View Full Version : Leg into hand
Oct. 4, 2009, 12:03 PM
I've always had some difficulty really understanding the "leg into hand " statement that is so often heard. Inside leg asks for bend and engages the inside hind leg, that bend is contained and controlled by the outside rein. But how does that work? I am reading Christpher Bartles book, Training The Sport Horse and he gives a great explanation of the basic biomechanics and I would like opinions from dressage riders (I event ) on it.. He states that by persuading the horse to step more under his body (inside leg ) with an active hind leg the horse has a "natural reflex" to maintain his balance by drawing his neck forward energy that then can be contained by the hand i.e. "leg into hand". As the neck becomes stronger thru proper training ,the neck can elevate, and more balance can be transferred back onto the haunches. It makes sense to me and Christopher Bartle sure knows what the heck he is talking about.
Oct. 4, 2009, 12:12 PM
Chris is pretty much awesome. I was lucky enough to get to ride with him for a bit when I was 16. He definitely has a great way of explaining things.
Oct. 4, 2009, 01:01 PM
if the horse has a mouth - you can feel the energy you have created via your legs as you push the hrose between leg and hand to create impulsion the horse is then pushed into the bridle with the mouth aceptting the bit
Oct. 4, 2009, 01:08 PM
I like Chris' description. Another way to think of it is as a circle of energy... the energy created by the rider's leg/horse's hind legs pushes forward and is recycled by the hands which contain and guide the momentum through elastic contact and half halts etc.
Oct. 4, 2009, 02:34 PM
When the horse starts to 'go into the hand', yolu start to feel like you have control of the horse, ayou can bend, you can control his speed, nd you can feel what he's going to do.
Klimke wrote, 'push to the quiet hand'. Others talk about the 'circle of the aids'. The circle of the aids is an even more inclusive term, because it doesn't just talk about one part of it (push to quiet hand), but also what is done once the horse is pushing to the quiet steady hand - half halts that send that energy back to the hind quarters, like winding a spring.
When a horse is going into the hand, you can use your reins and the horse does not stop having a contact with your hand; you're using your legs, and that sends teh horse to the bit. When he is 'in the hand', he doesn't 'drop the bit' when the reins are used normally. He just keeps flowing toward the bit. When you try to half halt the rein contact doesn't stop. When you circle left and then right, his head doesn't pop up when you change directions.
There is a continuous flowing sensation, like the energy just keeps coming to your hand, you feel like you can shape it, direct it. You feel like you can bend the horse in the body, bend him in his neck, it is really, the second stage of putting the horse on the bit, the first one is accepting the bit.
Some people define accepting the bit as really meaning much much more than just accepting the bit, carrying it steadily in the mouth, giving to the rein aids. Then it really starts to shade into 'going into the hand', half halts, and the whole ball off wax.
Oct. 4, 2009, 02:59 PM
I just have a question about Chris Bartel. I watched a video of him (I believe ) a while ago a friend gave me, and he was showing how to do shoulder in, and he said the aids for shoulder-in are inside leg behind the girth and outside leg forward. Which is totally contrary to what everyone teaches, and doesn't make any sense to me at all. Is there any mention in that book about shoulder in and the aids he uses for it?
Oct. 4, 2009, 03:53 PM
This is reaching into my older memory banks, if I remember right, that's the aids the person he worked with for a long time used. Von Blixen-Fineke (sp). He was a Swedish trainer who used all different aids for everything.
What I do is I just ignore that, because the traditional aids make sense to me and most people use those aids. Von Blixen-Fineke had a name for those aids, he called the forward leg the 'shoulder button'. His system of aids was not adopted widely. In most cases it is impractical to try to ride with a different set of aids than everyone else, it basically just guarantees and unhappy horse.
Oct. 4, 2009, 04:46 PM
I just have a question about Chris Bartel. I watched a video of him (I believe ) a while ago a friend gave me, and he was showing how to do shoulder in, and he said the aids for shoulder-in are inside leg behind the girth and outside leg forward. Which is totally contrary to what everyone teaches, and doesn't make any sense to me at all. Is there any mention in that book about shoulder in and the aids he uses for it? Actually, in the same book he addresses the "position statement" for al lateral excercises, including shoulder in. 1) Sitting to the inside of the saddle with more weight in the inside stirrup but not leaning over the inside hip and opening and relaxing the hip joint, particularly the inside with both the inside and outside stirrup leathers at the vertical or the outside stirrup leather just behind the girth to correct the horse if it steps away from the inside leg rather than coming around it or if it falls out with the shoulder. Don't know if that helps or not but he does not say anywhere I can find to do it the way you said he did.
Oct. 4, 2009, 09:49 PM
von Blixen was a wonderful instructor, and if you can find his video tapes, they are well-worth the money. von Blixen used the terms for the rider's legs as "the hind leg button," meaning the rider's leg was behind the girth, and "the foreleg button," meaning that the rider's leg was at or in front of the girth. The leg position can be independant of anything else. However, in order to properly weight the stirrup, the upper torso must be in the correct position, and this also assumes that the horse is straight as well.
With the shoulder-in, ideally, you want the horse's forequarters to be as if the horse was just transitioning to a 10-meter circle, while you want the hindquarters to be as if the horse were traveling straight. Typically, the traveling straight behind would mean that the rider's inside leg position was slightly ahead of the outside leg position. This does not weight the stirrups properly for most people because the rider's inside hip must rotate toward the outside rein in order to deflect the energy more to raise the outside shoulder.
If the rider is hollow, and if the horse is hollow...generally both are hollow to the right, the rider must alter his perceived leg position in order to properly weight that inside stirrup. This is where the hang-up occurs is setting aids in stone for all riders and for all horses, under all circumstances. We can say that the aids for shoulder-in is such and such, but in the reality of actually riding the horse, the aids might feel slightly different depending on the crookedness issue. Rather than thinking that your leg or your shoulder need to specificially be thus and so, feel the horse under you and select whether you need greater weighting in a stirrup or lesser weighting in a stirrup; greater containment of the bend with the reins, or less containment of the bend with the reins. You can begin learning by using these prameters that are suggested in books, but then go and feel your horse, and make the adjustments accordingly.
The focus of lateral bend is the weighting of the inside stirrup/inside leg in order to help lift the horse's outside shoulder. You need the greater energy created by more weight being taken on the inside leg so that when it is release, there is more released energy to lift the outside shoulder. This is your circle work. For straight line, it is just the opposite. Your focus is the weighting of the outside stirrup lifting the inside shoulder. The canter is the epitome of this work. However, in your lateral work, you are trying to create a specific focus for the horse to only bend with that portion of the torso that is in front of the horse's center of gravity (shoulder-in), or to create a specific focus for the horse to only bend with that porition of the torso that is behind the center of gravity (haunches in). This shortens the base of support of the horse, which we call collection. Once we can collect the front and the rear of the horse independantly, then we collect both together, which will result in half-pass.
Always take what you read, and play with it, for your specific ride.