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
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 the difference?
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049