Connecting to the Feet

I’ve been teaching a class of very wonderful ladies every Tuesday evening – we’ve talked a bit about connecting the reins and lead rope to the feet.  Over the past few weeks I’ve seen some really nice improvements from each person and horse, but in an effort to help them remember and solidify what they’ve learned, I’m recapping here.  Hope this helps, ladies 🙂


Our first exercise involved leading on the ground.  We worked on teaching the horse to follow the float.  Each rider spent time watching their horses’ front feet, and asking them to speed up or slow down as the front foot was on its way down.  To speed their feet up, the lead rope was opened forward in the direction of desired travel.  If the horse’s feet didn’t speed up, the rider would help that horse go toward the float by driving a little with the lead rope behind, and releasing as soon as a change was made.  To slow the feet down, the rider would time an upward lift (imagine where you’d sit if you were in the saddle – that’s the angle you want to take your lead rope up to) with each front foot to slow it, with a little release in each step.


Amy and Goldie working on a float. Amy is asking Goldie to speed up a bit as her left front leg is leaving is leaving the ground. She is ready with her lead rope to support just in case.


Slowing Rose’s feet down – My hand is bringing the lead rope up toward the pommel of Rose’s saddle. Each step brings a slowing motion on the lead rope or a lift, and a small release.

Next we worked under saddle on the same, speeding up and slowing down, with a focus on asking with intention first, then following through with a seat and/or leg aid to support.


Amy focusing on Goldie’s front feet, getting ready to slow each down as it leaves the ground. She’d pick up on the rein of the foot she intended to slow (right front foot for right rein, left front foot for left rein) and release that rein as it slowed.

After that we shifted our focus to the hind feet.  Each rider spent time walking on a loose rein feeling the hind feet step up under their horse.  Once they had a good feel for that, we moved onto a serpentine excercise.  They combined their connection to the front feet in with timing up with the hind feet.  To turn left, they’d lift the front left foot with their left rein on a half circle, and then bend the horse a bit deeper as the left hind stepped up under.  After the half circle was completed with an inside hind leg coming up under the horse, they’d ride straight off – This excercise allowed the riders to feel what a truly straight and balanced horse felt like for a few strides, as setting the hindquarters under the horse allowed the shoulders to lift so the horse could ride off straight, and not wobble.

I didn’t have my own picture of a serpentine, believe it or not, so I found one on google – This man is bending his horse right and waiting on the horse’s right hind to step up and under, toward the back cinch. In a serpentine the horse would be shaped up like this but while moving forward at the walk.

So here you are ladies – here’s to a nice week of practicing feeling for those feet!  See you all next week.


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