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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's something I've been thinking about a little bit recently and I was curious what others think.

When you are riding a short or small horse and your lower legs don't make contact with it's belly due to your legs being long, what do you do?

I usually use all parts of my leg to mean different things. Thigh squeeze, calf squeeze, heel squeeze, heel bump, they all mean different things!

But what if your heel doesn't meet the horses side because you are tall, the horse is short, or the barrel curves steeply under the belly and your heel can't make contact?

Would you use a long spur to reach a steeply curving belly? Put a spur higher up on your boot? Use a whip? Something else?

Curious what others do when one of their aids is suddenly missing because the horse is short and your legs are long.
 

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I'm 5'9" tall with a pretty long leg and ride a lot of horses under 14.2H.
Cowhorse people tend to ride the shortest stirrup of the western disciplines that I am aware of so I do think that helps some. I also use a longer shanked gooseneck spur.


Despite the short stirrup and longer spur shank, horses tend to adapt once they understand what you're asking with consistent cueing if perhaps they were used to shorter legged rider.
 

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I do not think horses really have 'buttons', such as is described in riding books. They respond to our intention, and if we make that clear, they will answer. If there is confusion, then find another way . . . such as a shift of weight, your voice, etc. You are not driving a tractor, but a thinking, responding being.
 

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Like @tinyliny, I suspect horses respond to the totality of our bodies and thought. In any case, just wanted to share a photo of "Sureshot", a famous horse used by the 6'5" sheriff of Prescott AZ in the late 1800s:



Maybe he put spurs on his knees? :think:
 

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I am in the market for dressage legal spurs that will reach my mares belly - I too have long legs, and to meet my heel to her side, I have to lift my whole leg up.

I know that in dressage, the whips are also used to communicate. I like watching Amelia Newcombe videos on YouTube, as she provides good explanations on the use of aids (like the spurs, leg, and whip) that I never knew of.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I find myself having to lift my whole legs at times, which can make things quite unbalanced and just not pretty.

I think that for some basic stuff it makes sense the horse should be able to go without spurs and just respond to the riders calves, body language, voice, and thoughts. I also think that develops over time and that it can be too much to ask from a horse who's green and learning the ropes. I don't think it's always realistic for more advanced maneuvers either.

If I want a horse to move forward I like to give them a squeeze with my calf. If I want them to move up and forward I like to use my calf and thigh. If I want them to maintain the same pace but lengthen I give them a bump with my heel. But without my heel touching it feels the same as when I just use my calf.

For some types of riding and showing you shouldn't use voice aids and you can carry a crop or whip but you can get knocked points for using it.
 

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I find myself having to lift my whole legs at times, which can make things quite unbalanced and just not pretty.

I think that for some basic stuff it makes sense the horse should be able to go without spurs and just respond to the riders calves, body language, voice, and thoughts. I also think that develops over time and that it can be too much to ask from a horse who's green and learning the ropes. I don't think it's always realistic for more advanced maneuvers either.

If I want a horse to move forward I like to give them a squeeze with my calf. If I want them to move up and forward I like to use my calf and thigh. If I want them to maintain the same pace but lengthen I give them a bump with my heel. But without my heel touching it feels the same as when I just use my calf.

For some types of riding and showing you shouldn't use voice aids and you can carry a crop or whip but you can get knocked points for using it.
I agree. For a green horse or just a change in riders it takes some time to develop the feel between horse and rider for intention by use of a change in energy like mentioned previously.
I think what speeds that process up is consistency.

I started a lot of little cowhorse colts where my feet hung under their bellies. And you're right, it's not pretty if you are exaggerating your legs and moving them in odd positions to teach them! But all of that gets refined with time and again consistancy with a progression of cues so they understand what you're asking with just an intention.
 
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