It’s important for dressage riders to learn to feel when their horses’ hind legs are on the ground. This is because you’ll want to time giving your leg aids to coordinate with when a particular hind leg is on the ground. You need to have this
skill because the only time you can influence a horse’s hind leg is when it’s on the ground, and specifically,
just before it pushes off the ground.
Here are some tips to help you learn to feel when your horse’s hind leg is on the ground:
1. As you ride your horse at a walk, close your eyes. Focus on, let’s say, your inside seatbone. Some
people describe the feeling as their seatbone being higher. Others describe it as feeling like it’s being
pushed forward. Each time you feel your seatbone being pushed forward or higher, say the word
“Now.” As your horse walks, you’ll be saying “Now, now, now….” That way you can get into the timing and rhythm of
when that hind leg is on the ground.
2. Ask a friend to call out “Now” each time a certain hind foot is on the ground. Coordinate what your
friend says with the feeling under your seat.
3. If you’re working alone, sneak a peek at your horse’s shadow or a mirror if you have one. Check
that you’re feeling the right thing by calling out the footfall and looking at the shadow or mirror to see
if you’re right.
4. Watch other horses and riders and notice where both the horse’s hip and the rider’s hip are when a
particular hind leg is on the ground. When the horse’s hip is high, his corresponding hind foot is on the ground. His hip drops as his foot is in the air.
5. Teach yourself how to feel when the inside hind leg is on the ground in the canter by watching your
horse’s mane. It flips up during the second beat of the canter when the inside hind leg is on the ground.
Say “Now” each time you see it flip up. Then you can coordinate what you’re seeing and the word
“Now” with what you’re feeling under your seat.
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