Using your leg
I've been riding for a while now and I also take dance, so I have a pretty strong leg. When I need to move a horse over to the rail though I have a hard time using it. I know you use your foot and quickly press and take it away, but the horses never seem to notice. When I try to do it harder I start using my upper leg too ( I know that's bad). What am I doing wrong?
If your horse is ignoring your leg that much, he's either extremely dull to the aids or is very stubborn. Most likely it's the first thing. Sounds like you need to back to square one and retrain him to be hot off your leg. Start at the walk take your legs completely off his sides and only apply them for a moment to squeeze to ask for a more forward walk. If he does not respond, give another more forceful thump. If he still ignores your, use your crop behind your leg to get the response you want. He needs to understand that go means go. Once you get him forward, go back and ask again with just a slight leg thump. Only escalate to stronger aids if you need them. The idea is to get him listening to the slightest of aids. You shouldn't have to nag him every stride. It sounds like that has long since backfired since he isn't listening to you. Just be clear about what you're asking. Be careful not to nag him with your legs and be sure you're following his motion with your seat so you're not sending him conflicting messages. Good luck.
^^ great advice. Something that has helped me with my schoolmaster who is completely dead to the leg is to have a few periodic "tune ups" with an experienced rider. She uses spurs on him (she knows how, I don't recommend using them if you aren't experienced) to wake him up just a bit, in fact now all she has to do is have them on, not even use them. Slowly but surely he is becoming much more responsive to the leg. OUr first ride after my trainer has been on him is always amazing. And always remember to REWARD when he does the right thing, it makes a world of difference to them. Best of luck, you'll get there. And you're right, dance is amazing for the legs!
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