Confusion about use of legs in riding!
I am new to all this so excuse my ignorance. I am extremely confused about using the legs when riding a horse. My grandfather who is a bronco champion told me to squeeze left gently and pull the left rein to go left. likewise, to go right, squeeze right and pull right. It seems to work well.
Since then I have read from various good sources that you should squeeze on the opposite side to the rein.
I am so confused and my horse is the victim of my incompetence so please help me!
Please explain your answer I need very detailed info sorry!
in one way of thinking, your grandpa is probably more or less right. the left leg and left rein can be thought of as the rein saying "go left" is a direct rein and the left leg squeezing could be thought of more as a firm support , around which the horse curves and moves his body, like curling around a pole. That's one way of turning.
If you were to use the left rein (direction) and the right leg (drive), the horse would move away from that "outside" (it's on the outside o the arc that you are forming toward the left) and would got leftward, but perhaps in more a pivot manner, swinging the front end over, rather than arcing around the inside leg.
all this is overly complex for someone who is just starting. A simple way to think of it would be to put both legs on just long enough for the horse to get some increased energy from that, and use the left rein to go left. that is pretty simple and for starters only. remember to look in the direction you want to go, and if you turn your upper body somewhat toward that, you'll feel your hips turn and it brings your outside leg a bit firmer agains the saddle.
Try that and see how that feels to you and the horse.
Howdy and welcome to the forum!
I will warn you in advance that I'm going to run off on a sort of educational tangent that may be confusing to you at this point. For the simple answer, skip to the bottom, in blue :wink:.
Really, it depends greatly on how the horse you're riding was trained. Some folks do train the way you are describing. HOWEVER, many folks don't and the worst part is that it can get so complicated depending on the type of turn you want; rollback, forehand turn, or turning around an obstacle like a barrel or a tree.
Most people ride the way that I do, where you want a horse to move away from pressure when it's applied anywhere on their body, therefore, they should move away from whatever leg you push them with.
It also depends if you're talking about neck reining or direct reining. Judging from how you described it, I suspect you aren't neck reining your horse.
I'll try to describe in detail how I turn a horse for each type of turn to the right and using direct rein like you are, so in order to get a left turn, you just reverse everything..
Rollback, where they keep their haunches set in one spot and swing their front end around to face the other way: I use a little bit of right rein and apply a firm left leg to move their shoulders over.
Forehand turn, where they keep their front feet planted and spin their hindquarters around until they're facing the other way: I don't use rein for this except to keep them from moving forward. To move their hindquarters only around to the left (which would actually turn their head to the right, turning their body clockwise), I apply right leg a little closer to where the back cinch lays so that they know I'm asking for the hindquarters and not the ribs.
Bent turn to go around an obstacle like a barrel or a tree: I'll take up a little bit of right rein to bend their neck to the right, I'll apply right leg up next to the girth to get them to bend their ribcage outward to the left, and I'll apply left leg back toward the back cinch to keep them from swinging their hindquarters out.
That will put their body shape similar to this and doing this will keep them from banging your inside knee on whatever you're going around.
The reason that it can get so complicated is that on a finished horse, there are usually at least 3 positions on their side; each controls a different part of their bodies. The most frontward position controls their shoulders, the middle position controls their ribcage, and the position farthest back controls their hindquarters.
BUT, all that's really beside the point and delving deeper into the art of riding a more finished horse. Probably more information than you really needed and is leaving you feeling really overwhelmed and for that I'm sorry.
Put simply, most of the riders I know use their legs in the opposite way than what your grandpa described. Most riders, to turn right, will use right direct rein and left leg or, to turn left, will use left direct rein and right leg.
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Thank you guys soo much this has really cleared some things up. Thank you!!
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Your grandfather is a bronco rider not a dressage trainer he sounds just a bit confused but also this could be how your horse is trained! Your horse moves away from your leg and in the direction you point it's head.
To go left: Gently apply pressure with left hand, turning the horses head to the left... Use left leg to control the back end of your horse and your right leg to control the front end.
(For now you should just focus on using your left hand and right leg to go left)
Latter you will start using your left leg to move out the back end of your horse to make better turns. You will do this by putting your leg further back then normal and bush the butt away from your leg (The horse moves away from your leg)
To turn right: Apply pressure to the bit with your right hand, there for turning the head in the direction you want to go and apply pressure with left leg exactly where your leg normally rests and again eventually use right leg to move butt out.
Hope I helped.
left direct rein + right front leg pressure = turn left by moving your shoulders to the left?
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I use both legs for turning..
Inside leg drives the inside hind to step under, outside leg asks for the turn. I find if I just use one, then I get too much angle too fast, or the horse isn't really stepping under itself.
So if I wanted to turn right, first I bring my inside (right) shoulder back, inside leg on the girth driving the horse forward as my outside leg slides a tinsy bit back and goes on to ask the horse to yield away.
I don't really use my reins to turn unless the horse is ignoring my legs and I need to quickly disengage the hind quarters. For regular turns, only my torso and legs.
Someone once showed me how your shoulders and the horse's shoulders mirror each other because they're also affecting the weight/position of your seatbones. But that may be a bit much for you to think about right now, it'll come later :)
that's why, for beginners, it's easier to just get them to use the reins to steer, and twist their body a bit toward the direction they want to go, which will create a basic leg signal that the horse can understand. giving too many instructions for leg cues, in the beginning , just makes the rider spend too much time in their head and lose focus of just being THERE when riding, and feeling what they need to feel to learn.
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