difficulty steering please help - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 09-15-2012, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Question difficulty steering please help

In the 2 weeks I have had the opportunity to ride 6 different horses and the experience has me confused. On some of the horses I do perfectly well but on others I can't seem to steer them where I want to go with any accuracy. Does anyone have a good description or a good video on what your hands and legs should be doing when you steer? Thanks.
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post #2 of 15 Old 09-15-2012, 09:04 PM
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I pull very gently on the inside rein and use outside leg A LOT. If she is still continuing to not listen, I'll gradually increase pressure on the rein. I'm just generally not someone who uses much rein. Its all about leg pressure in my opinion for most trained horses. Sometimes you get the stubborn ones though!
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post #3 of 15 Old 09-15-2012, 10:42 PM
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The best description I've heard on how to steer a horse:
The reins control the horse's head and neck, your legs control the whole rest of the body.

So turning an abrupt left and right you just pull the equivalent rein. But to steer more appropriately you can use your legs. The horse will always move his body AWAY from leg pressure. So if you want the horse to face straight but move left or right, use the opposite leg. Apply pressure with your left leg to move the horse right and vice versa. When making a turn what often helps horses is to apply pressure on the same leg as your hand, as it bends his body around your leg and following his nose.

For moving him straight and over to one side - Picture your feet with walls extending out to the point of the horse's shoulder all the way to the point of his bum, you need to shift those walls to control which direction the horse is going. Or when bending the horse around a turn, picture your leg as a pole you're trying to wrap your horse around, so make it solid all the way to the ground and you need to use your rein and seat to wrap him around your leg/pole.

I hope that helps, and remember always start with the softest version of any cue and slowly increase the pressure, the moment the horse responds appropriately release pressure. It's the release that teaches the horse, not the pull. :)
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-16-2012, 12:03 AM
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A lot of the "problem" is the difference in training the horses have had. Also it can be from their attitude. Some horses are just plain stubborn.

As others have said, the horse should move away from leg pressure. That is if they have been taught that. Some horses aren't taught leg cues and are just plow reined or direct reined. It all depends on who trained and how they trained it.

Generally, I start with looking where I want to go. Next I put leg pressure on the side away from where I want to go. Turning left, right leg. Turning right, left leg. Finally, I make contact with the rein in the direction I want to go. Left to go left and right to go right.

Not all horses will follow the same cues unless they are taught those cues. When trying out different horses, it is a learning game at the beginning to figure out how to communicate between you and the horse. In time with consistency using the same cues, the horse will learn what you want.
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-20-2012, 03:34 PM
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Assuming horses are not highly trained, since you are riding them and this sounds like a beginner question, turn by:
  1. "Opening" (over your knee, NOT back) rein in direction you want to go
  2. Slightly stepping more weight into the stirrup in the direction you want to go
  3. Turn head and shoulder in the direction you want to go. For tight turns the outside rein may have to come a bit more forward that just turning your shoulders would allow - but don't throw away the outside rein - keep contact at all times.
  4. You might have to press outside leg a bit behind the girth to move horse in direction you want to go - but here you have to be cautious because that can also be construed as a canter cue.
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-20-2012, 03:42 PM
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maybe the horse is trained to neck rein. you would need to ask the owner.
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-20-2012, 03:56 PM
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In my opinion, steering isn't actually rooted in hands or legs, it's in your seat. It sounds like you have concentrated on legs and hands and haven't really built up your seat so that you use that as well. But a horse also has to have a fair amount of saddle time as well, and with someone who uses their seat for them to work well as a team.

Yes, you want to use your inside leg slightly, but your reins should be minimal. When you want to turn, first look in the direction you want to go. Find a spot on the wall, letter if you are in a dressage arena, knothole, whatever and physically look that way with your head. Next you want slowly bring your belly button to be aimed at that knothole while maintaining correct posture and keeping your hips as aligned as possible, (however they will come a little out of alignment if you are riding with your horse's motion)...pretend you have a laser pointer stuck in your belly button and you want that laser to point at that knothole. By now you should feel a slight pressure on your inside seat bone. If you can imagine that you are trying to use your seat bone to push your horse's hip bone around...It takes practice. Remember you still need to sit up tall and not let your inside shoulder fall in. If you get the chance to work with the same horse for a while, eventually they will get to where you barely have to use seat and leg and they will just know you want to turn. It takes a LOT of practice and a LOT of core.
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Last edited by Cinnys Whinny; 09-20-2012 at 03:59 PM.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-21-2012, 04:27 AM
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I think that giving the "proper" or "correct" way of turning a horse is getting off topic. However, it does give examples of what I was saying. It all depends on how the horse was trained.

You could try to turn our horses with your seat. You could go so far as grinding your seat bones into the saddle but they wouldn't respond. You put your leg to their side and they would turn. Are my horses trained wrong? No, that's how I want them. Could they learn it? Yes, but usually we have less experienced people riding them and it's hard enough for the riders to get the simple basics of reins and legs to then try and get using their butt. Especially when the rider has never rode before. If I was riding just one horse and was the only rider, maybe then I would get them more advanced to riding with the seat. Also, with six horses, I don't get to ride each very often or on a daily basis. So I'm fine with where they are at.

So if you are riding different horses, trained by different people, there will be differences in how the horses respond to the same cues. Generally, a horse should be able to understand how to turn with just the reins. How well they respond will depend on how much training they've had and how much effort that's been put in to get them to give to pressure.
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-21-2012, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by usandpets View Post
I think that giving the "proper" or "correct" way of turning a horse is getting off topic. [/i][/size]
I beg to differ. This is not off topic, the OP is asking for advice on steering and that is the advice that people are giving. This is a forum, we all have our voice and the OP gets to decide which advice works for them. It is not for us to publicly say someone's advice is good or bad unless it is detrimental to what the OP is trying to do or dangerous for them or the horse.

Part of becoming the best rider you can be is learning proper riding techniques. Most horses, even green will move away from the seat pressure as it is part of their instinct just like they move away from leg pressure. You can go to any reining pro, dressage rider, H/J and WP rider and pretty much get that you ride from your seat not by pulling on reins.
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-21-2012, 09:33 AM
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MDG. I do not like the use of the word 'steering' - it suggests you expect instant response from the animal between your thighs - and you won't always get that response. Perhaps riding six different horses in a short space of time showed you that.

The reins are a communication aid through which you ask a horse to respond to your command. If the horse doesn't understand what you have asked of it then you can yank the reins as much as you like but the horse may still decide that you are not a fit person to ask for anything. The more you yank on the bit, the more some horses will decide that you are cumbersome and incompetent.

Watch a Stacey Westfall video and see how a master - that's Stacey - works without a bridle or reins or saddle. She is working with her voice, her hands and her crutch. She is a very clever rider. If you have to model your riding on any guru - then choose her for starters.

Others on the HF will tell you the correct aids to use to 'guide' a horse.
Just remember the animal is doing the carrying, you are merely sitting up there in the saddle being carried wherever the horse feels like taking you - until you work out how to tell it where you want to go.

How would you like it if your tutor always spoke to you in Russian?
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