Photo: Sue Weakley.
In Program Your Position, a program released in collaboration with Jane Savoie, we use key buzzwords to trigger the brain to become more self-aware while riding. We talk about the energy you create in your horse from your legs, and then how and where to channel or recycle the energy with your seat and reins.
The original Program Your Position drawing (above) shows how your aligned and square torso (head, shoulders, knees, and toes) should aim like laser beams to direct the energy of the horse (isn’t that a song?).
For example, let’s talk about shoulder-in. The shoulder-in is a lateral movement that is the foundation of all lateral work. Shoulder-in is performed on three tracks and has bend and flexion around the inside leg. The shoulders are displaced to the inside over the inside hind leg. The outer shoulder and fore leg should be placed over the inside hind leg to create three tracks. The hind legs in a shoulder-in should maintain their straight forward position along the original path.
OK. So how do we do THAT? Your shoulders and reins control the direction of your horse’s shoulders. Your hips and legs control the hips and hindquarters of the horse.
For this article, we are only going to talk about the rein aids, as I am using the shoulder-in as my example for the “laser” or “butt end of the whip” directions.
Your hands for a shoulder-in to the right:
- Keep both hands low and equidistant from your body as you move them to the right.
- Move them to the right enough to place the outside front leg in front of the inside hind leg.
- Use your inside rein as an opening rein.
- Bring your outside hand very close to the withers, but never let that hand cross over the withers.
The direction of the butt end of the whip is heading in the same direction as your arm and horse’s energy. So, if your whips are crossed, then there is an X or blocking of energy at that point. If you only point one whip where you want to go, the horse will fall out the other side.