Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Training Technique to Loosen a Horse's Hind End

How do I get my horse to engage his rear end?
This is a common question among horseback riders. Whether you need your horse to be more 'rounded'/collected in the show ring or you're working a green horse, this is a great technique for loosening a horse's hind end.

This groundwork exercise teaches a horse to engage his hind end, which of course helps him get off his forehand, too. Here Max demonstrates with Will, my Arabian gelding, whose conformation has always made it a bit of a problem to collect him up and make him drive with his hind end.

Use lateral movement to encourage better balance, suppleness, and responsiveness in your horse. Here we are asking the horse to move his hind legs further under his body, thus increasing impulsion and movement. This will create more even muscle building on both sides. It will also check to see quickly if both sides of the horse's body are supple, which we find on this gelding is not the case. This exercise is the simplest of lateral movements and will also help when mounted and asking the horse to move away from leg pressure: to execute a proper side pass, leg yield or half-pass.

A simple groundwork exercise which takes only a few minutes, this training technique can make a world of difference to get your horse rounded by driving with her rear end, as well as make her lift her shoulders up to get off her forehand.


Anonymous said...

ok i have 3 horses and 2 ponies, my mom is a professional trainer and riding instructor and she does NOT HIT THE HORSE WITH A CROP! SHE USES HER HANDS! MAYBE YOU SHOULD TRY IT! sorry but i could hear the sound of the crop and he had like nooooo lead to move...

Women on Horseback said...

There's a big difference between "whacking" and "tapping" and also a difference between a bat and a whip. We do not have much force in the bat, and it does give us an extension of the hand and allows the person to stay closer to the front end of the horse for control.

This horse has been schooled on this many times. Therefore, his relay time is not very long because it is a routine workout. The noise is louder than the damage from the bat. It is not a whip which can sting.

Remember, the goal here isn't to get the horse moving forward; rather, it's to make him use his hind legs and cross over underneath himself.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, when are you giving him a release? When he crosses over in the back shouldnt you take the pressure away??

Women on Horseback said...

Yes, the pressure is off as he moves, actually. To do this exercise, you ask (tap with the crop) and then he gives (crosses over), and then you repeat.

This is teaching him to use his hind end as well as to give to pressure - as if the crop were your leg - so if you were riding the horse, you'd squeeze/tap with your leg, and as he crossed over, you'd release the pressure (you do this from the ground with the crop).

The reason for the crop is to use it as an extension of your hand - or, in the case of teaching them where your leg would be, it obviously stands for the pressure of your calf - so that you're able to be at the horse's head for better control.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the commentators. This just made me cringe. I do the same exercise as taught by Clinton Anderson but it is NOT necessary to whack the horse. Once he knows the exercise ("schooled on this many times...") it should not be necessary to whack him. The reason it is necessary for this "trainer" is because she - she - has failed to incorporate a cue of any kind! The cue is the whack! If she cued him with a look or click or wave or signal, then the whack would be unnecessary. But she failed to do that. Also, she failed to give a release or reward. Very sad. Furthermore, the fact that this horse is so anticipating on the other side does not necessarily mean that he needs to do the other side more often. My horse has a pelvic issue (sacroiliac joint disease) which makes it very hard to step over or under on one side. I never would have discovered that if I hadn't considered it a symptom and pursued it with the vet. Imagine how unfair it would have been for me to just whack him and force him to do it 2x as much without taking the time to find out why it was so hard. Of course, the trainers never thought to do this. They never asked "why?" This was a sad video.

Anonymous said...

Okay're crazy. A: you claim that the crop is an extension of your hand...yes this is true. However, you then state that you "tap" him where your feet would be....if your feet are where you're "tapping" him at then you need to go back to riding 101 because your "tapping" him in his stifles. B: What you're doing is not a tap...considering the fact that a horse can feel a single fly landing on him I don't quite understand why you're wacking him to where we can hear it over your voice & and the wind blowing. C. You give him no release whatsoever until at least a couple of minutes. D: I don't know why I have to point this *or anything else out* but its not that the other way is his better way....its that he knows you're going to wack him...he was moving before you even asked.

Women on Horseback said...

We're surprised so many people think we're beating this horse. He has problems getting his hind end underneath him, yes...which is why he's much harder to get to cross over the first way.

The tap with the bat is on his side -- not his stifle -- and the tap comes JUST before he steps with that inside back leg. He's supposed to cross over with that leg; if he doesn't, tap. Tap. Then he crosses over correctly -- NO TAP.

This isn't cruel. It's ask & release, just like the "Parelli" method. Of course, if the horse doesn't do what you want, he doesn't get the release -- we keep asking him (by tapping him just before he lifts that inside hind leg) until he crosses over correctly. Again -- this isn't "trying to get him to move," it's trying to get him to move CORRECTLY. I.e., getting that inside leg underneath himself & crossing over properly.

You'll notice the 2nd way is much easier for him -- hence the ease of movement and we don't have to ask him to do it very much.

This horse went on that summer to earn several points at a WSCA show & other local shows -- he's not being beaten; the exercises performed help him strengthen his hind end in order to be able to collect himself properly.