Horse Training Tips – How to Correct a Horse Which is Dead to the Leg

Do You Clash Your Aids?

How To Correct a Horse Which is Dead To The Leg

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Do you clash you aids?

Clashing of aids is when riders give their horse a command to go forward and then inadvertently pull back on the reins. This clashing of the aids confuses the horse and can make the horse irritable, flighty or sluggish to the riders commands.
If you clash  your aids your horse may become dull to your aids because he just doesn’t believe you. You have kicked him to go forward, then the next step jerk on his mouth.

How to Correct a Horse Which is Dead to the Leg


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Horses do Not Naturally Move Away from The Riders Leg 


Sometimes horses get ‘dead to the leg’. This means no matter how hard you squeeze and squeeze, nothing happens. When you put your leg on it should mean something and be meaningful to your horse. No one likes to ride a horse which is dead to the aids.

Horses are not naturally trained to move away from the leg. This is the part of the trainer to teach the horse this. It should follow the “ask, tell, and promise” scale of training.
Ask your horse nicely. Tell your horse and then finally PROMISE your horse it will go forward.

  • Step 1 – Ask your horse to go forward from what ever aid you would like. A slight squeeze with your leg or cluck. If your horse goes forward calmly and quietly then great, stop asking immediately and give him a reward. A verbal cue or stroke on the neck. This reinforces a memory which means – walk forward and I get left alone. If the slight squeeze or cluck doesn’t get the desired reaction then proceed to step 2 – Tell
  • Step 2 – Tell your horse to go forward. This may be, if you are on a young horse, flapping elbows, flapping legs (note: this is different than kicking the horse’s sides). Flapping legs is like fanning the horse’s sides with your legs without really touching the horse’s sides. If you squeeze and kick on the horse’s sides, all you are doing is reinforcing the memory that kicking really doesn’t mean anything.

As soon as your horse reacts to the flapping STOP FLAPPING and reward the horse. If your horse does not respond then proceed to Promise.

  • Step 3 – Promise your horse it will go forward.  When riding a young or green horse, this may take on the form of putting the reins in one hand with the bite of the reins coming out of the top of your hand and flapping the reins left and right onto the horse’s shoulder. Start small little flaps left and right and escalate it until the horse perks up and takes a step. As soon as the horse takes a step, no matter how small and insignificant as you think it is – S T O P flapping and reward the horse.

On a young horse the ask, tell, promise routine may take a while to accomplish and train your horse to be lighter to the aids. It is a method to encourage horses and train them to understand what a squeeze of the legs mean.

On a trained horse this exercise can be performed within 2 or 4 strides. Ask first, then if the horse is not responding you move to step 2 – Tell and if the horse is not responding move to step 3 – promise. Do not make a promise you can not keep. If you want your horse to go forward, then allow it to go forward. Do not jerk it in the mouth if it jumps forward and trots away. Allow the horse to move forward and then bring it back to the walk.

If you have any questions or if you would like to add your own tip to get your horse off your leg, please put it in a comment below.


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About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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