How does a blocking leg work? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-10-2019, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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How does a blocking leg work?

Pony sometimes does that thing where, at a trot or canter when I'm trying to keep him straight on the rail, he ducks in and tries to cut into the middle of the arena. One of my instructors suggested blocking him with my leg (using leg pressure to keep him on the rail). It seems to have worked, but I donít really understand why, and unfortunately that lack of understanding is keeping me from using it in other situations.

Here is an explanation of what Iím confused about. My single piddly little toothpick leg is obviously not as strong as a horse. Further, when Iím on the horse I have no leverage. I mean, if I were on the ground and pushing him with my leg, Iíd understand why that worked. But how is it possible that me squeezing his side is physically preventing him from ducking in? Can someone please explain this to me?

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post #2 of 7 Old 04-10-2019, 05:33 PM
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He "respecting" (listening/obeying/understanding/whatever) the pressure of your leg on his side and yields by staying on the rail.
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Last edited by Equilibrium; 04-10-2019 at 05:39 PM.
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-10-2019, 05:38 PM
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It works because he is moving away from pressure. Same as if you were to put pressure on him to back up by tapping his chest and he backs. It's just the horses nature to move away from pressure put on them. It's kind of like a discussion with them. You put pressure on to ask them to do something and they move, if they moved as you intended you take the pressure off and that is the yes to their question of what you ask of them.

It's not about brute strength to push them around. They don't do that to each other normally in their day to day interactions. They put subtle pressure and get a response.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-10-2019, 05:49 PM
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Think of it this way. Does Pony neck rein? If not, have you ridden a horse that neck reins? It takes no real pressure from you, just laying the rein on the right or left side of his neck for the horse to "feel" the extra pressure from the rein. Be it neck reining or leg pressure from the saddle. When he "ducks in" off the rail, you apply a pressure that he can feel and therefore responds to that pressure.
As Equilibrium said, he's respecting you as his rider by yielding to that slight pressure and doing what you ask.
Does this help???

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post #5 of 7 Old 04-10-2019, 06:02 PM
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he's being good,
he's respecting your leg, since its less of a bother for him to just stick to the track than have you nagging him, he just stays around the track...

people will probably disagree with this but the way I've had it explained to me is like maths... the horse goes with what ever option is easiest....

you just have to keep adding difficulty to what he WANTS to do

and making YOUR idea the easiest...

so you putting your leg on makes it more effort on him to go to the centre of the arena, then, when he stops going into the centre and stays on the track, you probably took your leg off- this shows him its less bother being on the out side...
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-10-2019, 06:13 PM
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It is important to understand that few things we do ďmakeĒ horses do something. Our actions, however, often influence a horseís actions.

A horse is normally stronger than a rider or handler. However, horses are generally passive animals that seek comfort over confrontation. This is why even people with little training and little understanding of horses can often get by riding them.

Some riders tend be more forceful in trying to get horses to do what they want. Their actions frequently result in the need for even more force when the horse tenses both physically and emotionally in response to the riderís actions.

On the other hand, someone who rides with no more tension than absolutely necessary usually gets a proper response from the horse with much less effort.

Think of the riderís interaction with the horse as communication. Yelling (forceful demands) create tension that inhibits smooth and easy responses. Talking calmly presents communication that can be conducted with little or no tension. This leads to softer and smoother reactions.

Exceptions may occur due to other influences either of the moment or in the past. But this does not negate the general prinicple.
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-10-2019, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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I see. So. Pony would rather, for whatever reason, duck in and head to the center of the arena. All things being equal, he WILL do that. But my leg creates enough pressure that things are no longer equal, and now it's easier for him to stay on the rail rather than being bugged by my leg pressure? I think that's what you all are saying?

So if he really really really wanted to go to the center of the arena, all of the leg pressure in the world wouldn't get him back on the rail, because he wouldn't mind the pressure, he'd just do whatever he wanted?

If so, that clarifies things a lot. Thanks!
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