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Ribcage and Hip Control on the fence

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - January 3rd, 2013 - More with Les

34th in a series
Last issue, Les provided new exercises to develop lateral movement. Here are some more!

Total body control is the foundation of all maneuvers both in your reined work and on cattle. Hip control is critical in departures and lead changes, because you need to make sure your horse steps off with the correct hind leg in order to get the correct lead. Also in turnarounds and speed transitions, keeping the hip in place stabilizes the whole maneuver. Learning to maintain the correct alignment for each maneuver is critical for stopping, turnarounds and circles in particular, but plays a part in everything you will do.

And not only is backing a separate maneuver but you will see that it’s a key component to your stopping program, and to keeping your horse soft and limber. So let’s dive into this section and add a few more moves to you and your horse!

The Brace Rein
Remember how you used your rein to move the horse’s shoulders? First making light contact for bend, then lifting your hand and moving over to direct the shoulders? Well the brace rein is the same concept, except rather than using it to move the horse’s shoulders, you’re just asking him to keep them out of the movement by just maintaining a slight bend with his neck.

Whenever you are using the brace rein, you want to make sure that your other rein is way away from the horse’s neck. When would we use a brace rein? We’ll use it in exercises three and four, which we’ll start in this lesson, and after that, mainly for lope departures and lead changes. In exercise number four, which is for hip control, when you want to move your horse’s hips to the right, you will use a brace rein to make sure his shoulders stay to the left or at least straight, so that you isolate only the hip with the movement. If you’re not effective at keeping the shoulders out of the way with your brace rein when you use your leg in the back, or hip, position, the energy will most likely come out the shoulders instead.

As we start to move the hips and ribs, learning to keep the shoulders out of the way while keeping life in your hands will take a little practice, but the better you get it here, the easier you’ll get along when we progress to correct lope departures and lead changes.

Ribcage control
Being able to move the horse’s ribcage has a lot of benefits. For one, if you get a little resistance in the horse’s mouth when you ask him to give laterally, you can help create the bend in his body by pushing his ribs over.

This can be especially helpful if you’re riding in one hand. Rather than having to bump the horse straight back you can work at softening him by pushing him back and forth between
your legs. You can push the ribs out to increase the size of your circles.

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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