Are you a good enough rider that you always know when your horse’s rear legs are grounded? This is an ability that you just cannot do without. It is essential that you give leg aids just when your horse’s rear leg is grounded… actually at the precise moment it is prepared to take off. This is the one precise moment when you can impact the hind leg.
I know where my horse’s rear legs are by sensing the position of his hips. When a given rear foot is aground, his hip goes higher. I get the sensation of my seatbone being thrust forward.
Here are some tips to help you determine when your horse’s rear leg is aground:
1. When waking, keep your eyes shut. Get your focus on the inner seatbone. I have known folks describe this as a feeling that their seatbone is “higher”. Others say it is like the seatbone is “pushed forward”. Try to fine tune your sense of timing by saying “Now, now, now” every time you sense your seatbone has been pushed forward. This way, you will be able to get yourself sensitized to the moment the hind leg is on ground.
2. Get a friend to keep track of one hind foot and shout “Now” every time it is aground. Make sure you are aware of the feel beneath your seat each time. That way, you will soon become adept at it.
3. If you have no one to help you out, watch the horse’s shadow, or use a mirror. Make sure you are getting it right by calling off footfalls and checking now and then with the shadow or the mirror to see if you are doing fine.
4. Closely watch other riders and horses and with respect to one particular rear leg, keep watching the position of the hips of both the rider and the horse when that leg is grounded.
5. At the canter, learn to sense when the inner hind leg is grounded by observing the horse’s mane. The mane flops up at the canter’s second beat, when the inner hind leg is grounded. Repeat the word “Now” to yourself every time you see the mane flop up. This way, you are able to synchronize whatever you are observing with the word “Now” and whatever you feel beneath the seat.