Overview… The Five Easy Pieces by Les Vogt
Exercises to move and take control of your horse’s different body zones.
Les Vogt takes you through exercises of his Five Easy Pieces. When you’ve mastered them, you should be able to put any part of your horse’s body where you want it, without resistance.
I call the foundation exercises that I use most the Five Easy Pieces, and you will learn them all in this level of program. When you’ve mastered them, you should be able to put any part of your horse’s body where you want it, without resistance. Once you’ve mastered these exercises, you’ll probably repeat them at the walk, trot and lope every time you ride, both to the right and to the left. It’s kind of like a pilot testing all the controls before he takes off. If you feel resistance anywhere, it will only intensify when you speed things up or try a maneuver. So these exercises become the tools that help you discover, and then fix problems in a structured and consistent way.Although you’ll spend lots of time learning these “Pieces” throughout this training program, let me introduce them here:
The Zones of Our Horse: You’ll hear me speak about our horse’s zones and the zones correspond tot he part of the body that the exercise controls. Exercise No. 1 controls zone 1; exercise No. 2 controls zone 2, and so forth.
1. Lateral Flexion
Piece, or exercise No. 1, is getting the horse to yield his nose to the side as a response to you just lightly moving the rein. As you’ll hear and read again and again in this program, the KEY to achieving success in a performance training program is having a horse that will do everything you ask with a soft and resistance-free neck. By staying with this exercise until your horse will respond to a rein that still has some slack in it, I know, and you will too, that he is giving his head and neck willingly, and not being forced. Again, you’ll need to do this exercise both to the right and the left.
2. Moving The Shoulder
Piece No. 2 consists of moving the shoulder to the right or left, independent of the head. That is, if you are asking the shoulders to go to the right, the horse’s head will stay to the left. To do this you’ll start with exercise No. 1 left, as discussed above, and then by moving your rein toward the horse’s withers and engaging your left leg if you need to, you’ll get the horse to actually step across his right foot with his left one, moving his shoulders to the right. You’ll work on this exercise both to the right and the left.
3. Moving The Ribcage
Exercise No. 3 involves moving the rib cage to the right and the left, while keeping the horse’s body as straight as possible. Your goal is to move his body as one piece. While this sounds easy, it can be a real challenge because he’s probably going to want to move his shoulders first and you can’t let him.
4. Moving The Hips
Exercise No. 4 is moving the hips in one direction without the shoulders moving too, and then being able to do the same exercise on the other side. We’ll spend a lot of time on this move. It will become the foundation of your lope departures and lead changes, as well as giving you a tool for a horse that starts to drift in the back on his turnarounds.
This horse is doing exercise No. 5: Putting The Pieces Together, of the Five Easy Pieces.
5. Putting The Pieces Together
Exercise No. 5 is the test. It’s where you put all the pieces together to see if you have a rough spot that needs extra work. It consists of backing your horse in a circle with his body aligned to the track of the circle that he’s on, that is, hip and nose to the inside of the circle, and shoulders to the outside. To do this you will need hip control, shoulder control and a horse that is soft in the poll.
In the next installment, we’ll go into more details about the Five Easy Pieces with exercise No. 1: Lateral Flexion.
Les Vogt is a 15X World Champion in reining and reined cowhorse events. Les’s products include the Cowhorse U training programs, bits and spurs developed to help riders and horses at all levels of training. All are designed to improve you and your horse’s performance
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 3
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