Foundation Manuevers 1
An exercise Martin uses at his clinics to help rider’s assess their balance in the saddle is riding in a serpentine. When the horse’s nose is tipped to the left, your weight should be pressing in your right (outside) stirrup. This enables him to freely lift his left shoulder and move in that direction. If you’re leaning to the inside, your weight will make it harder for him to move, and he’ll have to find ways to compensate.
Foundation Manuevers 2
When your horse’s nose is tipped to the right, your weight should be distributed in your left stirrup, opening the “door” to movement to the right.
Foundation Manuevers 3
One key to understanding how a horse backs up is to imagine that the horse’s topline, from poll to tail, is a chain made up of vertebra. If you try to “push” the chain backward by pulling on the reins without first engaging the hindquarters, the horse’s front foot will step before the opposite hind leg. As a result, the chain links (or vertebra) will move side to side, and you will encounter some resistance. If you engage the horse’s hindquarters first, it will be easier to get him to back. To do so, first apply just enough pressure on the reins to get your horse’s attention. Next, press your left leg against his side to move his hindquarters to the right. Reinforce your leg aid with left rein pressure. When the horse takes a step with his hind foot, release your pressure and allow the horse to rest for a few minutes. Then reverse your cues and ask him to take a step in the other direction. If he tries to step forward, apply firm pressure on the reins to reiterate your message. As soon as he takes a step with his hind foot, be sure to allow him to experience relief, so he learns to react to seek relief.
Foundation Manuevers 4
One way to help your horse step backward is to take your weight out of the saddle’s seat, standing with your weight in the stirrups or pressing on your thighs. Without the interference of your weight, your horse will be better able to elevate his loins and push with his hind legs under his body.
Foundation Manuevers 5
Your goal in a turnaround is to get your horse to use his whole body to execute the maneuver. You want him to reach with his front legs, while pulling with his hindquarters. An exercise to achieve this is to trot circles. Begin by trotting a large circle to the right, keeping your weight to the left.
Foundation Manuevers 6
Gradually spiral down into smaller circle, keeping your horse arced on the circle with rein and leg pressure.
Foundation Manuevers 7
Soon your circle will get so small that your horse must pivot on his inside hind foot and cross his front legs. Your mission is to maintain light contact on the reins, so your horse’s nose is tipped just slightly in the direction you’re turning. When your horse is looking into the turn, his poll will bend to the inside and his loin will bend to the outside. This helps engage his hindquarters and keep his front end balanced. Reverse your cues and repeat in the other direction.
Foundation Manuevers 8
When working a cow, it’s sometimes less threatening and more efficient to maneuver your horse’s hindquarters toward the cow. To maneuver the hindquarters in a counter-clockwise motion, pick up your left rein and establish enough contact so that your horse acknowledges you by tipping his nose in the direction of the pressure. Use your right rein to ensure he doesn’t overflex. Apply left leg pressure to your horse’s side, while keeping your right leg away from his body so he can move in that direction. When he takes one step, allow him to rest and experience relief, so he learns to associate moving his hindquarters with relief. Then repeat, asking him to gradually take more steps. Reverse these cues to move his hindquarters in a clock-wise motion.