This exercise involves asking your horse to cross and uncross their hind legs. It serves as a valuable insight into your horse’s current emotional state and can help predict potential issues down the road. Although it’s called “Disengaging,” the term can be a bit misleading because, in this exercise, the horse takes a slight forward step with their inside hind foot – a movement they may not perform if they are feeling tense. Disengaging the hind end is a fundamental ground exercise and a foundational skill to apply when riding. But, remember, the way that we do the disengaging is a bit different from others, because of the movement of the front feet as well.
Here are some tips for achieving success with this exercise:
– Ensure that your horse’s Focus & Bend is well-established before attempting this exercise.
– If you have mastered the Focus & Bend, this step should work smoothly on the first try.
– Prioritize adjusting your energy and intention before moving your feet and utilizing your tools.
– Direct your energy and intention in a straight line toward your horse’s loin.
– Practice using energy and intention every time you ask your horse to move its hind end, whether you’re walking to a gate or picking out their feet. This practice helps you maintain a strong presence.
Common Problems and Mistakes to Avoid:
– If the horse steps its hind feet together, it’s an indication of tension.
– When the inside hind footsteps behind, it signifies a high level of tension and can be a precursor to rearing.
– If either of these issues occurs, the horse is struggling to find a solution. Avoid increasing pressure.
– If the horse runs its shoulder out, revert to the crabwalk exercise from the front.
– Avoid going around the horse, leaning back, moving to the side, crossing your feet over, or stepping back.
– Don’t attempt this exercise too early in your training.
– Ensure you apply energy and intention first before circling around to the horse’s shoulder.
By addressing these tips and steering clear of common mistakes, you’ll enhance your understanding of your horse’s state and your effectiveness in working with them.
Work on this exercise until your horse disengages easily from your body language (no flag needed) on both sides.
A reminder how to use this course: click on Mark Complete below and go to the next step when you and your horse are ready