• At its most simple, understanding the way to use leg strain when driving a horse is straightforward. You are asking the horse to yield away out of your leg, so utilizing one leg strikes the horse sideways away from the strain on that facet, whereas utilizing each legs means you might be asking the horse to go forwards. Sounds straightforward. But attaining the specified response whereas persistently utilizing the lightest of aids requires a rider with the flexibility to make use of the correct quantity of strain on the proper time and in the precise place.

    How to get a response

    The first step in the way to use leg strain when driving a horse, is to show the horse to react to a mild or mild leg help. This is vital to coaching a horse, regardless of the self-discipline or stage the horse is working at.

    Dressage legend Kyra Kyrklund explains: “A horse feels a fly land on his skin, so ideally, he should be listening to a whisper. Think of aids – whether hand, leg or weight – in terms of small, medium, large and extra-large. If you don’t get a response from a small aid, use medium, then large. You might need to use extra-large, but it is important you always go back to small next time, otherwise the horse will shut off. If you start to use a bit more leg, and a bit more leg, then it doesn’t mean anything anymore.”

    Kyra additionally warns of one other widespread false impression: “I’ve seen riders throughout all disciplines squeezing with their legs on a regular basis. Do not squeeze! If you do that, you actually squeeze your self out of the saddle. Also, squeezing tenses muscular tissues and having tense muscular tissues means you don’t ‘feel’ as a lot as a lot as you do with a relaxed muscle. Basically, if a horse doesn’t reply to the leg help, the reply doesn’t contain squeezing extra with the leg.

    “The leg help is like an ‘impulsion’. Think of how the horse reacts to a faucet of the whip. If there isn’t any response, you don’t squeeze with the whip. You faucet once more, perhaps a bit sharper. The identical goes for the leg help.

    “A delicate horse may have a bit extra of a calf contact to not overreact, in any other case it will likely be like an electrical shock for the horse if you put your leg on. Imagine you’ve gotten a spring between your calf and the horse. You don’t wish to squeeze the spring collectively, however neither do you wish to let it go.

    “If the horse is working as you want, you should be able to sit still and not use your leg aid. As with all aids, not influencing the horse is his reward. The horse then learns it is the easiest way of going.”

    Dressage rider and coach Damian Hallam, who’s a former occasion rider and showjumper, expands to elucidate why consistency is essential: “You praise the horse by switching off the leg aid and I also use my voice to reward him. Reward is something that should be easy for the horse to pick up on, which is why you need to be consistent.”

    Riding transitions between the paces in addition to inside paces provides Damian invaluable suggestions to test responsiveness: “The horse will solely enhance if the rider is constant in what he expects. Transitions are the framework of coaching the horse to react to the rider’s aids. They present invaluable data as as to if the horse is listening to the instructions.

    “So often, riders will recognise a transition wasn’t good enough, but not go back and explain to the horse how he needs to do it better. The horse’s reactions will only improve if the rider is consistent in what he expects.”

    How to make use of leg strain when driving a horse

    When utilizing the leg help to keep up impulsion, Kyra makes use of an fascinating analogy: “It is a bit like driving a pushbike. You pedal to achieve a sure velocity. To preserve a relentless velocity, you don’t pedal on a regular basis. You solely pedal if you find yourself going too slowly.

    “We’ve all heard a trainer say ‘more leg’, but what does ‘more leg’ actually mean? You have to understand what they are asking. Are they asking for a longer stride in the same rhythm or a shorter step in the same rhythm or a quicker rhythm?”

    Check how effectively your horse is responding to your leg help by driving transitions. Start with the best, halt to stroll, repeating the transition till the horse strikes off instantly with a light-weight help. Reward your horse immediately for his response by “switching off” the help and never influencing him. Make positive your palms are smooth and giving if you apply the leg help; it’s straightforward to turn into tense and inadvertently “block” the horse.

    The purpose

    Once you’ve gotten achieved “whisper” leg-aid responsiveness, then you can begin to affect the horse to an entire new stage.

    Kyra says: “I try to use my leg in the rhythm I want the horse to go, like a dance partner, but I want him to follow me, I don’t follow him. I have to be the one who is leading the dance. If you use your leg quicker, then you can make the rhythm quicker.”

    Why intent issues

    So, your horse is superbly educated to the leg help at dwelling, however come competitors day, all of it goes to pot. That begs the query, why?

    Damian believes it’s right down to some riders behaving in a different way below stress: “They either tend to bombard their horse with commands or go as quiet as a mouse. The result is that some horses become agitated. With dressage horses, if the rider becomes overbearing, it is common for them to go into their shell as soon as they go between the white boards.”

    Recognising which class you fall into will assist, however Damian feels there’s one other essential issue that makes all of the distinction as to how your horse responds at a contest: “Horses, like canine, learn our minds; that’s the extent they convey on. It is to do with intent. Horses acquire confidence from the rider and if the rider solely half means the leg help approaching a fence, the horse receives a message of half-intent – ‘go, but I’m scared’. You’ve bought to be dedicated.

    “You sometimes see someone flapping their legs all the way down to a fence, but the horse knows when the rider’s heart isn’t in it. Intent is a million times more powerful than strong leg aids, which is why good riders are steely in their intent and soft in their bodies. It comes down to whether a rider really means it.”

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