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Troubleshooting: Getting Your Horse In Front Of Your Leg

Submitted by member: Diana

It seems I have problems keeping my horse in front of my leg. Are there any flatwork exercises I can do to help with that? When I am on course, I lose the horse’s hind end, and find myself riding backwards, pulling to the tight distance, since the “gappy” one doesn’t appear. What could I be doing so wrong?

Answer by Geoff Teall

The best exercise I know to get the horse to both listen to the leg, and come up in front of the leg, is to use the “cluck” in conjunction with a stick. Because I always err on the side of caution, I start the exercise standing still. My first step would be to cluck to the horse. If I got a reaction forward from my horse, I would leave it at that. If I did not get a reaction, I would then use the cluck and the stick at the same time. I repeat this until I get an appropriate response. If I am not sure that I got an appropriate response, then to me I did not.

Once I am getting a response that I like from the standstill, I carry the same exercise and the same ideas forward to the walk, trot, canter, and even over rails and jumps. The important piece here is that the horse ends up reacting by going forward when you cluck. You are using the cluck in conjunction with the stick to be sure the horse ultimately responds to the cluck without the stick. It is the cluck on its own that you will have to rely on for your performance in the show ring. Mixing up both the cluck on its own, and the cluck with the stick when the horse does not respond to the cluck alone with all your work, will ensure that you have the cluck ready to go for when you need it when you are showing.

Bernie Traurig did a post called “How To Stop Your Horse From Being Lazy On The Flat” that you may also find helpful. Click here to view it.

Video Recommendation:

get your horse in front of your leg

Getting And Keeping The Dull Horse In Front Of Your Leg
Bernie Traurig
Is your horse dull to your leg? Are you constantly nagging your horse with your spur? Are there worn patches on your horse’s side from heels that are constantly asking for forward momentum? Bernie has the solution.
Running Time:  15 minutes and 8 seconds

View Video

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Geoff Teall

Geoff Teall is one of the leading Hunter and Hunt Seat Equitation trainers in the country. Horses and riders who have trained with Geoff have gone on to win championships, medals and ribbons at major events including Devon, the AHSA Medal Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Capital Challenge, the Pennsylvania National, the Washington International, the USET Talent Search, and the National Horse Show. Geoff is an "R" judge for both Hunters and Hunt Seat Equitation. In addition to training and judging he also offers his expert coaching through virtual training. To learn more from Geoff Teall Virtual Training on Facebook and Instagram.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. I am curious as to why you would do this exercise using the “cluck” instead of your leg? I was taught this exercise some 40 years ago, but never with the cluck.My interpretation of the exercise, was to get your horse in front of your leg, and light to your leg. Have I been doing it wrong all these years?

    1. Dear Barbara,
      Thak you for your question. We forwarded it to Geoff and here is his response…

      With a touch of a misunderstanding, combined with an effort to be concise I should elaborate on my answer and try to be more clear. I made an assumption that the rider had already tried leg and did not get an appropriate response. If that assumption is correct then my next step would be to go to the cluck and the stick together. The reason I use the cluck and the stick together is to make sure that the horse will respond to my cluck. I would not want to have to rely on actually having to use my stick continually. Additionally, if I have a horse that responds automatically to either my leg or my cluck I am still in a position to have two hands on the reins. I hope that clarifies a bit.

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