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Foundational Lesson Part Iv: Hips-in

By Author: Ian Kirkham
Total Articles: 10

Hips-in is intended for more advanced riders. It is a three-track movement that improves flexibility in the hindquarters, and is one of the most important exercises for gaining control and improving performance. Like the reverse arc, Hips-In slows down a gait and is useful in transitions and lead departures.

Hips-in does many things:

• Focuses on engaging and disengaging your horse’s hindquarters.

• Slows down a gait (dramatically so at the lope).

• Is useful in transitions and lead departures.

• Is a great warm-up exercise to get softness throughout a horse’s body.

Hips-in, also known as haunches-in, engages and disengages the hip. This is essential for a wide variety of everyday riding moves: lead departures, picking up the correct lead, lead changes, transitions and speed control. It’s important to remember that when you disengage one hip, you engage the other.


• Begin by riding a serpentine pattern.

• Going to the left, move your horse’s inside hip to the right, then change directions by going to the right.
• As you complete the next half-circle of the serpentine to the right, move the inside hip to the left, then ride to the left.

• As you practice this, your horse should be steady, collected and relaxed.

The next stage of teaching hips-in is to stay on the circle.

• Traveling to the left, pick up the right rein and move his nose out until you feel the hips move to the left, then drop the rein and resume riding the circle to the left.

• Repeat several times, paying attention to where the horse’s hips are when you resume your circle—they should be to the left such that for one or two steps you are doing hips-in just prior to continuing the circle.

• As you progress with this stage, you will find you won’t have to move the nose to the right nearly as much before he moves hips.

You need to teach your horse this lesson on both sides. It’s important to remember you can never practice hips-in enough or get too good at it.

Company – LL Inc and the Lyons Legacy School of Horsemanship offer a wide variety of equine educational materials, including a series of horse training and riding courses, manuals, and videos for online and on-the-ground learning.

Contact – Ian Kirkham, LL Inc., ian.kirkham@gmail.com. A biologist with a PhD in animal behaviour, and a writer for much of his career, Ian now focuses on one of his lifelong passions – horses. He’s owned and trained horses in Canada, US, Zimbabwe and Costa Rica. Ian divides his time between training horses and creating educational products for horse lovers.

Author Bio :

A biologist with a PhD in animal behavior, and a writer for much of his career, Ian now focuses on one of his lifelong passions – horses & School of Horsemanship. He’s owned and trained horses in Canada, US, Zimbabwe and Costa Rica. Ian divides his time between horse training and riding and creating educational products for horse lovers.

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