Foot Positioning: Where to Cue Your Horse


If you use your legs when you ride, it will be easier for your horse to understand exactly what you want him to do.  When training my horses my main objective is to teach them to move away from pressure or give to pressure.  I will apply pressure in some way (such as pulling on a rein, or tapping his body somewhere), and when my horse responds to that pressure, I reward him by releasing the pressure.  Leg cues are a form of pressure I use on my horse, and where I apply those leg cues will tell the horse to move in different ways.  I will refer to foot positioning in many of my training posts and videos.  When I ask my horse to do anything, I’m using a foot cue.

Okay the names of the foot positioning can be hard to remember.  Are you ready?  They are position 1, position 2 and position 3.  Okay maybe they aren’t that hard of names to remember.  First let’s look at neutral foot positioning.  Here you can see my legs hang down from my hips.  There should be a straight line running down from your ear, through your shoulder and hip to your heal.

In position 1 your foot will close to where the front cinch is.   When your foot is in this position you are asking your horse to move it’s front end, in turn crossing his front legs.  This is the position you will have your feet in if you are doing a maneuver like a pivot, spin or roll back.  Remember we want your horse to move away from pressure. Cuing here with your right foot will make him step toward the left.

With your foot in position 2, it will be in the middle of the barrel of your horse.  Position 2 is use to cue your horse to move both sets of feet at the same time.  This is use to preform moves such as side passing.  Pressing on the left will make your horse side pass to the right.  This is basically where they should sit when you are in a neutral riding position.

Position 3 is located at the back of your horse’s barrel where your back cinch would sit.  Cuing here tells your horse to move his hind quarters which will result in him crossing his back legs.  This cue is used when you want to your horse to perform a pivot on his front end or at times when you need your horse to disengage his hind quarters.  When you combine proper foot positioning with the right rein, movements you can literally get your horse to move in any direction you wish.  As you progress with your horse, you will find it easier to get him to do exactly what you want when using the proper foot positioning.  Remember these.  They will be referred to in many of my training posts.

3 thoughts on “Foot Positioning: Where to Cue Your Horse

  1. Your objective is to keep the horse’s attention on you without making any loud moves. So before something else gets his attention, you want to make just a little bit bigger move to get his attention back to you–jiggle a whip, raise a hand, or walk in a little closer or a little farther back from that shoulder line. his head down and starts eating grass or whatever, you’re going to have to be loud with your actions to get his attention back. You’ll startle him, he’ll run from your “attack,” and it will take longer for him to trust you.

    • Very true. You need to make just enough movement and noise to get the horse to look at you. Start small and work up.

  2. I recently got a new horse,and I am confused at how he was trained. If I try to stop him,by pulling back on the reins,he backs up. I am old school, when I used to ride,you kicked to make him go,you pulled the reins to stop..Any sugestions for me to findout if he is cue trained?

    thank you;
    pam Luther

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