Engage your horse’s hindquarters for smooth maneuvering.
By Kalley Krickeberg
Photography by Kalley Krickeberg’s Balanced Horse Training
Pay attention now—you could be the “butt” of a lot of jokes if you can’t control your horse’s hindquarters (pun intended)! All joking aside, being able to control your horse’s hindquarters is a must, no matter your situation. Whether you’re easing into a herd of cows to sneak a loop on one without disturbing the rest or maneuvering through a gate without letting the horses from one pasture into another, you need to have solid hindquarter control in your horse to get the job done well.
The majority of the horse’s power and athleticism is derived directly from how well—or how poorly—he uses his hindquarters. In previous articles I have covered shoulder control; lifting the shoulders help open up the neck so the horse can start using his back, which allows his hips to swing up under the horse’s body instead of dragging out behind. Once I start gaining that control, I move on to the hindquarters and developing medial control—that includes asking my horse to move his haunches to the inside of a circle. This skill is much more challenging than simply disengaging the hindquarters to the outside.
Mechanically speaking, it is far easier for the horse’s hindquarters to go to the outside when you take his nose to the inside or toward his tail, which is what you do when you disengage the hindquarters. In haunches in, we are gathering the horse’s hips under himself toward the inside, with his nose remaining either straight ahead or slightly tipped to the inside. This skill gives the horse more strength and power, but it’s often more challenging for the horse to perform; given the option of the two, a horse will almost always choose the easier way out that expends the least energy.
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2019 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join