Today was a teaching/learning day. Cookie and I have been working on moving her rear, today we began moving our front.
I started by warming her up for about 15 minutes. Lunging in both directions. This should be your first step after grooming before you do anything else. It warms up muscles, gets the blood flowing and it gets rid of excess energy. Cookie had plenty of excess energy today thanks to the recent rains we've had and we haven't been able to do any work.
Starting on her left side, I placed one hand on her halter and the other on her shoulder. Then tapping her shoulder I repeated the word "front". Cookie is a bit stiff throughout her body so she first tried backing up followed by moving forward. I then pushed her head further away from me and got her to bend more, then tapped on her shoulder again and said front. She only needed to show me the first cross over step and I released the pressure. Then we tried again and this time it took a little less pressure. We moved the fronts for a few steps, came back to center or squared up and rested.
Then working on her off side, she picked it up a bit more quickly. I always come back to center or square her up and rest. Moving independently takes a lot of practice and work. Your horse has to learn to sit back on his haunches or hind end in order to swing the front around. Quarter horses are trained for those awesome 360 spins, their bodies are a bit more compact and their bodies have a lot of muscle that gets built up for all of the "cowboy" things they do.
You are wanting to turn either the head or the tail. In this case the head. So by putting pressure on her front end, I'm wanting to push that away from me, cross over her front legs and plant her hinds in a slow motion spin movement.
Your horse may not be built to do those spins, but you can teach your horse to move it's front independently from it's hind and you may find it useful in many situations. This is generally the foundation for the side-pass. There are other ways of teaching the side pass. Some may be easier, some may be more confusing. If you are considering to add this to your teaching but are unsure how to start, begin with a google search. You can find several videos and pages to assist you. You may even be able to invent your own way once you learn the "how".
For Cookie moving her front will take some time for her to "get it", but for the first time she did really well. She did try to move her hinds several times and we had to stop and start over quite a bit. You may find this is the case with your horse, or you may be fortunate enough for them to be a quick learner. We continued moving the front on each side for about 15 minutes and ended on a good note. Always end your sessions on a good note or a good foot. Rest and praise on a good note and keep your sessions short. No longer than 20 minutes maximum or your horse will get bored and either plant their feet or start acting up and not pay attention to you.
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