Is Your Horse Mechanically Right For the Job? by Craig Cameron
When choosing a horse, it is very important that you know if he is mechanically right for the job. To do this you need to Watch a Horse Move.
One of the best places to watch a horse move is in a round pen, where you can observe his gaits closely. Standing in the middle of the pen offers you the best vantage point. You also learn a lot about how he moves naturally without a rider’s interference.
Walk: At the walk, see how far the horse reaches up underneath himself with his hind legs. That will tell how much propulsion or drive from behind the horse has naturally. With any type of performance you want a horse that drives deeply underneath itself for maximum power.
Trot: At the trot, observe the horse’s knee action. Do the knees move up and down like pistons or barely break at the knee joint at all? Most western performance riders refer to the latter as a “flat-kneed horse,” one who keeps his legs close to the ground. They prefer this type of efficient motion for the sports they do “” reining, cutting, barrel racing, western pleasure, etc. Most flat-kneed horses appear to have a level top line when they move, which also is a desirable characteristic in the show pen. It presents a pretty picture to the judge, one that says a horse is smooth and comfortable to ride. However, in some horse show events, such as Arabian or Morgan park-horse classes, horses with high knee action are rewarded. The higher, the better. Neither one is right or wrong; it’s just whatever you want to do with your horse.
Canter or lope: When you ask a horse to canter or lope, see if he picks up the correct lead naturally. In other words, when traveling to the left, he should pick up the left lead and when t raveling to the right, the right lead. Ask him to change directions and he should also change leads. Ask him to stop (by stepping in close to his front end) and see if he stops on his hindquarters. Or does he stop hard on his front end? What you’re looking for in an athlete or performance horse is one that stops naturally on his hindquarters. As I said before, choose the breed or type of horse that best suits your style of riding. Be Aware: The more you are aware of your horse’s movement, the more you’ll be in rhythm with your horse. Awareness is the beginning of all learning. It’s the ability to see, hear, sense and feel all the little things that are around you all the time. A horse is constantly aware. You need to be aware of what your horse is doing, so you can go with him or correct him. The more you’re aware of the mechanics of the horse, the better horseman you’ll be. Go to https://craigcameron.com
[This article was published in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 3, Issue 8.]
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