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thenrie 09-15-2012 12:10 PM

Question for western trainers re leg pressure cues
I have been handling and training my own horses and for friends and family, for many years, but I have no certifications of any kind and I only train for trail riding. I recently watched a youtube video showing a fellow training a reining horse. The leg cues he was giving confused me. I began to think that maybe I'm behind the times on leg pressure training. He was repeatedly pulling the horse's head around to the left while repeatedly bumping with the left spur just aft of the cinch at the same time while the horse was standing. I have no idea what he was trying to accomplish. Seemed to know what he was doing, though. In his commentary he did not say what he was teaching the horse, only that he was teaching the horse to respond to a cue.

The cues I have always taught are the following:

Right calf pressure = left turn, more pressure = tighter turn.
Left calf gives the right turn, as above.
Right heel ahead of the cinch = front quarters left. hold head lightly with reins gives the spin
Left heel = front quarters right, etc.
Right heel pressure on the cinch gives left side pass and vice-versa
heel pressure behind the cinch moves the hindquarters.
Hard sit-back and feet forward in the stirrups gives the stop cue.
Squeeze with both calves says a little faster either forward or backward
Two quick squeezes in forward progress says "trot"
Slight lean forward and a good squeeze says "Canter"

I combine voice commands with all my cues, including kisses and clucks.

What am I missing?

thenrie 09-19-2012 09:02 PM

Nuthin, huh. Guess I'm doing ok, then.

Creampuff 09-19-2012 09:04 PM


I'm just as confused as you are! I've barrel raced, pleasure rode (walk-trot and country pleasure), and trail rode... And all of your cues, I use. All of cues used by the aforementioned trainer? I think I'm as clueless as you are!

Copperhead 09-19-2012 09:15 PM

I'd be interested in seeing the video so maybe I could make an educated guess.

smrobs 09-19-2012 09:33 PM

I do much the same way as you, thenrie, though I don't get quite so complicated with mine....or maybe I'm just as complicated but in a different way LOL.

The way I teach leg cues, the horse is to always move away from the leg, what part of the body he moves depends on other cues I give.

Left leg + left rein (neck rein) = right spin or turn on haunches
Left leg + pick up light bit contact + left rein = sidepass to the right
Left leg slightly back + slight bit contact = move hindquarters only over or forehand turn
Slight squeeze equally with both legs = walk
Slight bumping motion equally with both legs = trot
Slight squeeze with both legs + forward seat + left leg pressing slightly harder farther back = lope departure on right lead.

Everything is the exact same with the other leg to go the other direction.

Of course there are many other things I do that get a lot more intricate in regards to bending and straightness or picking a shoulder up or suppling their neck and ribcage but everything I do is a combination of reins, legs and seat.

Cherie 09-19-2012 09:36 PM

Inside leg is used to get bend around that leg or to push a horse forward into the bridle. It also helps keep a shoulder up and out of the way.

Reining cues are very sophisticated. Different horses need more or less emphasis in different places. Starting and training aids usually differ greatly from cues used to elicit the correct response from a 'finished' show-ready horse.

I would have to watch the video to decide if the trainer was asking for bend or 'bumping' the horse up into the bridle more so that it would maintain sufficient forward impulsion to sustain a turn-around of several revolutions.

If you are really interested in getting into reining, find a reining trainer in your area and take a few lessons or at least ask if you can watch some of the schooling. There also are several very good video series by top trainers. Tim McQuay and Shawn Flarida both have video series out. The NRHA has a lot of information out there.

Norma M Sutton 09-19-2012 09:47 PM

Cherie reining cues sound more like what I was use to using in basic dressage. The little mare I have now was trained as a western trail mount. It took me about a month to realize it wasn't her it was me causing her turning problems. I was taught right leg to move the barrel left and right rein to move the head to the right side. Still using the arm and leg on the same side, but when I would press my left leg to her she expected to move to the left and I was expecting her to move to the right ;P We finally got it worked out and now are on to other things :)

PunksTank 09-19-2012 10:05 PM

Thenrie - I have no idea - I've always done things how you describe. can you post the video link?

thenrie 09-21-2012 01:56 PM

I'll try to find the video link again. It was just something that came up while I was looking for something else.

Cherie: Thanks for that nice explanation. From what you said, I think he was training the horse to bend around his leg. I think I'll take your advice and find a local reining trainer who will let me watch and ask questions. While I'm not a professional trainer, I enjoy training my horses very much, and I think I do a fair job of it, at least as far as a solid trail horse goes, but I'd like to know more and get better.

And thanks all for the responses. Don't know what happened the first time.

thenrie 09-21-2012 02:31 PM

Found the full video clip. Apparently the one I saw first was only a clip out of this video. In this, and other videos, he fully explains what he is doing (all though I find it hard to keep up with him). It is Doug Phipps. He has a bunch of videos out on Youtube, offering free training tips for the rest of us. Way above my level, but I love watching him work the horses. He never lets them lose focus. Always firm, consistent, but gentle in his handling of the horse.

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