In the past we discussed the basics of getting the horse to move and to yield to your leg, and the most effective use of your leg and spur.
Today we are going to talk about advancing our leg control and the body control of our horse. After your horse is constantly moving off your leg in the side pass; (he has learned to move away from the pressure) you are now ready to start working on hip control. Hip control is the ability to hold the forequarters in one place and push the hip in either direction.
Hip control is extremely important when it comes to changing leads and lead departures. If a horse is soft, qu9iet and responsive about yielding his hip over then it makes our job much easier when we ask for a lead change.
To start the ‘hip control’ exercise,
1. – Line up parallel to a fence and stop. The fence is used to help stop the horse’s forward motion as you start to push the hip around. Next, if I am moving my horse to the right.
2. – Lift your hands and reins to stop the horse’s shoulders from moving.
3. – Slide your outside or left leg, back behind your back cinch and press. Keep applying pressure until the horse yields his hind quarters and takes a step over with his hind feet. After that one step, STOP, release the pressure, and praise your horse. Give your horse a few seconds to think about what he had done.
Repeat your cues getting one step at a time. Your horse will soon realize that as soon as he moves his hip over you will release the pressure. As with any training exercise, horses are looking for the release of pressure. It’s their reward for giving the correct response. After your horse is confident with one step, start building on that. Ask for three or four before you release the pressure. Keep adding more and more steps until you can hold your horses forequarters still and push the hip around in a full circle.
When first teaching this exercise you exaggerate your leg cue by really reaching your leg back to push the hip over. However, once the horse begins to understand what you are looking for you can slowly start to refine that leg cue. The refinement can start with reaching back less and less with your leg each time, until finally all you have to do is move you leg back a few inches and your horse will move the hip over.
Another refinement exercise is to move the horse further and further away from the fence while doing your maneuver.
Another leg control exercise is called ‘two tracking’. Two tracking can be simply defined as a side pass with some added forward motion. You want your horse to remain going in the same direction and move sideways at the walk or trot, while keeping a relatively straight body.
1. – Start in one corner of the arena and face down the wall.
2. – Start the horse by walking forward.
3. – Then apply your side passing cues. Keep your horse from going any faster with rein pressure.
4. – Then, take one leg off your horse, giving him a way out (relief of pressure).
Again, as soon as the horse takes a couple steps laterally, release your pressure and let him walk straight for a couple steps. Then repeat the process. As soon as the horse is willingly moving off your leg at the walk you can move up to the trot. The process is the same at the trot; just make sure your horse keeps up the trotting cadence while moving sideways.
Two tracking is a great way to gain advanced body control. Your horse must be soft through his whole body in order to step over latterly in front and in hind while moving forward and maintain a steady cadence. Good timing (releasing when the horse is moving away from the pressure).
Consistency (Apply the exact same cues each time) and Repetition (Doing it again and again until it becomes a conditioned response in your horse) are the keys to these training exercises.
Expect Success. We Do.
If you have any questions or would like more information, log onto Monty’s website at www.montybruce.com.
Best of Luck to You and God Bless America!
Monty Bruce is a multi-time Reined Cow Horse and Reining Futurity and Derby champion. Monty, his assistants, and students have won numerous World and Reserve championships and are continuing to succeed in the show pen.
The Monty Bruce Training Center is a full-service equine facility that specializes in Reined Cow Horse, Reining, and the Performance Horse. The Center strives to provide superior care and training for all equine needs. Visit MontyBruce.com for more info.
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