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Natural Aids ... left or right leg?
#1
If you want your horse to go to the left you'd open or pull back on your left rein ... but ... which leg do you apply pressure with for the natural aid, the left or the right? Is there a general rule of thumb on this? I've gotten different instruction from knowledgible people.

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#2
I know what you mean, it can be pretty confusing! This is how I look at it. You want your horse to move away from your leg pressure, so would cue with the opposite leg from the direction you're turning. You would leave the other leg open so to speak, to give them a doorway to go through. Does that make sense?
There is more to all of this that involves your seat bones and where they are placed on the saddle, but I don't want to be any more confusing than I've already been.[Big Grin]
A good rider has a thinking mind, fine emotions and a sensitive hand.-Tu Yu,72 BC

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#3

Horses are taught to move away from pressure. A right leg behind the cinch can mean "push your butt over to the left", but it can also mean "turn your whole body to the left" or it could also mean "step your whole body sideways to the left". A left leg at the cinch means "Push your rib cage out" and if I keep the pressure on then the horse should keep moving their body in an arc towards the right.

Now, things change when I add rein cues and body cues. I never use only one leg cue, unless I am sidepassing. So if I want to turn left, I have my left leg at the cinch and tell the horse to shift his ribcage over to the right - that gets a left arc in his body - then I just maintain gentle holding pressure. Now I move my right leg back behind the cinch, apply pressure and at the same time open my left rein, and sit back on my right seat bone. The seat pressure encourages the horse to step briskly under, the left rein is open and guiding the direction, the left leg is holding his body from moving sideways to the left, and the right leg is telling him to move forward and to the left. That way you get a nice fluid correct left turn.

Did that explain it clear enough? If not I will try to do it again.
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#4
I was taught (originally) that a horse moves away from pressure. So, if I want to go to the left I open or pull back on the left rein and apply pressure with the right leg.

Now... with my English teacher it's different ... she has me pull back on the left rein and apply pressure with the left leg. It seems this is the rule of thumb for English, am I right in saying this? And so, is the other the rule of thumb for Western?

Thanks for your input on this Montezrider and Mrs Hook I really appreciate it.

Beth
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#5
Yeah, Bethany, that's a common thing in English... I've heard it spoken about in terms of the leg pressure "giving the horse something to bend around". This IS very different from how lots of Western riding is done, but I have also heard of barrel racers doing something similar, and barrel horses being trained to turn sharply around leg pressure like that. When you think about it, it might not be so different from Mrs Hook's using a bit of leg behind the cinch to move the butt over; when that move is more of a pivot, then the horse ends up turning "towards" the leg, but as she points out, it's almost never the ONLY cue the horse is getting. But yes, I personally think it's confusing, and can only imagine it must be confusing to any horse who has been trained one way and then has to learn a new way, perhaps when transferred to a new rider...

'plash
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#6

I have heard people say this before. I suspect that in many cases they are saying the same thing, but it is confusing. If a horse is just learning to turn, then you may actually have to do some pressure with the rein in the direction you are turning. If the horse already knows the turning aids, you would just open your hand in that direction by actually giving your hand forwards just a bit. Your other hand will take back a bit and hold in a firm position so as to keep them from jacknifing outwards. You are actually shaping the horse with your whole body position, seat bones, legs, hands, all together. Think of doing a martial artists stance, but on horse back. When turning to the left, you are in the position with your left side advanced slightly forwards of your right side. Like Mrs. Hook said you are nailing down the right side of his body with your right seatbone and keeping him from falling inwards, at the same time your right leg is holding his rear end from swinging out. your inner seatbone is advanced forward, and helps to keep his inner shoulder from falling inwards. Your left leg is firmly in place keeping his rib cage from falling in, and asking his rib cage to curve outwards. Maybe you have heard people say it is like a pole for them to curve their body around. I know it can all get very, very confusing. That is why I use the martial artist stance example. It gives you an overall idea of how to position your body. Of course, you reverse it when turning to the right, and advance slightly the right side of your body. I'm sorry if this is all just confusing you more. Suffice it to say that you are right, moving away from pressure would be correct.[Smile]
A good rider has a thinking mind, fine emotions and a sensitive hand.-Tu Yu,72 BC

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#7
quote:
Originally posted by Bethany

I was taught (originally) that a horse moves away from pressure. So, if I want to go to the left I open or pull back on the left rein and apply pressure with the right leg.

Now... with my English teacher it's different ... she has me pull back on the left rein and apply pressure with the left leg. It seems this is the rule of thumb for English, am I right in saying this? And so, is the other the rule of thumb for Western?

Thanks for your input on this Montezrider and Mrs Hook I really appreciate it.





Any lessons I have taken, the cues remain consistant. I have done Hunter Jumper type lessons, dressage lessons and Western lessons. I have always been taught that to ride effectively you have to use both legs in unison with your hands and weight. The only really different thing I encountered was in the dressage lessons, and they ask for a lead from the inside leg rather than the outside one.

I like Montezrider's description of a martial arts stance. That gives a good visual.

In riding horses, nothing is completely right and nothing completely wrong. You work with what works for that particular horse. Your instructor may just be starting you off with using the inside leg to bend around, and then you will add the outside leg later. The outside leg is really important because it provides the "forward" in all manoeuvres.
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#8
quote:
...nothing is completely right and nothing completely wrong


A memorable quote for sure - that says more than a mouthful.

Training green horses, the outside leg is predominant while they're learning to turn... BUT - our cutting horses are trained to "bend around" the inside leg. We keep contact with both legs (something that seems to reassure horses of all ilks - they know where your legs are so they don't worry about them) and pressure is more for shaping the horse than for initiating a turn. After all, in the show pen the COW has to intiate the turn; if the horse is shaped correctly, that turn is going to happen much more quickly, without giving ground and enabling a lighting takeoff out of the "loaded" position. And on the trail, the cutters will go wherever you look regardless of leg pressure (unless it's extreme). So the inside leg is most important for those horses. I work with my horse to make sure he will bend around a leg at any gait or at a standstill - without changing direction. We try to keep the horses' ribs pushed away from the cow, head bent toward it... but the stops have to be square, so variable pressure from the legs is a constant in training. Heck, I'm getting confused just trying to talk about it. Think I'll leave it to the most articulate Mrs. H. and go practice what I'm trying so ineptly to preach.
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#9
Well, perhaps one of you can help explain how to tell the difference to a horse between a little pressure from a leg meaning "I want you to move away from this" versus "I want you to bend around this"? Because I know I've ridden some horses that have gotten confused, and made a left turn when what I had in mind was adjusting their path over to the right. Or maybe that was me getting confused... anyway, how do you make those signals different?

'plash
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#10
quote:
Originally posted by puddleplasher

Well, perhaps one of you can help explain how to tell the difference to a horse between a little pressure from a leg meaning "I want you to move away from this" versus "I want you to bend around this"? Because I know I've ridden some horses that have gotten confused, and made a left turn when what I had in mind was adjusting their path over to the right. Or maybe that was me getting confused... anyway, how do you make those signals different?

'plash



'plash, I think the difference is in where you put your leg and also on what you do with your body weight, also where the horses shoulders are. Remember in Montezrider's post where she was talking about the martial arts stance? Horses will stay under your weight, so if you want them to shift over to the right, your weight is on your right seat bone, keep their shoulders up and square, and slowly apply pressure with your left leg at the cinch. If you aren't getting enough "move over" then push you leg back just a bit, and ask again.

Here's an exercise to try with Pepper. Start her walking in a fairly small circle to the left. Hold your reins, one in each hand with very very soft contact. Tip her nose just a bit to the left, bring your right leg back about two inches and let it rest on her side. Now shift your weight onto your right seat bone, and drop your right hand down to the outside of her withers by about two inches. Keep her walking forward, if she starts to stop use the outside right leg to maintain the forward motion. Now, use the left leg and ask her to push her ribs over. Keep her shoulders up and straight, stay soft on the bit but keep insisting that her ribs move over.

Depending on whether she has done this exercise before, you may get an immediate shift or you may have to keep softly bumping with your calf. When she does it, you will feel the shifting of her ribcage over. Now hold her body in that position with your legs, weight and hands and keep asking her to move her ribs over and keep going forward. Your circle should start getting larger and larger, her shoulders will feel like they are coming up higher, but her body will stay arced around your leg. Its a really neat feeling, when they start letting you play like that. This is the secret to perfectly round symmetrical circles.

I'm doing this exercise now with the babies. I get them so they are responsive in their ribs first - it really helps leads if you can just push the ribs over before you ask for a canter - then I start working on sidepassing and lateral stuff.

If that didn't help maybe someone else can explain it in a different way.
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