Tips for Using Legs and Feet

I’ve noticed a common challenge when we use our legs and feet, especially as we’re gaining experience. And that is, we could all use a dose of more precision, smoothness, and effectiveness as we use our lower limbs.

This video is all about how to go slower and develop smooth and effective leg and feet cues.

And by the way, it has been extremely windy in Texas, so I decided to find the calmest wind spot in our open-air barn to do my demo. (-:

I am sitting on Nic and demonstrating, so instead of a verbatim transcript, I chose to give you the bullet points of my demo.

Effective leg and feet cueing entail these elements:

1. A beginning of an aligned position in the saddle

2. A calm but engaged mental state because that translates to just the right amount of muscle tension in our body (on its own!)

3. Always begin with a light cue of a press against a horse’s side with your calf.

4. Use an even motion to apply the amount of pressure that causes a response for your horse.

5. Immediately release the pressure.

6. Remember that a “push” motion causes even cadence moves

7. Know that a “kick-kick” motion causes bursts of reaction and speed

8. Be mindful of the type of acceleration you want (smooth or burst), and then use your legs and feet accordingly.

9. Practice slowly when you can focus to cue lightly and then add pressure mindfully.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Was this helpful to you?

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14 Comments on Tips for Using Legs and Feet

  1. Lloyd Estes on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 1:26 pm
  2. Hi Barb, Happy Easter, Your Bullet Points are Great ! A couple thoughts;wiggling our toes within the boot sends a signal to most horses, especially helpful for the horse that over rotates, or goes to the corner. Stirrup leathers cut from 9 oz.leather is thinner than some saddle makers use, but strong enough to last, and thin enough to communicate with the horse.

  3. CJ Smith on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 1:42 pm
  4. great advice and clearly put

  5. gloria z on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 2:39 pm
  6. great advice , thank you

  7. Kathy on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 3:06 pm
  8. I really like how simple you made points 6 & 7. I have a tendency to over explain these points when helping others. Thank you.

  9. Elaine Bohlin on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 3:14 pm
  10. Happy Easter! Always good to hear this again even if we ‘know’ it and especially about riding with intention and taking that moment to get grounded and feel your horse before you ever ask him to step off. Taking that moment to feel helps you remember how all your body parts communicate with your horse.
    Always good to see Nic – he is so cute! You look great in that misty green color and I love the Blue Bell cap!

  11. Anne Crawford on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 4:02 pm
  12. Perfect! Was working on this before this video went up bending through cones and realise now why my mare was rushing. Thank you

  13. Carol on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 4:33 pm
  14. Thank you Barb. Very helpful to see you demonstrate. What boots are you wearing? They look great and supple enough to be comfortable around the ankles. Happy Easter!

  15. wanda on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 4:49 pm
  16. Omygoodness Barb Thank u!

    I too was in a practice and wasn’t getting the immediate response from my mare yesterday
    (I’ve been thinking about my cuts all day)
    I will be more aware of my position and the hugging that i need to do.
    Thank You for your video! Nic is so cute!
    Happy Easter we are so blessed to have ya

  17. Pam Dudek on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 5:05 pm
  18. Horses thank GOD every day for you Barb🙌😉❤️.

  19. Barb Cooper on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 5:28 pm
  20. Thanks so much I was working on that today … now I know more!!

  21. Barbara Hartwig on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 5:56 pm
  22. This lesson was perfect timing. I have 2 rides now after my broken ankle. I have not put spurs on yet, as I do not feel like I have complete control of my leg. I am learning how to increase pressure slowly.
    Thank you

  23. Catherine Read on Sun, 17th Apr 2022 7:52 pm
  24. HI Barb,

    Thank you for explaining the push versus kick. It made me think about that I do and what reaction I get.

  25. Carol MacGregor on Mon, 18th Apr 2022 7:15 pm
  26. Hi Barb, I just love your Sunday videos!! I really look forward to them, the tip you always have, and the soft spoken manner you deliver it! Boy, the wind sure was blowing! That’s neat that Nic was just comfortable standing in your open air barn so you could do the video!! Such a good reminder about how to use the right amount of leg pressure, and the correct way to hold your legs. Thank you. Hope you had a wonderful Easter Sunday.

  27. Caroline Mackinnon on Fri, 29th Apr 2022 4:09 am
  28. A really wise and practical set of tips, thanks Barb.

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