Being able to move every part of your horse’s body is very important when riding in any equine sport. If you can’t move a jumping horse’s body sideways while it’s in progress, you won’t have a direct approach to each jump. The same goes for a barrel racer, if you’re not in control of each part, you’ll knock over barrels and do too wide turns.
The horse has five main body parts. They are the head and neck, the nape, the shoulders, the rib cage and the hindquarters. It is essential that you have control over all five parts of the horse’s body on the ground and under the saddle. The basic groundwork lessons I’ve outlined above will give you control of all body parts on the ground. Here we will talk more about how to move all the parts while driving.
head and neck
The head and neck are probably the part of the horse that most riders and trainers predominantly focus on. Many riders want to put their horse in a head game and forget about the rest of the horse’s body which directly influences the horse’s head to be in the right place. Horses need to push off their hindquarters and lighten up the forehand that fits properly into the horse’s body so that he can then carry his head in a nice comfortable position. Before you can do that, you need to gain control of each of the body parts.
To begin with, every horse needs to be taught to laterally flex from side to side. Slide your hand down one of the reins, grasp it about halfway through the bit, and then gently pull it up to your hip. Start slowly at first and don’t ask your horse’s neck to bend too much. Prepare for your horse to move its head all the way around the arena around your circumference. Do this on both sides.
When you can bend your horse’s head slightly, you can move on to lifting both reins, shortening them to make light contact with your mouth, and asking your horse to lower its head and tuck its chin in. Just release the pressure when you do. even a little. Then he will learn to flex on the poll. This is vertical bending and is directly based on lateral bending. As you begin to teach your horse to walk, you can help him by squeezing with your legs while applying pressure with the reins. It’s a different type of pressure than the leg pressure you use to tell your horse to move forward.
This type of pressure should be a little tight with the heels and calves, but with the toes pointed to the sides a little more than normal so that you can use the heels correctly. This is different than when you squeeze your legs to your horse’s sides as a signal to move forward because you are asking your horse to lift his back with your heels. When you ask your horse to move forward, you should keep your toes pointed forward, toward the horse’s ears. The same is true when you ask your horse to move any other part of the body with the leg aids.
Shoulder control comes primarily from the legs, but there are some rein assists that can affect them as well. Placing your leg in front of the girth and squeezing, for example, with your left leg to move the shoulders to the right and vice versa will move your horse’s shoulders to the side. Remember that when you ask him to roll his shoulders to point his toe at you. This will make your help more effective.
A rein that will move your horse’s shoulder in the same way is a split rein. To use an opening rein, hold a rein on each rein, then to move your horse’s shoulder to the right, turn your right wrist as if you were turning a key in a lock, in the direction you want it to walk. . Hold this position with pressure on the rein until your horse finds the correct answer and rolls his shoulders. Once you do even one step, release the pressure and slowly add more steps.
the rib cage
Being able to move your horse’s ribcage to the side allows you to set it up for changes of direction, preform taming maneuvers, and lateral passes. When you start to teach your horse this lesson, it is easier to start by having your horse face a fence to help block forward movement. Ask them both to get better at moving sideways. You can conduct the lesson away from the fence. To ask for lateral movement; look in the direction you want to go, say the left, apply pressure with the calf and heel of the right leg. Remember to keep your toes pointed when you ask him to cross. Once you move just one step, release the leg signal and look straight ahead. If your horse gets confused, keep applying your assists until he even thinks to move in the right direction, he’ll catch on and you can slowly move forward and add more steps to the sides.
The hindquarters are the most important part of the horse to have control of, as they act as your emergency brake if your horse gets spooked, runs away, or bucks. When you feel insecure about your horse, bend your horse’s head to the side as I described above. This move allows you to control your horse’s head and neck, as well as its hindquarters. By bending your head and neck, you unhook your horse’s hindquarters and that puts it in a position where it can’t run away, buck, or back up.
Moving the hindquarters is also important for changes of direction, dressage maneuvers, barrel racing and much more. To move the hindquarters to the right, apply pressure with your right calf and heel behind the girth. Your horse should cross the right hind leg over the left hind leg. To help your horse if he is having trouble moving his legs, you can tilt his head to the right and then ask him to move his hindquarters. Once you’ve taken a step, release the pressure with your leg while keeping your head bowed until you stop moving your feet completely. Then let go and start over. Soon you can ask him to move his hindquarters only with the signal of your leg.
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