Mov­ing Off Your Leg

Horse & Rider - - Private Lesson -

Here I’ll break down the steps for teach­ing your horse how to move off your leg for a suc­cess­ful spin. While this par­tic­u­lar set of pho­tos shows me pre­par­ing for a spin, you can use this con­cept to help get your horse off your leg to pre­pare for lope de­par­tures or fly­ing lead changes.

It’s not nat­u­ral for a horse to move off of leg pres­sure, so it’s im­por­tant that when you’re work­ing on this with your horse that you re­ward him with a re­lease when he does move off your leg. When you’re first in­tro­duc­ing this ex­er­cise to your horse’s rou­tine, start with just one step be­fore you give a re­lease and let him re­lax. The softer and more re­laxed he be­comes, the more you can ask of him. One I be­gin by ask­ing my horse to side­pass to the right. I’m us­ing two hands to help sup­port my horse, and once I feel him step to the right and move off of the pres­sure from my left leg, I’m go­ing to re­lease to let him know that’s the cor­rect re­sponse. I’ll work this di­rec­tion un­til I feel my horse soften up be­fore ask­ing him to move to the left. If your horse is new to this ex­er­cise, stick with one di­rec­tion to avoid con­fu­sion. Once you’re happy with your progress to the right, you can start work­ing on go­ing to the left. Two As my horse side­passes to the right he be­gins to drop his shoul­der. To counter that, I lift my right rein up to block the right shoul­der from drop­ping and al­low his hip to catch up. I’m us­ing my left foot to en­cour­age my horse to move with for­ward mo­tion to the right, mean­ing his left front foot crosses over his right front foot, while my right foot stays re­laxed and open. Three Af­ter I can suc­cess­fully move my horse off my leg with­out his shoul­der drop­ping in, I up the de­gree of dif­fi­culty by set­ting him up to go into a spin. I’m still ask­ing him to move for­ward and off of my leg with his shoul­der stand­ing up, but have tilted his chin to the right, so he can start look­ing into the turn. Four Next I add more for­ward mo­tion to ini­ti­ate the spin by walk­ing a small cir­cle. I con­tinue to have my horse move off of my left leg, and I still have his chin slightly tilted to the right. As I do this I work on mov­ing my horse’s weight to his right-hind leg, so we can start a spin with­out any hes­i­ta­tion or suck­ing back. We must main­tain for­ward mo­tion. Five It’s im­por­tant that when you’re rid­ing two-handed you have the goal of rid­ing one-handed in mind. So once my horse can suc­cess­fully move off my leg with two hands,

I go back to one hand. Here I’ve asked my horse to spin to his right. As we start turn­ing he doesn’t have as much weight on the right hind as I would like, and he’s start­ing to drop his shoul­der. Six To fix the prob­lem in my turn­around, I stop my horse and go back to mov­ing him off my leg and ask him to stand up in his right shoul­der. You’ll no­tice my hand is lifted up and to my left to en­cour­age my horse’s nose to come back to the in­side and help block his right shoul­der from fall­ing in. I’m also us­ing my left leg to push his body and hip back over to the right; still leav­ing my right leg re­laxed so he has some­where to go. Seven Once my horse lis­tens to my hand and feet cues, and goes back to lift­ing his shoul­der, mov­ing for­ward and off my leg, and has his chin tilted to the right look­ing into the turn, I bring my hand back to the cen­ter of my body and pre­pare to set him up to spin to the right again.

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