Simple Yet Effective Tools
Everyone wants their horse to be more attentive to light pressure from both legs and reins. A lot of my clients come to me and are working way too hard getting their horse to acknowledge cues. A great exercise that will encourage your horse to be lighter is to ride a small circle while your horse stays shaped, without any direct pressure from you. This assumes your horse understands lateral flexion and knows how to quickly give to direct rein pressure.
It begins by walking a six foot circle and getting your horse’s neck bent to match the arc of the circle you are on. Every time your horse straightens out and you feel pressure on your inside rein slowly pull your inside hand to your hip while simultaneously adding your inside leg. Hand and leg should work as a pair. Your leg helps bend the rib cage which in turn softens the neck and lightens the mouth. As soon as your horse begins to reshape, release some rein and the inside leg. At first, the horse will instantly straighten out as you release. Simply reset him with rein and leg, as many times as it takes. Soon, the horse will begin to remain on the circle without you holding him there. As you progress and he can walk a few circles all by himself introduce this exercise at the trot and, eventually, the canter.