I think I’ve blogged this analogy before, but not for some kind and it is one I’m secretly quite proud of.
The engine of the horse is in the hindquarters, and when the energy is created correctly it flows from the hind legs up over the back and out through the front legs.
Now think of a Newton’s cradle. The energy is created from the ball that is lifted away from the others. As it falls and hits the other balls, energy is transferred through those balls and the end ball moves up and away from the rest of the balls. Yes I know it falls back down, but don’t think about that. The horse’s hind legs are like that first ball, and the front legs like the last one. They only move because of the energy created in the hindquarters that is passed through the body. Of course, the better a horse is using their back and working correctly, the more energy that reaches the forelimbs.
Does that make any sense at all?
I find that this analogy is at its most useful when working on shoulder in. So often, I see horses taking themselves across the arena leading with their inside shoulder in a leg yield fashion.
In left leg yield, the right hind steps forward and adducts towards the body to propel the horse sideways. This leg is the first ball in the Newton’s Cradle. Then left foreleg and shoulder abduct away from the body in the direction of movement as a result of energy from the right hind leg being passed through the body. Like the last ball in the Newton’s Cradle.
Depending on the gait you are riding leg yield in, the sequence of the legs will vary, but ultimately by thinking of those two legs in relation to the Newton’s Cradle the rest of leg yield will fall into place and the horse will move across in a straighter, more balanced leg yield.
You can add the rider’s aids into this analogy too, if necessary. Returning to left leg yield; the right leg can be thought of as the first ball on the Newton’s Cradle, instigating the leg yield. Energy travels from this leg aid through the right hind leg, through the barrel of the horse’s body, and out through the left foreleg and the left rein opening to give that leg space to move across akin to the last ball on the Newton’s Cradle.
Hopefully, this analogy helps you understand the correct way a horse generates energy and propels themselves forward, which will improve your horse’s way of going.