Disengaging with Focus

This is asking your horse to cross and uncross their hind legs. This exercise tells you how your horse is currently feeling inside and can predict what may go wrong in the future. While it is called Disengaging, that is slightly misnamed because the horse is slightly moving forward – stepping up and forward with their inside hind foot – something they will not do if they are tense. Disengaging the hind end is one of the most basic tools you will use on the ground and one of the foundational tools you will use under saddle.

Success Tips:

- Ensure the Focus & Bend is good before attempting this.
- If you have perfected the focus and bend, then this step should work the first time you try it.
- Ensure that you change your energy and your intention before moving your feet and ensure that the use of your tool comes last.
- Ensure your energy and intention are going in a straight line towards your horse's loin.
- Practice using energy and intention anytime you ask your horse to move it's hind end over. Whether it's when you walk to a gate or when you go to pick out their feet - this ensures you stay present.

Common Problems/Mistakes:

- Stepping the hind feet together: This indicates tenseness.
- Inside hind footsteps behind: This indicates a high level of tension and is the pre-cursor to a rear.
- If either of these things happens, the horse is trying hard to find an answer: Do not increase the pressure.
- Horse runs shoulder out: Go back to the crabwalk from in front.
- Handler goes around the horse.
- Leaning back, to the side, crossing feet over, stepping back.
- Attempting to do this too early in the training.
- Not using energy and intention first.
- Not going in a straight line towards the loin.
- Creating energy and intention before you get around by the horse's shoulder.