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Barbara_F
Dec. 11, 2009, 10:48 AM
William Micklem is running a "Best Of" series and has posted one of my favorite articles on developing a 'Fifth Leg' in your horse to ride safely.

In other words, "If you want to jump safely, the fundamental aim in training should be to develop your horse’s ability to look after himself."

I'm a big fan of his and thought this article well worth passing along. I hope others are helped by his ideas as much as I am.:)
http://www.barnmice.com/profiles/blogs/best-of-william-micklem-3?xg_source=activity

Rescue_Rider9
Dec. 11, 2009, 12:19 PM
Thank you! I can't wait for part two!!!

poltroon
Dec. 11, 2009, 12:25 PM
I don't have an arena, which means that all my schooling is done out in a field, a field where the footing can have holes and rocks and where the terrain undulates a bit.

Although I wish that I DID have an arena, the fact that I do all my dressage work out there, up and down micro hills, etc, has really developed my young pony beautifully in many ways. Some of her fifth leg is innate - she is a Connemara - but I can see a lot going on in her head and her body simply from the time that I've had her. It has been a very good learning experience for me.

leslie645
Dec. 11, 2009, 12:29 PM
Ride a horse with Irish blood...they are known for their 5th leg. :)

Rescue_Rider9
Dec. 11, 2009, 12:30 PM
Ride a horse with Irish blood...they are known for their 5th leg. :)

Sadly im stuck with a AQHA race horse! No Irish blood there haha

cyberbay
Dec. 11, 2009, 12:33 PM
Did a quick skim of the article... but already I feel myself nervous about a rider trying to understand this. Because in order to create balance, there MUST be rein contact. And you can have a horse be very strong in the hand, yet balanced. In fact, that feeling can be desirable; as well, horses give different feels, and one has to have the experience to know that and be OK with that.

It is also an unpleasant task to get a horse who is barrelling -- off balance -- at the canter and to fix that balance. Unpleasant in that the horse may feel worse before it gets better (finds its balance).

Yes, leg is the initiator in the balance-making, but the rein contact and upper-body position create the final result of that energy from the leg.

vineyridge
Dec. 11, 2009, 12:40 PM
Micklem's nine part article titled "Help not Hinder" is all about his philosophy of how the aids work. It's well worth a read. It helps make sense of the most recent posting.

poltroon
Dec. 11, 2009, 12:42 PM
Did a quick skim of the article... but already I feel myself nervous about a rider trying to understand this. Because in order to create balance, there MUST be rein contact. And you can have a horse be very strong in the hand, yet balanced. In fact, that feeling can be desirable; as well, horses give different feels, and one has to have the experience to know that and be OK with that.

It is also an unpleasant task to get a horse who is barrelling -- off balance -- at the canter and to fix that balance. Unpleasant in that the horse may feel worse before it gets better (finds its balance).

Yes, leg is the initiator in the balance-making, but the rein contact and upper-body position create the final result of that energy from the leg.

Well, no.

If your horse is out cantering around in a field with a slope, will he create balance or will he fall on his face?

You absolutely can create balance without rein contact. Watch a western horse work - it is obvious there because the reins are rarely engaged.

Blugal
Dec. 11, 2009, 01:02 PM
Because in order to create balance, there MUST be rein contact. And you can have a horse be very strong in the hand, yet balanced.

As poltroon said, this is not necessarily so. When riding, there are plenty of times I ask my horse to be balanced without having rein contact:

- coming into a grid, drop your reins, horse should be balanced and rock back and jump without speeding up

- learning to canter balanced without speeding up or slowing down in preparation for jumping: learning to balance by themselves on a loopy rein

- on XC, galloping between jumps, no reason for the horse to be leaning on your hand - get up in 2-point, put your hands forward and let him canter by himself

- doing dressage, initiating a half-halt by way of seat, leg, and voice without pulling on the reins

- out hacking, walking on a long/loose rein going up and down hill

- much jumping as young horses is done by having loopy reins at least 3 strides out from the jump - not interfering and allowing the horse to organize its feet and decide where to take off

- often jumping drops or into water, a much softer and quieter (more balanced) jump is achieved by having no contact just prior to and on take-off

I strive VERY hard to train my horses so that they are NOT strong in the hand when they are "balanced" to my satisfaction.

sisu27
Dec. 11, 2009, 02:19 PM
Evented when I was a kid but after coming most recently from H/J land this has been the hardest thing for me to learn.

The light bulb has finally gone on for me after an Oli Townend clinic where it took him yelling, throwing water and dirt at me and the horse and generally getting after me. It is HARD to shut off your eye and not micro-manage if that is what you have been doing for a long time. The results have been amazing. I am riding better, my position is better and most importantly my horse is jumping way better. I have to think we are a much safer team now as well.

Thanks for posting. Great article. Amazing author. Fantastic.

subk
Dec. 11, 2009, 03:04 PM
Because in order to create balance, there MUST be rein contact. And you can have a horse be very strong in the hand, yet balanced.
Balance requires rein contact? Umm...no. see poltroon and Blugal.

Yes, of course you can have "balance" with a very strong rein contact--as long as you don't mind the horse using YOU to balance. The simple physics of it means that whatever poundage of pressure you feel in your hands that the horse has to have an opposite response, and that response has to effect how he balances. What happens if that rein contact suddenly goes away? I believe it is the sudden loss of being able to balance on the rider that Micklem's words should warn us about.

lstevenson
Dec. 11, 2009, 03:14 PM
Balance requires rein contact? Umm...no. see poltroon and Blugal.

Yes, of course you can have "balance" with a very strong rein contact--as long as you don't mind the horse using YOU to balance. The simple physics of it means that whatever poundage of pressure you feel in your hands that the horse has to have an opposite response, and that response has to effect how he balances. What happens if that rein contact suddenly goes away? I believe it is the sudden loss of being able to balance on the rider that Micklem's words should warn us about.


Exactly.

Blugal
Dec. 11, 2009, 03:18 PM
Thinking about this further...

If rein contact is *needed* for balance (especially a strong contact) - then the rider is not riding with independent seat, hands, and legs, for the rider also would require that contact for his/her balance.

skip916
Dec. 11, 2009, 06:38 PM
This is super interesting and echoes almost exactly what jim wofford talked about at a clinic I attended with him. He said this new notion of "packaging up" your horse before every fence and the five steps it takes to do so is somewhat rubbish (although maybe sort of necessary as xc courses get more technical at the upper levels). WE as riders are the ones who most often make the mistakes on judgement of approach/distances etc. so letting our horses do their job with minimal input from us (the 5th leg) is what makes a sucessful xc team. This was a little scary to hear since it feels more comfortable to micromanage the horse sometimes, but they are far more athletic than us and we should trust them to do what we are asking instead of over-riding them every second of the trip. Thanks for posting this article- looking forward to the next one!

poltroon
Dec. 12, 2009, 12:18 AM
This is super interesting and echoes almost exactly what jim wofford talked about at a clinic I attended with him. He said this new notion of "packaging up" your horse before every fence and the five steps it takes to do so is somewhat rubbish (although maybe sort of necessary as xc courses get more technical at the upper levels). WE as riders are the ones who most often make the mistakes on judgement of approach/distances etc. so letting our horses do their job with minimal input from us (the 5th leg) is what makes a sucessful xc team. This was a little scary to hear since it feels more comfortable to micromanage the horse sometimes, but they are far more athletic than us and we should trust them to do what we are asking instead of over-riding them every second of the trip. Thanks for posting this article- looking forward to the next one!

To me it's like the difference between you walking up a flight of stairs or a rocky slope yourself, versus having someone else tell you how. Your neurology knows how to place yourself better than anyone else's.

riderboy
Dec. 12, 2009, 09:46 AM
One can quickly learn and appreciate how a rider can affect a horses balance just by giving a small child a ride on your shoulders in a swimming pool. Not a completely accurate analogy, but close enough.