of the feet entering the ground and hitting the hard base. Without a soft cushion to absorb the shock the horse will get sore.

Another reason you want the ground loose and fluffy is so the horse can easily plow through it while sliding. If this top ground is too deep or too heavy it makes it too difficult for the horse to slide very far. He’ll need to be awfully strong to hold a slide in deep, heavy ground. Here’s a tip for improving your sliding ground. Add rice hulls or shavings to the dirt. This will really fluff it up and make it light.

The way your horse’s hind feet are shod will have a lot to do with how well he slides. Sliding shoes are mandatory. They are made of tempered, flat bar iron, one to one and a half inches wide. The wider the shoe the less friction (or grab) on the ground and the longer the slide. There are limits though.

If your horse won’t slide with one and a half inch shoes, you probably need to put more iron in his mouth instead of on his feet. The nail heads are countersunk so they set