The Side Pass

By Violante von Oesterreich

Isn't it pretty when a horse goes directly left or right when asked? ..as opposed to OHMYGAWD, spook left or right?!   The side pass is a handy maneuver not only for horse "dancing" but for trails, closing gates, gymkhanas, and other times when going straight sideways would be useful.

A few terms to learn:

Seatbone - The lower bones on your pelvis. If you ride a bike too long or sit in a saddle too long, you know where your seatbone is.

Drive - Tucking your seatbones under you and "pushing" horse forward.

Inside leg - for the purpose of training here and in dressage, it is the leg that is towards the middle of the arena, so, if you are going to the right, your right rein and right leg are your inside aids.

Outside leg- just the opposite of above, so if you are riding to the right, your left rein and leg will be your outside aids.

Let's ride

From a nice square halt, pick a direction, let's go left.

A) Sit in a halt position, weight straight down , squarely onto your seatbones, all the way into your heels (which are down and toes forward). Hands are just in front of the pommel, wrists up and closed.

B) Drop your weight into your right seatbone at about a 30-degree angle pushing towards the left. Close your right leg as you push or "drive" your seatbone towards the left. Do not drop your hand position. Make sure your outside leg or left leg is still and your inside leg or right leg has not moved forward or backward but is where it normally is while riding. The driving force for this command is your seat bones. The hands and leg are "framed" as in, the hands are telling your horse not to go forward and your legs are saying, nope, not forward...but this way.

C) What to do if your horse moves forward: Halt, make sure your hands are quiet and at the halt position (closed, right in front of the pommel, wrists up) Check your seat, is it in the "driving" (tail tucked under and pushing horse forward) position or "halt" position (seat straight down and square) Are your legs squeezing? That means forward, make sure that they are down and heels are down and feet straight ahead. Your right leg will be assisting in the "drive" of the seatbone by closing on the horse.

The difference between squeezing the horse with your whole leg and closing, is: squeezing, you will feel more of the contact with the outer portion of your inside thigh. Closing, you will be using the whole of the inside thigh. Also make sure that you are not leaning either forward or backward. Your shoulders, hips and heels need to be in a straight line.

D) Make sure when you get the movement, to praise your horse!! And when you get a couple of steps, stop asking.

Happy riding!


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