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Using Subtle Cues

One of the main things that I stress in my riding instruction is the importance of using subtle cues to direct your horse. Horses that have “hard mouths” or take five minutes of kicking for any forward motion are dull and unresponsive for a reason. They have been made this way. Any horse can be sensitive and respond to light and subtle cues. While a draft horse will never be quite as light and responsive as a thoroughbred, they can still be trained to move off of light pressures. The key to creating a light, responsive horse is to first give them the chance. When you ask for movement, do it lightly at first, then quickly increase the pressure until you get a response. A good example of this is asking your horse to move forward. Start with tipping forward in your seat, then squeeze your legs. If your horse still does not move, quickly increase the pressure to a firm squeeze then a kick. When slowing down stop the movement in your seat first, then stretch down through your legs, then use your reins. If you consistently follow the same progression of pressure, starting soft and quickly increasing it, your horse will learn to respond to those first subtle cues.

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