Cross­fire Co­nun­drum

Horse & Rider - - Private Lesson -

When your horse falls out of lead be­hind, you might be tempted to fo­cus on ma­neu­ver­ing his hind end, which makes sense. But you might not think about the im­por­tance of con­trol­ling your horse’s shoul­ders to pre­vent crossfiring. With­out shoul­der con­trol, your horse starts to lean to­ward the cow with his front end and swings his hindquar­ters out, which sets him up to cross­fire, lose bal­ance, and pos­si­bly fall. Here, I’ll show two shots on a cow—one cor­rect and one that’s head- ing off track. I’ll then of­fer tips to de­velop hindquar­ter and shoul­der con­trol.


I’m in a safe po­si­tion here, with my horse on his left lead in front and back. My horse’s in­side hind leg reaches deeply un­der­neath him, al­low­ing him to drive for­ward and stay in the cor­rect arc to con­trol the cow. This also al­lows me to sit balanced in the sad­dle and sup­port my horse how he needs it. If I have to make a sharp change of di­rec­tion here to stay with my cow, my horse is balanced and able to ful­fill that re­quest.


This sit­u­a­tion could turn bad quickly. My horse’s shoul­der is clos­est to the cow—that is, he’s lean­ing into the cow. This makes it easy for my horse to change leads be­hind and swing his hindquar­ters away from the cow and his shoul­ders into the cow in­stead of main­tain­ing the de­sired arc. My horse knows he wants to be with that cow, so it’s nat­u­ral for his front end to grav­i­tate to­ward it. But with his shoul­ders lean­ing in to­ward the cow and his hips slip­ping away, he might lose his ground and fall. Ad­di­tion­ally, be­cause my horse is un­bal­anced, so am I. This com­bined means it’ll be hard for us to turn or switch sides when I move to cir­cle the cow the op­po­site di­rec­tion.


To work on the front and hind ends, I re­move the cow from the equa­tion and fo­cus on my horse and his re­sponse to my cues for body con­trol. Both parts of this drill can be used as part of your warm-up rou­tine or to cor­rect your horse when he cross­fires on a cow. Here and in Photo 4, I work to con­trol my horse as he’s look­ing in­side my cir­cle of travel, where a cow would be. I tip his nose to the in­side by lift­ing my in­side rein. My feet drive my horse for­ward and help con­trol my horse’s hind end.


Here you can see how my left hand lifts and pulls back to­ward my hip to tip my horse’s nose to look where the cow would be. This also lifts his in­side shoul­der up and away from the cow. My right hand works in a sup­port­ing po­si­tion and helps con­trol my horse’s hips. If I pull back on my right rein, I can keep my horse’s hips from swing­ing to the out­side. You can see that my out­side foot is slightly be­hind the cinch and drives my horse for­ward to sup­port my hands’ cues. This puts my horse in a C shape around the cir­cle, which is what I want when we’re circling a cow and keeps his hind end en­gaged and in lead.


Part two of the ex­er­cise helps if your horse wants to lean into the cow. This can also lead to his hindquar­ters swing­ing out, which can cause crossfiring. The point is to be able to keep his hind end en­gaged and in lead while mov­ing his shoul­der away from the cow. With steady for­ward mo­tion, I tip my horse’s nose to counter-bend, so he’s trav­el­ing away from his nose. He’s look­ing at the cow. My di­rect rein hand con­trols the de­gree of the arc, and my in­di­rect rein guides my horse’s shoul­ders away from the cow (to­ward the cam­era).


From this an­gle, you can see that my out­side foot is still placed be­hind the cinch and drives my horse for­ward on the counter-arc. It pushes his hips to­ward his head, sup­ported by my hand po­si­tion, to make the counter-arc. All of this comes to­gether to keep my horse in lead be­hind, even when I have to move his shoul­ders away from the cow.

1 4


2 3 5 6

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.