Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back to Business

I enjoyed taking a break for Christmas... and I hope everyone else did too. But now lets get back to the task at hand!

Now that you that you have life in your horse's feet and it is moving around you at an energetic walk, you should work on disengaging (or yielding) the horse's hind quarters. These terms refer to the inside hind foot stepping up underneath the horse and crossing over the other hind foot. I use "disengage" to refer to the horse taking one or two cross-over steps and stopping; and "yielding" to refer to the horse taking a number of cross over steps before stopping or being released to move forward on the circle again.

Start with your horse moving around you at a walk. Shorten up on the lead rope and tip your horse's nose towards you as you step towards the horse's tail. If you take one step your horse should cross-over and stop facing you (disengagement). If you continue to step towards your horse's tail it should continue to cross-over until you stop walking (yielding). When yielding a horse's hind quarters pay attention to what the front feet are doing. The front feet should not pivot, they should not cross over to the outside of the circle, and they should not move in toward you. The correct movement of the front feet is to take much smaller steps continuing to move forward in a circle. Picture a fat doughnut with a small hole in the center. The center circle is the track on which the front feet move, and the outside edge of the doughnut is the track on which the hind feet move.

Take yielding the hindquarters seriously and practice it diligently. It is important for safety and control of the horse and also for refinement. As you learn to refine the movement it will build softness, flexibility, and coordination in your horse.

No comments: