Performance Horses
Crescent, OK

Jeanne Dial

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Leg Length?

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 10:10 AM

I had a person ask whether or not the leg length between the rider and the trainer makes a difference. YES, it does! You'll see the two pictures I have added here, one of Chester Sadberry, who starts my colts, and myself. The two of us have been blessed with long legs. When these colts come back to me from Chet, and I take up their training from there, since there is little difference in the leg pressure toward the horse. When you think about applying leg pressure and beginning with the thigh, to the knee, to the calf, and then to the heel, think about the different strengths of each of those body parts as you apply them to your horse. The calf and heel will be able to apply more pressure. However, the strength of the rider's legs also adds to this variable. My legs are like iron, any part of them, which is not always the case with the rider who rides behind me. This strength needs to be taken into consideration when the trainer trains and the rider rides. The result is in how the horse responds.

(When I ride with spurs, which I only ride on finished horses, and never less than 6-8 months riding, I only touch the horse's side when I want to).

When riding horses for shorter legged people, I adjust my stirrup to a shorter length, even though it may not be as short as the rider, it's close. Therefore, I can put the same kind of pressures in the same place as the rider does and the horse will be less confused.

Training for children has been my biggest struggle. First, they lack the strength in their bodies to ride a horse like an adult does. Secondly, their legs sometimes don't hand past the break of the barrel, so there is never a time when the horse doesn't feel the pressure of the child's leg, even if it's just laying there. Therefore, the horse must be trained to respond to a lighter cue from the hands or legs, not a heavier one, which is often seen. I can't emphasize enough that the horse must respond to the lightest cue.

For children, I ride with my hands to a much greater degree than I do my legs. I do use body english to assist the cues.

Once the rider's leg is long enough to hang over the break of the barrel, more leg and body cues are added. The training goes to a great depth which will make the horse and rider synchronized as one.

Developing the rider's hand, legs and body to guide the horse effortlessly, is my ultimate goal.

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