Correct Leg Aids To Engage The Horse’s Back
Hi this is Will Faerber from Art2Ride again, and today we are going to talk about the three uses of the leg. Now there is one very important thing that is missing from most people’s riding and that is the third thing that the leg must ask the horse to do.
Now everyone knows that the legs are used to ask the horse to move forward, that is when we impulse with both calves of both legs the horse should move straight ahead and move away from your legs. And most people understand that the leg can also mean to move laterally, that is the horse can move away from the leg towards the side and we can displace the haunches from one side to the other. But the third thing that is so important to collection and correct riding is that the leg can also mean to the horse to lift it’s back.
Now how do we do that? Most of you have probably seen at some point a chiropracter work on a horse and they will get underneath the horse and put their fingers right up here (as shown in the video) and the horse will round it’s back away. Well that is essentially the same thing the horse has to learn from your leg. Nuno Olivera used to say “It’s like plucking a guitar string”. You want to pluck the side of the horse right underneath the side of the barrel. If you had a spur on, you would just give it a little click and put your foot right back down again. Just remember that no aid should ever be pressed and held against the horse! If your asking the horse to move forward you simply impulse in both legs and then completely relax all the tension out of your legs.
Nuno also used to say “the legs should lie like a wet noodle around the side of the horse so it can breathe with the body of the horse then it can feel”. The horse can feel the lightest touch (a fly landing on it) it can certainly feel and learn from a very light touch of your leg. So once again, there are three things the horse has to learn that the leg mean. Both legs intensely in with the calf “boom(very quick)”and then out again relaxed, that means to move straight forward. Anytime the leg touches one at a time we are asking the horse to move laterally. The third thing once again that the leg can ask the horse to do is bring it’s back up, and by that we bring the heel up and just get the horse with the heel a little bit and then immediately putting the heel back down lifting the toe up to keep the leg in place as opposed to jamming the heel down.
If you had spurs on, the level of your spur depends on the length of your leg. If your a short person on a big horse you need to put the spurs on lower because you don’t want the spur up on the side of the horse you want the spur to hit below the break of the barrel(that’s where it starts to curve back inwards again). So you would come under there and give a little pluck upwards (like plucking a guitar string)and then put the heel right back down again, and that would ask the horse to bring it’s back up. Now the horse may not do that instantly but most horses respond to that and begin to learn that it is a different feeling than it is when you just impulse the side of the horse, so it means a different thing.
So once again, learn this third thing and it’s like this little magic button that we learn that brings the horse’s back up asking it to engage upwards and then as we ride it forwards we can get that lovely round swinging trot! Hope this answers some of your questions and feel free to send in more! Thank you Jenny MacDonald for being our model today and we will see you all next time! Thank you!