Pages Navigation Menu

Proper Body Position in the Reining Turn, by Aaron Ralston

YF8Z3138.jpgFoot fall ““ The front outside leg stepping  over inside leg while inside hind leg is used as  a pivot point.   Ideally, the pivot foot should be  directly below the rider’s seat, thus supporting  the weight distribution more evenly or perhaps  more on the hind end to free up the front.   The  smaller the area of movement of the pivot foot  the more effi cient and consistent the turn.   The  remaining hind outside foot is free to supply  balance when needed.

Head and neck position – Typically, a  horizontal neck, traveling perpendicular out of  the shoulders is ideal.   Some slight bend may be  needed for some horses.   The head should be near  horizontal but only as a result of a balanced spine.   Simply pulling the head and neck into position  will not accomplish the balance needed; we must  strive to attain self carriage of this position as a  result of a balanced body.   The head and neck  position is mostly a symptom of body position;  therefore, poor head and neck  position is the symptom not the  problem.   A vertical position front  to back and left to right is a good  sign of balance.   Head left or right  will usually tell you the position of  the shoulders (head left-shoulder  right and vice versa).   Nose out  tells you the back is down, nose  in (behind the bridle) usually  indicates that the horse is heavy  on the front end.

Shoulders, ribs, hip –  For a performance horse, this  alignment is where all of the power is gained or  lost.   If a shoulder is leaning out, the opposite hip  must lean out to counter balance.   This leaves  the line of power on just the other two legs.   The  difference would be similar to the stability of a  four wheel ATV and a dirt bike with someone  leaning off the side! The straight alignment also  allows the hind quarters to support the front end  and distribute more weight from the front thus  making it easier to perform stops, lead changes,  turn arounds, lead departures, barrel turns,  dressage maneuvers, jumps, etc….   Also, much  of the head tossing and heaviness on the bit is  a symptom of improper body position.   One does  not exist without the other unless there is mental  or physical distress.   Mechanics can affect mental or behavior  problems and must be understood for optimal  performance.

Also, an occasional visit by a good  equine chiropractor can help you understand  body mechanic needs or problems.   It often  takes a well rounded understanding of physical  and mental balance to help us and our horses  succeed.   The smallest change of position can  make the biggest changes!

For a more detailed description of body  alignment stay tuned to  www.cowhorsproductions.com.   Aaron Ralston was born and raised on his  family’s ranch in Western Colorado.   Horses have  influenced his life from his early rodeo career  to his accomplishments in reining and working  cow horse competitions all over the world.   Aaron  was the 2004 AQHA Sr.   Reining Reserve World  Champion and in 2006, he was part of Team  USA at the World Equestrian Games, held in  Aachen, Germany.   Riding Smart Paul Olena,  Aaron led the Team to a Team Gold Medal and  took the Bronze medal in the Individual Reining  Competition.

[published in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 4, Issue 4.]

Tell us your favorite reining pattern!

We enjoy hearing from you!

468 ad

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *