Finding Rhythm and Using Rhythm to Control the Horse

Vacation 2011- Pecos 093The weather has played havoc with my riding and the 2015 Clinic Schedule. However, we are getting back on track, finally. My next Clinic, Finding Rhythm and Using Rhythm to Control the Horse, will be on March 14 at Diamond TR Ranch. We are continuing our series on Western Horsemanship Fundamentals. Our goal here is to build well-trained horses and confident riders to enhance your riding experiences. Clinic will start at 9:00 a.m. and end between 3 and 4:00 p.m. To register contact Diamond TR Ranch at

Many experienced riders have well developed riding skills, but they do not feel and react to the subtle indications a horse gives to his subsequent actions. Riders who do not feel the horse’s errors are unable to react correctly in a timely manner to correct or teach the horse.

Exercises to improve a student’s ability to feel the movements and responses of the horse have been developed. They include the typical exercises for developing balance and independence of the hands and legs; feeling the horse’s foot falls and weight shifts; feeling the horse’s rhythm; and learning to respond to the minute responses of the horse. Developing balance and independent hands and legs is the most important to me.

Riding by feel is first developed by learning the foot fall patterns of the horse. At a walk the horse moves each leg independently and has four separate beats. The trot is a two-beat gait with diagonal legs moving in unison. The lope is a three-beat gait with the off hind leg and the leading foreleg hitting the ground independently and diagonal off foreleg and leading hind leg hitting the ground at the same time. All of these foot falls can be felt by being attentive to the weight shifts of the horse.

Horsemen should observe the movements of the horse with their legs and hips as well as getting in time with their hands. As the horse progresses to a trot, the weight shift is from side to side in relation to the front legs. You should feel the shift of weight from side to side through your hips and legs. At a lope the weight shifts from front to rear and from the outside hind to the inside fore, therefore, the rolling motion goes from back to front and slightly toward the inside of the circle.

As horsemen focus on the weight shifts and leg movements of the horse, they will have a better feeling for the horse’s legs, stride and weight shifts that indicate the horse’s actions and intentions.

We will accomplish:

1. Stable Safety
2. Finding rhythm
a. Feeling the leg movement
b. Move hands in rhythm with the horse
c. Walk, trot and lope

3. Using rhythm to control the horse
a. Slowing the body down
b. Speeding up
c. Bumping in rhythm – hand, leg


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