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.

Grooming Your Horse: Daily

Just like it is important for you to keep clean and brush your hair, it is important for your horse.  Regular grooming of you horse will help keep his coat clean and healthy.  This article is going to discuss how to groom your horse for everyday.  I will be adding an article on  how to groom your horse for a show later on.

To start I take a rubber curry comb and work it in small circles all over my horse’s neck and body.  This  helps bring  any loose dirt or hair to the surface of his coat so it can be brushed away.  I prefer to use a rubber curry comb unless my horse if muddy because it is easier on his skin.

After I have curried my horse, I use a body brush to remove all the dirt and hair from the surface of his coat.  With the brush in hand you brush the direction that the hair grows.  I use quick strokes with a flick at the end to flick the hair away.  Brushing not only helps remove debris from the coat, but it also helps distribute oil from your horse’s skin along his hair shaft.  I use the brush all over the horse’s body.Then I brush his front legs and I brush his back legs.I pretty much brush any part of his body covered with hair.

Finally, I take a small, soft bristled face brush and brush my horses face and ears.  Brushing your horse regularly with help keep his coat healthy and clean.  I seldom wash my horse with soap and water, because it removes the natural oil from your horse’s skin.  I try to brush my horse whenever I catch him, that way he related being caught with something good.  I also always brush my horse before and after a ride.  By doing this you can look over your horse’s body and make sure he doesn’t have any injuries that may need attention.  Following is a link to my video on brushing your horse.

Mounting Your Horse

Most horse owners know how to get on their horse; however, for many this can be an agonizing task.  Their horses move around while they are getting on, or their horse spooks or takes off as soon as their  leg is swung over the horse.  I’m going to give you some tips on mounting that will help eliminate these problem.

Probably the most important part of mounting your horse is making sure your horse is on level ground, there is nothing your horse can spook from or get hurt on, and that your cinch is tight.   Now we are ready to get on  our horse.

When I mount my horse,  I start out facing my horse.  I take hold of the left rein and ask my horse to turn his nose toward me.

With the rein in my hand I grab either my horses mane, the saddle swells or the saddle horn with my left hand and the back of the seat with my right.

I put my foot in the stirrup and pull myself straight up.

Standing in the left stirrup, I reach over my horse’s back and pet him on his right side.  This will let  him know that the rest of me is going to be coming over, and he will be less likely to spook when I throw my leg over.  (If you are riding an older horse or a horse that has been ridden countless times or a horse that you know and trust, this step is probably not necessary; however, on a horse that I’ve never ridden before or a green horse, I always test out the other side before getting on).

Swing your leg over your horse’s hindquarters taking care not to bump or spur him, sit down in your saddle and put your right foot into your right stirrup.  If your horse starts to move off while you are swinging your leg over or before you get your foot in the stirrup, you can pick up the right rein to stop him.  However, since you have his head flexed over, it is unlikely that he will try to walk away.

My horses are pretty good about standing still when being mounted, but it is not uncommon for a horse to move around when you put your foot in the stirrup.  The easiest way to fix this problem is to take your foot back out of the stirrup and  longe him with your reins in some small circles.  By doing this you are showing him that if he moves he’s going to have to continue moving.  Most horses would rather stand than work.  After a few circles, let your horse stop and try to mount again.  If he still won’t stand, run him in more circles.  Generally after a couple of tries, your horse will understand what you want and will stand still.  Some horses learn slower than others, and you may end up trying six or seven times before your horse stands still.

The following is a link to my video horse mounting.