The Four Positions
In groundwork we have four positions that you have to know and be consistent with. They are lateral flexion, disengage the hind end, cross over in front and back up. Along with these four there is also a soft feel that you are looking for. My goal is to give you a definition, instruction on the procedure and a purpose for the four positions.
Definition– The ability for the horse’s head to go side to side, giving to pressure. Giving to pressure is when the lead goes slack.
Instruction– Stand on the left or right side of the horse with your body behind the elbow of the horse, facing the horse. Being ready to move towards the horse if the horse moves. Having slack in the lead while you are in the position for lateral flexion, prepare your lead in your right hand so you can slide your left hand down the lead, thumb pointing to end of rope, to a position approximately 14 inches from the knot of the halter and make an arc outwards and towards the wither of the horse. When drawing hand to withers use no more than 2 pounds of pressure on the lead. If the horse puts more than 2 pounds of pressure on the lead wait until he releases and continue to the withers. Release the lead from your left hand as soon as the horse gives to pressure. Reward the horse for doing well.
Repeat this until the horse does it to your specifications when it does go on and do something else.
– To get the horse flexible and relaxed at the poll or go to the “happy place”
– To have the horse understand when the slack is going out of the lead to bend and turn that direction.
– To prepare the horse for a single rein stop.
– To have the horse know what’s going to happen before it happens when you are in that position.
Disengage the hind end
Definition– The ability of the horse to move it’s hind end around the front end in a forward motion, having the front end stay in a four foot circle and having hind end moving around the front with the inside hind leg going in front of the outside hind leg. In doing so the horse is bending it’s poll with a soft feel in the direction that you are moving the hind end.
Repeat this until the horse does it to your specifications, when the horse does, go do something else.
Instruction– Stand on the left side of the horse in front and away from the horse’s body so you can see the hip easily. Prepare your lead so you can slide your left hand down to a position approximately 14 inches from the knot of the halter, point with your left hand to the left hip bone and start walking straight to the hip. With your body moving towards the left hip the horse should be moving its hind end away from you with the front end moving in no more than a four foot circle. The left hind leg should be going in front of the right hind leg to be disengaging properly. If the horse does not do it properly keep the horse going until the horse does one step correctly. When the horse does step correctly take the life out of your body to allow the horse to stop.
– To educate the horse the proper way to engage the hind end.
– To educate the horse when you are in the position to disengage the hind end that the horse knows what is going to happen before it happens.
– To prepare for the single rein stop.
– To educate the horse when moving to break at the poll and move the hind end with a soft feel.
Definition– The ability of the horse to break at the poll and move it’s feet backwards in a free manner.
Instruction– Stand on the left side near and beside the horse’s head facing the hind end. Prepare your lead in your right hand so the lead does not drag, with your left hand grab the knot of the halter with thumb down (or to the buckle) and pick up on the knot use up to two pounds of pressure. If the horse does not respond see saw the halter back and forth making it uncomfortable for the horse to stand. At first release pressure when the horse takes one-step and work up from there. At the end give to pressure if the horse moves it feet freely or when the horse gives to the poll. The ideal is for the horse moves its feet and breaks at the poll at the same time.
Repeat the process until the horse does this well and go on and do something else.
– To educate the horse to break at the poll and move it’s feet.
– To educate the horse when you are in position to back up so that the horse has an idea what is going to happen next.
– To educate the horse to move with a soft feel.
Cross over in front
Definition– The ability of the horse to keep it’s hind end in one position and have the front end move around the back moving freely. Having the outside front leg cross in front of the inside front leg while doing this.
Instruction– Stand on the left side of the horse away from him (approx 4-5 feet) with your bellybutton toward his chest. Have the loop end of the lead in your left hand, draw your right hand down the lead (approximately 20 inches from the knot of the halter) raise both hands while bringing them together towards the horse’s eye before walking and walk towards the horse. The horse should go away from pressure from your hands.
The goal is to have your rock back on the hind end and having the left front foot go behind the right front foot then have the right front foot go to 4 to 5 o’clock and have the left front foot cross over in front to 3 o’clock.
When the horse does this well with one step go on and do something else. After awhile you can try to do more steps as the horse gets better on understanding what you are asking of him.
– To prepare the horse to do a roll back or turn on the haunches.
– To educate the horse to know what is going to happen before it happens when you are in that position to cross over in front.
– To have the horse move away from pressure when your hands go towards the eye.