Steering with my legs.. - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 32 Old 07-27-2019, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SteadyOn View Post
It's interesting: one thing I've learned over time is that leg aids are quite different between western and English. In English riding, there are no leg aids given in front of the girth. So that leg aid others have mentioned that moves the shoulders over... doesn't have an equivalent in English riding. Instead, the reins (along with a touch of knee pressure) can be used to push the shoulder over -- and it's in a way that's extremely hard to explain, but you just kind of "get it" after some practice. It's not neck reining, but it's still a sort-of-indirect rein, and it has to be used in conjunction with leg, but at the girth.

It took me forever to understand turning a horse with the *outside* rein -- but not neck reining -- but it does start to click over time.
You are correct at position 1 it is normally at the cinch. On a horse just being started sometimes I have to get in front of the cinch to help them understand. As a horse gets more experience the cues all come within the front and back cinch and you don't have to be as far apart for them to understand what you want.
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post #22 of 32 Old 07-28-2019, 12:59 AM
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Take what follows with a big grain of salt, and maybe as an apology for dragging things off topic earlier (bad habit of mine):

Rod Nikkel said it was common for a western cinch to angle forward. It does with Bandit, and giving him ANY cue in front of the cinch would require giving it...on his front legs?


If I tried to put my heel in front of the cinch, I'd poke his legs. FWIW, here is what I was taught for steering with the leg by a western instructor. For a left turn: as the left front leg is starting to leave the ground, nudge the horse with the right lower leg. She didn't teach spurs so it was always calf pressure, not heel, and I doubt it would matter if it was on the cinch, although it couldn't be forward of it.

The horse, starting to move his left front leg forward, would feel the pulse and shift his left leg away from pressure while moving it forward, and thus would curve left. The idea was to learn the feel and only pulse left (using the right leg) as the left front leg of the horse was ready to obey. It was never a steady leg pressure because when the horse's front left leg is on the ground he cannot move left, and asking him to do what he cannot do will aggravate him. Or so she said.

So we would ride and she would call out "left, left, left" until our pulses matched when the horse COULD obey. Once you got the feel of the horse, pulsing with the leg at the correct time just felt "right". I used to do it with Mia when I owned her, but really only at a walk. I have just enough "English Forward Seat Rider" left in me to prefer two point for the trot and a half seat (maybe a 3/4 seat?) for a canter, and neither lend themselves to that sort of leg cue. Not at my skill level, anyways!

Don't know if that is how anyone else was taught. It worked very well with Mia, but Mia and I did a lot of arena time. Bandit and I are in the desert 90% of the time. He neck reins very well and I've gotten out of the habit of using leg cues. If we are going down a trail, it is obvious which way we are going. When we leave the trail, zig zagging between cactus, leg cues aren't precise enough. Besides, when we are off trail, he has plenty to do just keeping his feet and OUR legs out of the cactus.

Also....Bandit's previous owner said his leg cues with Bandit were done to the rear. So he would cue Bandit using his leg to the rear to move Bandit's rear to the left, which would then result in a right turn. How the horse has been trained is important, which is why listening to your instructor is needed.

But if & when you get a horse off of Craigslist, you may find the horse trained in some very odd sorts of ways. Bandit had been ridden in a bosal as primary and a snaffle bit was only there as an emergency brake. I found that out on my first ride after I got him to a trot and then started to take the slack out of the reins at speed. Before the slack was gone, he slammed on the brakes and I nearly went on his neck. Called the previous owner, found out how HE had used a snaffle, and then got to teach Bandit how I wanted to use one! Now 90% of our riding is done with one hand and a curb bit.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 07-28-2019 at 01:07 AM.
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post #23 of 32 Old 07-28-2019, 08:07 AM
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This thread presents an interesting overview of various ideas of how legs are employed in attempting to control the movements of a horse.

Various approaches may arise from success with different horses during various periods of their development. A rider should be aware that variations may be necessary even on the same horse on different days or under various circumstances.

Riding involves communication between the rider and the horse. Communication goes both ways. The rider should listen to, as well as talk to, the horse. By listening, the rider may realize that he might do better using different words (variations in cues).

I usually try to explain the cues for turning as a rotation of the riderís upper body in the direction of the turn Ė usually without leaning. I emphasize that this works best when the riderís body is balanced above his feet. One may think of this as a ďstandingĒ position rather than ďsitting in a chairĒ.

Many things happen when the technique described in the above paragraph is employed. Sometimes I will explain various aspects or offer alternatives to help a rider in a specific situation.

I have found, however, that explaining individual aspects can lead to a rider emphasizing one particular part over another. Leg pressure is one example. If too much emphasis is placed on leg pressure, a rider may tense his muscles in order to apply more leg pressure than necessary. After all, ďIf a little is good, shouldnít more be better?Ē No! When a rider tenses his muscles too much, the horse is likely to do the same. A rider may naturally interpret this as resistence and apply even more pressure setting the situation up for a real struggle.

If the rider learns to relax (i.e. release unnecessary tension), the horse will likely do the same. Then, movements may be achieved with very little effort.

I should also point out that a horse may interpret a riderís motion as a cue when the rider does not intend it to be. On the other hand, a horse may interpret a riderís motion that is meant to be a cue as simply a rider messing around while on his back. By developing a good communication between the two, the horse should be able to understand when a rider is presenting a cue and when he is not.
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post #24 of 32 Old 07-28-2019, 10:48 AM
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As a beginner I still tend to pull on the horse's mouth when I get unbalanced, so I can see the value of practicing without reins. The horse is happier too!
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post #25 of 32 Old 08-03-2019, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all,

First, I just want to start by saying that my starting this thread was very premature on my part. I’ve actually learned a few lessons in doing so, so I won’t chalk it up as a total fail. There is so much ignorance in my question and so many of my comments that I’m overwhelmed, a bit ashamed, and tremendously humbled.

To clarify the best I’m able as to why she wants me to steer the horse with my body before cantering: we had a fairly in depth conversation about the horses canter and the importance of the horse staying balanced while cantering and what I took away is she doesn’t want me to snatch the horse in the mouth too much in a turn and cause it to lose balance resulting in hurting the horse, myself or possibly both of us. I also later came to learn that I will get the needed bend and softness in creating much prettier circles and corners.

In my last lesson, last week, we spent pretty much the whole hour with me practicing this. I started just at a stand still and getting small turns choosing a letter or spot on the wall. Turns out I was only using my eyes and legs from a major lack of understanding of what I should actually be doing. By the end of my lesson and many laughs at my lack of awareness of my entire body, extremely thorough instruction, I finally managed to get one 20 meter circle. We ended on a high-point which was nice because I’ve desperately wanted to execute this. Can I do it again this week? I don’t know.

I have really enjoyed reading each and every one of your responses. The advice by a few of you to refer to my instructor is great advice. While reading all of your responses, I have leveled with the fact that what I do know is infinitely less than what I don’t. I am not ready or able to engage in an intellectual discussion on this topic. Many of your posts made my head spin and I will likely spend a good chunk of time reading them very slowly while intensely thinking about what you are explaining!

Thank you all for showing me such grace in the midst of my ignorance!
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post #26 of 32 Old 08-05-2019, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MNgirl View Post
Hi all,

First, I just want to start by saying that my starting this thread was very premature on my part. Iíve actually learned a few lessons in doing so, so I wonít chalk it up as a total fail. There is so much ignorance in my question and so many of my comments that Iím overwhelmed, a bit ashamed, and tremendously humbled.

To clarify the best Iím able as to why she wants me to steer the horse with my body before cantering: we had a fairly in depth conversation about the horses canter and the importance of the horse staying balanced while cantering and what I took away is she doesnít want me to snatch the horse in the mouth too much in a turn and cause it to lose balance resulting in hurting the horse, myself or possibly both of us. I also later came to learn that I will get the needed bend and softness in creating much prettier circles and corners.

In my last lesson, last week, we spent pretty much the whole hour with me practicing this. I started just at a stand still and getting small turns choosing a letter or spot on the wall. Turns out I was only using my eyes and legs from a major lack of understanding of what I should actually be doing. By the end of my lesson and many laughs at my lack of awareness of my entire body, extremely thorough instruction, I finally managed to get one 20 meter circle. We ended on a high-point which was nice because Iíve desperately wanted to execute this. Can I do it again this week? I donít know.

I have really enjoyed reading each and every one of your responses. The advice by a few of you to refer to my instructor is great advice. While reading all of your responses, I have leveled with the fact that what I do know is infinitely less than what I donít. I am not ready or able to engage in an intellectual discussion on this topic. Many of your posts made my head spin and I will likely spend a good chunk of time reading them very slowly while intensely thinking about what you are explaining!

Thank you all for showing me such grace in the midst of my ignorance!



Riding is a total MIND and BODY experience. Awareness of You and awareness of Horse, blending the two to achieve the results you desire. We all start somewhere and asking questions is the best place. No reason to feel shame for asking a question that garnered response that will make you THINK and ask more questions as well as pay attention to what happens as you ride. If I, then...


Sounds like you are doing great! Enjoy the ride and looking forward to seeing you continue to share your journey!
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post #27 of 32 Old 08-05-2019, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by MNgirl View Post
I have leveled with the fact that what I do know is infinitely less than what I donít.
This right here is an AMAZING attitude and is what will keep you humble, open, and always always learning. It also never stops being true, with horses, no matter what level you get to.

A lot of people stop developing as riders and horse-people when they start to think they know it all. They close off. Stay open. :)
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post #28 of 32 Old 08-12-2019, 10:32 AM
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I'm quite glad you made this post as it's something I'm learning right now too so reading everyone's comments has helped me as well. In the past, I had instructors who threw me up on a horse and in one or two lessons, was off cantering. I was taught very little in regards to steering with me legs, and more so how to use some of her legs alongside the reins.

Since then, I've gotten a new instructor and after 3 lessons, we've only just now moved up to trotting because she's taken me back to the basics of teaching to steer properly along with how to use your legs. Turns out, using your seat is just as important as using your legs to steer. I found out that simply by placing more pressure or "weight" to one side of your butt and correlating leg, you horse naturally drifts over into that direction and gets a slightly different response, then just using your leg.
For example, if I was going along the outside of the arena but wanted to a bit closer to the railing, I'd just sink into the left side of my body a bit more, making it feel like I'm also leaning slightly without going to the point of leaning over. It's just about making yourself feel heavier on one side. Naturally, my horse start to then walk more to the left until we were closer to the railing or wall of the wall of the arena. And if you wanted ot go into the middle, you do the same thing with the other side of your body. Using my leg and heals would get her to turn a tad more more sideways and if combined with the seat, created and overall smoother and sharper turn.

There's definitely a lot more to riding than I ever expected there was, that's for sure. And like you, I've also had my mind blown by all this new information that my previous instructors never taught me. All I learnt from them was basically how to hang onto the horse and not fall off.
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post #29 of 32 Old 08-12-2019, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteadyOn View Post
It's interesting: one thing I've learned over time is that leg aids are quite different between western and English. In English riding, there are no leg aids given in front of the girth. So that leg aid others have mentioned that moves the shoulders over... doesn't have an equivalent in English riding. Instead, the reins (along with a touch of knee pressure) can be used to push the shoulder over -- and it's in a way that's extremely hard to explain, but you just kind of "get it" after some practice. It's not neck reining, but it's still a sort-of-indirect rein, and it has to be used in conjunction with leg, but at the girth.

It took me forever to understand turning a horse with the *outside* rein -- but not neck reining -- but it does start to click over time.
The differences between English and Western cues are interesting. I've always ridden English, but my first coach was actually a western trainer, so I learned some western cues in an English saddle without realizing it. I've used my leg in front of the girth as a training tool, to introduce moving the shoulder over. Now, my dressage horses actually respond to both. I instruct a few people, part-time and I've always had a bit of a difficult time explaining to them how to use leg, seat and reins together until It just clicks. it's something that takes both a feel and some experience in how each aid acts separately.
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post #30 of 32 Old 08-12-2019, 03:02 PM
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Riding a horse well involves communication between the rider and the horse. Some cues seem to almost universally communicate with most horses. With other horses, however, the cue may need to be modified, or a completely different cue may be necessary. Once a cue and response is established, the rider can use this understanding to help a horse learn a different cue if necessary Ė perhaps a more commonly used cue if the horse will be ridden by others.

A rider should also understand that he or she may be doing something unconsciously that the horse is sensing as a cue. Rather than punishing the horse for not responding to the intended cue, the rider should try to figure out what the horse is responding to. The rider can then adjust accordingly.
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