Getting the hindquarters

There are a lot of steps that are skipped over by folks when it comes to horses. Getting the hindquarters shouldn’t be one of them. When a horse is bound up or tense in his hindquarters (won’t yield) the results can be anything from the mild end of the spectrum – trouble with his leads. To the other end of that spectrum – rearing and bucking.

Often the problem may show up in the front end. The horse rears or carries his head unnaturally high , or maybe has trouble stepping across in the front. Most of the time, these problems trace to the back end. That hind end is the power – what drives the horse. One thing I see a lot of, which tells me pretty quick about the horse (or maybe more about the owner) is a horse that doesn’t back correctly. You’ll see the horse’s head come up, and it appears the horse is backing with those front legs – kind of just dragging the back end. There’s a tightness there that shouldn’t be. If you don’t have the horses mind, you don’t have his feet. Likewise, if you don’t have his hind end, you don’t have a horse. We’re looking for balance here. Not only in ourselves but also in our horses

  • One of the easiest ways this can be done (from the ground) is by using a long lead rope as shown in the photos below. (Often I do this from the back of another horse, but unless you’ve practiced this with someone who has a lot of experience, I wouldn’t advise trying it at first)

  • With your horse and you in a calm, quiet state of mind (as much as possible) take the rope up and over their neck. Before I do this on most colts, I try to have the foundation of flexing and leading up free already built in. This seems to really help the horse to pick up your feel.

  • I continue by calmly feeding the rope over the horse’s hindquarters and prepare for the next step. (A word of caution here – if your horse has the wiggles or is a little spooky, be careful here. Some don’t like the rope to close to their hocks. You can feed him a feel to come around with out letting the rope hit his hocks. Or maybe start with just the rope over his back.)

  • Here we’ve presented a soft feel for the horse to follow. You can tell he is searching because he is moving his feet. In other words, there’s communication here. The feel from the lead rope is communicating to the horse’s mind that something needs to happen and his mind is beginning to communicate with his feet.

  • The above picture is how I like to see this happen. The horse is soft/mellow. He has his head down and neck flexed or bent around to the side and his feet are moving. Sometimes, when you first ask for this, there can be a spot of confusion. The horse feels the pressure on the lead rope and wants to come to you and he may get stuck for a little while. That’s okay, be patient and wait. There would be NO JERKING on that rope either. I made that mistake a long time ago. It helps to be standing back further like I am here and not to close to their shoulder.
  • When I first ask for this, if the horse will flex his neck, I reward him by taking the pressure off. Don’t just “throw a bunch of slack,” but enough of a release to let him know he’s on the right track. Then I’ll present a feel again for him to follow. Usually this helps and things move on. No two horses are alike and there are always variables. As the “instigator of the situation” we would be the ones to adjust!

  • Here the hindquarters are moving around the front end.

  • Notice there is float/slack in the rope, and he is really mellow.

  • I wanted to show this picture because it shows clearly what we’d like to see. His left leg is crossing over all the way in front of the right. He is truly yielding his hindquarters.
  • Once he does this well, I’ll take him on across in the front quarters with a feel to step over.
  • When you have a horse saddled, you can do this same exercise from the ground. Just run the lead rope across the seat behind the horn which gives the horse somewhat the same feel as if you were in the saddle asking for this. Before I ride any colt (or horse) for the first time, I get this working good for me. Kind of a safety valve.

All of these exercises can be done when on the horses back. While sitting quietly in the saddle, bring the horses head around and hold (quietly and softly taking your rein to your knee.) Let him search. He’ll eventually connect that rein right down to his feet, moving his hindquarters over. Be sure and look the way you’re going. (Right rein pulled back, look to the right, this can really help the horse) this looking is getting on to a finer point of feel.

When you get some of these things going for you with the horse (like flexing, leading up free, hindquarters) it is amazing how some of the “problems” that were there before just disappear.

For questions concerning getting the hindquarters, please contact us.

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