that you feel compelled to post. Use the following aids to guide your horse onto a circle to the right:

Palm Partnership Training™ Building a Partnership with your Horse Basics of Balance

By Lynn Palm It is essential that a

horse be balanced to maxi- mize his athleticism and do what you ask of him. In this article, we’ll look at the ba- sics of balance.

Communication is the Key Balance can only be at-

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tained when your horse is driving himself forward from his hindquarters with his body in straight align- ment. To get your horse to drive himself forward from his hindquarters, you must have good communication with him through your aids. The three aids we will work with here are: your reins, your legs, and your seat.

Reins—Your hands “talk” through the reins to the front third of your horse’s body, from withers to poll. This includes his head, neck, shoulders, and front legs. Think of this area as his steering wheel. To keep your horse light and willing, your hands/reins should comprise no more than 20 percent of your aids.

You will use two types

of rein aids for the exercises in this series—an opening or leading rein and an indirect or neck rein.

1. Opening (leading) rein: Rein contact directly out to the side literally leads your horse’s nose in the chosen direction. To apply the aid, establish light contact with

both reins. Bring your right hand directly out to the side until you can see the corner of your horse’s right eye. (If you can see more of his eye then you have pulled his head too far and his body out of alignment.) Tip your thumb to the right as though you are turning a key in a lock. This prevents you from pulling back which would impede his forward movement and balance.

2. Indirect (neck) rein: A neck rein is not an aid, but rather a cue as a rein laid against the left side of your horse’s neck tells him to go right. It’s a conditioned re- sponse. Through repetition, your horse learns that rein pressure against his neck will be accompanied by bit pressure from the opposite rein. He soon learns to turn in response to the rein pres- sure alone. To apply a left neck rein for a turn to the right, tip your left thumb slightly outward as you lay that rein against the left side of your horse’s neck. Keep your right hand neutral while maintaining the same distance between both hands. Avoid the temptation to cross your horse’s withers with your cue hand because doing so would pull his head to the left (opposite of where you want it to be) which would ruin his align- ment.

Legs—Your legs influence the back two-third of your

horse’s body, from the with- ers to the tail. Think of this as his engine. Your legs, combined wit your seat (below), will act as both ac- celerator and brakes. De- creased pressure means “stop;” increased pressure means “go.” Together they should comprise 80 percent of your aids.

Seat—Your seat controls your horse’s hind legs and, thus, his speed. When you are correctly balanced, your hips move in sync with your horse’s motion. To speed him up, simply move your hips faster than his current movement by pushing them forward in the saddle as though propelling a swing higher. To slow down your horse, tighten your stomach and rump muscles in order to slow your hips’ following motion. Support your seat aid with light rein aids, and you’ll keep your horse’s weight rocked back over his hindquarters so that he slows but retains the energy needed to balance. Now we will put all of

these aids to use in an exer- cise.

Exercise 1: Body Control on a Circle Warm up your horse.

When he’s relaxed and fo- cused, use your leg and seat aids to pick up a forward jog. You want enough en- ergy that you can feel him pushing forward from his hind legs but not so much


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1. Right leg contact just be- hind the cinch, or at a spot at which he’s responsive (my horse’s responsive spot is farther back, so that’s where my leg is). Light leg pres- sure here will arc his body on the circle’s track and pre- vent him from leaning to the inside. 2. Inside (right) opening rein, to bend his head and neck slightly to the inside. 3. Light left leg pressure about six inches or so be- hind the cinch to slightly tip his hip to the inside. 4. Outside (left) indirect rein to block his shoulders from bulging to the outside and to prevent his head from tip- ping too far to the inside.

As you do this exer-

cise, keep your head up and your eyes looking ahead on your track. This will help subliminally to guide your horse on the circle. Stay bal- anced and centered in the saddle with your shoulders mirroring his. If you tip or slouch in one direction or the other, your horse will be forced to change his align- ment to balance beneath you. That is counter to our goal. Also, be sure your con- tact is light so that your horse feels free to move for- ward.

Keep practicing this

exercise until you feel con- fident about the use of your aids. In the next article, I will give you more exercises and troubleshoot some com- mon errors. If you have trouble

keeping your circles round, mark out your circle with a series of double cones spaced far enough apart so that your horse can easily travel between the two. Be- sides helping to keep your circles round, the cones will make it easier to spot if your horse falls in or out. (This material in this article is taken from the four-part se- ries that Cyril and I did for Horse & Rider with the magazine’s writer, Sue M. Copeland.) For helpful training

materials and more informa- tion, visit us at www.lyn- or call us at 800-503-2824.

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Send To: The Rider , P.O. Box 10072, Ancaster, Ontario L9K 1P2 (905) 387-1900 • email:

on these training materials and more, as well as clinics, please visit www.lyn- or call us at 800- 503-2824.

Guide to Take You to Your First Show A Rider Guide to Real Col- lection DVDs: “Dressage Princi- ples for the Western Horse & Rider” Volume 1 Parts 1- 5 “Dressage Principles for the Western & English Horse & Rider” Volume 2,Parts 1-3 “Let Your Horse Be Your Teacher” Parts 1&2 For more information

train with Lynn & Cyril at home with Western Dres- sage, take advantage of the following supportive train- ing materials: Books: Head To Toe Horse- manship Western

If you would like to


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