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Cuing zones for your legs

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - January 5th, 2012 - More with Les

Twelfth in a series
Last issue, Les reviewed responsive leg and foot positions; now, let’s refine our cues.

If you’re going to be effective in controlling the horse’s body parts individually, you’re going to need to refine your cues as much as possible. One way that we do that is by having specific zones on the horse’s belly for your leg cues.

The forward position, just behind the horse’s cinch, will be what you will use to move his shoulders. Applying leg pressure in the middle of his belly will be the cue for him to move his ribcage over or change the overall alignment of his spine, and applying pressure at the back of his belly, near the back cinch, will be the cue for him to move his hips. The more consistent you are with these cues, the quicker your horse will start to respond to them. If you aren’t used to using your legs in these specific zones, try to make yourself more aware where you are putting your leg when you apply pressure.

When you use your legs in these positions, you want to imagine that the energy you create goes straight through the horse. If you push in the hip position, you only want the hip to move, the same with the rib and shoulder position. A common error we see is when a rider gives the horse the cue to move his hip, but instead the energy comes out the shoulder! We’ll spend more time reviewing this when we work on hip control, but keep it in mind anytime you’re using your leg.

Also when you use one leg to move the horse over, make sure that you “open up” the other one. Opening up your leg means that you take your leg away from the horse. With a lot of the body control moves, it should seem like there is an imaginary broomstick under your horse, so that when you bump him with one leg, the other leg moves away automatically; it “opens up” the door so to speak, so the horse has somewhere to go.

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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