Helping Your Horse go Forward

This participants horse was not going forward well. There can be several reasons for this but one of the most common occurs when the riders hips are not moving in unison with the horses hips, if the riders hips are braced and not moving they will block the motion of the horse. Very often horses that are not forward lure us into the habit of continually stimulating them with our legs and our seat. In this case both was occurring . I urged the rider Andrea to use her legs when the horse slowed down and be quick to do so when he did, secondly i asked her to stop pushing the horse on with her seat as this was having the opposite effect to making her horse go. Learning to do nothing with your seat in this situation can be challenging so i gave her a couple of exercises that i knew would help.

andrea lifts her legs over the flaps , this stops her gripping with her legs and allows her to "feel" the movement of the horse under her

Exercise 1

The first exercise entailed bringing her legs up over the flaps of the saddle (she felt safe enough to do this) . This stopped her gripping with her legs and the fact that she only had her butt in connection with the saddle enabled her to feel her seatbones. I asked her to half close her eyes and feel her seat bones being moved by the horses hind legs. After a short time doing this she could feel the side to side movement of the hind legs and she gradually relaxed and let the horse move her, not he other way around, we call this the following seat. It is easy to detect a good following seat; there should be a slight delay between the lifting of the hind leg and the movement of the riders seat on the same side.

When Andrea was happy and feeling the movement of the horses back i asked her to take her legs back down and try to continue to hold the same feeling in her seat as the horse walked, this was aided by the fact that the horse was now walking freer. The next exercise would help her move her hips even more.

Exercise 2

I asked the rider to start an up and down movement of her feet in the stirrups especially emphasising pulling her heels up, (I hear you gasp but aren’t heels supposed to be down) they are but its really down and back towards the horses hind legs .Sadly when most folk are told to put their heels down they scoot the leg forward and brace in their stirrups and this locks their hips. This is what was happening to Andrea. As she continued to push her heels up and down in time with the horses rhythm, Andrea said she could really begin to feel her hips moving in time with the horses hind legs.

AAs Andrea's pulls her heels up and down, and her hips become freer, her horse becomes freer in his movement and more forward. she no longer needs to kick or push him.

Exercise three

The last piece of the puzzle was to ask Andrea if she could identify when the horses inside hind leg was moving her inside hip, this would help her identify when to use her inside leg to aid the horse. Now with her hips moving freely she identified the inside leg movement very quickly.

next lesson

Andrea improves her rise at the trot.