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What are the Five Easy Pieces?

By LES VOGT, Horsetrader columnist - July 21st, 2011 - More with Les

Second in a series
Here are the ‘Five Easy Pieces’, and Les urges you to commit these five to memory as his column in each Horsetrader will refer to them.

1) Lateral Flexion
Piece number one is getting the horse to yield his nose to the side as a response to you just lightly moving the rein. As you’ll hear and read again and again in this program – the KEY to achieving success in a performance training program is having a horse that will do everything you ask with a soft and resistance-free neck. By staying with this exercise until your horse will respond to a rein that still has some slack in it, I know, and you will too, that he is giving his head and neck willfully and not being forced. Again, you’ll do this exercise both to the right and the left.

2) Moving the Shoulder
Piece number two consists of moving the shoulder to the right or left, independent of the head. That is, if you are asking the shoulders to go to the right, the horse’s head will stay to the left. To do this you’ll start with exercise number one left, as discussed above, and then by moving your rein toward the horse’s withers and engaging your left leg if you need to, you’ll get the horse to actually step across his right foot with his left one, moving his shoulders to the right. You’ll work on this exercise both to the right and the left.

3) Moving the Ribcage
Piece number three involves moving the ribcage to the right and the left, while keeping the horse’s body as straight as possible. Your goal is to move his body as one piece. While this sounds easy, it can be a real challenge because he’s probably going to want to move his shoulders first and you can’t let him.

4) Moving the Hips
Piece number four is moving the hips in one direction without the shoulders moving too, and then being able to do the same exercise on the other side. We’ll spend a lot of time on this in both the workbook and video, so I won’t elaborate any more here, but this move will become the foundation for your lope departures and lead changes, as well as giving you a tool for a horse that starts to drift in the back on his turnarounds.

5) Putting the Pieces Together
Piece number five is the test. It’s where you put all the pieces together to see if you have a rough spot that needs extra work. It consists of backing your horse in a circle with his body aligned to the track of the circle that he’s on, that is, hip and nose to the inside of the circle, and shoulders to the outside. To do this you will need hip control, shoulder control and a horse that is soft in the poll.

Commit to Memory
Now that you know what the pieces are, you will need to commit them to memory because there will be times in the video that I’m going to be talking about fixing a maneuver by doing a “number two right,” or doing “a four left” to get ready for a lead departure, and if you have to think through to remember what that means you’re going to get behind. So take a moment here, and commit these “Pieces” to memory. We’ll come back to them again and again in the program, so
the sooner you know them the better.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More with Les is a regular California Horsetrader column. Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Although Les still rides and occasionally shows, his focus is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit: www.lesvogt.com

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