Rider body position is the center of my teachings. In our quest of learning to dance with our horse, we need to consider rhythm or cadence of stride. As with any dancer, you have to dance in a tempo that matches your music. With horses, you need to develop a method to feel the rhythm or cadence of their feet. Not always an easy thing to do, but it is essential to becoming a dance team with your horse.
You can change the way a horse walks when you are leading them just by changing the way you are griping the lead rope. When leading a horse, even with slack in the lead rope, your horse will change how it moves when you make a fist on the rope. Your horse can feel the tension through the lead rope and change the movement of their feet, becoming slightly forehand heavy. By opening or relaxing your grip on the rope, your horse will relax their movement and actually stride out better and smoother. That is just how sensitive horses can be.
One of my pet peeves is when someone brings in a horse for training and they lead them into the barn while having a death grip on the lead rope right below the snap. The horse is usually tense, walking all over the person and leaning on them, with the horse leading the person instead of the person leading the horse. The horse has learned to brace and pull against being braced and pulled upon. If someone grabs you by the sleeve of your shirt or better yet, the collar of your shirt and tries to drag you along; your first response is to brace and pull back. Same deal with your horse. By teaching your horse to lead on a slack lead, rather than a taught rope, your horse will learn not to brace while you are handling them on the ground.
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