Constants and Variables
Kansas horsemanship clinician Kerry Kuhn explains that some things remain constant and others change when developing smooth transitions horseback.
by Fran Devereux Smith
â€śSometimes when I ask a horse to roll up and into his shoulders and soften his back into a framed position, people think Iâ€™m asking the horse to back, but thatâ€™s not the case,â€ť explains clinician Kerry Kuhn, whose Practical Horsemanship program is headquartered at the JJ Ranch near Coats, Kansas. When Kuhn asks his horse to find a soft frame, he might be standing still or at a walk, trot or lope. He might be going forward or backward, or making a change in speed.
The constant is Kuhnâ€™s hand position and, as a result, the horseâ€™s body position. Kuhn holds contact consistently enough that his horse has learned to find a release from the rein pressure by rounding his back, rolling his shoulders forward and flexing at the poll.
The difference in what his horse does, once heâ€™s properly rounded into position, lies with Kuhnâ€™s seat, feet and legs. How much energy he sends through them and even his foot position can determine the speed or direction of travel, the transition he makes.
No matter the transition, Kuhn says, â€śThe softness I want in my hands when my horse backs is the same feel I want when he speeds up, slows down or turns. Then my horse flows through a fluid transition no matter what we do.â€ť
Read Kerry Kuhnâ€™s tips for making smooth transitions in the September issue of Western Horseman magazine. Contact KerryKuhn.com; 620-213-0939.