I like a horse that’s hot off the leg and sensitive to the hand.
Sometimes, in the course of training, you have to convince a horse that it really will be more pleasant if he or she can carry him or herself. So you have to refuse to let your hands do the carrying.
Some horses will argue about this rather vehemently, but I’ve never known one that doesn’t actually enjoy it when the conversation is more subtle and they have a part in it. I’m always amused when a horse that shoots me a dirty look or gives me a cold eye during lessons eventually starts to carry himself and then wants to come up and give me a kiss during a walk break.
I’m working with a horse right now who needs to discover a new relationship with hands during groundwork. So I’m doing some basic groundwork a la Buck, getting those hindquarters moving and “offering him a good deal” without pulling on his head. In preparation, I watched Buck’s groundwork tape again and reviewed my notes from his clinic last fall.
There were a few things I starred, including this:
“This is 100% true with a horse. If the horse is dull to your legs, it’s a guarantee he won’t be light to your hands. If he’s light to your leg, it’s possible he’ll be light to your hands. Not a guarantee, but it’s possible.”