Many instructors consider Arabians too "hot," or on the fast and frisky side,
for use as school horses. Watergate is unusual, however. He's especially
well behaved and calm, and he knows the class routine better than most
instructors. He's a star among school horses.
Although on the smallish side, in the field he's definitely a herd leader.
(He's one of the horses that terrorizes Tiki). Another horse had better not
try to eat his pile of hay.
Under saddle, Watergate moves forward easily, but he demands that riders
give him very clear instructions.
More on Using Your Legs
When I say "leg," I mean from your uppermost calf down to the point of your
heel. On some sensitive horses, however, your thighs might be considered
part of the leg.
There are two distinct ways to use your legs -- slapping and squeezing --
with infinite nuances between. A slapping leg can be used with every stride,
twice a stride, or, indeed, as fast as you can apply. It will tend to make your
horse step higher and shorter. In contrast, squeezing will tend to make your
horse move forward with a longer stride.
Squeezing, by the way, does not mean clamping. An important rule in riding
is this: Steady pressure on a horse won't work. So when I say squeeze, I
mean close your legs more strongly and then release. Close, then release.
But do not clamp.
Part and Position
The part of your leg you use and your leg position also make a difference.
The farther down the leg, the more aggressive the aid. If you squeeze with
your heels, you'll get more reaction than squeezing with your upper calves.
The two basic leg positions are at the girth and behind the girth. In case
you've forgotten, positioning your legs "at the girth" means at the perfect
center balance of the horse, where you should be sitting, with ears,
shoulder, hips, and heels in line (a). It doesn't mean you should line up
your leg with the saddle's belly strap. Except for an extreme correction,
"behind the girth" means from two to four inches behind where your legs
naturally hang (b). Here again, there are infinite degrees and nuances in
the way you use your legs behind the girth, but in general the farther back
you place a leg, the more aggressive the leg aid.
Try out these different leg positions on Watergate. Ask him to trot, and then
ask him to move on by squeezing at the girth. Slow him down a bit with a
half halt. Ask him again to move faster by squeezing behind the girth. Feel
is always OPEN!!
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|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049