Acheiving Collection: A series, Part 3
- May 4, 2015
- Jenn Zeller
There are four ways to move your horse’s hips that I’ve learned from riding with Buck. The purpose of freeing your horse’s hips up are endless really, because once you’ve got them balanced through their faces, this is the continuation of teaching a horse to carry himself collected. You’ll want those hips freed up to get your horses to take their leads and teach lead changes, as well. By nature a horse carries about 65% of their body weight on their front end. To get true collection we need to redistribute that weight carriage. Ideally we’d like our horses to walk off from back to front, which requires some effort on our part to know where their feet are, and to be consistent and get them good at moving their hips.
Here are the methods in the order they’re taught:
1. Set your horse’s face in the proper elevation and lateral flexion position, and ask with your leg for their hips to roll away from you. If you were to have them bent left, their hips would roll right, and if they were bent right, their hips would roll left. You want to get this light! And I mean, light- where you can nearly think to yourself, I’d like your hips to roll one way or the other, and have it happen with very little pressure. The best way to achieve this, is to start with very little pressure to ask your horse’s hips to move, and then build to more to get the result you’re after. Horses are the masters of remembering what happened before what happened, so start small and eventually you can end there. Make sure that you’ve left the door open (removed any pressure/barriers) on the side to which you’re asking their hips to move.
2. Teach your horse to stand still while you rock his hips back and forth. This is done with the reins dropped, and slack, so your horse learns to tune into your leg. If he goes forward the first few times, and they will, you very quietly pick up your reins, set them back a step or two, and start again. Eventually they will stand there and rock. Maybe in the coming weeks, I’ll make a video of this to share with everyone! Dino is really good at it! Note: You should never yank or jerk on your horse if they don’t do what you don’t want- because they are at least trying something. They are trying to figure out the answer that you’re looking for. Patience is a virtue!
3. Ask your horse to elevate properly, while straight- no bend this time, and repeat step 2 from above.
4. Lastly you’ll ask with the rein and no leg. You get your horse’s face bent to one side or the other with proper elevation and lateral flexion, with them rolled in properly through the jaw and poll, and wait. No leg, no nothing. Wait. Wait for them to move their hip in the opposite direction you have them bent. The purpose of this is to get your horse thinking on your intent. This is a drill you will only do after you have your horse consistent at properly elevating with lateral flexion.
I hope this helps you with your horsemanship goals.
About Jenn Zeller
Jenn Zeller is the creative mind and boss lady behind The South Dakota Cowgirl. She is an aspiring horsewoman, photographer, brilliant social media strategist and lover of all things western. After a brief career in the investment world to support her horse habit (and satisfy her...