I tried searching for a thread about teaching your horse to respond to leg pressure but I couldn't find one. I apologize if there already is one. Anyway! Koby hasn't been responding to leg pressure very well since I have started working him again. How do you get a horse to be more sensitive to leg pressure? I ride Western BTW :) Thank you!
First ask with your leg. Then ask with the leg and a verbal cue. Finally ask with leg, verbal cue and a smack from the reins or a crop.
Leg = ask
Leg + verbal = suggest/tell
Leg + verbal + smack = insist/demand
Keep repeating in that order and the horse will learn to move off the leg instead of waiting for the rest to happen. When you smack, don't let it be a light one. Let it be firm enough to show the horse you mean NOW. It doesn't have to be hard enough to cause pain but enough so he knows you mean business.
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^^ What usandpets said.
Also - don't nag with your leg. Once you get the response you want quit asking. Let him know he's done right by removing pressure.
How long has he had off? And have you been riding in the meantime? I often lose precision in my leg and seat aids if I have a break from riding and find I'm communicating in a confusing manner for the first 15-20 mins or so before I correct myself.
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+1 on all that. Only difference is that my trainer tells me
Leg = ask
Leg + Kick = firm request
Leg + Kick + Crop = demand
My gelding decides, from time to time, that he doesn't need to pay attention to my leg aids. Doing a transition, spending only a few strides there, doing another one, spending a few strides there, etc. usually gets his attention back to the job pretty quickly.
Also +1 on the "don't nag". I have trouble with this myself, so I have heard the instructions approximately 1,000,000 times: put the aid on, take it OFF, wait three seconds for the desired behavior to be produced, and be prepared to escalate the request immediately if you don't have results in 3 seconds. 3 seconds turns out to be a surprisingly large amount of time.
You can help your horse make transitions with timing. Learn to feel the complete arc of the hind leg from when it leaves the ground, it's highest point and again as it touches the ground. You will need someone to stand and watch and correct you but you will eventually learn by the feel of the hip. It is much easier for the horse to respond to the rider's leg when his hind leg is in the correct part of the arc.. eg. It is easier for him to step into a canter/lope just as his outside hind leg is leaving the ground. It completes the arc and can drive off that leg for the canter. (I see this in my mind yet hard to describe).
Thank you for your advice everyone! I have been reluctant to use a crop because I've never really had to use one before, but it looks like I might have to. I'll keep you guys posted on our progress! :)
My trainer just insisted on my carrying a crop, because of that whole "my gelding decides from time to time that he doesn't need to pay attention...". Mine has a nice wide popper that makes a good noise without making much of a sting at all. I haven't been able to whack my own thigh hard enough to get a sting from it. When I first started carrying it, my boy was in a little slump, and I had to use it several times whenever we rode. After about a week, though (I ride 5x per) I haven't had to use it at all. He sees I've got it, and apparently that's enough.
If the major surgery didn't kill his ability to sense pressure around the girth, and he's demonstrating that he can move out appropriately on the lunge line, I think this is probably a test of some kind. He hasn't forgotten what he's supposed to do. Horses are really, really smart that way. I bet he's just checking it out to see if he still needs to.
Where you place your leg, will also determine how your horse is supposed to respond. Using your legs doesn't just mean "go", it entails how your horse uses his body as well. Leg aids will be pretty spread apart in the beginning, if he doesn't know how to respond to them, but Once he knows the cues, your leg placement can get closer together, but for training sake, put those cues further apart, so he can distinquish easier. Ask-tell-demand, as has already been suggested...light pressure, to more firm.
Now if you are wanting the horse to move his hips over, you want to be asking near his rear cinch while you are teaching him to respond to that cue. If wanting the right hip to move, push the left side, if wanting the move the left hip, push the right side.
If wanting to move the shoulder, place your foot a little ahead of the front cinch at the beginning of teaching to move the shoulder. If you are wanting to move the left, push the right side, moving the right, push the left.
If you want to move the body side ways, push the horse's side right behind the front cinch. Use the right side to move to the left, left side to move the right.
That's the way I train my horses, and once they 'get it' I move the cues closer together, until they are eventually very close together, and you don't even really see the shift in leg cueing.
I didn't read every response, but I work on an 'ask, tell, demand' cycle. I carry a crop on my inside hand and first ask with my leg gently (with as subtle as I aspire to reach in the show. If no response I tell, aka give a kick and slight rein (depending on what in asking), if no resoponse after that I tell...meaning I use my crop , rein and leg. The second I receive the respoinse, the reward comes and oi release pressure.
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