Watch and Try: How to Test Whether Your Horse Is *Really* In Front of Your Leg

Watch and Try: How to Test Whether Your Horse Is *Really* In Front of Your Leg

Is your horse really in front of your leg? Like, really? 

This concept can be tough to wrap the mind around because it's one of those things in riding that is better felt than explained. Once you feel it - and especially, once you feel a horse that isn't - you'll know it. 

But think of being in front of the leg as a horse that is self-propelled - a horse that maintains his gait and energy without nagging from your leg. This is the prerequisite for the "leg to hand" connection as Equestrian Masterclass instructor, Mette Larsen, explains in her course, "Dressage Fundamentals for All Disciplines". 

Before we begin, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your horse move off of the pressure of your leg? 
  • What's the quality of that response? Does he move off promptly? Sluggishly? Several seconds after you ask?
  • How often do you find yourself having to ask multiple times for an upward transition? 
Now for the mental side of "in front of the leg": 
  • Does your horse seem to want to go forward? 
  • Would you describe him as willing? Lazy? Sensitive? What it is about his response to your aids that would lead you to this answer? 

Alright - now, let's dive into the riding exercise! 

First, watch this clip from Mette Larsen's "Dressage Fundamentals for All Disciplines" course. Take notes as you watch. What stands out to you? What reminds you of your horse? How can you incorporate some of Mette's strategies? 

Now, let's take this concept to the ring and test it on your own horse. This is a short excerpt from the workbook that accompanies the Equestrian Masterclass course (there's a workbook with each full-length EM course that you can print off and carry to the barn with you!).  If you'd prefer to download this page for printing, click here. 

Remember, if your horse has been chronically "behind the leg", you may not fix this in one day - it will take lots of patience and repetition and small, incremental improvements. Keep in mind Mette's golden rule: aids should be clear, consistent, and kind. 

Happy riding and connect with us on social media or in the comments below if you have questions! 

Feature photo by SEH Photography.