Stay Free in the Stop

Use your feet the right way when stop­ping your horse.

Horse & Rider - - Practice Pen Private Lesson - By Casey Deary, With Jen­nifer Paul­son Pho­tos by Jen­nifer Paul­son

Many rid­ers don’t re­al­ize the in­flu­ence their feet have on their horse when stop­ping. Tight, bracey feet make for a stop with those qual­i­ties—and that’s not some­thing you want when be­ing judged in the rein­ing pen or any­where else that re­quires a stop. No one wants to get lawn­darted, dash­boarded, or slammed into the sad­dle when stop­ping.

Here I’ll out­line key body-po­si­tion point­ers, fo­cus­ing on your feet, to get a free, loose stop that slides far­ther or at least keeps you from land­ing on your horse’s neck. Prac­tice in a bit that your horse re­sponds to, and ride with one or two hands, whichever helps you feel com­fort­able and get the best stop from your horse. →

maybe even send me fly­ing for­ward out of the sad­dle, if he stops hard enough!)

3I com­pare this po­si­tion to slid­ing on the kitchen floor while wear­ing socks. I can run and get a good slide, but if some­one is hid­ing be­hind the re­frig­er­a­tor and throws a back­pack on me from be­hind, I’ll lose my bal­ance. When I run to a stop and jam my feet for­ward, push­ing my up­per body back­ward, it’s as if I’m throw­ing that back­pack on my horse and putting him off bal­ance. I force his hind feet to en­ter the ground right at that point, whether he’s ready to stop or not. I also push his back down, which is the op­po­site of what I want in a good stop; I want his back to be nice and round. Our tim­ing is off, and he’ll have to re­gather him­self to at­tempt to stop again on my cue.

6Ouch! By push­ing my feet be­hind me, I’ve tilted my body for­ward, right onto the sad­dle horn when my horse stops. My dis­com­fort aside, my horse has to try to keep his front end mov­ing for­ward with ex­tra weight on his fore­hand. He’s try­ing, but it’s not an easy task.

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