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View Full Version : How Do You Describe/Explain Having The Horse In Front of Your Leg?



alterknowbetter
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:16 AM
The title says it. How to do you verbally describe and explain this to someone? Rider is not a beginner, but not (obviously) too advanced either. Yet is ready (and needs) to understand this concept.

Horse is lazy (not sullen or spooky) and will drop beind you. Rider neglects to notice this, and then takes way too many steps to get the motor running again once she gets told. Trying to get the concept of keeping the horse in front of her across to her. Having minimal results so looking for other ways of explaining it than maybe I have been.

lesson junkie
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:27 AM
Some things are better learned through experience. Can she ride a horse with better schooling, or is a little easier? Can you get on her horse, get him forward, and then put her back on?

These are things my instructor has done for me, and will no doubt have to do again. But, at least I can get a feel for the horse carrying himself, and staying lively to my leg, and I can sustain it for a good while. A video may help her feel what's happening under her, too.

Let her feel it, then the explaination will make more sense.

Melzy
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:27 AM
Try this basic concept. It's like riding a bicycle. You use your feet to pedal and your hands to steer.

Jsalem
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:32 AM
This works great: Have the rider use their legs strongly every stride to get a "really strong" trot. Say, "squeeze, squeeze". Then, have the rider completely drop the leg aid. The horse will fall right behind the leg. Explain- that's behind the leg. Now, squeeze, squeeze again- that's in front of the leg. Do that several times so that they get the "feel" of each.

fancyfooted
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:39 AM
I always tell my riders that they need to feel like the horse is "bubbling" underneath them, and that they feel like the bubbling coming from the back end and shooting out through the front. I then have them do as Janet suggests - take the leg off and just post along, and then add the leg and squeeze with every sit of their post. Do it a few times, ask them if they feel the difference. It also helps to have them describe what they feel and to come up with their own analogy. Some people are more direct and so they may say, "It feels like they're taking bigger steps," or something to that effect, whereas another person might say, "It feels like I'm about to get shot out of a cannon!"

If you can figure out your student's way of thinking, it will help you when you're trying to describe new concepts to them :)

findeight
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:47 AM
My trainer uses the phrase "bouncy canter" or "ride the merry go round Pony" with the little ones...and us adults who can be a little slow on the uptake;). The term "uphill" is also a good one.

Have your student canter, lift her hands up off the neck and rock her shoulder back to lift while sitting down in the tack in full seat. Have her memorize what that feels like. Canter works better, almost impossible at the posting trot and most poke around with no impulsion at the sitting trot. Canter is easier for the student.

Horses behind the leg are almost always put there by a rider tipped forward with hands too LOW. Have them LIFT that forehand up with their hand and shoulder and not worry about what it looks like or where the hand should be and concentrate on where that hand needs to be to lift that forehand. Oh, leg on of course.

You want a comparison? Think an ASB gaited horse with Saddle Seat rider-that's the epitome of a horse rocked back. Look at Upper Level Dressage too. Where are that riders hands and shoulders? That is where yours need to be to CORRECT a horse on the forehand. Obviously only until they comply but that's what you gotta do to get this done...and it works.

Overall, Hunt seat riders tend to bury the hands in the neck too much for support and that just feeds the horse dumping on the forehand, actually, I am quite good at that too..

joiedevie99
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:54 AM
I explain "in front of the leg" as reaction time. Pick a point at the beginning of the long side of the ring and tell the kid to ask for a lengthening there, and say NOW when she feels the horse respond properly. A horse that is in front of the leg will respond immediately, and the next stride after the kid asks will be longer. A horse that is behind the leg will require a few asks, or some strides of kicking to get it in front of the leg first.

That certainly doesn't cover the whole concept- and things like balance will have to come later- but I think its a good start. You can always test it by yelling lengthen at any point in the flatwork or in the middle of a course and see if the kid is keeping the horse there.

meupatdoes
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:55 AM
The horse should "carry" the forward on his own, not be nudged along every stride.

Have her squeeze or even kick (if he is really lazy) hard enough that he zooms forward for three or four strides, and then ask her to relax her aids and wait for him to get lazy again. When he does, have her send him again.

Then work on having her get the "send" response from a lighter and lighter aid, by having her ask lightly first and then send more strongly if his effort is half hearted.

This will teach her to really put a horse in front of her leg, rather than carrying him around the ring nudging every time she sits.

caradino
Sep. 3, 2009, 10:07 AM
i was first taught to understand "in front of the leg" by my trainer telling me that if i put my leg on and the horse did not move up IMMEDIATELY, he was not in front of the leg. the horse should be energetic enough and tuned into the rider enough that a small squeeze, closing of hip angle, lightening of seat, etc, will elicit an immediate lengthening of stride or increase in speed. later, when i learned to put a horse on the bit, an understanding of the feeling of the horse being 'uphill' and 'bubbling up from the back' (love that image fancyfooted!) really clicked, as i then had something to put into the bridle instead of kicking pony's guts into my hand. when jumping, a horse that is truly 'in front of the leg' will also 'take' you to the fences. there is no push for more impulsion, only guiding and shaping the energy you've already got.

ETA this is why i love riding with a stick or whip. go button not working? supplement with stick. pony gets in front of the leg and understands the concept MUCH quicker than with constant kicking, squeezing, and pushing. i can't stand riders who carry a stick, but still go around kicking and squeezing for all their worth because pony isn't in front of the leg and they don't want to hit him. it's such a great, simple tool that horses understand very well!

findeight
Sep. 3, 2009, 10:11 AM
I recall a trainer having me trot over a grid of ground poles, like 5 or 6' apart so it was a series of "bounces"...just 3 poles to start but working up to 6.

Oddly, that was a Western trainer who wanted me to feel the back end coming up and under...which is really the same as the horse being ahead of the leg.

The student does need to be able to get and maintain a decent trot so you may want to school this one a little. Or put her on a more willing horse to learn the feel.

pony grandma
Sep. 3, 2009, 10:24 AM
Have your student canter, lift her hands up off the neck and rock her shoulder back to lift while sitting down in the tack in full seat. Have her memorize what that feels like. Canter works better, almost impossible at the posting trot and most poke around with no impulsion at the sitting trot. Canter is easier for the student.

Horses behind the leg are almost always put there by a rider tipped forward with hands too LOW. Have them LIFT that forehand up with their hand and shoulder and not worry about what it looks like or where the hand should be and concentrate on where that hand needs to be to lift that forehand. Oh, leg on of course.

You want a comparison? Think an ASB gaited horse with Saddle Seat rider-that's the epitome of a horse rocked back. Look at Upper Level Dressage too. Where are that riders hands and shoulders? That is where yours need to be to CORRECT a horse on the forehand. Obviously only until they comply but that's what you gotta do to get this done...and it works.

Overall, Hunt seat riders tend to bury the hands in the neck too much for support and that just feeds the horse dumping on the forehand

Amen to this, I preach it too.

Rider must carry their hands and sit up, shoulders back, use arm to shoulder and weight down thru to their seat and THAT helps them put and keep their leg on the horse. Then use the feeling of scooping with your seat. This is called riding the horse, not passengering on top of the horse and just kicking. It's the balance seat from which everything else evolves.

No it's not a finished show ring performance seat (unless you are riding dressage or show jumping), it's a training the horse and rider seat. In the ring you can use it to briefly fix the horse's balance, esp in a corner.

Too low a hand, breaking at the wrist, breaks the connection cycle. Drop your hands into your lap just sitting and feel your shoulders pitch forward and all the weight shift forward. Now raise both hands and feel your chest rise and your shoulders pull back. Do it with your rider just sitting in a chair. The rider's seat lifts the horse. The horse cannot move forward from the leg without lift. Sitting up and back will develop the squeeze from the rider's leg without the kicking. A much prettier picture and it will create the feel.

KateKat
Sep. 3, 2009, 10:26 AM
Honestly I didn't know the feel or understand the concept until I was put on a horse who would carry itself with mimimal work from me, other than providing support with my leg and hand. My trainer tried these same things with me, but having never felt it (I'm a very tactile learner) nothing clicked until I could experience it for myself. So like someone else suggested, is there another horse that you could put her on that is more push button and not so lazy?

alterknowbetter
Sep. 3, 2009, 10:52 AM
The horse should "carry" the forward on his own, not be nudged along every stride.

Have her squeeze or even kick (if he is really lazy) hard enough that he zooms forward for three or four strides, and then ask her to relax her aids and wait for him to get lazy again. When he does, have her send him again.

Then work on having her get the "send" response from a lighter and lighter aid, by having her ask lightly first and then send more strongly if his effort is half hearted.

This will teach her to really put a horse in front of her leg, rather than carrying him around the ring nudging every time she sits.


THIS is pretty much where she's at. Basically, she waits too long and/or doesn't demand enough. She's content nagging constantly - which I have tried to get across to her will just make him all the more dull.

I am trying to get the point across to her that:

a) she needs to get at least some response when she puts her leg on (and if she does not get a response, there needs to be consequences (ie: a smack from the stick)) -at this point I would be happy if she at least required some response even if it weren't "enough" of a response.

b)she needs to be more attentive to what's happening under her so that the horse has not fallen asleep for twenty or more steps before she attempts to get him up under her again - at which point he's totally tuned out.

I am trying to sort out if she just doesn't get the concept, or if she's just not working hard enough and attentive enough to things. After reading the various posts, I am leaning more toward the later. I am sure that, because she doesn't demand the horse stay in front of her leg, she doesn't know how much better the ride will be when he is there. However, I think the underlying issue (and one that is the issue for most of her riding), is that she's a Nervous Nelly - regardless of who she is on. When I get after her to use her stick, she'll lightly tap him, which gets her zero response usually. If I get after her to SMACK him, he'll trot forward quickly for all of two steps before he runs out of gas again - not a scoot or anything truly scary, just a couple bigger more forward steps. However, in the meantime, she's worried about those two quick steps and clenched everything up.

The horse is lazy, but not super hard to fix once you get the point across to him. Yesterday, I got on and squeezed. NOTHING happened. SMACK! Then he trotted for a step or two before becoming dull again. Squeezed the leg. Nearly nothing happened again. SMACK! After about a minute or two, the message was through to him, and stayed there for the next fifteen minutes I was on. But you have to mean it, and this rider doesn't. She wants it, but wants it to happen all by itself. Not going to!

findeight
Sep. 3, 2009, 11:00 AM
OP, can you get abord this one for 10 minutes at the start of the lesson just to sharpen it up a little? Or would this scare the rider a little? If she intimidated by the horse really coming forward, it might backfire.

You know, some people are never going to be real agressive riders and, while they want to ride, are just never going to advance past the basic enjoyment of horseback riding.

Maybe this student falls in that group and just will always be happy poking around. Not a thing wrong with that.

And, maybe, she is really scared and you will need to work with that. Does she really want to advance? Or is the parent who wants her to advance? Or you? Maybe she just does not want to.

meupatdoes
Sep. 3, 2009, 11:19 AM
THIS is pretty much where she's at. Basically, she waits too long and/or doesn't demand enough. She's content nagging constantly - which I have tried to get across to her will just make him all the more dull.

I am trying to get the point across to her that:

a) she needs to get at least some response when she puts her leg on (and if she does not get a response, there needs to be consequences (ie: a smack from the stick)) -at this point I would be happy if she at least required some response even if it weren't "enough" of a response.

b)she needs to be more attentive to what's happening under her so that the horse has not fallen asleep for twenty or more steps before she attempts to get him up under her again - at which point he's totally tuned out.

...

She wants it, but wants it to happen all by itself. Not going to!

Point b.) is almost impossible to teach. Back when I was still teaching I had one student who just WOULD. NOT. THINK. on the back of a horse. I would say, "OK, turn right" and she would make the whiffliest possible attempt with one hand, which the pony would completely ignore, and then they would carry on going straight. No amount of, "Pretend you get a million dollars if that pony turns in 3 seconds. A million dollars! A MILLION!! DOLLARS!!!" "if the pony doesn't listen you need to pull harder," "pull so I can SEE your arm moving the pony's head," holding her hand at the halt and DEMONSTRATING pulling on the rein or even just hollering "TURN!" would get that girl to do anything more than sigh plaintively from the depths of la la land.


Then she would cry because her sister, who was the exact opposite and was unusually talented at thinking and being proactive, could get on the same exact pony and do a million more things.

My advice is to clip on the lead rope and walk her around on the trails.
It's what I ended up doing.

Some people just ....can't ride.

RugBug
Sep. 3, 2009, 11:38 AM
I ride two VERY lazy horses...with them, the feeling is that they will respond the instant I put my leg on and will maintain the rhythm while moving into contact.

The third horse I ride is a forward type naturally and responds to leg very well. However, he is also on his forehand naturally and gets strung out really easily. So while he may be in front of the leg, there is no corresponding impulsion or power. For him, I think about his butt getting there first. I know it's an impossible to actually do but thinking about that idea helps me get him round (through half-halts and leg encouraging better balance). The imagine of 'fluffing him up like a pillow' helps me too. :D

pony grandma
Sep. 3, 2009, 11:46 AM
THIS is pretty much where she's at...

You've got a whole other problem than what the question on this thread is asking.

Is this the rider's horse or a school horse, the only safe one that you have for the rider?? What age is the rider? How long has the rider been riding ( er.. trying to ride?). What is the goal for this rider?

Wrong match on horse/rider, wrong discipline? maybe needs a sit there and passenger western pleasure/trail horse?

You just can't fix everything.

RolyPolyPony
Sep. 3, 2009, 11:49 AM
i was first taught to understand "in front of the leg" by my trainer telling me that if i put my leg on and the horse did not move up IMMEDIATELY, he was not in front of the leg. the horse should be energetic enough and tuned into the rider enough that a small squeeze, closing of hip angle, lightening of seat, etc, will elicit an immediate lengthening of stride or increase in speed.

!

That's EXACTLY how it was both taught to me zillions of years ago, and at my most recent lesson when it was reexplained to me. If you don't get a response to your aid, the horse is not in front. If you do, he's fine, but if he then immediately drops back with no sign from you, nope! Start over :)

findeight
Sep. 3, 2009, 11:51 AM
You've got a whole other problem than what the question on this thread is asking.

Wrong match on horse/rider, wrong discipline? maybe needs a sit there and passenger western pleasure/trail horse?

You just can't fix everything.

Just a thought but, maybe this kid would be happier in another discipline? Specifically Western on the Pleasure side?

Some are just not agressive riders and never will be and if she still says she really wants to advance? Maybe she needs to think about that a bit?

All these kids say they want to jump and about half of them will always be too timid to get that far. But there are lots of other things to do with horses. Including turning a lesson into an expensive Pony ride...if that is what suits her best, so be it.

twofatponies
Sep. 3, 2009, 02:27 PM
If she really wants to but is afraid (and clenching every time the horse goes forward isn't going to do the horse any favors), how about starting out with ten minutes on the lunge line at the beginning of each lesson? Have her hold a neck strap, not the reins, and you drive the horse from a slow trot to a forward trot and back to a slow trot and a forward trot until she feels the difference and isn't afraid of the transition and stops clutching. When she can ride it, then set her loose and let her try alone. ??

Vixenish
Sep. 3, 2009, 02:49 PM
So interesting to hear everyone's different ideas on this. One thing that clicked for me was when my instructor said "ride his butt!" Haha which sounds weird, but it helped me think more about riding the back half of the horse up forward into my hands and driving from the 'engine' in the back (kind of like a volkswagen with the engine in the rear!). Otherwise, I think I get too wrapped up with what's going on in front of my leg (and all those problems are much easier to fix when there's impulsion from behind).

Transplant
Sep. 3, 2009, 03:38 PM
I learned it first in a group lesson after our group canter session. The horses had gotten a little competitive in the group canter and when the trainer told us to bring them back to the trot and drop our reins to let them stretch their heads. I then realized how much more easily my horse moved without any prodding from me. When I knew that he could move that way, I started getting a lot more aggressive in the beginning of the lesson but it really took him moving like that without me asking for me to believe that this was possible.

Gry2Yng
Sep. 3, 2009, 07:51 PM
My trainer uses the phrase "bouncy canter" or "ride the merry go round Pony" with the little ones...and us adults who can be a little slow on the uptake;). The term "uphill" is also a good one.

Have your student canter, lift her hands up off the neck and rock her shoulder back to lift while sitting down in the tack in full seat. Have her memorize what that feels like. Canter works better, almost impossible at the posting trot and most poke around with no impulsion at the sitting trot. Canter is easier for the student.

Horses behind the leg are almost always put there by a rider tipped forward with hands too LOW. Have them LIFT that forehand up with their hand and shoulder and not worry about what it looks like or where the hand should be and concentrate on where that hand needs to be to lift that forehand. Oh, leg on of course.

You want a comparison? Think an ASB gaited horse with Saddle Seat rider-that's the epitome of a horse rocked back. Look at Upper Level Dressage too. Where are that riders hands and shoulders? That is where yours need to be to CORRECT a horse on the forehand. Obviously only until they comply but that's what you gotta do to get this done...and it works.

Overall, Hunt seat riders tend to bury the hands in the neck too much for support and that just feeds the horse dumping on the forehand, actually, I am quite good at that too..

In my language you are talking about a horse using his hind end/bending his hocks/traveling uphill, which to me is different than in front of my leg. When I say in front of my leg, I mean a horse that moves forward immediately when I put my leg on. No stalling. A bit like the when you have your foot on the gas pedal and the lightest tap creates and increase in the cars speed. Behind the leg is like when you get that lag before the engine kicks in. I find hunters don't like their horses in front of the leg as much as jumpers eventer and dressage people do.

Gry2Yng
Sep. 3, 2009, 08:28 PM
Do a search on YouTube for Jane Savoie. She is a dressage rider, but she does a great job explaining how to get a horse in front of the leg. You might be able to use some of her ideas. I can't remember the specific title of the segment you want.

Against all Odds
Sep. 3, 2009, 09:36 PM
from your post it sounds like she gets nervous about the horse going faster, and chances are if that's the case then you're not going to get her anywhere near riding into a contact until she learns that riding forward isn't a bad thing.

do you have an enclosed field you can take her in and let her canter around at a more forward pace, or practice in the ring doing lots of collecting and extending so she gets the hang of different pace within the gaits and becomes more comfortable with it (along with getting the horse more responsive off the leg). or if you can set up a course of poles or little jumps on slightly long lines so that she has to canter down the lines to get the feel of riding forward. these all helped me learn, because once I learned to ride the horse forward off my leg without fiddling around with his mouth trying to feel the contact then it just kind of appeared one day because I had him moving forward and engaging himself.

Plumcreek
Sep. 4, 2009, 10:58 AM
Do not have time to read all replies, but one of my instructors put it well:

It is like pushing a wheelbarrow. You need to keep the wheelbarrow out in front of you and balanced on center so it does not tip over.


When i try to tell someone, I say to invision sucking the horse's front end up into your lap while in the saddle.