Leg Aid Sensitivity - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 15 Old 12-15-2011, 03:20 PM
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Such good replies! I think you all said most of what I would have said.
Let's see, is there anything different I can addd . . .

Well, first of all, as a beginner you are probably gripping the horse more than you need to , so you are already applying more leg pressure than is "nuetral". the lesson horse knows this and is good at tuning out the "grip of death" that newbies ride with. However, it will mean that to make an aid feel different, you have to make it, well, . . . different.

That mean that it must be either a stronger squeeze or have some kind of movement to it. I like the use of a bit of movement. So, when I put both legs on, like to ask the hrose to trot off from a walk, I kind of put them on in a way that feels a bit like "plumping a pillow" between my calves. So, I lightly bump the horse, :"bump, bump, bump" . This has a more enlivening action than a hard squeeze. Some horse dislike being squeezed between your calves and will suck back behind your leg. You'll learn to recognize that feeling over time.
But, you liven up your horse by livenning up yourself. So, along with putting a LIVE leg on it, you think "let's go!" and you kind of mentally add energy to your seat and mind. I know it sounds woo-woo, but it works!

Another way to put a leg aid on that will feel different is to "brush" your horse's side with your ankle. This feels very different from nuetral and should get a reaction from the hrose.

Getting a reaction, or as I say, "a change" is what it's all about. all aids are meant to signal that the horse make some sort of change. There is nothing that says you can't experiment a bit with puttting your leg on a bit more forward, backward , heel in, calf in, ankle bone on the side of horse, whatever ,. . .and just see what sort of "change" you get from the hrose. Trial and error.
Eventually, both you and he will remember what got the best change and you'll repeat that aid.

Horse's arent like a machine, that there is certain buttons that always get certain reactions. They are trained to have predictable reactions, but some work better in one way, others in another.

Riding looks so easy but is MUCH deeper than it appears on the surface.
When I first started Dressage, I aske my teacher, "How long does it take to become a good Dressage rider?"

"At least Ten years" was her answer!
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post #12 of 15 Old 12-15-2011, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the excellent pointers. I've saved it all. A lot of it is stuff I've started to work on with my instructor but the more different explanations the better. I'm feeling a lot better about my leg aids than when I started, even though it's only been about 6 lessons. He is moving away from my leg a lot of the time, from what I consider a light-medium pressure. So I must be doing something right. Also working on the seat thing.

I'm also really glad you posted in general, and I saved your website for future reference. There's a chance I might move next summer to small town MB, SK or AB, so if I end up close to your area you might get a new student.

Tinyliny, more great things to think about. I try to think about one thing every lesson, so I noted the thing about figuring how much I'm gripping for one of my future lessons. I don't think I'm automatically squeezing too hard at this point, but I can see how doing less in neutral would make light aids clearer. And transitions - yep, gotta figure out the energy thing. Haven't really had a lesson specifically on transitions, but that will be another thing that we work on.

Overall, I'm so glad I got the instructor I did. She's really suitable for my needs and I'm feeling improved after every lesson. We did some small serpentines at a trot last time and my steering and balance were pretty good, if I do say so myself.
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post #13 of 15 Old 12-15-2011, 09:07 PM
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I just want to throw this out here.. when I first rode this mare, I had no idea how hard or soft my leg aids were. But when I got on [my current horse] the first time while I was strictly training him, I could feel every tingle my legs did. And I have really weak legs.

I think the more the horse takes up your leg, rather than you compensating by having shorter stirrups.. the better you can feel what you're doing. But as you get better with riding, you'll be able to feel your leg or at least tell how much pressure you are applying. =)

One horse wasn't fitter than the other, but I didn't wear half chaps either.

It does come down to feel though.. paying really close attention to how 1 pound of pressure feels versus 5 pounds of pressure versus 10 pounds of pressure.

What you COULD do, is if you find one of those medicine/yoga balls, sit on it and squeeze with your legs a little.. then a little harder, then really soft.. and try to tell the difference.

You'll get it! You've been given such wonderful advice already, but I wanted to leave this tidbit.

Good luck!! :)
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post #14 of 15 Old 12-15-2011, 09:26 PM
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Having a good instructor is so very, very important. I havn'et had lessons in a long time, but my original dressage instructor was pretty good and I credit her with getting me started well. Just haven't taken it very far, that's all.
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post #15 of 15 Old 12-19-2011, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharpie View Post
Right now, you're paying attention to twentymillionone things at once.
This is probably the crux of it. When I started riding my brain almost tripped a breaker with the overload of stuff that it had to process.

A year later, many things are simply automatic and my awareness of what my body is doing gets finer and finer with time on the saddle. It will happen to you too.
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