Optimize Your Groundwork Series – Hindquarter Exercise and Hindquarter Control.

In my last post I talked to you about The Stopping and Backing Exercise.

It is a great foundation exercise and training for any horse and any discipline.

I want to focus today on the Hindquarters.

These exercises are the next progression in the Optimize Your Groundwork Series.

Hindquarter Exercise;

hindquarter exercise 1

Before I school my horses on in-hand trail, longe line or showmanship, I teach my horses to disengage their hindquarters and forehand, and to disengage their hindquarters while also taking a couple of steps backward in the same motion. I accomplish this by using the pressure point halter and training stick. By teaching the hindquarter control, you are laying the foundation for a smooth, curved back up, a nice spin in a trail box, and sidepassing. 

Hindquarter Control & Backing;

Facing the horse at a 45-degree angle, I keep ahold of the horse’s lead on the left side and ask him to move his hindquarters by tapping the hindquarters with the stick, gently at first while slowly increasing tapping pressure until my horse responds. After he takes a step, I wait until the horse stands still and then I ask again. Soon, the horse learns to pivot on his front end. I teach the horse to disengage the hindquarters on both sides before I move on to the next exercise.


Once the horse disengages his hindquarters fluidly, I add backing up a step or two before the horse loses motion. I face the horse at a 45-degree angle, ask for the disengagement, then step in front of the horse and tap his chest with the stick. When the horse takes a step back, I stop and reward. Over time, the horse backs responsively and is more receptive to backing willingly from a standstill. 

hindquarter exercise2

When I begin to school a more formal showmanship or in-hand trail back up, I again start in the traditional backing position. At this point in the training, the horse typically responds to my body language alone, so I will start to incorporate bumping the head down and straight to create the beginning of a framed back up. To enhance the straightness, I hold the stick in the my left hand and tap the horse’s shoulder opposite of the leading side to teach the horse to lift his rib cage and balance himself while backing and staying straight. I only ask for two or three steps at a time and slowly increase my expectations. 

Look for the next post that highlights the Forequarter Exercise which is the foundation for the pivot. I also will talk about sidepassing.

These exercises are taken directly from the full ‘Optimize Your Groundwork 101‘ course available on horsegirl.me


Here are some posts we highly recommend for your reading pleasure.


I’m Jen.

Most days you will find me with a coffee in one hand, hot pink manure pick in the other with my mind bubbling over dreaming up ways to help my horse girl sisters find their true selves & ride their best life every. single. day.


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