We are discussing the power of the legs in riding our horse, and we have acknowledged that our horse doesn’t understand that we can ask him to move off of a light leg signal, or “cue”.
In the previous work we asked our tied horse to move over away from the touch of a finger, and we repeated it over several lessons and successive days, to the point that we can now reliably move him a step or two one way or the other with little pressure or even with pointing the finger at his side.
Now we need to “up the ante”.
In order to move toward the powerful use of the leg we need to get this same response from our horse while we are moving with him.
We saddle and bridle him as if we were going to ride. Then we position him facing the wall, let’s say, we are on his left or “near” side, with his face toward the fence on our left. Holding the left rein fairly close to his mouth with a very steady hand, ask for a step sideways with that finger.
He’s likely going to find ways to tell you it’s not the same thing.
Again, you can remind him with the stick (which we previously compared to your mother’s hairbrush that was applied to your backside).
When this gets easy to do, and if you’ve done your preliminary work it shouldn’t take long, you can “take it on the road”. To do this, walk along beside him, bridle, and stick in hand, with the fence on the horses side away from you, and reach down and back with the stick and touch the spot where you plan to use your leg.
At first it may take some coaxing and rebalancing and reorganizing, ( I call it re-combooberating) but eventually you can get a few steps of a sort of diagonal movement as you walk along.
What you are shooting for is a few steps of crossing over the hind foot closest to you in front of the hind foot away from you. If you stop asking just as he does a really nice step across and reward him, that is what he will eventually try to do.
It is important that you and he both learn to do this in motion. That is because he will like the idea of anything you ask of him that involves moving forward.
It’s kind of like you remembering things better when they are funny, or fun.
It’s really not quite as hard as patting your head with one hand while rubbing your tummy with the other, now is it?
Okay next installment we will finally get in the saddle.( get it in STALL ment) okay I won’t quit my day job.