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Sidepassing Your Horse Over a Log

Your body position is critical to successfully sidepassing your horse over a log. Heed these tips from an AQHA Pro Horseman to improve your cues.

Question:

How should my body be positioned if I’m trying to sidepass my horse over a log?

For the answer, we turned to AQHA Professional Horseman Bill Bormes' article in the December 2013 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal. Journal subscribers can read archives online or via our app. (www.aqha.com/journal)

Answer:

During a sidepass maneuver, my ideal body position is sitting centered in the saddle, hips loose and free, feeling balanced on my horse. Depending on my horse’s balance, I position my left leg a little farther back. If she’s feeling balanced, I keep my left leg in the middle of her ribs. If I need to move the left shoulder to the right first, I move my left leg forward. Now these moves are usually miniscule, never more than 3 or 4 inches from the center of her ribs.

Here’s how I position my leg to cue her. First, I turn my toe out by releasing my knee from contact with the saddle. This allows the back of my foot, my spur and the back of my lower calf to be the main contact area on my horse’s side to signal her to move laterally or sidepass.

Because my left leg is the driving or aid leg in this movement, I am also sitting more heavily on my left hip. As I cue my horse, I simultaneously release the tension in my right hip so that my right leg is relaxed and slightly away from her side. This “opens the door” and allows her to move freely to the right.

Then we laterally cross the log, smoothly and without jabbing, adjusting the position of my leg and hand to keep her hip and her shoulder in alignment as needed.

Learn more in the Journal’s December 2013 “Borrow a Trainer” installment about how to take your new-found skill a step farther. Read the digital edition of The American Quarter Horse Journal instantly for the rest of this horse-training tip.

*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.