17. KEY TO HORSES BEING LIGHT & COMPLIANT ON THE BIT & LEAD
This is a very common problem, horses leaning and heavy on the bit or on the lead.
The thing is the signals we give to our horses must be clear. Pulling or steadily leaning on a horses mouth will create a horse leaning and pulling and ignoring you, and same goes on the lead.
The reason being the horse thinks you are simply 'present' rather than giving a signal.
Any signal on the lead or reins needs to be intermittent, short and clear then let go.
I.e. you're leading your horse and it's walking too fast and dragging you along. Gently and intermittently pull and release as fast as you can and tell the horse just walk slowly mate, and when the horse goes too fast again do the same finishing a loose lead.
This makes the horse own their own behaviour rather than having to be micro managed.
When you go to turn on the lead don't drag the lead round, do little intermittent signals and you'll find the horse turns lightly because what your achieving is a clear communication with your horse rather than physically manhandling them into what you want.
When riding firstly make sure you're seated in a good working position, the easiest place a horse can carry your weight is over the shoulders so sitting in the saddle you should always ride as far forward in the saddle as possible with your shoulders back and your legs back.
Secondly your legs should hang loosely down, able to be used independent of position, so you're balanced on your seat not gripping with your legs.
Then any signal you give your horse needs to be light and clear. If you jam your legs on, your horse will not see this as a signal.
You need to lightly rub the horses sides with your legs and this will get a clear and light response.
When stopping or turning gently and clearly rub your legs on the horses sides lightly to get the horses attention and then use your hands in unison gently and intermittently guiding.
When working in dressage on the bit, gently rub your legs and intermittently in unison ask with your hands for the head carriage and light posture required and maintain a lightness from the horse using legs and hands in balance sitting deep but lightly.
You will find that horses will respond with beautiful lightness and every time the horse leans use your legs and hands again to shuffle all that forward energy back up into light cadence instead.
The key to a compliant light horse in every aspect is not using steady slow hard commands but rather soft sharp clear intermittent commands that are clearly different from simply being firmly present.
Under saddle using those light legs clearly and intermittently along with clear intermittent hand aids will create that dreamy light horse they all can be.