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Building On The Basics
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Building on the Basics

I heard Ian Francis once say, “Everyone wants an advanced clinic, but what they don’t realize is advanced maneuvers are nothing more than better basics.” Let’s break this down a little bit and I hope you can see by the end of this article that advanced maneuvers are nothing but better basics.

Collected lead departure

Ok, so with this exercise there are a couple of different things that are being put together. First collection, also known as vertical flexion, what is it? It is where you see the horse having their head tipped down and the front of their face is perpendicular to the ground. Why collect? Because it rounds the horses back more and makes them use their hindquarters in a better way.

Vertical flexion comes from lateral flexion. What is lateral flexion? When the horse is soft from side to side, then they will be soft vertically. So if you have your horse good with lateral flexion, vertical mostly takes care of itself. But lateral comes first, then vertical, then collection is just them flexing and holding the shape while moving.

The lead departure, is where you set the horse up to go into the canter on the lead you want. Now we aren’t going to talk leads in this article, but to get a lead departure, you need to move the engage and move the hindquarters over while walking forward. In order to engage them, you must first have a solid foundation of disengaging them. So you first get to disengage the hindquarters, then disengage to stop the horse, then you can go onto engaging them while you are moving to be set up for a lead departure.

Counter bending/Reverse Arc to a spin

Counter bending aka reverse arcing, is where you have the horse’s nose tipped to one side, let’s say the left and you are pushing the horse’s shoulders to the right. It is a shoulder control exercise and you can’t do a spin without it pretty much. But let’s take it in order again. Counter bending is where you are going in a circle. To do that, you need to be able to walk the horse in a straight line and push the shoulders one way or the other to have the shoulders out in front leading where the horse is going. When you have it going in a straight line, then you can start shutting down that forward movement and drift into a circle for counter bending. Once you have counter bending, you can then tighten up the circle even more and do a spin. But it all starts with just being able to push the horse’s shoulders to the left and right.

Two Tracking

Two tracking is one of my favorite things to do. I just love the feel of the horse going forward and across. For those of you who don’t know what it is, two tracking is where the horse is going forward and sideways. So think of walking from one corner of a square to the other, but facing the side. In order to really do two tracking you should have control of the shoulders and be able to move the hindquarters. But your leg on and cue to your horse to move them both at the same time. Without the shoulders though it would be yielding the hindquarters, without the hindquarters it would be just moving the shoulders.

In conclusion

Having the advanced maneuvers is just being able to move your horses body parts (which is a fundamental thing to do) and put those together. But if you can’t move your horses body parts easily then although you want to do the fancy maneuvers you won’t be able to because you don’t have a good foundation to begin with.

If I can’t move the shoulders I can’t spin and two track. If I can’t move the hindquarters I can’t do a lead departure or flying lead change. It all starts with the basics and then gets refined as you go along.


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