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Leg Position

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  • Leg Position

    When your leg is in the 'neutral' leg position, meaning you are not asking the horse to do anything, does your leg still lay against the horse?

    I was having a heck of a time yesterday with my OTTB, we've been having some issues. The barn manager stepped in before things got ugly. Pretty much there are days when my guy just pitches a fit and doesn't want to trot, where it takes everything I have to get him to move forward undersaddle. We have looked into pain issues, chiropractic, soundness checks and saddle fit. I've done all I can and now it's come down to training problems.

    Anyway, when my leg is in neutral I still maintain slight contact, not pressure, with my horses sides. She was telling me I need to pull my leg off his side when I am not asking for anything. This seems really uncomfortable to me and I have to constantly think about not letting my leg touch my horse. To me it seems like the slight contact with a nice relaxed leg is like having a slight contact with the bit at all times, so the cues aren't surprising and the horse knows you're there. From her point of view, by having even the slightest of leg on him I am deadening his response to my leg.

    Any thoughts? Where is your neutral position?

  • #2
    I'm having a hard time imagining how you could keep your legs quiet if you had everything below the knee off the horse's sides. You'd end up pinching with you knees, wouldn't you? When I ride my legs are always in contact with the horse, always giving a hug. But I don't apply the gas pedal pressure until I need it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Even with her logic behind this idea, I think it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

      Comment


      • #4
        GM would probably not agree with your BM, and neither do I. I've read in HSE and a couple of his articles that you need to desensitize your horse to your leg. So when you are not asking for an output of energy (changing a gait, extending, etc) YES your leg should lie against your horses side. You should ALWAYS maintain leg contact with your horse. Your horse should not be off put or surprised by you maintaining leg contact - how else are you supposed to stay on?

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thank you all for your input. I thought her tip was a little strange. By keeping your leg off your horse you would have to use a lot more stirrup support and a lot less leg support, how would you stay on without stirrups if you couldn't hold on with your leg?

          I love her horse care standards but I have to question some of her training methods. I do not actually take lessons from her but my horse definitely needed some aid from the ground yesterday.

          Comment


          • #6
            I cannot imagine having my leg off my horse. Reminds me of many of my local area walking horse riders and some western trail riders. I've had a western person tell me I was goosing a horse because my legs were lightly on the horse. . Whatever.
            “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
            ¯ Oscar Wilde

            Comment


            • #7
              Don't take her advice. Horses need to accept leg, always. And your position would be very weak without leg on the horses side.

              Comment


              • #8
                Plenty of people ride without their lower leg on the horse. That doesn't mean it is correct or especially difficult to do...just ask someone who has a hot horse that had used this tactic instead of training them to accept the leg.

                You should have soft, even contact from mid thigh to mid calf.

                That said, if you had a really talented horse that wanted to be ridden with no leg? Well, you try to train them at home, but you do what you can to get the best performance out of them. If horsie is doing everything you want them to do and only does it with a certain ride? Give them that ride. The horse hasn't read the book and doesn't know what "correct" is. Try to inch your way to correct, but you may never get there.

                But, generally, as a theory, I would say that the leg should be in light contact at all times.
                Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

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                • #9
                  I realize you went through looking at pain, and this seems to be the go-to response for everything, but does he have ulcers? The only reason I am bringing that up is because my OTTB was going along fine, and then started to get baulky at doing anything other than walking. It progressively got worse until he would basically blow up when I put my leg on to ask him to move forward. I tried everything, then put him on pop rocks because it certainly couldn't hurt to get some ulcer meds. He immediately stopped his poor under saddle behavior within 3 days. Just a thought because I've never met an OTTB that didn't want to work!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If your BM comes from a saddleseat (or any breed that includes saddleseat - Arabs, Morgans, Saddlebreds) background, that's how many of us ride pleasure horses. Personally, I think it's a good way to ride a really well-schooled horse who isn't going to drop you in a pleasure class. Obviously, on a greenie, or in an equitation class, it's a different story.

                    Obligatory pictures-or-it-didn't-happen:
                    The 2012 reserve champion half-Arabian hunter pleasure horse
                    The 2012 champion Arabian saddleseat equitation 14-17 rider - Saddleseat riders are supposed to have a straight line from hip to heel, but not in the way hunters do: when not cueing the horse, you're supposed to be able to tape a yardstick from hip to heel, so the leg is away from the horse.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PrimoAmor View Post
                      Thank you all for your input. I thought her tip was a little strange. By keeping your leg off your horse you would have to use a lot more stirrup support and a lot less leg support, how would you stay on without stirrups if you couldn't hold on with your leg?
                      I was agreeing with you until you said the above. You should not be using your legs to stay on. That comes from seat/balance. If you are using your legs to stay on, then that is by definition "putting leg on." Your legs should drape lightly against the horse's side unless you are giving an aid.

                      Leg on means pressure (regardless of the degree). The feel and intent are different. If you are constantly riding with leg on, your horse is not getting any release and that can lead to dullness. So neutral position = leg in contact with horse's side with no pressure.

                      Does that make sense?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You are right, neutral is slight contact. Although if you have trouble getting him to go/round himself, I think you should maybe carry a crop. Even if you don't use it, the horse will know its there.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm thinking your problems might stem more from your "slight contact with the bit" comment. Your horse and you might not agree on how much contact is slight. The first thing I'd do with a horse that won't move is grab mane and kick.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Or a dressage background. What many hunters think is a "soft and drapey" leg is actually a nagging leg to many more sensitive horses.

                            With a hot horse, I will use "zero leg" at first until I get acceptance that we don't have to go a zillion miles an hour, and then the leg can gradually be accepted.

                            With a dull horse I will use "zero leg" until I get a sharp response to a slight ask, and then transfer that to a more drapey lower leg.

                            You totally do *not* need to use your lower leg to stay on, not even over fences, not even bareback.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PrimoAmor View Post
                              Thank you all for your input. I thought her tip was a little strange. By keeping your leg off your horse you would have to use a lot more stirrup support and a lot less leg support, how would you stay on without stirrups if you couldn't hold on with your leg?

                              I love her horse care standards but I have to question some of her training methods. I do not actually take lessons from her but my horse definitely needed some aid from the ground yesterday.

                              I do know riders that support this (take your lower leg off horse) but in the Hunter/Eq/Jumper world it's not correct. I used to ride a horse that hated lower leg contact so often I rode from my knees. Now this has been a very very very hard habit to break. And many a time I was not an effective rider because of it. I would turn into a human pendulum. Not good.

                              Now I think it is critical a horse accept your leg.

                              I will not try to give advice on getting your horse going forward because I am not seeing what is going on but to me it sounds like you may need to seek out a trainer for help.
                              Live in the sunshine.
                              Swim in the sea.
                              Drink the wild air.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Also, she may be seeing something that you are not. Some people, who have ridden "push" horses in the past, tend to be naggy with their lower legs and heels, and not realize it, because it never ticked off the horse. It may be an adjustment that she is looking for, not the "end result".

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Thanks for all the responses guys! There were many good answers and I am going to try to address a few.

                                  Re: Ulcers and OTTBs. He has been treated for ulcers.
                                  Re: Contact with reins. I have tried 'throwing the reins away' and he still doesn't want to move forward.
                                  Re: Sevensprings. Totally makes sense. That is what I was trying to say but better worded.


                                  Yesterday my boy saw the chiropractor. I received a fantastic referral so I thought I would give it a try. The guy said he had a few ribs out. Hopefully having his ribs adjusted will help.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Do you have a someone who could lunge him with you on him? Having someone on the ground and pushing him from behind with clear w/t/c commands with you giving the same voice and leg commands, I think would really benefit the both of you. That way you aren't so stuck trying to urge him along and him not getting frustrated or upset.

                                    But I do not understand to having no leg contact at all while riding, I think that would give you an unbalanced seat and the potential for you to pinch your knees, you falling forward and then having to clumsily regain your balance on your boy and him getting confused.(sorry for the run on sentence!)

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by PrimoAmor View Post
                                      When your leg is in the 'neutral' leg position, meaning you are not asking the horse to do anything, does your leg still lay against the horse?

                                      I was having a heck of a time yesterday with my OTTB, we've been having some issues. The barn manager stepped in before things got ugly. Pretty much there are days when my guy just pitches a fit and doesn't want to trot, where it takes everything I have to get him to move forward undersaddle. We have looked into pain issues, chiropractic, soundness checks and saddle fit. I've done all I can and now it's come down to training problems.

                                      Anyway, when my leg is in neutral I still maintain slight contact, not pressure, with my horses sides. She was telling me I need to pull my leg off his side when I am not asking for anything. This seems really uncomfortable to me and I have to constantly think about not letting my leg touch my horse. To me it seems like the slight contact with a nice relaxed leg is like having a slight contact with the bit at all times, so the cues aren't surprising and the horse knows you're there. From her point of view, by having even the slightest of leg on him I am deadening his response to my leg.

                                      Any thoughts? Where is your neutral position?

                                      Has he been checked for ulcers? Your legs should "breathe" with his sides. A light contact all the way down his sides. If you start riding with your legs off of him, he will overreact when he does feel your legs and shoot forward. I made that mistake with my sensitive TB. Also, if you are riding with no leg contact, you are almost certainly pinching with your knees, of course a no no.
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                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        seeing as how I fix a bunch of hunters turned eventers, I'd be willing to be $.50 that the resistance is coming from your too tight upper inner thigh.
                                        A nagging leg will make a dead horse. ask, ASK, grab mane-whip! but only if you can fix yourself first. it would be downright cruel to punish your horse for just being as asked by your thigh and leg.
                                        www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                        chaque pas est fait ensemble

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