Tag Archives: legs

Jane Savoie – Use of the Aids Lesson 2

Think about how it feels to have someone speak to you in a foreign language. If you don’t know the language, you can’t understand them. If they speak slower, you still won’t have a clue what they’re saying. If they shout at you, you still won’t understand.

That’s how it is for your horse. When you train, you’re developing a non-verbal language with him.

When you learn a foreign language, you first need to learn the letters of the alphabet. Once you know the letters of the alphabet, you can put them together to form words. Then, eventually you can put the words together to form sentences. Your horse has to go through this same process as you develop your non-verbal language with him.

For example:

1.    The letters of your equine alphabet are the different actions of your seat, legs, and hands.

2.    When you put the letters of the alphabet together, you form words. For example, you’ll see in Lesson 6 on Connection that the combination of the driving aids, the bending aids, and the rein of opposition create the word “connected” or “on the bit”.

3.    Finally, you’ll put words together to make sentences. For example, if you want to do a transition on the bit, you’ll form a sentence by using two sets of aids at once. You’ll give both the aid for “on the bit” and the aid for the transition itself. In your horse’s language, you’re saying, “Do this transition on the bit.”

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

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My horse has an odd angle to her back legs.

Good straight back legs

Good straight legs

Question: I have a 4-year-old, 17HH Dutch Warmblood mare that’s got an odd angle to her back legs. When she stands, there is a straight line from hip to hock, but then it dives in.  I want to use her for jumping, but something tells me (gut instinct) that those back legs may not take the work involved. Everyone at the barn tells me that her legs are big so there is no problem, and that I should be riding her by now. What do you think? Can I breed her?

Also, what exercises can I do to strengthen them without having to go over fences?

Answer from April Reeves: Good instincts. This appearance of a sharp angled hock is called ‘camped out’ or ‘sickle hocked’. If you were to stand the mare so that her back legs had a vertical line from top of hock to bottom of pastern, you would find that line would be pushed out behind the point of the hip. Some sickle hocked horses just stand with their back legs up and under, and some (camped out) stand with their back legs out. Sickle hocked horses tend to have too much angle to their hock joints, while ‘camped out’ back legs sit back from the hip line, with the angle more pronounced through the gaskin.

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