I have a question that perhaps you guys could help me with. I ride hot horses all the time so I let my leg hang as apposed to squeezing my calf, as it would only cause them to go faster. But everyone always says to squeeze with your lower calf and never pinch with your knee. Sometimes I find it necessary to pinch my knee so my leg doesn’t come in unnecessary contact with the horse’s sides, making him want to run. I guess my question is how to I keep my balance and stay off the horse’s sides without pinching the knee? I’m sorry this is such a confusing question but I really hope you guys could help me.
There are more than leg cues available to you to communicate speed to a pressure sensitive horse. Generally if I need to apply leg, I use seat to determine which gait my horse goes into or if gait change is being requested at all. Eventually your horse will learn to ignore a small amount of temporary pressure if it is accompanied with a seat that is not forward indicating. You can reinforce with slight tension on a single rein, until this too will be unnecessary.
Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...
Rules are general, each horse has specific reactions. The rider must adapt the rules to fit the specific horse, then teach the horse which movements are actual cues, and which are just the horse/rider equivalent of “white noise”.
Also, balance must have at least as much to do with what the rider’s upper body is doing, and with the rider having his/her upper body centered and balanced over the rider’s own center of gravity and over the horse’s center of gravity. If the rider is correctly balanced, he/she can stay in place and balanced with or without stirrups, and without tensing the leg muscles or applying pressure to the horse’s sides.
If you have not already read it, you might look for a copy of Sally Swift’s book “Centered Riding”.
What will help with balancing is not riding with your legs as much. Ride relaxed without stirrups or bareback (just cruise along). Its almost like riding a bike without peddling, your just coasting. Balance will help with your leg pinching problem. I learned when I was young to just chill so, I hope this helps!
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