Series – How Horses Move Their Bodies and How Riders Can Help Them – PART 4 – Application of footfalls to how we ask our horses to move

Hello All,

Well last month I left you with that little question. 'Is a gallop a different gait than the canter?'
Answer: Yes it is!

The foot falls for the gallop are: In a right lead, LH, RH, LF,RF, and then in a left lead, RH, LH, RF, LF. So it goes hind, hind, front, front.  The canter is 3 beats, the gallop is 4 beats.  For a discussion of the canter footfalls, see part 3 in this series.

Now that we know the gaits of non gaited horses we can start talking about how knowing the way their feet move and where they are, how we can influence our horses feet and be in time with them. The better timing we have in asking our horse to do things, the easier it will be for our horses to do what we want and the better they will move their own body with a rider on their back.

Here is a fun thing to practice and then make a habit of it:
Ask your horse to walk forward. Then in time with the right front foot ask your horse to turn right. You will ask for the turn by lifting the right rein up and a little over to the right and then put a little left leg on your horse's side. As soon as they take that one step right with the right front, let down your rein and go forward.

When is the right time to ask to be in time with the right front foot? You are going to ask when the right front foot is all the way back about to move forward. If you ask then, the horse can lift it up and put it right.
If you ask the horse to move right when the right front is forward they have to take another step to get their feet ready to turn. It is like if you put all your weight on your own right foot and then tried to lift it! You can not! You have to take the weight off of that foot to lift it.

So if we get in time with our horses feet you will see better turns and better body posture. If we are good with our timing, you will feel your horse's shoulder swing over to the right. It will feel light and sweeping. Your horse will be looking in the direction they are going, the shoulder will be light and sweeping and the rib cage will be bent. Most of the time when people ask their horses to turn they turn like a 2X4 board. Stiff and straight! But that will only cause pain and lameness in our horses years down the road.
Practice this to the right and left turns. Your timing will get better and better and your horse's turning and body posture will get better and better!

Next month we will talk about more ways that we can get in time with our horse's feet to better influence them and only help make our horses better.
Now here is another little brain teaser for you! When a horse backs up are their foot falls a walk, trot, canter, or gallop????

Thanks to all the emails and by great popular demand I will be doing a series on GAITED HORSES, real soon! We will be going through all the different gaits of all the popular gaited breeds. But everything we are talking about now also applies to gaited horses too so keep reading!

I have gaited horses of my own and have trained and helped a lot of people and horses to gait better. I can come to your own home and help, or you can also set up a gaited horsemanship clinic!
Get that great smooth gait without force, fear, or artificial tools.

Thanks for all your emails of support and questions! Keep them coming!!
Email if you have any questions or comments.
Chelsie Kallestad

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