Horsemanship- Less Hand, More Body Cues

One of the most common problems I see in horsemen is dependency on the rein to cue the horse for a maneuver or control the horse. Another thing I see is riders gathering up the reins and balance themselves on the horse’s face instead of their feet and seat (easy to detect- high head; head shaking; tense body; no collection;) Yes, the rein is attached to the bit, which is attached to the face- Easy to control; but, easy to aggravate and create discomfort for the horse. The face and head of the horse is a small percentage of the entire horse. I need to control the shoulder, ribs and hips as well, to have control of the entire body. If you ask anyone if they want control of their horse from muzzle to tail- the answer is always, Yes. Well then, why do we only worry about communicating with the face? We must communicate and develop softness in the shoulder, rib, and hip to have a responsive horse. Although using the reins is part of this; we must use our legs, seat and body to communicate to the horse’s body. Reins play a part in this; mostly to give direction and set up the body. They should not be the primary communication process. Hands and feet need to give direction- Body should create impulsion. Those of you kicking your horse forward needs to re-think your cue. The rider’s feet should communicate which part moves; and where; not when and how fast.

As we use our legs and body to move the horse’s body parts, the face gets softer as well. He will stop bracing on our hands with his whole body.  As our body cues improve, the horse starts cueing off the rhythm of our body.  To stop the horse, we simply sit back and cease to ride and allow the horse to find the rhythm of the stop.  In turning our horse around, we will sit slightly back and to the outside, moving our inside leg off the horse or opening our inside door to allow the horse to step to the inside. The outside leg closes the outside door and is used to increase speed.  All of our cues with our legs should be in rhythm with our horse’s leg movements in order to control rhythm of the horse and be in rhythm with the horse.  To accomplish this, we need to develop quiet hands and busy bodies.

Steve Jones Horsemanship encourages everyone to honor social distancing protocol to prevent infection or infecting someone else with Covid-19. With any extra riding time, work on advancing your horse’s training and your horsemanship. We will schedule clinics and lessons, when it is safe to do so.;; or 501-733-0016

  • Association memberships: AQHA, APHA, ARHA, ARSHA, NRCHA
  • 2017 & 2018 Arkansas Ranch and Stock Horse Association All-Around Champion (Open)
  • ARHA Professional Horseman
  • ARHA World Show Finalist- Ranch Riding, Ranch Trail
  • Author to Numerous Publications ( 26 years for Horsemen’s Round-UP)
  • Clinics:  From Ground to Saddle; Building the Foundation; Fundamentals of Western Horsemanship; Ranch Versatility & Stock Horse (including cow work); Building Confidence for Horse and Rider; Competitive Trail;
  • Clinics have been presented to 20,000 + Horsemen

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