Get That Hip Over with Richard Winters
No, I’m not talking about your hips. We’ll leave that to the equitation experts and another article. I want to talk about your horses’ hip or hindquarters and how important it is to have control over this part of his body. As you’re working on advancing and refining your horsemanship, hindquarter control will be a huge part of executing maneuvers smoothly and correctly.
Moving the hip over is very similar to what our dressage friends might call the haunches in or “travers”. Whether at the walk, trot or lope, both disciplines would agree that forward movement is essential. When I ask my horse to move his hip to the inside I envision the idea of pushing or driving his inside hip up toward his inside eye. All the while maintaining forward movement. When executed correctly, I should be able to draw an imaginary line from my horses’ inside hipbone straight to his inside eye without the line running into any other part of his body.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Your horse must move off of your leg. There needs to be a basic understanding, with no questions asked, that your horse yield away from your leg every time you ask. This begins with a simple “leg yield” with your horse slightly counter bent. That means if you’re stepping sideways to the left you can see the corner of his right eye. This is where it starts. However, as you advance your horse, you’re striving for less counter bend and more straightness in his body.
Does your horse move off your leg without the use of spurs? If so, that’s great. If not, spurs could become a useful tool to help you to be more exact and precise with your aids.
With your horse moving off of your leg, begin to ask specifically for him to move his hip over. Start this at the standstill. While keeping your horses’ head, neck and shoulders as straight as possible, move your leg back and in asking your horse to move his hip over one step. Envision your horse being hobbled in front. You want him to keep his front end in one place. You also do not want to see your horses’ outside eye. In other words, if you’re moving the hip to the left, you do not want to see his right eye as you did in the simple leg yield. As you advance this maneuver you’ll begin to see more consistently the eye on the same side in which the hip is moving.
You also need to begin thinking about where you are applying your leg aid. When moving the hip over, you want your foot or spur to move back to just in front of where a rear cinch would lay. Often times a rider is unaware of where the spur is touching. If you have a back cinch, don’t just spur the leather cinch. That’s some horses best kept secret!
With your horse moving his hip over well at the standstill, it is time to ask for this maneuver with forward movement. Now it becomes very important that you have softness in the horses’ head and neck and also good shoulder control. All body control exercises are interconnected. As you gain softness and control over one part of your horses’ body, it will complement and help you as you work on the next part.
You might find it beneficial to start pushing the hip over along a fence line. This will help you and your horse maintain more straightness and give you a frame of reference as you are introducing hindquarter control with forward movement. Remember, you want to push the hip to the inside while maintaining the ability to see your horses’ inside eye at the same time. If I am pushing my horses’ hip to the left it would mean that I have a little more contact with my left rein while using my right leg back and in.
As with everything else, this maneuver must first be taught at the slower speeds. I would begin at the walk and get my horse very comfortable obtaining this posture. Then I would begin to ask for this at the trot and then ultimately at the lope.
I’ve had the opportunity to be around and learn from some of the world’s greatest western performance horse trainers. Every one of them, without exception, works on this maneuver of moving the hip over. Each of them might go about it a little different way. Although the techniques might vary, the outcome for each horse is strikingly similar.
Get that hip over. Perfecting this maneuver will help you and your horse advance your horsemanship to the next level.
For over 35 years Richard has dedicated himself to honing his horsemanship skills and to passing this knowledge on to others. Richard’s credentials extend from the rodeo arena and high desert ranches of the west to being a highly sought after trainer, horsemanship clinician, and expo presenter.
Richard Winters’ horsemanship journey has earned him Colt Starting and Horse Showing Championship titles. Obtaining his goal of a World Championship in the National Reined Cow Horse Association became a reality where he is also an AA rated judge. Another of Richard’s horsemanship goals was realized with his Road to the Horse Colt Starting Championship and then returning for 5 consecutive years, as the Horseman’s Host.
International travels include Canada, Australia, Mexico, Sweden, Scotland, Brazil, and Poland where he earned the European International Colt Starting Championship title. Richard is a “Masterful Communicator” with horses and humans alike!
For more information about Richard Winters Horsemanship and the learning opportunities available please go to www.wintersranch.com.
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 5