Page:Notes on equitation and horse training.djvu/31

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Importance of the straight ahead movement.—Above everything else the horse must go freely straight ahead. The lesson with this object in view must be the first of all lessons; from the beginning of horse training the horse must be accustomed to yield to the action of both legs. This is essentially a sign of docility; the full or the limited obedience of the horse shown in this first test will be an indication of a brief or a protracted period of training.

To accustom the horse to go straight ahead under the action of the legs.—The leg lesson is admittedly the most important lesson, and there is good reason to return to it during the whole period of training. For the first occasion observe the following rules:

Never keep the lower leg glued to the horse's flank, but use repeated taps with the calves.

Tap the horse near the girth and do not reach too far back.

Begin by giving the lesson when passing from the walk to the trot, next when lengthening the trot, and finally when passing from the halt to the trot.

Anticipate and assist the action of the legs by clucking with the tongue or by the use of light taps with the whip.

These rules are especially applicable to riding-hall lessons, for in outside work on a road young horses have a natural tendency to go straight ahead, following the old horses at the head of the squad.

Lightness—When to be exacted.—A horse is light when he obeys easily and promptly the indications of the rider. This is not a question merely of flexibility of jaw and suppleness of neck, but rather of balance, and in our opinion